Don't Downplay Your Competitors

DQC News Bureau
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While talking to customers, how often is it that you have not referred to

your competitors and said, “Oh, we know they have these products,

solutions or schemes. But I can share some inside information about how they
have some problems with it or how they goofed up with another customer.” And

then you go on to give away some very embellished stories of the mistakes your

competitors made or where they faltered.


It very human to fall into this trap of talking badly about your competitors

or brands that you are not selling. You would righteously feel that you are

being loyal to your vendors by highlighting the flaws of their competitors.

But is this wise in the long run? No! And not merely because this in

unethical. But because over time you will try to get business, not on the merits

of what you are offering but on the demerits of some other company. How long

will this tap-dance continue to bring you business?

At a channel event held by ADC Krone, one of the company's representatives

imparted a very nice thought to the channel. Talk to your customer about what he

likes about your products. Talk to your customer about what he likes in your

competition's products. Talk to your customer about what he dislikes in your

products. But never talk to your customer about what he dislikes in your

competitor's product.


This gyan came in an effort to get the channel to desist from making negative

sales, by downplaying or badmouthing their competitors. The idea is to make it

clear to the customer what you have to offer and then let him take a decision.

If you think that your customer will make a purchase decision solely on what

you present to him, you are mistaken. Customers today are smarter than that.

They will invite proposals from several suppliers and then make an informed



Like one partner recently remarked, let a customer buy from you because you

are good and not because your competition is bad. And make sure your sales team,

which is your interface to the customer, understands this very well too.

When your people visit a customer tell them to avoid talking only about the

technical superiority of your solutions. Chances are that the next solution

provider will be offering something very similar to this. Instead, gel with your

customer. Ask him what he wants. Sounds utopian? Actually, it is not difficult.

Most of you liaison with IT managers or CIOs-ask them what are their pain areas.

Is it manageability? Is it a limited budget? Is it dealing with manpower with a

diminished knowledge of IT?

Seek out what are the concern areas he would like to erase. And build a

solution keeping this in mind.


Is the CIO working late hours, because he has to manage a large network?

Offer him a solution that involves intelligent network infrastructure management

with built-in alarms for intrusions, breaches or breakdowns.

Does he have a limited budget? Consider offering him leasing or finance

options from your vendors. You could also suggest that he upgrades a part of his

infrastructure and ensure that the systems you deploy are legacy compliant and

also futuristic. Chances are your immediate business order from him might not be

large. But you will be the first person he will contact when he wants to upgrade

his infrastructure.

See how the solution you offer fits best in his environment. Try selling your

customer peace of mind, not merely products. Avoid selling jargon; hoping it

will mask some of your own incompetence. And most importantly, drill these basic

rules into your entire team.


Tell them to focus on getting the customer to your side, rather than looking

at getting just a big order. The thrill of bagging a substantial order passes

away quickly. But the joy of having a long-standing customer is significantly

longer lasting.

Think about it.

Vinita Bhatia