Business people look at the competition in different ways. For some, competitors are sworn enemies. Others are very friendly with theirs. Regardless of how you feel about your competition, you can’t ignore their existence: At some point, your customers and prospects will bring them up, whether it is to negotiate price, to tell you whom they are working with, or even to ask you what you really think of the competition.
When it comes to the competition, it pays to take the high road — speaking poorly of them is simply a bad reflection on you and your company. Here are a couple of ways to handle different situations:
“What do you think of [your competitor]?”
The person asking this question is fishing for something. They may be letting you know that they are considering your competitor, or just may want to know your thoughts. When responding, the key here is to find out why they are asking. Try “Good firm. Why do you ask?”
“[Your competitor] is charging 10% less than you are.”
The natural reaction here is to say, “Of course they are — they are not as good as we are.” But then you get into a discussion based on opinion, which may not appear credible. Instead try, “You know, I have heard that. But you told me that you require [features of your product/service] that we are able to offer — does [competitor] offer that?” (By the way, if you do not have a competitor charging less than you are, you probably are not charging enough for your product or service.)
Remember if you speak poorly about your competitor, your customer or prospect will take everything you say with a grain of salt. If you speak well of them or at least stay neutral, your customer will respect what you have to say. And don’t forget to make sure everyone at your company does the same.
P.S.: Many readers have told us that they can’t wait for their next issue of The Report to get more “how-to” tips from the experts. For inspiration, insight and great ideas in between issues, check out our blog at http://www.common6.com/.
Robert Levin is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of The New York Enterprise Report. Levin has extensive experience with midsize and small businesses, having previously held CEO, CFO, and COO positions with companies in several industries. He is also a contributor for The Huffington Post. Levin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (212) 307-6760.