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focus_3 Essential Pillars for Competitive Selling

3 Essential Pillars for Competitive Selling

By Jennifer Dolan, MA, and Gina Giambalvo

We’ve all heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Nowhere is that more applicable for a life sciences sales professional than in preparing for a competitive sales call. To overcome competitive challenges, mindset is key to success.

Training for life sciences sales professionals often focuses predominantly on preparation and practice, however, there are three essential pillars that support a competitive selling mindset: preparation, practice and presence. The concept of “presence” is often overlooked. But it shouldn’t be. Being fully present for every sales call is essential for competitive selling, and to influence customer behavior in general.

Let’s examine the three pillars one at a time:

Preparation: Gain Mental Confidence

Preparation, or pre-call planning, is the first critical step to build specific call goals, which often lead to a successful customer interaction. This requires performing a comprehensive situational assessment and anticipating each customer’s concerns and preferences. A pro tip is to ask: “How will you apply what you know to proactively overcome your customer’s concerns?”

Practice: Tap into Your Instincts

Once mental confidence is gained preparation, it’s necessary to practice verbalizing to ensure key information is readily available in every conversation. Practicing skills such as asking probing questions and active listening will allow life sciences sales professionals to uncover their customer’s hidden concerns. A pro tip is to visualize success with each customer, and to focus on how it feels to be confident.

Presence: Bring Your True Self

Preparation and practice are things that you do. They are foundational activities that build confidence. Alternatively, presence is a way of being. Presence increases awareness and enables a sales professional to fully show up for each customer engagement. In her book, Presence: Bringing your Boldest Self to Your reminds us that “at some point you must stop preparing content and start preparing mindset.”

It is difficult to define presence, but you know it when you feel it. Cuddy refers to it as “the state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express your true thoughts, feelings, value and potential.” Presence is about finding the balance between what’s in your head, your heart, and your physical body. When truly present, all the intelligences — mental, emotional and physical — are in harmony with one another and readily available.

According to the Keller Center Research Report The Emotionally Intelligent Salesperson, salespeople who are truly present in customer conversations are focused as much on their own personal impact as that of their products. As a result, they are attentive listeners, agile thinkers and more empathetic. Presence enables them to build meaningful relationships and develop trust with their customers.

So, how can a sales professional maintain a sense of presence with each customer? Here are a few pro tips:

• Set a clear intention to be fully present and bring your whole self to the conversation.

• Connect with what matters most to you and who you are to get grounded in your sense of self.

• Reflect on your genuine desire to help your customer and their patients.

• Get physically grounded by taking deep breaths and bringing awareness to your body before entering the conversation.

When building competitive mindset training for life science sales professionals, it is important to include all three pillars for success. In doing so, you set the stage for effective customer conversations, strengthening your team’s ability to advance relationships and create business opportunities. ________________________________________________________________________________Jennifer Dolan, MA, is director, client services, for IC Axon. Gina Giambalvo is learning solutions designer for IC Axon. Email them at and

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