Your Buyer Is Using A Competitor… How Should You Handle It?

It will be very unusual for a prospect to say to you “Do you know, we don’t have a supplier for that particular product.You’re the first company to talk to us about it. When can you start supplying us?”

Those types of comments only occur in your dreams.

Most times, you will be discussing your products with companies who already are supplied with products that do an adequate job, and they may have established a good partnership with them.

One tip for something you shouldn’t try in these circumstances is to go in and promise to undercut their existing supplier.

That immediately makes it sound as if you are desperate for business and haven’t determined what the decision criteria are for the buyer.

You have simply assumed that they buy on price.

Instead, you need to approach a person within the business with a few questions.

This advocate can help you to decide what is the biggest driving force for making decisions within the business.

You need to find out exactly what’s going on between their business and the competitive supplier.

These types of questions can open up discussions and give you a lot of background information before you even consider talking to the business’s decision-makers.

  • Who made the original decision to partner with the supplier?
  • What were the reasons that drove you to decide to use them?
  • Have any of those factors changed?
  • What has convinced you to stay loyal to them?
  • What does the supplier do well for you?
  • What could be improved, if anything?
  • Who would be affected if you did decide to change suppliers?
  • Would there be any internal ramifications if you decided to change?
  • What are your contingency plans if the supplier is unable to deliver?
  • If you could change anything about the supplier, what would it be?
  • How would you rate the performance of the supplier, on a scale of 1-10, on the areas that are most important to you?
  • Would you like to discuss a possible alternative source for these products?
  • What would have to happen for you to even consider another supplier?

You’ll see these questions help the person to think logically about how they made the decision to use the supplier in the first place, and allows you some good background information before you even approach the buyer.

They also help you not to put any pressure on the buyer to change without contemplating the consequences.

You need to work with them to find if there’s anything that is causing them any concern at present.

That way, you can build a good rapport with the buyer and only discuss things that will make things better for them.

By discussing what is most important to your prospect, you show you are considering their business instead of trying to ‘sell’ your products or services.

This will soften any resistance caused by them using your competitor and open the door for further progress with them.