Viewing competitors as industry counterparts can grow both
By Leanne Hoagland-Smith May 12, 2012 9:04PM
Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 13, 2012 11:28PM
Having self-confidence and courage are necessary talents or strengths for any small business owner, not to mention if you are one of those harried, crazy out-of-your-mind sales professionals. Yet would your self-confidence and courage extend to your competitors?
Would you be willing to even consider speaking with them?
And, more importantly, would you have the courage to take action to meet with them?
During the past 10 days, I have had the opportunity to observe and participate in two events where competitors were present as was self-confidence and courage.
The first one was 34th Annual Delta Theta Tau Sorority Fashion Show May 3 at Valparaiso University Harre Union Ballroom. Here three different competitors, Ella’s Bella of Chesterton; Indiana Summer of Chesterton; and Seasons on the Square of Valparaiso all worked together to share different women’s fashions.
As the 18 volunteer models from these three small businesses walked down the runaway, the audience of more than 100 women -- many of them small business owners or executives -- appreciated the variety of styles. The audience was not thinking about this event wondering why competitors would work together.
Two days later I had the opportunity to sit with 20 other sales consultants, sales coaches and sales trainers in an all-day meeting. The attendees flew to Chicago from Washington, Virginia, Arizona, Ohio, New York and even Canada. Lucky for me, I only had to drive 60 miles.
Would you have the self-confidence and the courage to spend one Saturday with your competitors?
As each member of this dynamic group (four women and 16 men) introduced herself or himself, I realized that no one individual had exactly the same business model offering exactly the same services to exactly the same target market. Any perception of being competitors slowly dissolved during these introductions.
What I heard was 20 small business owners experiencing many of the same issues and realizing that by working with other like-minded individuals, there were potential opportunities to increase sales for everyone. To be willing to share those issues with perceived competitors did indeed demonstrate authentic self-confidence and courage.
One of those in attendance, Lori Richardson of Score More Sales of Boston, suggested that competitors could be viewed as industry counterparts. She has used this phrase with her clients to change their attitudes or beliefs about their competitors.
Her suggestion does make sense because there is truly only one competitor for any small business to Fortune 500 firm and that is the status quo. All other perceived competitors are indeed industry counterparts.
In this highly connected world courtesy of technology, being able to collaborate with other like minded small business owners is a proven business winning strategy. Yet when those other professionals are in your same industry or even scarier share the same ideal clients, how willing are you to demonstrate self confidence and courage by actually sitting down with them?
Over the 15 years I have been in business, I have developed professional relationships with other individuals who are perceived to be my competitors. In some cases where we are truly like-minded, we have united and successfully worked together thereby expanding our small businesses and providing additional value to our clients. These strategic partnerships or strategic alliances have only strengthened each of our businesses.
Maybe now is the time to think about your competitors as industry counterparts. Invest some time each week to speak or, better yet, meet one of your competitors. Who knows! You may discover some new business opportunities, gain some new knowledge and truly demonstrate authentic self-confidence and courage.
P.S. Shout Out – OpteonGroup LLC of Munster and Success Trek Inc. of Valparaiso provide business consulting services.