How do you feel about your competition? You may say, “I have a great relationship with my competitors.” But think about it. Given the choice of having you in business or out of business, your competitors would probably give you directions to the unemployment office before they’d direct you to a potential sale.
Friendly competition – an oxymoron – two words that contradict each other like “act naturally, large shrimp, alone together, dress pants and pretty ugly.” It would be nice if the words “friendly competition” were synonymous – if all salespeople took turns, played fair, looked out for each other. If you went to work one day and your closest competitor said, “Hey, look I got the last sale for my builder. It’s only fair that the next one is yours, so here’s a lead to follow up.”
For those of you who are convinced that there’s plenty of room for everyone, consider this: Suppose there was space for only one neighborhood in your market and a new developer was ready to set up business in your backyard. Would you still feel there’s plenty of room if your paycheck were suddenly divided by two?
A little competition can keep you on your toes while too much can knock you off your feet. As with all areas of life, there’s a healthy balance. Find it. And, since you will have competition, learn to deal with it and maximize its benefits. Here are some suggestions.
What’s the reality about your competition?
*Some competitors are truly good.
*Some will cooperate.
*Some are highly ethical.
*Some will trade business with you.
*Some will help you.
But most of your competitors are the opposite of “friendly.” Although they aren’t hostile, they also aren’t eager to share profits and prospects. They will probably be uncooperative, unmotivated and disinterested in helping you succeed. Internally, they are probably wishing you would find another profession or at least move outside their market territory.
So, how should you approach them?
1. Competition should not establish battlegrounds. Don’t focus on the fight. Instead, learn all you can, be prepared and do your best.
2. Shop them regularly. Know how they sell and how customers perceive the benefits of doing business with them.
3. Identify their shortcomings.
4. Identify their strengths and then strengthen your shortcomings.
5. Get every piece of their information, brochures, prices, etc. that you can and review it.
6. Know where they stand in the marketplace. What’s their reputation?
How should you react when going toe-to-toe against the competition with a customer?
1. Never say anything bad about them, even if they criticize you in front of the prospect. Remember, “When you dig dirt, you are bound to lose ground.” Maintain your ethics and integrity – even if it means biting your tongue until it bleeds.
2. Show them respect.
3. Ask clients a three-part question: Mr. & Mrs. Prospect, I am sure you would agree a new home/homesite is a large investment, wouldn’t you? Specifically, what would cause you to make such a significant investment with A.B.C. Builders? Is there some particular reason you prefer doing business with them?
4. Show them how you differ; how your benefits are superior.
5. Stress your strengths.
6. Share a testimonial (third party endorsement) of a customer who was in a similar situation and decided to do business with you. “My other customers thought the same thing as you until they discovered.”
7. Follow-up… regardless. In the event you do not conclude the sale on the first visit, remember that customers are fickle and will often sacrifice price and square footage for a trusting relationship.
In the event you do not capture the sale, ask yourself: What have I learned and what can I do to safeguard against a similar situation in the future? Do I need to make changes in my presentation? My appearance? My approach? My communication skills?