I recently met with an entrepreneur who had an idea for a product that he wanted some feedback on. After hearing about his project I did a Google search and, sure enough, found a very similar product already available.
The look on his face told me that he was not happy to learn about this new competition. I had the opposite reaction, I was happy to find them.
Competition is a great thing to have. You need someone to beat. Monday night football would be boring if there was only one team in the NFL. You should want to destroy your competition.
Whenever I tell people my views on this I often hear feedback along the lines of, “The market is big enough for more than one company to be successful“. A market may be big enough for more than one company to operate, but there can only be one gorilla.
Here are 5 suggestions on dealing with your competition.
1. Act like a professional fighter
Professional UFC fighters and boxers demonstrate very well how to deal with competition. They might be friendly outside of the ring, but leading up to a fight you would often never know it. They have their game face on and when dealing with competition, you should too.
If you’re friendly with your competition, or perhaps used to work with them, try to forget all that if you are competing head-to-head. Professional hockey players have been known to throw some of the hardest hits against their best friends. It’s all part of the game.
2. Always assume competition exists
“We don’t have any competition” is perhaps one of the most naive things a founder or salesperson can say. You are always competing! If you are not competing directly against a competitor on a deal there is always another option for your prospect, even if that competition is the “do nothing” option. I founded a company that helped organizations go paperless for safety compliance. Of course we had competitors but I always said our biggest competitor was Microsoft Excel. I would take a real competitor over Excel any day.
If my customer was choosing between me and a competitor, I at least knew they were ready to spend some money. If there was no competition then I was competing against doing nothing, and doing nothing is really cheap in the short term compared to buying your product or service.
3. Don’t copy your competition
Putting a new feature in your software or trying to mimic one of your competitor’s marketing strategies can often be a mistake. First off, you don’t really know if something your competitor is doing is working for them. You might end up sinking time and money into something that fails so you can play the “me too” game.
Instead, get your inspiration from customer feedback and look at other successful companies that you don’t compete directly against for motivation when it comes to sales and marketing.
4. Compete on customer service
You may think that you have a better set of features than your competitor but it’s very hard for your prospects to tell the difference. Competing on customer service is often the best way to win. Early in the sales cycle, outwork your competitor. It’s a cliche, but people do buy from people they like. Make your prospect like you more than your competition.
5. Don’t bad mouth your competition
Putting your competition down in an unprofessional way typically does not sit well with prospects. Never make a personal attack against your competitor. Focus on your strengths in areas you know you have an edge. If you have 24/7 customer support and your competitor does not, then drive home why that’s so important and urge your customer to research your competitors’ support options.
Constantly bashing the competition in front of your prospect will eventually come off as a bad attitude and your customer may not want to do business with you.
Competing to win a deal makes selling fun. The excitement of a win over a competitor can really motivate you to pick up the phone and do it all over again.
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