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Ask the Expert – Succeeding through Competition

By: Ted Miller, HMCC, CHME, CHSP, CGTP, CGMP, Enterprise Holdings | Jun 9, 2021

ME Standing Photo (4)Question: In our area of business, we have a few similar size firms who compete for the same business. Our products have similar qualities, and our pricing can be very similar at times. How can we differentiate ourselves from our competitors?

Answer: Without knowing the nature of your product line, let me give you some simple rules that can easily create business success. First, ensure that the way you present your product is done in a consistent way every time you send a business proposal. Next, look at the way each client sends you their bid request and ensure that you reply with the information in the same order and manner as it was listed in the bid. Make a point to speak with your client and ask if the format in how you reply is easy for them to read and understand and gives them the information they require in the order they need it. If you have met that expectation you should have a better chance to earn the business.

Question: How would you suggest I deal with my competition? Some of them are very similar to my firm, and I want to ensure I am acting professionally.

Answer: There is an old business expression: Know your competition and always keep them close. You never say derogatory things to your client or a competitor about any of those who compete against you. You should always be positive and acknowledge them as competition but state why you feel your product is superior. You should also make a point to get to know your competition on a personal level and earn their respect as an industry leader. You would be surprised to know how many times a competitor will recommend your product or may not even submit a bid if they know you are working on the same business.  The other point is that you should know your competition so well that you know how they will offer a bid and what you should do to make your offer stand out.

Question: Is there ever a situation when you consider a competitor an ally?

Answer: In many industries, there is a common need for working with your competitors to achieve a common goal. This is seen with multiple groups when they lobby Congress together or will work to achieve an industry standard that meets each of the competitor's needs. There are also times when you may need to share information about business practices, conduct or the business environment of a client or competitor. I caution you never to give out information that you would not be willing to share with the local media. Keep your exchange brief and professional.



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Ted Miller, HMCC, CHME, CHSP, CGTP, CGMP, Enterprise Holdings

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