Honestly, Are We Really Competing Against Each Other?


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When my current lease expires, if I trade-in my Porsche Cayenne for Cadillac, that’ll signify a win for Cadillac and a loss for Porsche, right?

After all, when it comes to earning my business, these manufacturers are playing what’s termed a zero-sum game. If one wins, the other, by definition, loses.

Throughout the economy there are examples of these rivalries, of pitched battles for scarce buyers. And most of us have been schooled to think that we’re incessantly competing, whether we’re students seeking scarce “A’s” in classes, or job seekers, hunting for the best positions.

But the “new economy, ” and especially e-commerce, are calling the traditional “me-against-the-world” mindset into question. I, for one, am finding that most of the people and companies against whom I used to think I was competing, simply aren’t significant factors in whether I earn business or fail to earn it.

Here’s what I mean. I consult in the areas of customer service, telemarketing, and selling. I offer keynote speeches, seminars, on-site development programs, and a host of books, audio seminars and video seminars.

My techniques are quite distinctive, and while there are some clients who love all of my stuff, and are proud to have become “Goodman-ized, ” most folks don’t rely exclusively upon any single source for their information. They may be hooked on my customer service programs, but happily look elsewhere for their general sales tips.

Am I really competing against the purported “gurus” who supply such sales material, especially because I have what I consider to be some pretty hot books and resources in that area?

Traditional thinking says, emphatically, “Yes!” I shouldn’t be happy with just a portion of my client’s investment in training tools. I should resolve to maximize my profits by getting the entire pie for myself!

After twenty years in consulting, I can tell you this is never going to happen. For one thing, clients crave novelty. They grow bored with a single source, and sooner or later they want to hear other voices.

Rather than fighting this tendency, which is what the “zero-sum” competitor in me used to do, I’m more inclined these days to develop lead-sharing and referral programs with others in the consulting and training world.

In fact, now I’m interested in putting together relationships where I serve as a broker or an agent for people I used to consider to be my direct competitors!

I see it this way. Even if we all had identical strengths and skills and prices, our personalities wouldn’t be perfect matches for every opportunity. Add to this the fact that it is often easier and more credible to sell-in someone else other than oneself, and you have a better recipe for success. Why rely upon the same, narrow range of ingredients all the time?

One final thought. I used to get leads from companies where it was fairly clear to me that I had to really stretch to fit the description of what they were seeking. Instead of twisting myself out of shape, now I see that I should have tried to identify someone else who could have been a better fit.

But in most cases, I’d bury the lead, instead of passing it on, lest my competitors get an advantage. I’m sure that some inquiries simply didn’t buy any services from anyone, as a result. So, my “win-lose” mentality produced a “lose-lose” result. Nobody did any business!

This doesn’t make economic sense, and it’s also poor customer care.

Today, I believe that everyone is better served by changing this viewpoint. We’re not necessarily facing a world of competitors, but rather a world of potential collaborators.

And what we’re really competing against isn’t other people or companies, but against an economic model, based upon scarcity, that simply doesn’t make as much sense as we once thought it did.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of http://www.Customersatisfaction.com , is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. A frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide, Gary’s programs are offered by UCLA Extension and by numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. Gary is headquartered in Glendale, California. He can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: gary@customersatisfaction.com


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