Dis Missed

By Malcolm Fleschner

As a sales professional, at all times you try to retain your composure and the professional demeanor you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. But then there are occasions, perhaps when you find out about a nasty bit of double-dealing your competition has engaged in, when you could just GRAB THAT &%#$# BY THE THROAT AND THROW THAT $%@# OUT THE WINDOW!

But of course you’re far too professional for anything like that. To determine the best approach for dealing with underhanded competitors, Sellingpower.com spoke to John Hedlund, Midwest sales manager for Precision Inc., a manufacturer of conveyor components.

Tempting as it may be to exact swift retribution reminiscent of a passage from Revelations, Hedlund suggests that it’s far better to remain cool and concentrate on your own selling efforts.

“Many competitors are honorable,” Hedlund says. “Others will do whatever they can to get an order. We can’t control what our competitors do. But we can focus on our process, our customers and ourselves. Develop and maintain relationships and then when it comes down to the competition’s word versus yours, the customer knows whom they can trust.”

Not that Hedlund recommends sitting idly by while the competition tears away at your reputation. Go ahead and set the record straight, he advises. “Customers can believe what they want,” he notes, “but if you have a relationship established and you’ve built up some trust, then it carries some weight to say, ‘You can believe what you want to, but this is the way it really is.’ I just look at it as free advertising.”

For situations where you don’t have a strong relationship established, Hedlund recommends using the competitive scuttlebutt as an opportunity to move the sales process forward. “One approach I like is to set the record straight and then say, ‘Let me show you what I’m talking about’ and get a sample or catalog to show the way it really is,” he says. “Sometimes you just have to say that the proof is in the pudding and ask, ‘Why don’t you just try one, put it in and run it and see what you think.’

“Plus, if customers voice any kind of concern, that’s an opening for you to inquire about their needs and why they’re bringing up that concern. Any time you can use a situation to develop more communication between you and the prospects, you’re going to benefit.”