How to Outrun the Competition w/ Bridget Gleason [Episode 456]

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays. In this episode, we dive into the foundations of competitive selling, and provide practical tips for leaders looking to outrun tough competitors.

Key Takeaways

  • Discussion on running and races, because…
  • …the topic is competition in sales. Bridget says there is always competition, and she offers two approaches. In either case, focus on the customer’s problem, and how you differentiate yourself to solve it.
  • Price is not the competition. Solving the problem, with the greatest value to the prospect, wins the deal. Bridget tells how she was sold a pair of running shoes by a trusted vendor who solved her problem with value, and did it frictionlessly.
  • No one wants blisters — on their heels, or in the buying process! Bridget went with the reputation of Marathon Sports, not the price, and found a salesperson who worked very easily with her.
  • Andy also bought running shoes! His preferred vendor, Road Runner Sports, has excellent service and makes sure of the right fit and shoe. Unless you just have to buy the cheapest shoes, you will not walk out of there without new shoes.
  • Andy likes being a member of the Road Runner Sports V.I.P. Club! He admits, he could wear shoes a little bit longer, but he loves having new shoes.
  • Reps assume there will be a buying decision. Qualify the prospect’s problem, and make sure they understand the value proposition, to make sure it is so. The first discovery call sets the tone for the entire engagement.
  • The buying decision has two parts: whether the prospect will make a change at this time, and, if yes, who the vendor to facilitate the change will be. Be there with the value proposition that fits the prospect’s desired change.
  • ‘Selling past’ the initial buying decision, means that if the customer does decide to go ahead, they probably do it based on the competition’s value proposition, not on yours! If they buy from you, will they be happy? Bridget elaborates.
  • The buyer may be confused between propositions they heard, so after each sale, call the customer to review the deal, from their requirements, to your proposal, to what they bought, and how and when you will deliver it. Communicate.
  • If you don’t clarify with the buyer what they bought, at renewal time they may believe you surprised them, and they will look for an alternative vendor they can trust better. Andy calls the refresher call, the most important sales call you make.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  0:00  

Hi, this is Andy. Welcome to another edition of Frontline Friday with my regular inverse special guest Bridget Gleason. So Bridget, how are you today?

 

Bridget Gleason  2:24  

I’m trying to rebrand and change it up. 

 

Andy Paul  5:56  

All right. Well, I mean,  you’re not getting your competitive juice run and by running or doing half marathons or marathons so on. So you’ve got it in business, Delphi. So that’s at a conference a couple weeks ago, or actually maybe was last weekend, hard time remembering at this point and got several questions from some people sort of cornered me and were asking questions and all that competition. Guys are brought up to competitions early on, this is my competition in sales. And they were talking to somebody and asked me, how do you compete on price? A lot of interesting questions, and out got me thinking okay, well, how much do you? How much do you worry about competition or think about competition?

 

Bridget Gleason  6:49  

When isn’t there competition?

 

Andy Paul  6:58  

Right now. You always have competition. I know some people really fixate a lot, right. I mean, they talk about having their deals or have competitive strategies and so on. And I don’t know, I’ve spent years in extremely competitive businesses, but I couldn’t control the competition, I was only focused on what, what I could do.

 

Bridget Gleason  7:17  

So I think that’s true. I think it’s, I can only focus on what I can do also, but it’s helpful for me to have an understanding, at least to know where I’m strong where the competition might be not so strong. And so to sort of understand how I may be able to differentiate based on what the competition has, that’s not the only strategy because like, what you’re saying, is reps sell differently. Let me just take a step back. I have two reps in the office. I’m going to talk about two I don’t have just two but these two reps in the office.

 

Andy Paul  9:21  

Yeah, no, I, I agree hundred percent. I mean I always felt like I was competing against my own. I still do. I’m competing with my own limitations. Yeah, to be able to help the prospect. Yeah, and you know, fast that’s the motivation to keep learning and they’ll be able to provide more value to the prospects by dealing with it because, there could be somebody way smarter than me. That’s competing against me from a competitor also for prospects business. But to your point, if I can get better at helping them solve their problem then yeah, that’s all I can worry about. And if I do that and I keep working on mastering, then the odds of me winning the business goes up.

 

Bridget Gleason  17:40  

Yeah, I completely agree with you. I think it’s very easy to skip over that. And I always tell the team here  how you set up the that first call, and what that initial discovery is  likely the most important because that sets the tone for the entire engagement and your how you work together and if you haven’t, and the discovery continues all the way through if you if you haven’t fully explored the implications of safer for example doing nothing it’s going to be hard when it comes to budget time for them to vote in your favor. If they if you if they haven’t really, if you haven’t really explored that with them.

 

Andy Paul  19:59  

Well, and So here’s the real critical issue is if you sell past that initial decision by dimensional binary decision, and the customer decides to go ahead, it means that they made the decision to go ahead, probably based on someone else’s value proposition.

 

Bridget Gleason  20:16  

Yeah, you know, I had a conversation today with a candidate we’re talking to about for a VP of customer success role. And he asked, what were the after after they become a customer, what were their expectations? What are their expected expectations, what logs I was going to provide? And we had a really good discussion about that. And I said, You know, I think our problem right now is we haven’t done a good job as sales people, setting up what those expectations should be understanding what the customers expect. Are and then helping also to define them. That all starts at the beginning and and even in terms of like what you’re talking about the once they’ve made a decision to Yes, I want to buy something. And even if let’s say they end up buying it, Were you the one that helps set the expectation for? Are they going to be happy with it after they buy it? The selling doesn’t stop after you’ve closed the deal, especially in a SaaS company? No, not at all. So you’ve got it you the selling needs to keep to continue. And again, if you haven’t, if you’ve sold past that initial sort of what is the pain and what’s the solution for that if you’ve just sold past that too quickly. And it’s sort of a muddy value proposition that they don’t even know exactly what it is that they should expect. You can have a really difficult time when it comes to let’s say, get the deal. What Tom, when it comes to renewal when it comes to keeping them as happy customers, it’s going to be more challenging.

 

Andy Paul  22:06  

Yeah, I mean, this is, I don’t know if we’ve spoken about this before, but I know if just with other guests is that it is really important for for one to keep in mind is that when a customer makes the decision, assuming there are multiple vendors selling into the situation to the buyer, is when they make the decision. It’s very likely that in their mind, their mind the buyer that they have conflated the best features from everyone they spoke to. And so what their expectation of what they’re getting is really an amalgamation of what the product and all the products are sold to them. Maybe not, you know, at least at a high level, and sometimes even at a detail level. And that’s just natural because you know, people are human beings and they’re trying to absorb a lot of information over a relatively short period of time. And they get confused.

 

Bridget Gleason  23:06  

That’s so interesting. So we never thought of that.

 

Andy Paul  23:09  

So it’s really important to do it after you get a deal, especially a big deal, but I have reps do it after every deal is you get the order. And the next day you pick up the phone, you call the customer. And you just say, Hey, I just want to review what it is you ordered. And say, you start by saying, you know, you came to us with these requirements. This is what we proposed. This is why you purchased it, this is what we’re going to deliver and when. And you can do that all in like 15 minutes, and then you’ve reset expectations.

 

Bridget Gleason  24:04  

We do sort of a version of that with a proof of concept document that kind of follows them through the process that they have as the prospect has as a selling document for them internally as well. But I like the sort of summary right after they’ve purchased. I think that’s such a great idea just again, because the selling doesn’t stop after you’ve gotten the purchase order.

 

Andy Paul  24:33  

Yeah, set those expectations because if they have a bad experience right off the bat, as you mentioned before that that’s gonna stick with them and when it comes time to renew, man, that’s that could be problematic.

 

Bridget Gleason  24:53  

Definitely can be problematic. That’s the last thing you want because every time you come up for renewal, again, they’re mentally in this question mark state again. Do I renew with XYZ company? Well, let me pick my head up and see what else is out there.

 

Andy Paul  25:18  

So right in their managers, I know that counsel against doing that call because they’re afraid that customers gonna like buyer’s remorse and cancel the order. And that’s just BS. It never happens. Never, never, never happens. So do that refresher call. I call it the most important sales call you can make because you don’t start off that relationship on a good foot. You’re gonna lose that customer. It comes time to renew.

 

Bridget Gleason  25:42  

So that’s, that’s where a SaaS model is great for our customers. It’s good for us too. It’s good for us too. It keeps us on our toes as salespeople and product development is everything engineering service. With your success, support, we’ve all got to deliver better, more consistent, reliable service, because it’s easier than ever for customers to make a change and go somewhere else.

 

Andy Paul  26:14  

Absolutely. All right, Bridget, we’ve come to the end of this episode so soon. 

 

Bridget Gleason  26:41  

Until next week, I will talk to you then. All right. Good selling everyone.