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CHAPTER 2

Finding Your

Winning Difference

Remember the hit movie Speed? A bad guy played by Dennis

Hopper secretly rigs a bus with a bomb. Once the

bus is out on the open highway doing better than 50 miles

per hour, Dennis phones his old nemesis, a SWAT team

member played by Keanu Reeves, and gives Keanu the bad

news: The instant the bus slows down below 50, kaboom!

If you are like a lot of hardworking salespeople I know,

you are driving that bus and you have the pedal to the floor.

Go, go, go. Hit the street. Make those calls. Send those

follow-up e-mails. Generate those leads. Touch base with

those accounts. Drop in on those prospects. Go to that reception.

Keep at it. Keep plugging. You cannot slow down

because if you do, kaboom! In your mind, every moment that

you are not contacting prospects is a dangerous moment.

Slow down now, and your career would blow up. But slow

down you must, if you want to find your winning difference.

In this chapter, we look at how to do the kind of

strategic precall research that will enable you to define

your competitive advantage clearly and powerfully. If you

are going to bust an existing relationship, then you need to

go into your sales call prepared with the knowledge of why

your prospect needs you, and how your prospect is being

underserved by the current provider. If you are competing

for an open account, you need the same clear picture of

your strengths. You have to be able to get your prospects to

acknowledge and understand how they are being underserved

by your competitor and how they will be better

served by you. Doing this kind of precall research will enable you to find the specific proactive services that you provide

and your competition doesn’t, and that will enable you

to proactively control your prospects’ experiences, making

their future more predictable.

How, then, do you find and effectively articulate your

competitive advantages—your winning difference?

Information, Knowledge,

and Intelligence

The Internet has leveled the playing field when it comes to

quickly finding out basic information about companies and

what they do. Anyone who has heard of Google, Yahoo!, or

MSN can check out most medium-sized and larger businesses

without having to place a single phone call. For

public companies, you can visit EDGAR (Electronic Data

Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval System) online at

www.sec.gov and review its Securities and Exchange Commission

filings, which are chock-full of useful information.

Most companies of any size these days have some presence

on the World Wide Web that is retrievable via search engines.

With information no longer scarce, the research advantage

in selling goes to those who can gain the insights

and discover the specific critical facts unique to each situation.

As others have noted, we are advancing from the “information

age” to the “knowledge age.”

There is a significant difference between the information

that is readily available from public sources and

the knowledge you must have to develop a winning strategy.

There are many critical items you must know. As a salesperson, you know what these include. What are your

prospect’s strategic objectives? Who influences the buying

decisions? If there is a current provider, how long has that

person had the prospect’s business? How did he or she get

that business? Is the prospect just another customer of the

provider, or do they have a closer relationship, more like

partners? Has it been a rocky situation at times, or are

they bosom buddies? Is there any scuttlebutt on problems

or issues in the way service is being provided? The question

is: How do you get this knowledge? Obviously, these

are not the kinds of questions whose answers are posted

on a company’s web site. So this is where you use your interpersonal

skills to make contacts and develop sources. If

you have been in sales for any length of time, you already

know how to do this and are reasonably good at it.

After moving from Web-based research for the information

every salesperson has to Wedge-based research for

the knowledge you need to begin creating the winning difference

that will help you get the deal, you must then drill

down even deeper into a third level of detail. Once you have

the facts—the inside knowledge that you need about a

prospect—you need to convert that knowledge into intelligence.

In other words, you need to analyze what you know,

convert it into the most powerful way that you can leverage

it, and go into your sales call in a position to use that knowledge

intelligently to maximize your competitive advantage.

Here is an example of what I mean. Let’s say you

found out that Holding Company of America was shopping

advertising agencies to handle its retail clothing store

chain. So you amassed information on the company, and

then you dug deeper and found out that Holding felt its current agency had been less than aggressive in placing its

TV advertising efficiently. Holding did not feel that it was

getting the biggest bang for its buck. Obviously this is a

key piece of knowledge. The question is: How can you

most intelligently use that knowledge to your advantage?

How can you leverage your proactive services to make

Holding’s future more predictable? It would make sense in

this case for you to make Holding aware of your reporting

system that spells out in detail the demographic groups targeted,

the cost objective for reaching them, the audience

actually reached, the cost efficiency of the buy based on a

media audit, and a plan for how your media buyers will obtain

and document bonus spots, make-goods, and other

added value for Holding. That awareness will give Holding

a clear picture, based on something real and concrete, of

how you would ease its anxiety in a way that will also compare

you favorably with Holding’s current agency.

The question is: How do you do the kind of precall

research to contrast yourself with your competition without

saying anything bad about them, and in a way that

leads your prospects to conclude on their own that they are

being underserved and should be doing business with you?

Researching Your Competition

I have been amazed during my years as a consultant at the

number of salespeople who research their prospect, get an

appointment, go in and start presenting, and do not know

who the current provider is, or who else is pitching the account.

For the most part, it is not because they could not

have found out. It is just that they had no reason to value

doing it. Often, they were engaged in traditional selling as

its best. They would create a relationship, ask a lot of questions,

learn their prospect’s needs, and work hard to identify

problems for which they could offer solutions. They

would operate by the book, the way consultative selling is

supposed to work, between a seller and a buyer.

When these salespeople did undertake competitor research,

it frequently was the type that gave them the kind

of reconnaissance they could get from 30,000 feet up instead

of the kind that would give them some traction on

the ground.

I am going to show you a different way to do competitive

research. Instead of spending your time boning up on

the same stuff everyone else knows, you will be focusing on

those things about your competition that will give you the

edge you need to win the account. The purpose of research

based on The Wedge is not to make you an expert on the

competition. It is to identify the competition’s vulnerabilities—

the areas where your competition is already underserving

your prospect, or would be if they were hired

instead of you—and to use those areas of underservice to

motivate your prospect to hire you instead of keeping or

hiring them.

Why More Salespeople Don’t

Do the Right Kind of Research

Traditional selling, as we noted, takes competition for

granted. It assumes that your relationship with the buyer is the key relationship for you to focus on, and that the issue

of your competition will somehow take care of itself. But as

you know, it does not really work that way. Many salespeople

have developed great relationships with companies that

never did end up giving them a contract. Pure relationship

selling may be pleasant and enjoyable, but it is more a luxury

for the rich than a tool for growing new business with

any great degree of speed or predictability.

So why is it that more salespeople do not make researching

their rivals a vital part of their precall preparation

and strategy? For one thing, they target prospects that

they know are looking, where there is no embedded incumbent

to oust. They go into those sales calls, tell their

stories, and hope for the best. Where there is active competition

for an account or an incumbent in place, they feel

the pressure of time. They question the value of using their

limited time for competitor research. They don’t know if it

really helps all that much.

Many sales managers reinforce this type of thinking.

They encourage their sales representatives to stay busy,

make a lot of calls and contacts, and keep pitching. They

are not trained to teach their reps how to get the knowledge

they really need, how to contrast their proactive services

with those of the competition in order to make a

comparison that truly gives their reps something to sell.

These sales managers cannot show their reps how to descend

from 30,000 feet to the ground, and start winning in

one-to-one combat.

Later on, in Chapter 8, I introduce a sales meeting

format called CRISP (continuous and rapid improvement

sales process). The idea is to convert your sales meeting into a catalyst for driving growth by focusing on the concrete,

specific proactive services relevant to each prospect

that will move the deal forward. As we have discussed, this

is a critical element in winning. If you don’t have a persuasive

point of comparison with your competition based on

proactive service, you very likely will never get the traction

you need to get your competition fired.

The Research You Need to Win

As we discussed earlier, companies compete on price, product,

and service. Usually a company will not find any sustainable

competitive advantage in price—not unless it has

chosen to hang its hat on price, as with retailers like Wal-

Mart and Dell computers. Moreover, in services industries

especially, CEOs are not happy to hear that their sales reps

went out and doubled new business by beating the competition

on price. And where price differences do exist between

competitors, they are usually too marginal to be

decisive. Similarly, product differences are usually either

too slight or too short-lived to be sustained. Unless your

company has an airtight patent, you can’t count on milking

a product advance for very long before your competitors

start introducing something equivalent.

This leaves service, and most companies think that

“great service” consists of being responsive to their customers’

needs, of being there for them. The problem is

that all companies say that. Who other than a monopoly

can get away with not being responsive to its customers?

Everybody does a decent job of reactive service. It’s as basic to a company’s survival as a cash balance and working telephones.

It’s a minimum for staying in the game, not a competitive

advantage.

Competitive advantage comes from proactive service,

the day-to-day things a company does to make its customers’

future more predictable. These days, companies

with a strong proactive services platform can make it their

greatest differentiator in winning business away from competitors.

By researching and comparing the proactive service

you offer with the service your competition offers—and by

matching your strengths against your competition’s weaknesses

regarding proactive service in order to find your competitive

advantage—you can gain the knowledge you need to

use The Wedge and to start winning more new business

than you ever have.

Let me repeat the mantra, because it really is one of

the central themes of this book: Our job as salespeople, the

thing we need to do to make The Wedge work for us, is to

proactively control the experiences of our clients, making

their future more predictable.

Researching Yourself

In 1996, my consulting firm conducted a survey of insurance

agencies across the United States. We asked each

agency to tell us what it was saying about itself in its marketing.

In other words, what made it different from (and

better than) its competitors. When we compiled the results,

we were struck by their uniformity. With almost no exception,

every agency we contacted cited the same attributes:

 competitive prices, great service, impeccable reputation,

highly trained professional staff, years in business, and commitment

to quality. Had we kept them on the phone longer,

I am sure we would have heard about the friendly receptionist

in the lobby and the nice plants in the atrium. What these

agencies claimed made them better made them the same.

In most industries even today, many salespeople are

trying to win accounts by citing things about their companies

that merely reflect the minimum standard for remaining

in business. Not surprisingly, the mediocre results they

get reflect the minimum standard for remaining in sales.

When you are selling parity, you are just one more sheep in

the flock.

How, then, do you get at what makes you better? How

do you drill down and find the things that will make your

prospects clearly see why they should be doing business

with you?

What Is Competitive Advantage?

Do you know your competitive advantage? Here is a simple

definition: It is your strengths versus your competition’s

weaknesses. That is your competitive advantage.

When a provider already has the account, the advantage

can be formidable. You are in a losing position that is

difficult to overcome. Your competition has the account,

and you do not. Imagine yourself in a game against the current

provider. All that provider needs to do is tie, or maybe

even score a little less than you. It already has the relationship

with the prospect. It has home field advantage. It is

the reigning champion, and you are the challenger who is

trying to unseat the incumbent champion.

Every company has strengths and weaknesses—your

company as well as your competition’s company. To give

yourself the best chance to win, you will need to have a

good idea of which of your strengths match up favorably

against your competition’s weaknesses. When researching

and comparing yourself with your competition, remember

these three rules:

1. Your strength versus the competition’s strength = tie,

or you lose.

2. Your weakness versus the competition’s strength =

you lose.

3. Your strength versus the competition’s weakness =

you win.

Rule 3 is the only place you can find the advantages

that you have over your competition. Do you know what

your strengths are that might match up well against the

weaknesses of your competition? If not, I would ask you:

What do you have to sell?

How to Find Your Competitive Advantage

There are three ways you can have a competitive advantage

in services. First, you can provide a service that is

unique, that no one else provides. Second, you can provide

a service that others provide, but you have a better process

for it that gets better results. Third, you can describe the

service you offer in such a clear and compelling way that

prospects are motivated to buy from you rather than from

your competitors.

Only You Do It

I was once conducting a workshop for a major financial

services corporation that was having trouble articulating

exactly what made it better than and different from its

competitors. The company had a terrific brand, but its senior

executives and sales managers could not readily come

up with the specific strengths that differentiated the company

from its rivals. During the course of the workshop, a

woman who worked for the company spoke up as if to remind

me to keep things in perspective. “Randy,” she said,

“our brand is worth $14 billion.” “I know it is,” I replied.

“That gets you in the door, but it doesn’t get you the deal.”

A lot of your competitors have great brands, too. Most

of the time, your brand versus another good brand is a

wash. The question is: What do you have to sell? Do you

have a service that only your company offers? If so, congratulations.

Most companies do not have such an obvious,

readily apparent competitive advantage. Even if they do, it

likely will not last long—whether it is cell phones with pictures,

extra leg room on a passenger jet, global positioning

systems in rental cars, or customer change counters in bank

lobbies. For differentiation that matters and lasts, you will

most often need to look elsewhere rather than rely on your

brand and your occasional innovations.

You Have a Better Process for

It That Gets Better Results

My wife, Lori, and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary

by treating ourselves to a stay at a five-star Dallas hotel.

When we came down for breakfast in the morning, the

maоtre d’ welcomed us into the dining room. I was taken aback when I looked at the menu to discover that a basic

scrambled egg breakfast was going to cost us $29.95 each. As

politely as I could, I asked if there were an alternative breakfast

place, and we were referred to a restaurant down the

street that featured a $2.95 scrambled egg special. How was

it that our five-star hotel, using the same eggs from Arkansas

and the same city water, was able to serve up a meal that sold

for 10 times more? Its chef had a better process that got better

results. In one case, the eggs would turn out light, fluffy,

and superbly palatable; and in the other place, where we decided

to dine, they proved to be more like rubber bands.

When you and your competitors are offering identical

or similar services, it is not merely what you do that makes

you better but how you do it. In business, the question to ask

yourself is: Where do I have better processes that produce

better results, creating more predictable results for my

clients? How do I drill down into the details to find them?

For example, there are about half a million certified

public accountants (CPAs) in the United States. They all

can do taxes. But how they do taxes varies. One might claim

to minimize your tax liability but merely send you a completed

return to sign. Another might stop by your office in

December and go over a tax minimization checklist with

you, looking for areas to reduce your liability and giving

you other specific advice so that you do not overpay (a

proactive service).

Suppose, for another example, that you own your own

home, and your homeowner’s insurance policy includes

coverage of your personal property. You want to make sure

you are protected, so you regularly write a check for the

premium. But do you really know what is covered and what is not? Some insurers simply provide the policy and the required

explanatory documents. But wouldn’t it be nice if your

agent came out 60 days before renewal to do an exposure

analysis, and went over a checklist to see what items you have

bought such as cars, jewelry, furniture, and other add-ons to

make certain everything was covered (a proactive service)?

Again we see that your competitive advantage lies not

only in what you do but also in how you do it. This is where

you can find your better process that gets better results,

and creates more predictable results for your clients.

Nowhere are the opportunities greater for you to create

competitive advantage than in the proactive services

you provide. These are the specific, concrete things you do

to make your client’s future more predictable.

I recommend to my own clients that they create a

written proactive services time line for each of their customers.

The time line sets forth the things they will do in

the course of the year to provide service, prevent problems,

deal in a timely fashion with issues that arise, and otherwise

make life more predictable and more successful for the

people who have hired them. By putting a written proactive

services time line in place, they are making their service

more predictable for their clients in areas where their

clients previously were underserved. This helps prevent

new pain from jeopardizing their current relationship with

their clients, and it also “Wedge-proofs” these clients by

making their service predictable.

You Differentiate It Compellingly

How many times have you spoken to a “computer person,”

a technical person in information technology (IT), and carried on an understandable, meaningful dialogue that enabled

you simply and easily to grasp the main points? Indeed,

how many times have you had a conversation with an

IT person that lasted more than 30 seconds? For most of

us, computer people have a language all their own that defies

our immediate understanding.

The challenge for nearly all businesspeople is that

each of us has a language peculiar to our own industry that

prospects do not fully understand. This creates a major

selling problem. What prospects do not understand they

cannot appreciate. If we are unable to translate the value of

what we do into clear, concrete examples that prospects

understand, then we cannot gain a competitive advantage

from that value. I ask you again: If you cannot articulate

your competitive advantage, what do you have to sell?

What happens is that you end up relying on pure relationship

selling. You develop trust and comfort with

your prospect, and hope to be there when the opportunity

to win business arises. But would it not be better to

shorten the time it takes to get paid, to have a predictable

way of winning new business without having to rely on

relationships that may or may not quickly bear fruit?

That is what this book is about. Your strategy using The

Wedge is to go in there and bust the relationship between

your prospect and the current provider. How can

you best do that? By helping your prospects see in the

clearest, most concrete way possible how they are being

underserved by their provider, or would be without you.

That is the way to create truly powerful differentiation,

gain competitive advantage, shorten the selling cycle,

and win the account.

The Ladder of Abstraction

What does “quality” look like? Can you draw a picture of

“love”? If you cannot, neither can your prospect. If your

prospect is unable to visualize what you are offering, how

will he or she be able to comprehend a meaningful difference

between you and your competitors? Yet this is the way

too many salespeople try to differentiate themselves. They

have a mental thesaurus full of glittering generalities—

great prices, dependable quality, friendly service, real

value, blah, blah, blah!

You may remember the late U.S. Senator S.I. Hayakawa.

He was a mustachioed politician and academic who

was partial to wearing tams. In the late 1960s, as president

of what was then San Francisco State College, Hayakawa

took a stand against the disruptive tactics of unruly student

protestors. But Hayakawa’s first passion was language, not

politics or grating on rebellious young people. In his book

Language in Thought and Action, Hayakawa wrestled with

the way we use words to convey meaning. He put the language

we use on a scale, from abstract to concrete. He

called his scale “the ladder of abstraction.” The lower on

the ladder, the more concrete the word. The higher on the

ladder, the more abstract the word.

Abstract/General versus Concrete/Specific

My daughter, Reagan, brought home from school an excellent

example of the ladder of abstraction. It was a chart

showing how dairy products are organized in a supermarket.

Imagine Reagan’s chart as a ladder. On the top rung is

the word “dairy.”

However, if you asked your spouse to pick up some

“dairy” on the way home from the office, the term would

not be very useful. On the next rung down are the words

“milk” and “cheese,” dividing dairy products into these two

broad categories. Again, unless you had no real food preferences,

asking your spouse for “milk” or “cheese” would

not necessarily enable you to get what you wanted. Moving

further down the ladder, the “milk” products are divided

into skim, 1 percent, 2 percent, whole, and half-and-half;

and the “cheese” products are divided into American,

Swiss, cheddar, cream cheese, and cottage cheese. Moving

still lower on the ladder, the specific kinds of cheese are

further broken down into, for example, various degrees of

fat and sodium content. Now we are talking. “Honey,

could you pick up some low-fat, small-curd cottage cheese

on the way home?”

Selling on the Lower Rungs

The ladder of abstraction can be applied to any product or

service you offer. At some point as you work your way

down the ladder, the concreteness and specificity of what

you are talking about become clear to your prospect. That

is why it is more effective to sell from the lower rungs of

the ladder—where you and your prospect have the same

mental picture, and you therefore can get your prospect to

appreciate how you do things better. When you have done

that, you can leverage your competitive advantage over

the competition.

Consider our earlier examples in light of the ladder

of abstraction.

Remember the major financial services corporation

with the $14 billion brand that could not articulate its differentiation

from competitors? Once we started moving down

the ladder of abstraction in our workshop, it turned out that

this company had a specific way of training its clients that

enabled those clients to get more value from their relationships

than they could with similar financial services firms

that provided comparable training. That specific, concrete

difference in the method of training proved to be a marketable

point of differentiation that enabled the company to

use The Wedge to win business away from its competitors.

When choosing between the two CPAs who both offer

to minimize your tax liability, would you rather have

one who fulfills that promise by merely mailing you a completed

tax return to sign or one who stops by your office in

December and goes over a tax minimization checklist to

make sure everything is considered?

When choosing between the two homeowner’s insurance

providers who both cover your tangible personal

property, would you rather have one who merely mails premium

renewal notices, or one who is willing to stop by

your house 60 days before renewal to make sure any newly

acquired items are covered?

In each case, while the promised benefit is the same,

one company has a better process that produces better results,

and by staying low on the ladder of abstraction the

company can communicate to you in concrete terms how it

is better than its competitors.

Where to Look

Where do you look to find the concrete things you do on a

day-to-day basis that you can get your prospect to visualize? Where do you find the corresponding weaknesses on

the part of the competition? Where do you find the material

for the sound bites that create visuals contrasting your

strengths with the competition’s weaknesses?

I can give you the techniques to use so that you can

come up with the specific examples that fit your situation.

First, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your

prospects. Ask yourself what would typically be some of the

things they dislike. These are the areas where you can develop

proactive solutions. In most industries, salespeople

have a pretty good idea of what these pain-producing

problems are likely to be. A generic list of painful symptoms

to tell you where to look more deeply might include

such complaints as:

• I never see our rep.

• My calls are not returned quickly.

• The invoices were higher than we expected.

• They do not seem to really understand our business.

• They do not bring us new ideas and suggestions unless

we ask.

• They give us things at the last minute.

• Our billings are inaccurate.

• Things seem to fall between the cracks.

Just about any business should have 12 to 18 specific,

concrete examples of service strengths (such as those that

match up against your competitors’ service weaknesses related

to the symptoms just cited) that it can use the ladder

of abstraction to communicate effectively to its prospects.

Winning with Precision and Confidence

When you have found your winning differences, and

know how to communicate them powerfully by staying

low on the ladder of abstraction, you will be able to go

into any selling situation with more precision in finding

the pain that will drive The Wedge, and with greater

confidence of winning.

During the first Gulf War following Saddam Hussein’s

occupation of Kuwait, television viewers were awed

by the accuracy of the munitions. Laser-guided missiles

were literally sent down the chimneys of buildings or

through front doors. One bomb, one successful hit. It was

in sharp contrast to the tactics of World War II, when multiple

bombs were often scattered over a broad area to increase

the odds of hitting a target. The Wedge is efficient

in the same way. When you have the specific, concrete examples

you need to find your prospect’s pain, you can use

your time far more productively—getting to the heart of

the matter without a lot of peripheral discussion.

At your next sales meeting, you can benefit greatly by

putting your prospects, your competitors, and your own

company up there on the whiteboard, drilling down into

what makes you better than and different from your competitors,

matching that up with your prospects’ likely pain,

and then converting those examples into concrete chunks

that you can go out and use to create the kind of powerful

differentiation you need to drive The Wedge between your

prospects and your competitors.

Because you know the details, you and your colleagues

will go into selling situations with more confidence—no

more relying on generalities that result in follow-up questions you cannot answer. When you think about it, there

are four levels of knowing: you either know something; you

know about something, you do not know it; or you do not

know that you do not know it. One of the keys to rapid

growth is to stop faking knowledge. Admit what you do not

know, and then learn it as rapidly as possible. Differentiation

using the ladder of abstraction to find the concrete,

specific things that are your competitive advantages will

enable you to pursue new business based on what you actually

do know. Knowledge is power and, in selling, knowledge

gives you the confidence you need to win the respect

of your prospects.

Summary

Before we move ahead and discuss how to conduct a sales

call using The Wedge, let us take a moment to review the

highlights of this chapter:

• Your precall research should include all three parties

in the selling situation—your prospect, the competition,

and yourself.

• Your research should focus on finding and clearly describing

your competitive advantages over the competition

related to the pain your prospect is likely to

have regarding the current provider’s service. The

better and different service that you can offer to ease

your prospect’s pain, contrasted with the prospect’s

current service that is causing that pain, is your winning

difference.

• The specific knowledge you can gain about a company

from individual people in the know can have much

more impact than the vast amount of information available

via the Internet and other media. Your next step is

to use that knowledge with intelligence, converting it

into a form that will enable you to powerfully state

your competitive advantage.

• Questions to address when researching prospects include:

Who will make the decision to hire me, and

who influences that decision? If there is a current

provider, what is the nature of the provider’s relationship

with the prospect, including any weaknesses

in service and other areas of vulnerability?

Whom do I know who knows someone who works

for the prospect?

• When researching the competition and your own

company, you should look for your strengths that

match up favorably against the competition’s weaknesses.

Those are your competitive advantages.

• There are basically three dimensions of competition:

price, product, and service. Your greatest opportunity

to gain competitive advantage and win accounts lies in

service, and especially in proactive service, not reactive

service.

• There are three places you can find your competitive

advantage in services: (1) something that only you do;

(2) something that you and others do, but you have a

better process for doing it that gets better results; and

(3) something that you and others do, but you have a

compelling way of describing it that motivates

prospects to want to do business with you.

• It is not just what you do but how you do it that

makes you better. In explaining how you do something,

you should identify and communicate the

specific things that you do, rather than giving your

prospect general descriptions.

• When talking to prospects, stay low on the ladder of

abstraction, using concrete, specific words that create

mind pictures.

• You should create for each prospect and client a proactive

services time line. This time line will prevent the

pain your prospect associates with his or her current

service, and will help to ensure continuing client satisfaction

with you.

• Your job as a salesperson is to proactively control the

experiences of your clients, making their future more

predictable.

• By doing precall research that matches your strengths

against the competition’s weaknesses, that enables you

to compellingly describe your proactive services in

concrete terms that differentiate you from the competition,

and that prompts your prospects to conclude

that doing business with you will alleviate the pain

they associate with their current service, you can begin

winning new business more predictably.

Now that you have learned The Wedge precall strategy,

it is time to examine the tactics that you can use to win

the account by getting your competition fired . . . without

saying anything bad about them.

Part II outlines a six-step conversation, The Wedge

Sales Call, that you can use as a format each time you

visit with a prospect. It is not a script, something you

need to memorize. It is a conversational road map, with

easy-to-remember segue phrases to take you from one

step to the next.

Your approach in using The Wedge to win new business

will no longer be to “sell” prospects. You are going

to leave traditional selling behind—no more canned presentations,

feature benefit spiels, and trial closes. Instead,

you will guide your prospects through a process of selfdiscovery,

letting them stay comfortably in control of the

pace. When you have done it right, your prospects will

ask you to do business, and they will affirm that they are

ready to fire their provider, or to stop talking to your

competitors, in order to hire you and make it happen.