What Happens When You Befriend Your Competitors?

By Jeff Beals

Some of my favorite people to hang out with work in the same profession I do.  In other words, I’m friends with a lot of my competitors.  It makes sense if you think about it. People who compete with each other have many of the same interests.

But friendships with 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 in a leadership position, 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:

1. 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.

2. A wily competitor might be gathering intel during casual conversations, so stick to pleasantries and “sanitized” talk.  Don’t divulge your secrets.

3. If you sell for a small organization, you may be able to grow quite wealthy living off the big guy’s table scraps.  Befriend people from much larger companies.  They just might refer business to you that is not big enough for them.

4. 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 attention.  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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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 shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

Stop Mistaking Marketing for Selling

By Jeff Beals

On separate occasions I recently met with two small business owners.  These guys don’t know each other but they have a lot in common: Despite great effort, neither is happy with their revenue. Both companies are “getting by” but are far from thriving.

A quick examination revealed the same reason why revenues are falling short. Both owners are mistaking promotional activity for selling activity.  Let me explain…

Both of these entrepreneurs tirelessly promote their companies.  They belong to service clubs and chambers of commerce. They show up at networking events.  They lead active social lives.  They advertise on radio and in print. They buy Google AdWords. They sponsor events.  One of them even sponsors a youth sports team.  Yet despite this activity, neither is getting enough new business to come through the door.

So, what’s the problem?

While they’re doing a great job with promoting, neither is focused on selling. Both entrepreneurs are getting their brands out in the marketplace.  They are creating name recognition and associating their brands with positive feelings.  But promotion is simply not enough.  Promotional activities don’t in-and-of-themselves lead directly to signed deals.  If you stop at promotion, you’re not going far enough.

To make a military analogy, think of promotional activity as analogous to an air raid and selling to be an analogy for the infantry.  If one country is going to attach another, they often use their air forces to weaken the target before the infantry soldiers invade.  You don’t win wars with air power alone.  At some point, soldiers have to win it on the ground.

Now, I’m a little hesitant to use the military analogy because good sales people don’t “attack” prospective customers.  Instead they work with them to find beneficial solutions.  Nevertheless, promotional activities “soften” up the target audience while salespeople (the “ground forces”) finish up everything.

No matter how tirelessly you promote and no matter how much you spend on marketing, making a sale usually requires someone from a company to do four things in exact order:

  1. Interrupt someone’s day and turn them into a prospect;
  2. Figure out what prospects truly care about;
  3. Demonstrate how the product/solution exactly meets their needs;
  4. Confidently ask them to sign up.

To be successful, companies have to repeat this process with multiple people each and every day.  If you’re not focused on the four activities above, you are wasting time and money.

But it’s not just glad-handing, socializing owners/executives who are guilty of this.  Some salespeople are too.  Yes, people who actually work in sales will often promote instead of sell.

Some salespeople will wine-and-dine clients but not steer them to the close.  A good name for these salespeople would be “professional lunch eaters” or “professional coffee drinkers.”

It’s easy to do the relationship-building part of sales, but it’s hard for some people to follow through with the closing part. Asking for the order is inherently difficult, because it’s not fun to be turned down. It’s human nature to avoid rejection. Because of that, many people put themselves out there, build relationships and simply hope and pray that the clients will come to them.

That’s too passive. Waiting for people to volunteer to be your clients might work occasionally, but it won’t generate enough business to sustain you.

It’s true that successful entrepreneurs, executives and sales professionals must engage in promotional activity, but that is simply a means to an end. Your success is ultimately judged when your prospect signs their name on the dotted line.  That means you must be constantly focused on the real measure of success.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com