February 19, 2013
How do you think about your competitors?
For most of us, framing competitors as villains – your arch nemesis — can be enticingly motivating. However you’d be wise to spend considerable time not only learning the ins and outs of your competitors business but finding ways to collaborate with them. Learning to sing your competitors praises has an uncanny way of building your company’s brand equity.
Here are three simple reasons why you should sing your competitors’ praises:
1. To avoid self-sabotage.
Never tell a customer that you do not have any competitors. It is tempting to “wow” potential clients with such a bold statement, but it has the opposite effect. In rare circumstances, this may actually be true. But typically saying you have no competition actually comes across as if you have not done your homework or you are avoiding the topic altogether.
Stakeholders will also question whether or not there’s a market for your offering. Being early is the same as being wrong. Don’t self-sabotage your sales pitch by confusing your positioning.
2. To position yourself effectively
A good salesperson knows their competitors inside and out. A great salesperson can highlight their company’s benefits by differentiating themselves, and never speaking ill about their competitor’s products or services. An amazing salesperson knows how to “wow” stakeholders by leveraging their competitors for the sake of positioning.
Most customers expect to hear you tout your company’s benefits compared against competitors weaknesses, but a savvy small business builds rapport through transparency of imperfection.
Pinpointing your weaknesses and illustrating areas for improvement creates a genuine and meaningful sales dialogue. The “we are better than our competitors at everything” approach is overused and frankly — it is lazy.
You will be more effective in creating a successful brand identity by explaining why you have chosen to strengthen certain areas over others versus merely outlining why you have developed features and benefits to surpass competitors. It is realistic and shows that you have gone above and beyond to educate yourself about industry players.
3. To capitalize on the halo effect.
The halo effect was initially coined by psychologist Edward Thorndike in the 1920s to describe the bias people show towards something or someone because of an initial favorable experience. In addition, we attribute more positive traits (whether they are accurate or not) to someone or something that had a positive first impression on us.
One of the easiest ways to capitalize on the halo effect is to build trust with your clients, and the easiest way to gain trust is to build on your client’s confidence and eliminate their fear during the sales process.
Customers want to feel “safe” by choosing you. If you are not the right person for the job, say so, then refer them accordingly. Taking on a project outside of your business focus or skills for the sake of a financial gain rarely leads you down a positive path.
You may lose that one sale, but you have just gained a new brand evangelist, by ironically referring them to your competitor. Brand evangelists are worth risking a sale any day. You can reap long-term rewards and avoid short-term headaches.
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