How to Get Your Competition Fired (without saying anything bad about them): Using The Wedge to Increase Your Sales


Selling is a tough business. Not only must you be great at finding new prospects, communicating effectively, and building relationships—you had better be great at busting relationships. Too often the biggest challenge in winning new business is the incumbent who already has the account. That person will leverage the relationship, get the last look, and match your deal.

This book shows salespeople like you how to solve a major problem that ...

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Selling is a tough business. Not only must you be great at finding new prospects, communicating effectively, and building relationships—you had better be great at busting relationships. Too often the biggest challenge in winning new business is the incumbent who already has the account. That person will leverage the relationship, get the last look, and match your deal.

This book shows salespeople like you how to solve a major problem that traditional selling doesn't—how to get the competition fired to win new business.

What if you had a way to get your prospects to see how they are being underserved without saying anything bad about your rivals, and to see that you are a better choice without your having to "sell" your prospects? What would that do to shorten the time it takes you to win new accounts?

How to Get Your Competition Fired is based on Randy Schwantz's revolutionary Wedge® methodology, a unique selling strategy that helps you win new business by driving a wedge between your prospect and the incumbent—busting the relationship and opening the door for you.

The Wedge strategy begins before the sales call, with a proven research technique that helps you find the strongest possible competitive advantage over the incumbent and the most powerful way to express it. This step-by-step reinvention of the sales call, with simple dialogue and proven tactics, is the result of Schwantz's thousands of hours spent working with salespeople from successful companiesaround the world.

More than just concepts, these are no-nonsense, easy-to-understand tactics that you can employ immediately. The Wedge is not an alternative to Selling 101 and what you already know. It's the most advanced system developed to get your competition fired and help you win new business. Packed with anecdotes, real-world examples, and checklists, How to Get Your Competition Fired is an indispensable tool for anyone who sells, or manages salespeople.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Next time you sit down for a sales presentation with a new prospect, realize that a third party is looking over your shoulder: your competition. How can you get rid of them? Sales consultant Randy Schwantz provides an answer in How to Get Your Competition Fired (Without Saying Anything Bad About Them). Schwantz's sales process, which he dubs "The Wedge," promises to reliably unseat entrenched suppliers and make their customers yours. Starting with proposing an ideal picture your competition is unlikely to meet, Schwantz reveals a subtle yet simple process for getting prospects to practically demand to buy from you. (Entrepreneur Magazine, May 2005)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471703112
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/14/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 171,540
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

RANDY SCHWANTZ, author of three previous books on selling, is President of The Wedge® Group, a business performance and sales consulting firm headquartered near Dallas, Texas. A former salesperson himself, Schwantz has spent more than 10,000 hours talking with people who sell for a living. His unique sales strategy, The Wedge, has been embraced by hundreds of companies and thousands of individual sales professionals throughout the United States and Canada. He and his wife, Lori, live with their four daughters near Dallas.

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Read an Excerpt

How to Get Your Competition Fired (Without Saying Anything Bad About Them)

By Randy Schwantz

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-70311-7

Chapter One

The Wedge

Selling is like flying. If you do not land safely, nothing else matters. And so it is with sales. It is about setting your wheels on the runway safely and getting paid. If you do not win the deal, what is the point? Few salespeople get paid to prospect and present. What they get paid for is to win. No, I am not saying your life is at stake. But if you are going to invest your time in seeing a prospect, why not at least have a strategy to maximize your chance of winning the business?

As I spent my first 5,000 hours coaching and listening to salespeople, I kept asking myself: What is it that makes them crash? What prevents them from landing safely and getting paid?

One problem is that, in most cases, someone already has the account. As you come in for a landing seeking to touch down on the runway and close the deal, your competition-the incumbent provider who already has the account-is waiting in the bushes beside the tarmac with a bazooka, ready to protect the relationship that he or she has with your prospect. His or her goal is to knock you out of the sky before you can land, by interceding to get "last look," matching your price, and keeping the business. In sales, it's called getting rolled.

The second biggest problem is that you do not differentiate yourself enough to be seen by your prospect as betterthan your competition. Your ability to gain altitude is in direct proportion to your differentiation. The higher you fly, the safer you are. When you lack clear differentiation, you are flying around at 100 feet avoiding water towers and small hills. You never gain the altitude you need, and you come crashing down.

These two problems-the competition's relationship with your prospect and a lack of clear differentiation by you, the seller-are what cause you to crash.

Stop Selling and Start Winning

Many sellers have made an art out of telling their stories, putting together slick presentations, and finding numerous other ways to impress their clients. All too often, the emphasis and spotlight are on themselves. They are masters at selling.

Winning is about understanding that there are three people in most selling situations-you, the prospect, and the competition, not just you and the prospect. Your job is to win by using your differentiation to get your prospects to discover for themselves that they are being underserved by their current providers, without saying anything bad about those providers. Your task is to get them to see that what they need, and want to buy, is what you have, without your having to sell them on it.

Many salespeople work hard at getting appointments, going on their sales calls, and hoping that the calls turn into wins. See enough people, and the law of averages will take care of you. A predictable percentage of the people you meet with will buy.

It is the mentality of a slot machine player. If you pull the lever over and over, you can count on winning enough to keep reinvesting your quarters at least for a while. The problem is that playing the numbers game in selling is like playing the numbers game in gambling. In the long run, you will probably wind up with a pocketful of nothing even though you hit a small jackpot on occasion. Psychologists call this "random positive reinforcement." In sales, it is a prescription for average earnings or worse. If you have any desire to take your income to the next level, you are going to need a new strategy-one that is not based on the luck of the draw, the numbers game, or hope. You need a strategy that will enable you to stop selling and to start winning.

A Brief History of Selling

Back in the agrarian days when professional salespeople went from town to town peddling their goods from horse-drawn wagons, nobody much thought of selling as a science. Then came the industrial revolution. Factories sprang up. Railroads linked markets. The stakes got higher. In response, factory owners started to organize teams of selling agents to pitch their mass-produced wares. Selling became a more serious occupation. With a company's workforce counting on sales to feed its families, the salesperson was relied on as the go-to individual to keep those McCormick reapers and Gillette razor blades moving. If salespeople did not get the job done, they could screw up a lot more lives than just their own.

By the early twentieth century, salespeople were firmly established as the engine driving the wheels of commerce. Around the same time, thanks to Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and others, psychology was catching on as a window into the workings of the human mind. In light of this, it occurred to more than a few business leaders, "Hmmm. Maybe there's a way we can improve the selling process itself."

First came feature benefit selling. Start with the seller, and make the seller a better pitch deliverer for the service or product. The focus was on improving the seller's communications skills, using what psychology was finding out about how buyers think. Cite the feature, and mention the benefit. In other words: Here is what it is. Here is what it does. Here is how it is good for you. And then go to a trial close, testing your prospect's inclination to buy.

The creation of a supersalesperson who could sell anyone anything proved to be an illusive goal. Besides, even if it were possible for sales scientists to teach someone how to sell screen doors to submarine manufacturers, the sales profession in that case would lose its ultimate source of survival-customer satisfaction. To deal with this dilemma, the sales gurus developed what became known as consultative selling. Start with the buyer, and figure out how you can satisfy the buyer's needs. The focus was on helping buyers get what they want. A skilled consultative seller became one with the buyer. He or she was the buyer's advocate and partner. He or she helped the buyer make the right decision. Whereas feature benefit selling was about trying to convince the buyer overtly and directly, consultative selling was about creating a cozier relationship with the buyer and leveraging that relationship.

Consultative selling remains the rage today. It is an excellent way to sell-except when it doesn't work. Too often consultative selling does not work, even when it should. Why? The problem is that it is based on an incomplete model of two parties, the buyer and the seller. In reality, there is often a third party, the incumbent provider. In most cases, current providers will get last look. They will leverage their existing relationship to get back in with your prospect-their client-and tell your prospect that they can match your price, your service, and your product. They will steal your ideas and your hard work, and more often than not keep the business. When this happens, you have been rolled. You crashed.

If you are selling in an industry where the current provider is not really an issue, where the buyer is not buying products regularly or being serviced on a consistent basis, this may not be as relevant to you. You may be getting by on feature benefit selling, or you may get satisfactory results using the consultative approach; but if you are in a business where somebody has to lose for you to win, then you know what I am talking about. You need to take out the current provider in order to get paid. If you can't take out the incumbent, then you don't put groceries on the table tonight, no one is going to buy diapers for the baby, and there won't be a summer cottage. If you do not have a definitive strategy for driving a wedge between your prospect and the person who already has the business, you probably do not have a real prospect.

To win in the real world where there are sellers, buyers, and current providers, you must not only be good at building relationships; you must also be good at breaking relationships apart. You need to know how to get your competition fired. In situations where you are competing for an open account against other salespeople, you face the same kind of challenge. For you to win, your competitors must lose. In other words, you must get your competition fired from consideration.

Is Your Focus on Selling or Winning?

In 1896, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto came up with what is known today as the 80/20 Rule. Pareto showed that, in any given population, about 20 percent of the people will tend to end up with about 80 percent of the wealth. This is why, for a typical sales force, the 20 percent who are go-getters will tend to bring in 80 percent of the revenue. Pareto was onto something; and now we know how this imbalance of earnings happens in the sales profession. It is because there are two kinds of salespeople: those who seek just another chance to present, and those who go into every sales call with a strategy to win.

Let me ask you a question. What is the most important part of a car? Is it the engine? The brakes? The key? The driver? It is really none of these. The most important part of a car is the missing part. Without that part, the car will go nowhere, or at least nowhere safely. So what is the most important part of selling? It, too, is the missing part; and, in most cases, the missing part is having a strategy to get your competition fired.

Presenting features and benefits to a prospect is helpful, but not enough. Being consultative is worthy and honorable, but often is also not enough. Perhaps it has never happened to you, where you listened to your prospect carefully, you developed a proposal based on his or her needs, and then you presented it to your prospect effectively. It solved the problems your prospect had and the pricing was competitive, but then you found out the incumbent rep had kept the business. Banging your head against the wall, you asked yourself, "What happened?" You know what happened. The incumbent rolled you. He or she matched your proposal, and the incumbent won and you lost. Yes, you need to build relationships. But you already know that, and you do it. What many salespeople don't do is look at the relationship between the prospect and their competition. That is the missing part. There is no highly effective strategy (other than The Wedge) for getting your prospect to see the incumbent in a negative way. That is one reason that 80 percent of salespeople bring in only 20 percent of the revenue.

Before you put this book back on the shelf, concerned that The Wedge is a negative force, an immoral way of selling, let me ask you this: Do you own a home? Is it insured? Is there any chance that in the past few years you bought something new of great value? Here's why I ask. When your personal insurance agent came to your home 30 days before your most recent renewal to do an exposure analysis, and your agent got out a form listing all the potential areas where you could have a loss, and your agent told you what was currently covered and not covered in case of a loss, so that you wouldn't have to worry about having a claim that you would have to pay out of your own pocket, were you comfortable with how your agent went through that process? Unless you have an absolutely remarkable insurance agent, there is a pretty good chance that you haven't seen your agent in years, maybe never. Perhaps you don't care that it's been that way. Maybe you're so well-to-do that, if you had something stolen or if your house were destroyed by a fire or tornado, you wouldn't care whether your insurance company replaced it for you.

Let me take this one step further and ask you this: How many times have you received a call at home in the evening from someone wanting to give you a quote on homeowner's insurance? How did you respond? You probably said, "No. I'm happy." Doesn't it make sense to you now? If you had a way to get your prospects to see how they are being underserved by their incumbent sales representatives without your saying anything bad about those reps, while getting your prospects to see how great you are without having to tell them, wouldn't that shorten the amount of time it takes to win new business?

In short, what is missing from traditional selling methods is an emphasis on getting your competition fired without saying anything bad about them.

Reality Check

Let us assume that you are ready to go in there with a strategy to win. You are going to help your prospects see what they cannot get from your competitor that they could be getting from you. You are going to leverage that to create a wedge between your prospects and your competitors that you can use to get these accounts. In a perfect world, this would work every time. Unfortunately, that is not the world in which you and I live.

As a salesperson, you likely have a pretty good client retention rate. How many times have your clients shopped around and then said to you, "Can you do this?" In one industry I have worked with, the commercial property and casualty insurance industry, agents enjoy a whopping 92 percent retention rate among their current clients. Is it because they are God's gift to insurance? No. It is because they have the relationship with the client, and they can get last look. How many times have you leveraged your relationships with your clients to get last look? You probably do it all the time.

In football, if you are the quarterback, you know that one way to get five free yards is to bark out signals and get the defense to jump offside. If you are on defense, you do just the opposite. You move out of your three-point stance, doing your best to get the offensive linemen to move prematurely, and if one does, then you get five free yards.

When you are the incumbent and your goal is to retain your account, you operate under a different set of rules from the rules you would use if you were a seller trying to get a new account. For example, have you been to Louisiana? If you have, you know that everyone there likes to hunt and fish. How do you create relationships there? You just take your buddy hunting. After a couple of cold beers or a little jack on the rocks, you can forge a pretty good relationship. Why is this important? It's pretty obvious. When someone comes after your account, you just remind your client of the good times on the hunting lease. You tell your buddy that if he'd just give you a chance, you are sure that you could make some adjustments in your price as well as tweak the service a bit. When all is said and done, who's going to keep the business?

So, there are certain rules of the game that you can use to keep your advantage with your client. Now, turn the tables. When you are talking to a new prospect, is the current provider not trying to do the same thing to you? This is the reality of selling that you have to deal with every day. You cannot be in denial about it. You cannot be naive. To win, you have to acknowledge it exists, and do something about it-and as you do, there are two other realities you will be confronting.

Why Prospects Lie

Early in my career as a sales coach and consultant, I was a little naive and, at one point, I was working for three different Dallas insurance agencies. I spent some time talking with one of the agencies about how to win a particular prospect. Later, when I was talking to the second of the three agencies, it turned out that it was trying to win the same prospect. The third agency I was working for, you guessed it, had the prospect as a client.

About a month after coaching the two agencies pursuing the prospect, I learned that the incumbent agency had kept the account. So I went to talk to a guy I knew at the first agency, and I asked him what had happened. "Man, we got killed on price," he told me. Then I went to the second agency, asked the same question, and they told me the same thing. They, too, said they got killed on price.

So I went to see a friend who worked for the incumbent agency, mentioning to him that I had heard his agency kept the account and that the other two agencies lost out on price. "Who told you that?" he asked. "Want to hear the real story?"

"Sure," I replied. "What happened?"

He then told me that his two rivals' quotes had actually been lower than those of his agency. He said that he had had to take his underwriter to lunch (and buy two bottles of wine) in order to persuade him to lower the price so his client would stay with him. I walked out of our meeting thinking, "It's pretty amazing what a prospect will tell the loser to get off the hook of feeling bad."


Excerpted from How to Get Your Competition Fired (Without Saying Anything Bad About Them) by Randy Schwantz Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Introduction The #1 Obstacle to Most New Business.

PART I: The Strategy to Win.

1. The Wedge.

2. Finding Your Winning Difference.

PART II: The Tactics That Work.

3. The Wedge Sales Call.

4. Discovering the Pain—The Problem Phase.

5. Proposing a Remedy—The Solution Phase.

6. Getting Your Competition Fired—The Commitment Phase.

PART III: Changing the Way Selling Is Done.

7. Individual Success.

8. The Wedge Sales Culture.

9. For Buyers Only.

10. For Current Providers Only.

11. The Wedge Flight Plan: A Quick Review.



About the Author.

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