Believe it or not, being on friendly terms with your competitors will make your business thrive. For some, it’s hard to imagine - people fear having good relationships with companies scoping the same market. The truth is that the market is big enough for everyone to do their business. Healthy business competition is a good thing! It’s what pushes you forward. So, treat your competitors as friends, and respect them as professionals. They will reciprocate the positive attitude.
Competition can be direct or indirect. Direct competition is a company selling the same product to the same type of customers, e.g., Pipedrive and Salesforce. Indirect competition are products that aren’t a solution like yours but fulfill the same need, e.g., any CRM system VS MS Excel - which is still so popular, especially with smaller or younger companies.
You should identify both. Knowing your competitors, and that’s not just a handful of them, gives you the means to differentiate yourself from them. Find your unique selling point and invest your time and energy into it, rather than thinking about how you could do your competitors wrong.
Don’t let your competitors hate you just because they don’t know you, and vice versa. You’ll both have your territory.
It makes you work hard
You’re motivated to invest and innovate as you want to be at the top amongst your competitors. They can inspire you, and you can learn a lot.
It increases product demand
The more companies are pitching a similar solution, the bigger the awareness is. People will start getting curious about the solutions and reasons other companies use them.
It helps you differentiate yourself
You should look at what your competitors do, what they succeed in, and where they fail. You’ll then see where you fall behind and where you have an advantage. Knowing the competition will help you state your unique value proposition.
It ensures a competitive atmosphere in your company
The sales department will work hard to beat the competition (elegantly and legally, of course). The sales representatives stay motivated and driven.
It makes you keep up the customer service
Sales are not just about the solution. Companies want to work with people with a can-do and positive attitude. They want to see you paying attention, delivering on time, and treating them with respect. And that’s what they get from your sales team.
They can employ you, or you can hire them
What a smooth transition - moving to a company that shares the solution, market, and customers. Focus on people. You never know when you’ll need each other.
You can become partners / You can end up buying them
Again, the focus here is on individual people inside the companies. Before you get bigger together, you already know each other; the cooperation will feel more natural.
Before you start any activities towards the competitors, the essential thing is to set your mind to thinking of them as actual friends.
Reach out to them and meet up - that’s plain simple. Nowadays, the easiest way to do so is LinkedIn. Connect with them, offer cooperation - do a Clubhouse session, podcast, social media article, etc., together.
Network - Do your own networking event or attend some. Check the invitee list, and prepare yourself to meet and talk to those you want. Knowing your competitors means that networking events will become friendly meetups to look forward to, rather than an awkward social event.
Just like with any friends, don’t forget to maintain the relationship. Compliment your competitors when they succeed. From time to time, invite them out for drinks or dinner. You might end up setting up cooperation or sharing ideas.
Be nice, don’t pray on the competitors’ failures, and never badmouth them - keep your integrity! When you need to differentiate yourself from competitors, you can do it nicely. Nothing makes a worse impression than maligning others in front of potential customers. So how to make yourself “the one” without losing sympathies? Check these:
“Our preboarding feature will ensure smooth communication with the employees even before they start working for you, and that’s what differentiates us from others. This unique feature creates an early-emotional bond between your company and the newbie. This feature is included in the market-standard pricing.”
“We have a preboarding feature, which makes us better than The Company ABC. They don’t have anything like this. Moreover, their pricing is similar, so for the same price, you’re getting fewer features.”
Though both the statements might be correct, you know which one reflects “never badmouth your competition” and is the one you should use. There’s a better way to stand out - pitching your unique competitive advantages rather than focusing on what the competition is falling behind in.
Branding - look (and be) professional, confident, have a can-do attitude
USP - have something others don’t have or be the best in something
Give extra - add something unexpected like a free person-day of support services
Deliver flawlessly - provide excellent service and go beyond
First of all, you need to embrace and understand your competitors. You don’t necessarily have to love it, but if you want to get the best out of it, you’ll at least need to acknowledge it.
Knowing your competitors and becoming friends with them will make you and your team perform better and quicker. And whether you decide to become friends or not, keep your eye on them. They can be your source of inspiration, and you can learn from (but never pray on) their mistakes.
Go send the Linkedin connection message to your competitor. Nothing bad can happen.
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