“The Competition Sucks”, You Just Lost My Business.

By Jeff Bowman

I hate to hear the words spoken from a sales trainer standpoint, but as a consumer, they hit a certain nerve that makes me chuckle. Almost like smashing your funny bone. The minute I hear them, I recognize the sounds of a floundering sales rep and a customer service nightmare for the organization they work for. The mere utterance can undermine your own company’s credibility and make you vulnerable to a decrease in your customer base.

What is it that I am referring to?  The trash talking and down grading of your competition. One of the golden rules of sales is never to talk badly about the competition, but to take their weak points and turn them into your strengths in the sales proposition. For example you wouldn’t say something like “I know company X has deplorable delivery”, you would turn that to your advantage and boast that “our delivery is superior to anyone in the area.” (assuming that what you are saying is true) There is an old saying “The weakness of an enemy forms part of our own strength.” This saying should be put into use daily by salespeople and business strategists.

I had my oil changed last week at the local 10 minute oil change place.  I have gone there for 5 years; they are fast, courteous and generally friendly.  On this morning, I was met by a young man who proceeded to tell me that he knew everything there was to know about cars, in fact he worked for a pit crew, this was just his part time job changing oil.

After a couple of minutes under the hood he came to me and said that my rad needed a flush and re-fill. I asked him how he came to that conclusion and he told me the fluid was discoloured, used, no good. I showed him my receipt from 4 months ago when I had the rad serviced at this same shop. I mentioned to him that I would not need it for another 6 to 8 months, and that I would certainly not have it done there again as it was very expensive. I would go to my local Canadian Tire Store (one of my favorite places to shop!) He went into a 5 minute dissertation on why you should never go there.  Words flew from his lips maligning what I consider to be a good store. Now he has insulted my intelligence by inferring that I am an idiot for tendering by business there.

I sat there smiling the whole time, knowing that this was the last time they would see me.  In fact I wish I had a recording of it to play back to his manager.  It would be so easy to comment on the quality of your own fluids, the certificates of training of your mechanics, even the fact that I am a regular customer so I must like something about the service there, possibly offer a discount on the next change.

Nope, go right for the nasty bits of their competitor.  A poorly trained customer service agent. A value proposition based on bad mouthing the competition lowers the value of any sale in the customer’s eyes.  Casey Stengel said “most games are lost, not won” Case in point, the oil change joint I used to go to.


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Filed under Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Managing, Sales, Training and Development

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