An account has been identified as “competitive.” What this means is that they do not carry, use or prescribe your brand. They, instead, carry, use or prescribe one of your competitor’s brands. Hence the label “competitive” account. What do you do?
Any marketer and sales person worth her/his salt knows that what you do is switch the account’s (or target-customer’s) behavior from carrying, using or prescribing a competitive brand over to your brand. While this behavior change is labeled a “switch,” I prefer the label “convert.” Convert suggests greater commitment to your brand on the part of the customer. It sounds like a religious experience and conjures an impression of creating evangelists with unswerving devotion who will proselytize on behalf of your brand.
So, I was astonished when a client stated that labeling an account “competitive” conveyed a message to his sales personnel that it was one not to be called upon. To this client’s sales personnel, the label “competitive account” suggested that its management was not open to convincing otherwise and to call upon them would be a waste of time. Amazing!
While it is important to get loyal accounts to trade-up to new technologies, sizes, etc. and increase utilization, compliance, persistency, repeat purchase rates, etc., it is also critically important that we convert competitive accounts to our brand. In many instances, it will have the most significant impact on incremental sales and/or profitability.
We should always strive to be so clear with our words as to avoid mis-interpretation. We would hope the label “competitive account” would draw marketing and sales attention like a magnet. However, if it doesn’t work for you within your organization, change the label to “high-value target account” or something that makes it clear to everyone that s/he should be targeting it. And, if reinforcement is needed, put an attractive bounty on converting those accounts to your brand.
Certainly, achieving a conversion will require (going beyond promotional offers) us to change perceptions and attitudes regarding our brand, the competition or both. How we do that is for us marketers to figure out. That’s why we get paid the big bucks!
How to handle a competitive account? Convert them! Identify and create ways to provide a better experience, discover legitimate and productive insights, improve the value perception, opposition customers, among others, that lead to switching. That’s the way to make your marketing matter more. Convert “competitive accounts.”