GREAT NEWS. Your sales team scored a meeting with their dream prospect, the sort of client that would send them flying through their quarterly reviews, smash their numbers for the year, and probably earn them some sort of mini-break. At least.


But wait… the prospect is taken. They’re already someone else’s customer.


Cue the violin music and slow mo montage of your reps walking wind-blown streets, heartbroken. Finding out that their prospect is already someone else’s customer is one of many nightmares a salesperson can come up against. It’s a pitfall, a common one, awaiting the under-prepared and poorly researched. It can take the wind out of the sails of a less experienced salesperson, but for the front-liners who know their way around a pitch it can be really, really good news.


They need to wake up and start thinking. A prospect who already buys a product similar to the one your people are selling understands that they have a need. They understand that a product like yours is a suitable solution to that need. That’s half the battle won – they’re essentially a hard qualified lead, and some hard-working sucker from your competition spent all of his time laying the groundwork for your people.


Again, there are ample opportunities for the less experienced sales person to really make a mess of this. Most commonly it’s because they see that opening, see that requirement, and start trying to sell their product as the solution. We’ve been over selling product many, many times on this blog. It’s an idiot move. They shouldn’t be doing it.


Differentiation is key here yes, but product differentiation always comes second to value differentiation. This is where your salespeople need a keen handle on your value proposition, a robust understanding of how their product or service delivers measurable value in the marketplace, and a positioning message to clearly summarise that for the prospect. Then they need a clear, concise and consistent way of presenting and communicating that information. A whiteboard strategy would be the perfect vehicle for communicating that differentiation. There are pitches and there are pitches, after all.


You, your enablement team and your managers need to be drilling this into salespeople from the day they’re onboarded as new hires. Idiots sell product. Salespeople sell solutions. They sell results. They ask, enquire, investigate the prospect’s need or tensions in their marketplace, then they identify where their product or service could make a difference. Once they’ve figured that out it’s as simple as explaining the solution to the customer in a way they understand.


If your sales person is pitching to a prospect who buys from your competition, almost all of these processes have already been taken care of by their salespeople. The need is there, the tension needs resolving. Your prospect or service is required, will help, and has a place in their organisation – so it’s just about training sales people to communicate properly. If only you knew a guy… right?


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