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Competitive Objection Handling: How to Fight Against Competitor Claims

Posted by Lauren Kersanske on Thu Sep 12, 2019 08:00 AM

The competition is talking about you, and no surprise—it’s not good. Whether it’s half-truths or outright lies, you need to arm your sales team with tactics and talking points to counter claims made by the competition.

To address objections that come up in competitive sales deals, you first need to identify competitor claims and then train your team on how to handle those claims to ultimately win the deal. Here’s how.

Identify Competitor Claims

There’s a variety of ways to find out what your competitors are saying about your products and services. 

Interview Your Sales Reps

There’s no better team to uncover competitor claims than ask your sales reps. Every day, sales reps are on the front lines hearing from prospects what the competition is saying about your products and services, then they have to defend themselves against the claims.

You’ll want to sit down with several sales reps and ask them exactly what they are hearing from prospects regarding the competitor claims and, more importantly, how they currently handle those objections.

Here are some example questions:

  • What competitive objections are you hearing the most often?
  • Are there any claims that started coming up recently?
  • When X claim is made, how do you handle it? Do you feel confident in that answer? Or do you feel like you stumble through it?
  • How do prospects typically respond to your counter?

After you conclude your interviews, revisit your notes and start to pull out key themes.

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Listen in on Sales Calls

Interviewing your sales team is a great way to gather qualitative data, but sales reps are busy and often on many calls—so they can sometimes be susceptible to confirmation bias. Buddy up to a few of your reps and ask to join a call that they know (or suspect) will be a competitive situation. Hearing objections straight from the prospects will give you a clearer picture of what the competition is putting out there.

Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • The specific claims and questions asked by the prospect
  • How the sales rep responds to those claims
  • How the prospect responds to the sales rep’s counter

Similar to your sales rep interviews, you’ll want to revisit your call notes and pull out the key themes. Then compare your call findings with your interview findings—you will definitely see common themes begin to emerge.

Third Party Reviews

Third party review sites like G2, TrustPilot, Capterra, etc. are a treasure trove of competitive intelligence—you can see what your customers say about you, what your competitors’ customers say about them, etc. While competitors will often make entirely false claims against you, some of their claims will often be based in some amount of truth.

Dig into your own company’s third-party reviews and focus on the negative. What do your customers say are the weak points of your product and services? Your competitors are monitoring your reviews and are undoubtedly using negative feedback against you.

Aggregate all of the reviews and pull out key themes. As an additional step—make sure you distribute any meaningful feedback to your product team as well. Feedback makes us better, so if you can help improve product roadmap during this exercise, then do so!

Competitor Marketing Collateral

All marketing collateral ties back in some way to a company’s key value proposition, no matter which stage of the Buyer’s Journey for which it’s intended. Companies will often frame their value proposition in a way that illustrates the strength of their approach and the weaknesses in other approaches. 

Dig into your competitors’ marketing content—ebooks, guides, videos, website pages, product one-pagers, etc. and pull out claims that you believe are subtly aimed at your product or services. 

Win/loss Interviews

Win/loss interviews are a key part of any product marketing role and should be conducted on a regular basis to understand who you’re winning (or losing) against, and why. Pull out the key themes from win/loss interviews on deals that were specifically lost to a competitor.

You’re looking for:

  • Reasons the deal was lost
  • Why the prospect ultimately chose to go with the competitor
  • How the prospect made that decision and how they perceive your product/services

Analyzing and Surfacing the Claims

After you do these steps, you’ll want to analyze the data and surface key themes and common objections. You should have a handful of competitive objections at this point. 

Fighting Competitive Objections

Now that you have identified the claims your competitors are making against you, you’ll then want to craft confident rebuttals for each claim. Once you do, be sure to test your counters out with a few sales reps and iterate for improvement. Have them use these rebuttals on a few calls and give you feedback as to how it went (or listen in for yourself!). When you have your rebuttals in a good place, you’ll then want to distribute them among various outputs.

There are multiple outputs that can come from surfacing the claims made by your competitors. Here are a few:

Battlecards 

Battlecards are essential to helping sales win competitive deals, so all of your battlecards should include a section on objection handling for that specific competitor. In fact, you can even build a battlecard specifically around objection handling if you are in a particularly competitive market with many head-to-head deals.

You’ll want to dedicate a section for each claim. Some sections might be based around features, service offerings, or price.

Training & Role Play

Hold trainings to show sales what you found and tell them how to effectively counter your competitors’ claims. You can also conduct role plays, so reps can get practice with rebutting the competition and actually hear how it sounds.

Marketing Collateral

No matter which stage of the Buyer’s Journey your content is intended for, all marketing collateral ties back to your value proposition in some way. While you don’t have to call out specific competitors, you’ll want to include subtle counters to your competitors claims by framing your value proposition in a way that illustrates the flaws in your competitors products and/or services.

Get Ahead of The Objection

In addition to crafting the rebuttal for each competitor claim, consider ways to get ahead of the objection itself. Identify questions or statements a sales rep can use to at the start of the sales process to avoid the objection coming up at all - for example, if price is a common objection, put costs into perspective early on in the process or qualify for budget at the start. Incorporate these strategies into your battlecards, trainings, and collateral to get ahead of common objections.

The best way to arm your sales team to handle objections in the sales process is to address them head-on. By tapping into internal and external resources - from your sales team to review sites - you can uncover likely objections and craft rebuttals to incorporate into an effective sales enablement program.

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