When a Competitor Badmouths Your Company

Occasionally, one of our clients learns about a competitor that tells prospects and even customers something about our client that’s not true or significantly misrepresented. As a salesperson, you might know this is going on, or, rarely, a prospect or customer might bring it up, either as a challenge or as a favor.  Fortunately, even though many companies compete hard and should compete hard, few fall to this level.

But if you face this problem, what do you do?

If you discover it, then let your manager know immediately. Management can investigate to see what, if anything, needs to be done, especially if the potential for litigation exists. Each situation is different and requires a customized solution.  Beyond that, here are a couple of things not to do.

  1. 1. Don’t badmouth back. You immediately fall into the playground “he said,” “she said,” sandbox that customers and prospects have no desire to climb into with you and your competitor.  They recognize it as a complete waste of time and, more likely than not, will think less of you to boot.
  1. 2. Don’t refer to specific competitors by name. In many industries, but not all, you may be expected to know who your competitors are. However, there’s almost never a need to bring them up yourself.

If a prospect or customer mentions a competitor, the simplest response is to say you’ve heard of the company (if you have) but don’t know a lot about it. Or just say, “My role today is to learn what your needs are and then to work with you to determine whether our services or products can meet those needs.”

The good news is that you probably won’t run into this problem–at least, we hope you don’t!

Scott Pemberton is a senior consultant at Productive Strategies, Inc., a marketing and management consulting firm specializing in consultative sales training, lead generation and appointment setting, and marketing and marketing communications.  Scott can be reached at 847-446-0008 Extension 3 and at spemberton@productivestrategies.com.


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