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Business Ethics: Managing Your Relationship With Competitors

Nazeer Daud asked:

ness, your competitors are just that: competitors. However, the way you treat your competitors may affect how your customers and the media perceive your business, your ethics, and your friendliness. For those reasons, and more, it’s important that you carefully consider how you act with your competitors. In this article we provide guidance on how you can have a good relationship with competing businesses while limiting the impact this will have on your business success. When customers see you have strong ethics in how you deal with your competitors, they will know for sure that you’ll treat them right.

Congratulate Their Success

When a competing business does something well, you should be prepared to say so. If for example, a competing business has managed to gain greater traction than you, then you should point out that they have done really well, and are a good business, while also pointing out the advantages your business is able to offer that your competitors cannot. This is a good demonstration of the strong ethics within your business, and will certainly leave a positive impression.

Recommend Business Their Way

If you and your competitors are able to cater for different categories of customers, then why not recommend them when you can’t offer a service to a certain customer? This will make you look good, and they might also be able to do the same for you in return. In the end, both of you will end up with more business as a result.

Sales & Marketing Strategies

When it comes to sales and marketing, it can be tempting to point out the negative aspects of your competitors. And, in some cases, it may be an essential part of closing the sale. However, rather than criticising your competitor, why not mention both positive and negative points of their service? Such as: “yes, you are correct, Company A is able to offer lower pricing than we can. For customers that are more price sensitive, and that 100% up-time isn’t essential, they can be a great solution. We cater for more IT-dependant organisations and employ 3 times as many engineers per customer. Company A also use an overseas call-centre, which is a great way to keep costs down, and provide a more efficient service, but we prefer to assign each customer a dedicated account manager.”

However, on some occasions your competitors may not provide a good service. In this case, you should be as polite and tactful about your competitors as possible. You should also cite sources, such as articles and media coverage that supplement your point. After pointing out any negative issues, you might also wish to explain how the company responds to the issues you raised. This will show a certain level of objectivity on your part and will demonstrate that your business has strong ethics and is willing to appreciate your competitors’ problems.

Don’t Bite

When a competitor speaks negatively about your business, it can be hard to know what to do. Especially when you want to ensure your business appears to be friendly and considerate of business ethics. Although it’s important to respond to any issues in an articulate way, you should avoid getting involved in any tit-for-tat. This will help your business to keep its reputation intact.