Preemptive Strikes: A Highly Effective Sales Strategy for Dealing With Bad-Mouthing Competitors
What a brilliant sales strategy! That's exactly what came to mind when I saw Rick Santorum's new television ad. But before you watch it, a little background:
If you follow American politics, you know that Mitt Romney's status as the "presumptive" Republican presidential nominee recently came to a screeching halt. After sweeping the recent caucuses in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota, suddenly Santorum was surging in the polls.
But just a few weeks earlier, Newt Gingrich had been the frontrunner. That is, until Romney's super PACs spent $15 million in Florida and flooded the airwaves with negative ads. This onslaught nearly collapsed Gingrich's campaign.
So Santorum's team decided to launch a preemptive strike in Michigan, the newest battleground state. They knew their candidate would be attacked on all fronts. Plus, having just a pittance of Romney's budget, they knew they couldn't fight him head on.
What did they do it? They put together a commercial they call "Rombo." The setting? An abandoned warehouse. The action? A Romney look-alike slinging mud at a Santorum cutout. The message? Check it out. It's extemely effective.
YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtOcrS6axnE
What's so brilliant about this approach, is that they've essentially made it impossible for Romney to "sling mud" without looking like a total jerk. He can't take down Santorum, without taking himself down in the process. He's totally neutralized.
How can you use a preemptive strike in sales?
I'll never forget when I was selling computers and up against a sleazy competitor. He was a master at trashing our systems and my company in such a way that my prospects didn't take offense. They believed him.
After losing to him twice, I'd had enough. So the third time I did a preemptive strike and told my prospect the truth about the previous encounters. Basically I said:
"When you meet with him, he'll tell you this … Then he'll pull out this false study … And, he'll insinuate that our company is in falling apart. None of that is true. I want you to know about it now, before it happens."
Sure enough, that's exactly what my competitor did just a few days later. How did I know? My prospect called me right away and told me.
In short, if you know that people are going to be doing dirty tricks on you - bring it up upfront. Tell the truth. Be factual. Don't trash your competitor. And make sure you keep your emotions out of it or you'll sound like a crazed lunatic.
Then let your prospects be the judge. The truth will win out.
YOUR TURN: Have you ever done a preemptive strike? If so, what made you take this action, what did you do and what were the results?
Jill Konrath is an internationally recognized sales strategist. As author of two bestselling books, SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, she's a frequent speaker at sales meetings and conferences. For more fresh ideas, download her free Prospecting Toolkit.