Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Don't Knock the Competition

I worked in sales for corporate America for 12 years and they always taught us not to say bad things about competition because it just makes us look bad.  I guess I understood that you want to spend your valuable time with a potential customer talking about you, not the other guys.  To be honest, I never really understood this until this week.  I had a call from a consumer looking for weekly service and at the end she asked me to for two non franchised companies that were similar in size to us so I gave her two names.  She called me back laughing and said we blew away the competition.  When I asked why she told me to call my competitor and ask them what made them the best.  So I did.

Derek – So what makes you better than your competition?
Other Business Owner – Drugs
Derek – Excuse me?
Other Business Owner  - Drugs
Derek – Um, Could you elaborate?
Other Business Owner – I test my people all the time, so I know they don’t use drugs.  Other people don't do this so they have employees that use drugs.

I basically tossed this woman a slow softball over the plate and asked her to tell me how great her company was and the only things she could come up with was to imply all the other companies hire drug users.  I was really blown away.  All I could think was this lady must have had some serious problems with drug using employees if she thinks that is what makes her better.  She not only made herself look bad but the entire industry.  Basically she said all cleaning services employ drug users including mine but I test them every few months so I fire my people once they start using.  What a terrible way to build trust with our consumer.

Needless to say, I got the sale and she did not.  So don’t say bad things about the competition because it reflects back on you.


Business GAL said...

I agree with you. I'd never say a negative thing about a competitor. To be honest i'd rather not know the issues a client has had with a past competitior. If they do divulge the information anyway I make sure to read in between the lines. And be very careful as to the type of client I am working with. I want to make sure we leave a good taste in their mouth. I work very closely with the ladies and make notes of every client that requires special attention to certain matters.

Anonymous said...

I love this, Derek! I have a policy of never being negative. We never slag off the competition. Our position is: We have some very good competition, so we work just that much harder to be even better. Those who aren't good... they don't even bear thinking about! Such unpleasantness is beneath our notice entirely!

I like to look at cleaning company websites, both here in the UK and in the US. I just like to see how other outfits market themselves. I came across one in the US that went on at great length about the DANGERS of using "non-professional" cleaners. Trunk slammers, they meant. Rather than simply emphasize all the advantages to using a fully professional outfit, this company website talked at length about the dangerous illegal immigrants out there looking to rape their pets and children. It was bizarre and disturbing.

Why be negative?

By the way, I, too, have called the competition and asked what make their services special. I haven't yet run into anything as funny as what you describe, but I'd say about half of them just seem to have no talent for selling themselves.