Selling Against Fierce Competitors

Competition is healthy for businesses — it will force you to innovate, staying ahead of the curve. But it can be tempting to slay the competition and be brutal, right?

Kristy Bertenshaw
3 min readNov 9, 2022


We’ve all been there in an uncomfortable situation when someone is downright dissing another person. How does it feel? In my experience, super awkward. I mean, what’s the point? If you’re willing to talk about someone else behind their back that way, you’re likely to be willing to do it to me. It certainly doesn’t foster connection and trust, which are crucial to sustainable relationships in business and life.

But what about if that person is your frenemy, nemesis or the dreaded competition? Should you be ruthless and bag them then? I had a manager who used to think so; he called it displacing the competition, and we were directed to do it at every opportunity. It never sat well with me. Speaking badly about the competition, looking down on them, finding fault with them and generally disparaging them are all common behaviours in business, and it is easy to understand why.

To knock them out or not. That is the question. Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash

In sales meetings, we constantly measure how our services stack up against the competition, what makes our products superior, and why our people are more experienced and knowledgeable. There is usually some degree of truth in the details of these elements; our services may have several features that our competitors do not have, however, if our competitors were as flawed as we think they are, they wouldn’t be in business, and our customers wouldn’t be buying from them, period.

The existence of competition impacts every industry, every business, and every sales position. What the competition does or does not do can dramatically impact a company and a salesperson. That impact can range from squeezing you to the point where you go out of business on the one hand to creating tremendous opportunities for growth and profits on the other. So what’s the right approach to dealing with competitors?

Negativity Towards Competitors Only Hurts You & Your Business.

The issue is not the competition but your ability to meet customer needs.

Consider Your Customer Over The Competition.

Your mindset needs to be 100% focused on thoroughly understanding the customer’s problems, outcomes, and requirements and how to deliver these better than anyone else in the marketplace. The conversation must be focused on how you can meet the customer’s needs, not what Tom, Dick and Harry are doing over there.

While we can’t change our competitors, we are responsible for our attitudes and behaviours toward them.

What we say about and how we act toward the competition can have a daily bearing on our bottom lines. Speaking badly about competitor companies and salespeople — using little innuendos and sly side comments, including eye rolls and shady looks — says more about us to our customers than it does about the competitors. It reveals us as rude, smug, small-minded and petty, and far more interested in throwing shade than our customers.

Use Quality Questions; No Put Downs or Criticism Allowed.

Don’t say, “Company X is a Series A Startup that doesn’t have the people, processes, technology or systems to support your needs in the long term.”

Try Instead “One of the questions you should ask of every vendor is: ‘What are the people, processes, technology and systems do you have in place to assure that you will be able to support us, long term?’” (Think The Challenger Sales Method teaching moment).

Talk In Generalised Terms About The Competition

Don’t give them any power or airtime in your conversation. Your services and team are the heroes in your story—get down, dirty, and into the nitty gritty finer details of your Competitive Advantage—focus here! Make any detail about the competition generic, non-descript and a general class—for example, national companies. Don’t vilify them either—keep their role in your story to a character no one will remember.

The key takeaway?

Whatever we say communicates more about us to our customers than it does about the competitors. Integrity can not be purchased, neither can trust—they must be earned—and they are one of your biggest commodities in business, revenue generation and sales. So don’t blow any goodwill by dishing out dirt unnecessarily.

Keep it clean, keep it classy, keep it light.



Kristy Bertenshaw

I love to write bite-sized stories, essays & poetry. Revenue Generation & Growth Specialist | Passionate About Using Technology & Storytelling to Drive Results.

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