Forget tough! Today, competition is fierce! One of my clients described it right on! "It's a real bloodbath out there!" How true! Business is getting harder every day, and it's likely to stay this way into the foreseeable future.
Nevertheless, you must always operate your business and sell your products and services with the utmost integrity and professionalism. That means you must refrain from badmouthing your competition—no matter how badly you'd like to. If you do, it shows the customer you lack class. Worse, it may cause your customer to question your character and whether they can trust giving you their business.
The most important ingredient of any relationship—whether it is business or personal—is a shared sense of trust. You'll never be able to win over customers without it, for trust is the foundation for reliability, dependability, honesty and good faith.
Here's a real-world example of a com-pany that achieved success through a bold sales initiative and a strict policy of "zero-tolerance for badmouthing the competition." A machinery manufacturer made a decision to place an all-out attack on their biggest competitor. At their annual sales meeting, the owner announced that any salesperson who could swipe business from their big-gest competitor during the next year would receive double commission on their sale.
As they listened to the announcement, the sales force sat there with their eyes wide-open and their jaws sitting on their chests! This was quite an incentive—almost unheard of, especially these days. It also reinforces the term "bloodbath" in competition. The owner asked the sales force for two things: (1) that they keep this initiative highly confidential; and, (2) that they refrain from ever badmouthing or criticizing their competitor.
Smart man. While he recognized that it would take a smart strategy to gain market share, he was adamant that their sales people portray a high level of professionalism when communicating with potential customers.
It's been a year now, and the initiative worked! It cost the company higher commissions but they will make it up tenfold in a short period of time.
You don't have to have an initiative that is quite that bold. But you do have to be professional at all times. When your customer tells you they are doing business with your competitor and they are not really interested in hearing what you have to say or making a switch over to you, it's best to make statements similar to these:
- "They do a good job. I hope you'll give me the opportunity to demonstrate why we've won the business of our customers."
- "I know them well. They are a good company. May I tell you why XYZ switched over to our company?"
- "They are respected by many manufacturers, and I'm sure you'll be pleased. Joe, may I tell you about the highly complex molds we've made for XYZ, and why they know they can depend on us if you're not completely committed yet?"
- "I understand. I would want to check out many sources if I were you. Would you be willing to hear why manufacturers such as XYZ, ZYX and YZX have had us pro-duce their parts for the past five years?
- "They do a big business, and they have a good reputation. Here's why our customer's tell us we're better."
- "We're capable of handling complex projects and have the capacity to meet an increased demand. Currently, we're turning out some five hundred parts a week. That's why XYZ Company is working with us. Our customer Mr. Jones, told us we on of the few shops that can turn out this type of volume, with the highest quality and at a fair price."
- "We provide state-of-the-art expertise in providing highly complicated parts to manufacturers. When XYZ Company showed us the prototype, we made a perfect mold, and produced a perfect part for their new model. They told us they are highly pleased with the quality as well."
- "We offer technical machinery support that exceeds our customers' expectations, within a 24 hour response time. I don't want to bombard you with papers, but if you'd like to take a look at these few testimonials you can see why we are successful. If you'd like to see more, I'd be happy to provide you with them."
Go after business like a tiger, but refrain from badmouthing your competition. You won't win over customers by verbally attacking the competition; you will win by working hard for it, developing a sense of trust, and portraying a higher class of service from your competitors.