No Punching Below the Belt

DB+

Written by Neil Andersen

May 1, 2020

When faced with direct competition we have a natural tendency to discredit or devalue our competitors.  In the heat of the battle, it’s human nature to think “If my competition looks worse, then I will look better.”

Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to selling.  

It’s a sign of weakness to break down your competitor’s efforts because it adds nothing to your own value.  In fact, it’s more likely to entice your buyer to dig deeper and look for value in the competitor you intended to discredit.  Rather than focusing negatively on a specific competitor, reframe the value statements about your own solutions to highlight something you can do, and that you know your competition cannot.  This competitive jab will land a lot better with your clients. Buyers won’t run away when they see you take a jab or two, but they will if they see you punching below the belt.  

Here’s an example of Below the Belt:

“Acme, Inc.  is going through some ownership changes that has their client base very concerned and lacking real answers about the company’s future and product stability.” 

This a punch below the belt.  Even though we may be able to document these statements, we are referencing a client base that isn’t ours in order to directly devalue a company we’re calling out by name. 

Here’s the same example reframed as a Competitive Jab:

“We want you to feel secure about the future plans and stability of your technology partner. I would like to review our product roadmap with you so you can be familiar with our long-term plans for our solutions. We have the financial stability to be able to continually invest in our portfolio. If you’re working with vendors who won’t share their roadmap or long-term plans with you, this should be a concern.”  

This is a competitive jab. Why? Two reasons. It sets up the appropriate information that will “build” value on our side of the scale, and it sets our competitor up to be “devalued” with a question that they can’t answer with certainty or honesty. 

Your goal should be to present the most value possible in comparison to your competition. The most effective way to do this in sales is to build your own value, not to destroy your competitors with direct hits. If your strengths and their weaknesses are presented correctly, the scale of value will almost always tip in your favor. 

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