You can sell much better when you understand what your prospective client is accomplishing during this stage. A limited view of an exploration of alternatives and options can cause you to sell poorly and lose opportunities.
And, in our sometimes limited view, we think that we are competing only with our direct competitors. But our first competitor is the alternative of doing nothing. The status quo tends to have a lot of supporters, and when change is difficult, this option often looks very good.
There are other alternatives that include doing something completely different than what you or your competitors may recommend. Some companies may outsource a whole segment of their business rather than bring in a supplier to help them do it themselves, for example.
One mistake we sometimes make in this stage is to show our prospective client a single solution rather than giving them choices and collaborating with them on the right ideas.
It’s true that in competitive situations we focus on how we compete and win against good companies with good people and good solutions, some better than ours. Good salespeople present solutions. Great salespeople present ideas, options, and a chance to collaborate on the solution and the outcomes.
What are my choices?
What are the trade-offs?
What fits me the best?