I recently overheard some nasty talk from a direct selling supplier about another consultant in our industry. It was pretty aggressive, and I was taken aback, mainly because I knew it to be wholly untrue.
Not long after, a supplier friend tells me that every time they present at a conference, their competitor attends, furiously taking notes before running to post their tips and advice on their own website. Wow!
In this season of thanksgiving and goodwill toward all, I suggest we as direct selling industry suppliers raise the bar on the way we go to market — and the way we treat each other. Why? Because negativity about each other diminishes us, annoys our clients and the hurts the industry overall. Yes this is a competitive industry, but it’s also small and tightly knit. Life’s too short.
Backbiting is not lost on our clients. At the recent Direct Selling CxO Summit, one of the “areas for improvement” suggested by a CEO on stage was in the realm of industry suppliers, that too many deliver shoddy work and poor service and as a whole they need “cleaning up”.
This negative image is partly our fault. If you tell a client something negative about a competitor, the client may believe it. And when your competitor learns about it and fires back a stronger salvo at you, they may also believe it. And on and on, until no one seems a good choice.
I suggest that if you make a practice of slinging dirt, the insecurity at the root of it will catch up to your business.
I’d rather take the high road. Since friendly competition is so much more fun, what do you vendors out there think about the following as a guideline?
- We are professionals. Our clients demand decorum and professionalism among vendors, therefore we must remain professional at all times.
- Be respectful, especially with clients. If a client or prospect asks what I think of my competitor, I will answer “They are good at what they do, and I respect them. We’re different, and here’s how.” Nothing more needed in my opinion.
- There are no secrets. In this chatty industry, most zingers will eventually make it back to the zingee. Negativity smears us all, it’s a zero sum game.
- Innovate, don’t duplicate. It is unethical to “borrow” solutions or marketing and make them your own. Does this business really need more imitators?
- Resist the temptation. Professionals refuse to question the competency, character or capabilities of competitors to clients. Rather, they focus on making themselves better.