Your relationship between yourself and competitors is something you'll have to deal with. Even if you try to build a monopoly or be in a market with no competition, eventually you'll get asked who your competitors are. There's no way around this question. In fact, the worst response you can have is saying you don't have competitors. So, what do you do? While there are several ways to go with this question, there are certain guidelines you should follow.

If handled correctly, your customer won't think twice about other options and will sign on the dotted line. Fumble with your response or bash your rivals and it could end in a no sale or worse. Here's how to talk about your opponents in a way that's great for you and will also help you close the deal.

1. Don't talk bad about competition

There's a lot of risk when it comes to talking behind your competitors' backs. First off, you have to think about the impression it gives of to the potential client. If you're willing to talk behind the back of an adversary, would you be willing to talk behind that client's back as well? You'll notice in your life that the people who gossip the most to you about others also gossip behind your back as well. You are a reflection of your company, and that's not the reputation you want to portray.

The other risk is that the competition finds out about your comments and uses it to fuel its team. You see this all the time in movies and sports. One team calls out the other, and regrets it when the other team uses the trash talk as motivation. Creating an enemy is a great way to build energy and unity for your team, but you don't want your opponents using that strategy on you.

2. Focus on your strengths

Whenever I'm asked about our competition, I always start by saying with a couple facts I know about the company. I do this fast and don't dwell on it too much because it's important for the client to focus in on my company instead. After I do this, I immediately go into what I believe my company does better. For instance, whenever I'm in a sales meeting and am asked about competition, I always say we are the best at alumni engagement. It's not a cocky response or a putdown to my competition. It's just what I believe is the truth.

It also allows me to take the competition question and turn into a chance to promote my company without talking about others. Ask yourself what you believe your company does better than any competitor, and spend as much time proving that point. If you confidently state what makes you the best in your market, your customer will have less of a reason to consider other options.

3. Get personal

Clients like to do business with people they like. When there's interaction between you and the buyer, it creates a competitive advantage for you. When a prospect tells you that your competitor has a better product and is more affordable, it's easy to think it's time to pack up and leave. Instead, stay calm and focus on what you can win on. Often, this is your personal connection.

When I'm hit with this situation, I respond to the purchaser with the reasons I want to do business with them. Maybe it's because I think their problem is a perfect fit for my company, or that we are aligned in their vision and get along well. Regardless of the specifics, I always look to see what advantage I have from getting to know the customer. Work on getting along with your client, creating trust, and creating excitement. When your client realizes that by going to your competitor he'll lose you, it might just be what you need to close the deal.

Published on: Nov 14, 2014