Downplaying the Competition

Question number five in our ‘would you or would you not’ quiz is

Find out which competitors they are talking to, and communicate a concern that people have with that company.

Would you do this in a meeting with a prospective client?

It’s helpful to know who your competition is, and what they are good at, and not good at.  And, although it’s useful to know where your competition is weak, it’s not that useful to communicate it.  I try not to say bad things about my competitors.  It can create negative energy in a conversation.  Like, if I say five times in a conversation that my competitor is ‘not trust worthy’, I risk associating myself in my clients mind with ‘not trust worthy’.  If asked, I’ll usually say something generally positive but not specific, like,  “They’re a good group especially on the West Coast.”  (I am more likely to say this if my client is on the East Coast.)  If I know something they have done that is interesting I’ll relay that, which indicates that I know what’s happening in the market.  Then, I’ll move on.  I don’t want to spend precious time with a prospect talking about my competition, either what they do well, or what they don’t do well.  I want to understand my client’s challenges and offer my ideas to help them.

On to the next option.  Do you ask for a tour of the client’s office?

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2 Responses to “Downplaying the Competition”

  1. Personally, I believe that it is good to be straight and open. I agree with you Tim that negative remarks on competitors are not useful (and not credible coming from you anyway)

    To find out who your competitors are. Questions such as “May I ask with whom you are working with now (or have worked with in the past) in this area?” Sometimes, rarely, the answer may be negative. That’s fine. You do not want to make your client uncomfortable.

    Talking about your competitors. Make it as indirect as possible and make it about yourself, not your competitors: “We know the market, we have benchmarked our work with the best out there and I really don’t know of any company that can deliver this as well as we can because only we can …. [your unique competitive advantage]“

  2. Jonathan says:

    I like your approach of saying something positive but not specific. It can also open up a conversation of how you differentiate yourself from them. “They’re really good at X-Y-Z, and our strength is in the area of A-B-C.”

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