Don't Diss Your Competition

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

With our economy on the mend, it is a joy to watch suppliers fight to win the business of ready buyers who are finally cutting purchase orders for products and services they need now. As ready buyers decide whom to pick, they often ask a vendor to state why they are better than the competition. This often sets the trap for a naive sales or marketing team to brag about their services or badmouth their rivals. Instead, how can you and your team best respond to a prospect’s query on what makes you their best bet?

Here are five things you should do:

  1. Respond to your prospect’s question of “Who is your competition?” by asking “For what result?” Clarify exactly what result or outcome they seek from a supplier before providing alternatives.
  2. Define your Best and Highest Use® and do so sincerely in terms of the results they are expecting. If you cannot honestly connect what you do to what they need, refer your prospect to someone who can deliver the right results and move on.
  3. When asked who else can deliver the outcomes you can, provide an example of a competitor who would approach their needs quite differently. Ask your prospect what they think of this approach. Immediately turn the discussion back to refining your understanding their business objectives.
  4. Ask your potential client what is the one thing his current supplier could be doing and what the impact of this shortfall is on meeting their objectives. Every customer wants something more if prompted.
  5. Let your customer determine if your suggestion is a fit. In most case, customers already know who your rivals are and are just curious as to who you see as such.

Here are five things you don’t do:

  1. Slander or bad mouth the competition. Buyers are deciding as much on building a relationship with you as they are on purchasing what you sell. How you compete says as much about your service as the specifications of what you are selling. Besides, the customer may be setting a trap to see if you will bad mouth your competition today and your customers tomorrow.
  2. Instigate a discussion of your competitor’s troubles or weaknesses. Don’t dwell on your competitor’s shortfalls. Instead, ask a prospect which services, features, or extras are critical yet currently missing in their current relationship. If they volunteer information on the deficiencies of your competitors, ask them what is the impact of this and define how you prevent a similar outcome.
  3. Seek to crush your competition unnecessarily. As a smaller, niche business you can only serve a slice of whatever market you target. Unless you intend to become the General Electric in your niche, chances are high there is room for your and your competition to succeed. Become the premium provider and skim the business you want.
  4. Blame your competition for losing business. Nine out of ten times you lost the business to a rival who was a better match, who built a stronger relationship, or who was foolish to accept bad business. Next time, don’t even pursue business you did not want in the first place.
  5. Play dirty. A bad relationship with your competition often comes back to haunt you in ways you never know. Avoid those who you know are breaking the rules.

While it is naïve and irresponsible not to compete as hard as you can for clients you want and should be serving, don’t diss your competition. After working with over 200 clients who in turn have thousands of their own, I am convinced of the following:

  • Your biggest competition should be your increasingly tough personal standards.
  • Your biggest challenge should be your ability to understand what your customers need.
  • Your biggest accomplishment is to be able to choose your customers.

Your competition does not even enter the picture if you are doing your job.

Here’s to winning your contests!

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at (412) 973-2080, by email at, or on the web at

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