Dancing with the Competition? Watch your Step.
How do you feel about your competitors?
You say, "I have a great relationship with my competitors." Right, if you needed $50,000 or your business would fold, I guarantee your friend, the competitor, would send you a bon voyage note. Get real, man. They may talk to you, they may be civil to you, they may even appear to help you — but ask them if they wish you were dead or alive, I'm betting on the funeral home.
They help me, they send me business, they call me to discuss common problems, there's enough business for everyone, are all statements your competitor is hoping you'll say while they systematically plan to destroy you. That's life in the jungle of business (and especially sales).
I feel like "Mad Max." (said gruffly) Friendly competition — there's a good one. OK boys and girls, now let's play fair, I got the last sale, so you can have this one. My butt. Friendly competition is kinda like a friendly snake isn't it? They'll turn and bite you in a heartbeat, and it's real tricky to tell the poisonous ones from the safe ones.
Competition is a lot like an unknown snake. Potentially poisonous, not someone you want to get real close to, it's best to know all you can about them, respect 'em, and always carry a snake bite kit with you — just in case.
Facts about the competition and their feelings about you:
- Some are truly okay.
- Some will co-operate.
- Some are ethical.
- Some like competition.
- Some will truly like you.
- Some will trade business with you.
- Some will help you.
- Most won't. Most don't like you.
How to deal with competition:
- Know where they stand in the market.
- Know who their major customers are.
- Are they taking business from you, or are you taking business from them?
- Have they captured any of your employees?
- Get every piece of their information. (sales literature, brochures)
- Get their prices.
- Shop them every quarter. Know how they sell and what they feature.
- Identify where they are weaker than you and play on it.
- Learn where they are stronger than you and fix it…IMMEDIATELY.
Never say anything bad about the competition — ever.
When you are up against competition on a sales call:
- Never say anything bad about them, even if the prospect does.
- Praise them as worthy competition.
- Show them respect.
- Show how you differ — how your benefits are better.
- Stress your strengths, not their weaknesses.
- Show a testimonial from a customer who switched to you.
- Maintain your ethics and professionalism at all times — even if it means biting your tongue until it bleeds.
My friend, Jim Collins, President of Leasing Legends, somehow obtained a sweatshirt imprinted with the name of his fiercest competitor. It hangs on the wall over his copy machine where everyone can see it. It has a sign next to it which says in big bold hand printing — "THE ENEMY."
Collins has a relationship with this competitor. They speak on the phone, they meet and talk at trade shows. But the reality of it is, Collins wishes they were out of business, and so does the competitor.
And for those of you getting ready to write me one of those, "There's plenty of room for everyone" letters. Suppose there wasn't. Suppose there was only room for two businesses to survive in a market, and there were three businesses out there. Still going to write me? I suggest you go back and mind the store as though it were true.
Competition does not mean war.
It means learn, it means prepare, it means be your best.
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