From time to time, we receive calls from operators who tell us that their competition is going around to their accounts trying to steal business from them. They are making false claims about the difference in their service or their prices or even worse, their reputation. These operators are in a panic. What should I do? While I completely understand the panic, we are quick to point out, the solution is clear. You need to stand up for yourself.
Determine strengths and weaknesses
Maintaining your competitive advantage should always be part of your strategy. You should be thinking about it all the time, especially when it comes to business planning. A great way to identify what makes you stand out is to jot down your company’s strengths and weaknesses. I know we all like to talk about our strengths, but we also need to be honest about our weaknesses. Having a weakness isn’t bad. You can judge how important that weakness is. Remember, you need to pick your battles in order to win the war. Maybe you can identify a weakness and make a goal to improve on it and then turn it into a strength in the future. Make sure to talk about your strengths and weaknesses with your staff. Get their opinions. Maybe you left out an obvious strength.
Now here’s the fun part. You take that strength and you provide examples to back it up. Then you proudly make this known to your customers and prospects and this is what sets you apart from your competition. Look, anyone can claim that they are “a leader” in something, but think about that statement. What does that really mean? It means they don’t have the confidence to say that they are “the leader” in the marketplace. If all the data that you have collected shows that you are “the leader,” claim it and own it. When your competition then puts doubt into the minds of your customers, you can calmly point to the data showing why you truly are “the leader.”
Understand what your data is saying
While relationships in business are still key, it’s no longer just about a handshake. We are in an age where we have lots of data available and that data is our proving ground, whether it is in the form of customer satisfaction surveys or actual data collected from your software system. If you don’t understand what your data is telling you — learn. Data is a powerful thing, but all too often businesses can be in a rush to run out and boast their large numbers when in reality, they have no understanding of what those numbers mean. With proper understanding, those boasts can make them look foolish or worse, dishonest. You need to realize that while it’s tempting to report large numbers or spin them in your favor, there is always reality versus fantasy. Make a vow to live in reality. Let your competition live in fantasy, but don’t you dare let them get away with saying whatever they want.