One of my customers was talking to me about how, with only one other player in his market space, he was never quite sure whether to ask if the competition were on the scene with a prospect.
My immediate reaction was ‘no!’, never allude the to opposition. Best to focus on specific client requirements and show with enthusiasm how you uniquely, perfectly match them.
Interestingly, he stated his experience allowed him to agree with me, before saying that mega-corp Philips had initially taught him differently.
After his business degree (over twenty years ago) he went to sell for their data systems division and (wow, those were the days) was inducted with a six-month solid training course. They were insistent that you aggressively clobber the competition, explicitly knocking them throughout a campaign.
The subsequent knowledge he gained led him to conclude such tactics were inappropriate when he realised two consequences emerged:
- each time he aggressively closed on this basis, it was too soon for the client and they invariably cancelled, and
- when faced with strong competition that you overtly created doubts about, the client would tend to select a third alternative instead