Sales Training for Entrepreneurs
This is probably going to be the craziest advice you’ll hear all week… But yes, I’m recommending that you pick up the phone, call your direct competitors, and offer to buy them coffee. Before you commit me to Melbourne’s business coach mental hospital, here are a few personal examples for you to consider why you should collaborate with competitors:
Collaborate with competitors in different regions
A while ago, a “competitor” from another country contacted me via LinkedIn to help serve their international client. This scenario was a clear win for all – they didn’t have staff in Australia, which could have meant losing a portion of the business. However, collaborating meant that this sales training company could serve a larger client with an international presence. Clearly, is easier to collaborate with competitors in different regions.
Action step: Who can you connect with that serves different territories?
Collaborate with competitors to create unique friendships
Earlier this year I started connecting with and collaborating with local sales trainers. Incidentally, several operated in the same co-working space as I do. I didn’t have any agenda to begin with, but I had faith that it would work out in some way. We met monthly to swap war stories. We recommended books and resources to each other. In turn, this created a positive vibe between us. Finally, we labelled these gatherings as “masterminds.”
In the last few weeks, I experienced one of the most challenging emotional times in my career. When I shared this with the mastermind, they could understand me far better than anyone else could. Further, their advice and feedback helped me to understand that I wasn’t alone in my struggles. Having social connections to share troubles with is helpful. Having competitors to talk to is even better!
Collaborate with competitors with different specialties
Recently, I consulted with a company that needed help with sales. I was not 100% confident in helping this business because of its niche industry. As a result, I referred them to one of the individuals in our mastermind. They were positioned ideally to serve this client because of their industry experience and connections. Firstly, the client was served better. Secondly, my colleague was happy because he had won the business. Finally, I was happy because I helped them make this connection. With a collaborative mindset, swapping referrals for optimal fit benefits everyone!
Action step: Who can you connect with that has different specialisation?
Collaborate with competitors to strengthen your character and unique selling proposition
Working with competitors requires a great deal of personal security. Consequently, it means not being threatened by others’ success. As you could see previously, connecting with competitors highlights the need to be different to them. By working closely with others in the same industry, you will be forced to develop stronger self-confidence. Further, you will need to define your USP (unique selling proposition) so that your colleagues can refer to you where appropriate.
Action step: What is your unique selling proposition?
Prerequisite to collaborate with competitors: The Abundance Mindset
The ultimate prerequisite for collaboration with competitors is the Abundance Mindset. This means recognising that there is more than enough “pie” for everyone, including yourself AND your competitors. As a result, you believe that you can grow the pie together rather than take someone else’s share. In other words, the abundance mindset believes in creating wealth. It believes in Win-Win relationships.
By contrast, the Scarcity Mindset believes there is a limited amount of pie. This means your competitors’ success lessens opportunities for you. This way of thinking is known as zero-sum thinking. If you want to be successful, this mindset will not help you!
Disclaimer / Precaution
When you first saw the heading for this article, you probably had a great deal of scepticism. When initially approaching others with this idea, they’ll probably feel the same way. As a result, they may not be so open to your approach. Even if they do, there will be an awkward initial period where both parties are extremely cautious in how much they reveal about themselves. This is perfectly normal and understandable. The reason we feel that way is because we don’t want to be taken advantage of. So be patient, transparent, and authentic.
Collaborating with competitors may seem crazy, but it just may open up opportunities and friendships that never would have otherwise existed. Keep an eye out especially for companies in other regions or with different specialties. Ensure that you and the other party have an abundance mindset to maximise the chances of success. Doing so will grow your character and business!
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