Sometimes when you compete for business, you’re up against the incumbent. You may think the incumbent has the upper hand because they can easily leverage their experience and relationships with the buyer into another sale.

Above everything else, the incumbent has the advantage of engaging with your prospect daily. They most likely have priceless knowledge about that prospect such as their business needs, solutions used, financial/budget issues, leadership changes, and the company road map.

There’s also the issue of inertia: staying the course is typically the path of least resistance, while changing vendors usually triggers planning, due diligence, and buy-in from a myriad of groups throughout the organization.

Convincing a prospect that you offer the best solution and should make the changeover to your product or service may appear to be a challenging task. Nonetheless, there are ways to win prospects over and beat the incumbent.

How to Beat an Incumbent in Sales

Our client was upset they could not outmaneuver their prospect’s incumbent even though their solution was the lower cost option and better suited to the buyer’s needs. In order to find out what our client could do differently the next time they competed, we interviewed the prospect and asked what factors the competing vendors lacked that could have put them ahead of the incumbent.

The prospect shared that if this client would have asked which critical areas the incumbent was failing and proved their solution could solve those issues, the client’s solution would have provided the added benefits they were seeking.

Two Questions to Ask the Prospect

To win over potential prospects, ask these two essential questions:

1. What do you currently like about your current provider?

By asking this question, you learn perceived strengths the incumbent has over the competing vendors. These are the positive points you want to emulate when you position your solution to the prospect.

2. What don’t you like or wish could change about your current provider?

This question is crucial to understanding the incumbent’s weaknesses and which valued factors they’re not providing the prospect. Focus on those issues and strategize your next move on how to prove your solution is the ultimate choice.

What are your best sales practices for beating an incumbent? Share your responses in the comment section below.

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