Yesterday I was catching up on some recorded TV on my Sky+ player. One of the programs was a documentary on evolution and it was really focused on the vital role that the competition for food has played in how species evolve.

The food for business is profitable sales and just like the animal kingdom we too have to compete for our food in one way or another.

Inspired by the TV program and continuing with the analogy of competing for food, here are 9 strategies for winning more sales from your competitors. I have won business using all of these over the years!

1. Learn to fight better
This will involve improving your selling skills and learning how to compete against the sales professionals head-to-head. Whilst improving your selling skills is important, competing head-to-head is not a great strategy for those who are not that enthusiastic about selling unless you adopt soft selling tactics!

2. Steal your competitor’s food
When we have an excellent relationship with clients they may actually prefer to work with us to a competitor, or they may want to consolidate suppliers. Make sure you do this before it is done to you!

3. Seek food too small for your competitors
Larger competitors may need a certain size of project to make money so you could focus on those that are too small.

4. Seek food too big for your competitors
If you are able to handle much larger projects than your competitors then focusing on this area could give you an advantage.

5. Find a source of food your competitors can’t get to
Your competitors may have a geographic reach and there could be some areas too far for them to travel to.

6. Find a source of food your competitors don’t like to eat
There could be some types of clients your competitors don’t like working with. Perhaps the culture fit is not right or they can’t get the right results with a certain type of client.

7. Find a source of food your competitors can’t eat
This could be to do with specialist skills, legal and regulatory constraints, or perhaps systems constraints. For example, you can be much more flexible with client requirements.

8. Feast on the leftovers of big competitors
Sometimes your bigger competitors will finish with a client project and not address small ‘snagging’ problems or pick up on potential follow-on projects.

9. Find a source of food your competitors do not know about
This would involve doing research to find new problems or ones that your competitors have overlooked. This is where focusing on a specialist area of the market really helps and the easiest way to find out about new problems is by talking to your existing clients.