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Collaborative Competition

Armwrestle_2 I often get the question: "Who are your competitors?"  My response usually gets odd reactions and/or a muffled comment that I think sounds like "Yea. Right. You're ignorant."  I could be wrong though.  They may be saying "You're right. You're excellent." Most of the time I never know.

My response to the question is always: "Nobody. I don't view anyone as competition."  I'll give them some time to mumble something and then I'll give my reasoning...

In todays world, the marketplace is highly competitive and always changing. Because of this, businesses need to be connected to various types of resources.  Businesses that stand alone and are unwilling to collaborate with 'competitors' may miss an opportunity to grow strategically and/or financially.

Here is a real world example: My first job was with Country Insurance and Financial Services. I lived, worked and played in Plymouth, MN and I conveniently joined Country at the beginning of an acquisition.  Very difficult, but a great learning experience.  Early on in my practice I realized that I was not going to write every policy to every person I met.  So... I began looking for agents that directly competed with me.  I soon developed a trusted group of insurance agents that had the exact same products, only different descriptions.

If a potential client would say, "You're $300 more than my current rate!" I would say "Okay. Let me give you some names and numbers of others that I know and trust and see how they compare" instead of saying, "Yea, but I'll be the best darn agent you've ever had!" Let's face it... even I'm not going to pay $3600 more per year because I can call my agent on his cell to tell him "Hey. I just drove my truck in the lake."

This is a collaborative selling process based upon networking with the right people.  It's not a new concept, but because the marketplace & practitioners within different industries changes so quickly; businesses and business owners must be able to utilize each other to add value to potential customers.  You may just find that potential leads you 'lose' will come back to you (with friends) in the long run.

Photo on Flickr by Elijah

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Comments

Thanks for meeting with me on Monday morning about this topic. I view this as a crucial strategy in doing business. One thing I have found is, you must gain the mutual trust in each other to do the right thing. Once you lose that trust it is difficult to gain back. A referral is 100% better than a cold account or lead. Nice article.

Ahhh... trust. It's a beautiful thing. I enjoyed our coffee and I'm looking forward to all the things we're about to create.

Thanks for continuing the convo, Brian.

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