By Jeff Beals
Relationships with sales professionals from competing companies can be touchy.
It is in your best interest to have positive relationships with your competitors, but you have to be careful. On one hand, such relationships keep job possibilities open for you, and if you’re a sales leader, these relationships form a candidate pool from which you can hire.
On the other hand, it’s easy to let your guard down when you befriend competitors thus compromising your company’s position.
Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when it comes to befriending people who want to beat you in the sales arena:
- Even if you have the heart of a cut-throat competitor, be cordial when you run into the competition. You never know when you actually might need them.
- A wily competitor might be gathering intel during casual conversations, so stick to pleasantries and superficial talk. Don’t divulge your secrets.
- If you sell for a small organization, you may be able to grow quite wealthy living off the big guy’s table scraps. Befriend sales pros from much larger companies. They just might refer business to you that is not big enough for them.
- If you engage in one-upmanship and gamesmanship with competitors, make sure you do it for valuable reasons and not simply to boost your ego or satisfy a constant craving for competition. If you engage in one-upmanship just for the fun of it, be careful – make sure the other person has a thick skin and/or good sense of humor. Friendships among competitors can be fragile.
- Sometimes you must get between your client and your competitor. That’s not just figuratively “in between” them; it might be a good idea to show up if you know your client is going to encounter a competitor. In highly competitive sales efforts, your personal, physical presence may be necessary to ward off competitors looking to steal your client at the last minute
- As appropriate, find ways to “hide” your prospects from your competitors. If you find a “diamond-in-the-rough” client, don’t let the world know about him or her. Do what you can to keep them under the radar.
- All is fair in love, war and sales. Because business can be so brutally competitive, some sales leaders look for ways not only to beat the competition but to weaken it preemptively. Many of Sun Tzu’s ancient Chinese theories on military strategy apply to the game of sales. In sales, you sometimes need to outflank the competition, employ the element of surprise and weaken your competitors before you even begin the battle. A dramatic way to strike a blow to a competitor is to hire away one of their sales reps. If you can’t beat ’em, steal their best salesperson.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at email@example.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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