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How to Compete Against "Do it Internally"

by Brian Walsh /

paper_fortune_teller_resized.jpgWe’ve all been in this conversation at one time or another in our sales careers. Your prospect may understand some of the value you can provide, but is also considering using internal resources to achieve the same result.

If you put yourself in the buyer’s shoes, this option makes complete sense. When looking at potential solutions, you would be negligent not to weigh all your options. As a seller, you must remember that “Do it Internally” is a very different competitor than Do Nothing." Where “Do Nothing” is a conversation focused on the need for change, “Do it Internally” is a conversation about business resources, outcomes and metrics.

Your Action Plan

You beat “Do it Internally” by raising the bar with your buyer. When internal resources are your biggest competitor, you need to focus on the Positive Business Outcomes the client is striving to achieve and the required capabilities that will drive those outcomes. If a buyer is trying to implement a solution, he/she has a list of requirements that are needed in order to make the initiative a success. Remember, these required capabilities exist with or without any outside vendors. The customer needs them to be in place whether you’re in the equation or not. 

Every one of those requirements should be tied to a metric. Aligning them with measurements achieves two critical outcomes: 

  1. Provides a tangible way to demonstrate how any potential solution (yours, do it internally, or any other) will be judged against all others. 
  2. Ensure that the final solution choice meets the required capabilities so well that achieving the Positive Business Outcomes is more of a certainty, than a lofty goal.  

The next step is to get your prospect to agree to socialize the required capabilities and the metrics identified. Ask your buyer, “How are you going to ensure that every person who touches this decision process understands these required capabilities and these metrics?” 

Gaining this understanding ensures that anyone who is going to touch the buying decision understands how EVERY potential solution (even “Do it Internally”) MUST be judged. There are a few dynamics here that are critical to understand:

1. The concept of Positive Business Intent must be present in all your interactions with the buyer, especially when you are competing against “Do it Internally.” When sellers do this well, they are able to: 

  • Help the buyer validate their strategy/thinking and defined requirements by adding measurable ways to determine which solution truly delivers on the buyer’s requirements best.
  • Ask questions, based on their knowledge and experiences. This discovery helps buyers consider other potential critical success factors and possibly uncover additional requirements to ensure success. I call this, “adding more rows to the spreadsheet” (of requirements). 

It’s critical that the customer knows, through your words and actions, that he/she is the primary focus of the conversation. Your purpose is to help with their business. 

2. The number of people who now touch the buying decision is increasing, so you can’t assume that this key information will get communicated well throughout your prospect company. If the message is muddled, the client can potentially make a choice based on gut feel instead of well thought out requirements and metrics that will achieve their desired results.

3. The political landscape shifts dramatically when “Do it Internally” becomes a real option for a client. Buyers may attempt to justify implementing a solution themselves because they’re often considering the implications of going with an “outsider.” They might look past the business issues/opportunities they’re trying to solve/achieve and shift their focus to external factors that won’t get them the results they need.

They get pulled into discussions concerning legacy relationships that could get affected by change. They worry about saving people’s jobs, saving their own job, doing right by their company, etc…. I’m not saying that those concerns are inherently bad. They are valid points, but they totally change the landscape of the deal for you as a salesperson. 

When “Do it Internally” is your chief competition, understanding the political landscape of the buying company is critical. You maneuver through this landscape by maintaining a maniacal focus on the Positive Business Outcomes and metrics your customer wants to achieve. 

When you understand the desired measurable results, you can more easily demonstrate how your solution can achieve even better metrics. Differentiate against “Do it Internally” by treating it as any other name-brand competitor.

  • Demonstrate how you do it and how you can do it better than any of their internal resources. 
  • Identify the required capabilities needed and Positive Business Outcomes that the company hopes to achieve.
  • Socialize, with the help of your internal champion, the way the customer will measure success.
  • Raise the bar for the metrics so high that yours is the preferred solution and other options are wiped off the list.

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