With every election, I notice that the majority of elected hopefuls often use negative selling and mud-slinging attack campaigns. It has grown to something I expect from politicians, but not from salespeople.
Yet recently I experienced some negative selling tactics that I thought I would share. The first occurred when I was a shopping for a new car a couple months ago.
I had decided on what make and model car I was planning to buy, but wanted to reassure myself that I was making the best choice by looking at some other vehicles. When I visited a different dealership and I mentioned I was doing some research on two vehicles, I was surprised at the salesperson's approach. He immediately began to negative sell by talking about how bad the gas mileage was, that it didn’t score the highest safety ratings, and weaknesses in its performance while failing to point out any of the strengths of his brand. It was a big turn off for me and I ultimately bought the car I originally wanted.
I know this isn’t always a common occurrence, but some salespeople get fearful and defensive as soon as the competition is mentioned. It is OK to acknowledge that you have competition, but there is a fine line between negative selling and pointing out the differences between two products while focusing on your strengths. Knowing your competition's weaknesses is important, but this information should be used in a tactful informative way that is not offensive to your consumer. Too many salespeople forget to focus on the strengths of their own product and services. Salespeople that trick themselves into believing that they can make up negatives about a competitor are kidding themselves.
The second occurrence of negative selling happened last week in my own job. I work for a DMS company and often get the impression that some of our competitors negative sell on occasion. Recently, a customer told me that another DMS company gave them negative feedback about my company's integration. To resolve this concern, I immediately conferenced in a person from that DMS company. They backpedaled and quickly reassured the customer of our great integration. We ended up getting this customer, but not because of our integration or negative selling. The dealer said that the moment he knew the competitor had lied they lost all trust and began to doubt the positives of their product. Spare the negative talk. Henry Ford said:
“The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”
Focus on you, your company, your strengths and most importantly, your customer. My business and my reputation are built on ethical standards and selling my company’s superior service, not bad mouthing rivals. Just because you are my competitor doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, either. We can chat and talk about industry issues at trade shows, conferences, and through social media. I have referred customers to others when I thought they were a better fit. And in turn, other companies have sent business my way.
Strong competitors drive me to be even better at what I do. The automotive technology space is growing and I love the idea that more players are joining in. Yes, it is more competition, but I think there’s enough business to go around and it grows the overall performance of the automotive industry.
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This post originally appeared on Hunter Swift's blog.