We’re not in high school anymore, people. The competition in your particular industry is not the enemy; you can actually learn quite a bit from your so-called business rivals. It’s worthwhile to be civil, and perhaps even more than civil — “connected” with your competition. Sync up with your competition online, whether it be through social networks, email, or blogs.I’m not suggesting you invite your competition to your family’s Christmas dinner, but keep it amicable.
Some might be reading this thinking, ‘BizDev is crazy — no way! I’ve got a quota hung over my head– the last thing I care about is being friendly with my competition’.
Think about it. As an expansion stage company, how could “connecting” with the competition be valuable?
- They will post valuable information (articles, blogs, other factoids) on their social sites that you can learn and share with your networks. It’s important to follow your competitors who are exhibiting thought leadership, so you can stay abreast of their ideas and the trends they are seeing. Note: There needs to be SOME boundaries. Block your connection list on LinkedIn so your competition does not poach from your network.
- They are less likely to “trash talk” your company to their customers/prospects. A prospect who is not the best match for your competition’s business could turn to you instead. Just because your competition has a similar product/service doesn’t mean it’s identical, and some prospects might be looking for a particular feature that is unique to your business. If you are dealing with a moral, connected competitor, they might share your information and push the prospect in your direction in hopes that you will do the same for them if you talk to a prospect that isn’t the best for your product. As a former recruiter, if I was working with a candidate I could not place, I would definitely share their information with recruiters I respected at other agencies in town. And yes, they sent candidates back to me who were more appropriate for my open positions.
- Perhaps they might be a great potential candidate for your team if your business is building a sales team – can you say referral bonus?! I wrote a post about this earlier this year.
- On that same note – perhaps your paths might cross one day down the road at a future place of employment… don’t burn bridges! It’s a small world.
The moral of the story — it’s always beneficial to have more friends than enemies in the business world. Keep your sales practices clean, and stay connected to your market rivals. Believe it or not, these people will likely remain a valuable resource to you and your pipeline.
Do you have a story about “friendly competition” working to your advantage? Please share!