Selling against No. 1

March 3, 2023
Somebody is No. 1, and it is not always you. It's how you deal with it that sets you apart.

I know you have a truck full of great products, but alas, each of those products is not the best in each product class. In each category or subcategory, there is some manufacturer with a better product or one that is at least perceived as the best. Whether it is an impact wrench, screwdriver, pliers, storage, or hard-toe shoes, somebody is No. 1, and it is not always you!

When this happens, do you just fold up your tent and not try to sell your version? No way! You still need to make a living. Look at the chart below from Kelley Blue Book highlighting estimated pickup truck sales in 2022.

Not surprisingly, the Ford F-150 continues to be the number one truck at an estimated 787,422 units. In fact, the E- and F-150 Lightning were just announced as the 2023 Truck-of-the -Year by Motor Trend. Yet, when you look deeper, the second through eighth-ranked trucks, these manufacturers sell 2,237,197 units.

Even though the Ford F-150 is number one in units, it is only 26 percent of the total truck market, leaving 74 percent for everybody else. Even Cadillac has a pickup priced over $100,000 (I wonder how many old engine blocks get thrown in the back of a Cadillac pickup truck?).

8 Best-Selling Trucks in America in 2022

  1. Ford F-150 (787,422 units sold)
  2. Chevrolet Silverado (594,094 units sold)
  3. RAM 1500 (563,676 units sold)
  4. Ford F-350 (264,388 units sold)
  5. Toyota Tacoma (245,659 units sold)
  6. Jeep Grand Cherokee (209,786 units sold)
  7. Jeep Wrangler (201,310 units sold)
  8. GMC Sierra (158,284 units sold)

Let’s talk about how to successfully approach this situation and sell what you’ve got when your product is not No.1.

First and most importantly, learn everything you can about your main competitor’s product. Primarily because the more you know about their product, the better you can compete, and secondarily when a prospect makes some outlandish claim about No. 1, you can graciously help them with the correct information.

“I think if you look at the towing capacity on a base F-150, the rating is 14,000 lbs, not 24,000 lbs.”

“It might sound nice that the XYZ Angle Grinder has 16,000 rpms, but actually, it is 8,500 like ours, and most grinding wheels are only designed for under 13,000 rpms.”

Features and Benefits

Now, make a list of the features of the competitive product and compare your product to theirs, feature by feature. List them all since knowing even the smallest detail about the competition can help you close a sale.

Next, decide and write down what the benefit is of each of these features from a user’s point of view. Include in your list both your benefits and theirs. Remember that a benefit is what each feature means to the user. Not what is important to you, but to the person using the product.

Often at the end of this exercise, you will discover that feature-for-feature, your product is equal to or even better than numero uno. Perhaps they are number one because they have three times as many jobbers on the road than your brand or they just do more advertising.

Since you are now an expert on both your product and theirs, you can put together a superior presentation and close more sales.

As a side note: If the product manager for the number one product is really doing their job, they have priced their product at about 10 percent above the market average. This can help you if you use this fact correctly in your presentation.

Now’s the fun part that will make your sales results spectacular.

Putting it all together

Put your demonstration together in logical order presenting your product features and benefits in order of usage. Refrain from listing what you think are the most important features first. Build up to the big points as you go. This way, you will get your prospect thinking positively about your product on the less important points. This helps when the points where you may not be the product leader come up, so you at least have a good feeling started.

When you do come to a feature where your product is not the product leader, be ready to own the objection and prepared to disarm it.

Let’s say the leading cordless impact wrench has 1,400 ft-lbs or torque, and yours has 1,000 ft-lbs. Theirs is $295, and yours is $250.

The presentation might go like the following:

“Depending on what your particular needs are, you can buy impact guns with torques from 500 ft-lbs to 1,400 ft-lbs. It really depends on what you need when making this important purchase. Don’t you agree?”

“The 500 ft-lbs. units are mostly for DIY users with very light needs. As a professional, your selection should be made based on the work you do. Don’t you think?”

“Since you work primarily on passenger vehicles and light trucks, your needs should probably be in the middle somewhere. You probably don’t need the most powerful unit that has the highest price. Do you?”

“I would suggest our unit that has 1,000 ft-lbs of torque that will easily do your work and is priced right. Does it make sense to you to get the unit that fits your particular needs?"

When your prospect answers that question positively, move on to other features and benefits. And if the time is right, close the deal.

There are those who could criticize this approach which is designed to sell around your less-than-maximum torque rating. That is just not true. You walked the prospect through the facts on ft-lbs and what the market offered. You also explained why the product you offered would satisfy the prospect’s needs, and they agreed. And, unless this technician is working on huge vehicles with heavy fasteners, they will never need that extra power.

Why buy an F-350 Dually when you are only hauling bags of mulch for the garden on dry roads?

Much of your success in selling against number one is your attitude and how you approach the situation.

If you go at it with your tail between your legs, your prospect will see through you in a heartbeat. Yes, your product may not be the market leader, but it is also not a piece of crapola either. Present your product with the same enthusiastic system as you would any of your products using the tried and true: Feature, Advantage, Benefit, Trial Close method followed by the Feature, Advantage, Benefit, Close.

Now, go sell something! 

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