Competition is good for business.

It drives us to provide the best solution for our customers. It puts us on our toes. It urges us to be innovative. It constantly triggers us to improve our products so that we can meet our customers’ expectations; let alone to be better than our competitors.

How do you then, treat your competitors?

In this era, customer requirements can be so complex. You must recognize that in some situations, you may need to work closely with your competitors for the benefit of your customers. For instance, a retailer may need a retail supply chain solution to be integrated with their SAP Financial Management System. As a provider for the retail supply chain solution, you obviously need to work closely with SAP even though you do have a Financial Management solution that can nicely be fitted end-to-end for the customer.  You are respecting the customer needs and requirements. Hence, you ought to find a win-win partnership with SAP and make the best of the situation for your customer.

The smart way to survive in the market place in the long term is to have a cooperative partnership with your competitors.

Cooperative partnership in this context means that you compete in some opportunities and you work together or complement each other in some other opportunities.

Three ways to strike a cooperative partnership with your competitors effectively are:

Respect your competitors

Think good of your competitors. If you are hungry, they are hungry too. If you want to win the next big customer, they highly likely want the same too. If you think that you have the best sales team, don’t let arrogance occupy your mind. Because they might have a better sales team than you. The best approach is to take the high road. Just treat them with respect. When you do that, you would always be on your toes to prepare yourself to ensure that you are at the very least, one step ahead of your competitors.

Engage professionally

If you happen to meet your competitor in person for the first time, introduce yourself. Be professionally friendly. Pick any interesting topic that you want to talk about depending on your level of curiosity on a certain subject. And other factors that would influence selection of topics at the meeting time. You want this meeting to be a good precursor for your relationship building with him/her. This may sound strange – but the best-case scenario could be you become good buddies and you may find yourselves checking on each other to confirm some common industry news, political news, change in influencers and decision makers – anything to do with your potential clients and their ecosystem.

Communicate openly and respectfully

When there is an opportunity that calls for you to work with your competitor to win the deal, be open about it. Communicate with your respective competitor clearly on your expectations, how you should be working together with them and seek their feedback on their stand. Discuss roles and responsibilities among each party clearly. Iron out all concerns by constructively engaging and exploring solutions so that you can work together seamlessly. Document the work statement and deliverables for both parties to guide the partnership for the specific deal.

We are in business to win. You can enhance your chance to win by adopting the cooperative partnership approach with your competitors.

Have you ever worked with your competitor to win a business before? What did you learn from that experience?