by Alexandros Aslamazis
The last month was quite challenging for Etalon. We have just started our exports to the UK, Ireland and the United States. Not that the other countries we sell are not challenging, but in the countries I just mentioned the car refinishing industry is extremely saturated. It implies that the customers expect from a newcomer to be different, efficient, innovative, high quality …and on top of that to be the cheapest from the cheapest on this planet. How is that? Nevertheless, my blog post is not about obstacles we faced, but about attitude of some people in the industry towards their competitors.
Incredible as it may seem, but car body repair industry is a small world in fact, notwithstanding you act on a global scale, not to mention any particular country alone. Nonetheless, some individuals believe that badmouthing the competition is worthy strategy to go along with. No, it’s not.
As I already said during the past month, I have traveled quite a bit. I recall this presentation of Etalon polishing compounds in a bodyshop in California. Halfway through the testing an old woman appeared. With an annoyed expression she asked what were we doing? It appeared that she was a current supplier of this bodyshop. “This is crap, you try to sell it in America, cause you can’t sell it in Europe”, she said. Luckily, the bodyshop owner cooled her down and showed her the door, wondering how she could judge without even seeing the product. By the way, Wayne Dyer once said “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.“ Another example from our launching presentation in the UK. A sales representative from one of the Italian brands was spreading false information about one of our products, in order to defend his own product missteps. Large international brands fall into this trap just as well. I can recall numerous cases when premium (the word used by the major paint manufacturers extensively) paint company was calling its rival’s product as “rubbish”, which never matches the color. Therefore I am following myself and ask my sales team to follow the following 7 rules:
1. Never use words like “rubbish”, “crap” or similar while talking about your competitors’ products. Not only you drop your professional level, but also you make your prospect to feel stupid. Doors will be closed forever.
2. Never joke about the business size of your competitor. In fact, smaller companies can grow really fast, supply high quality products and outperform their bigger rivals on flexibility and customers service.
3. Never spread negative rumors, whether or not the information you have is quite trustworthy. Remember that nobody likes people who bring bad news.
4. Never talk bad about competitor’s personality, background, origin, race, politics or sports preferences. You can easily put yourself in an embarrassing situation.
5. If you are asked to compare your product against competitor’s, speak about your advantages rather than negative sides of the competitor’s product. For instance, if you are asked to compare two clearcoats tell, “your product is transparent, dries after 15 minutes in a spray booth and easier to use” instead of saying “their product is yellowish, slow in drying and not possible to imitate OEM texture.”
6. Avoid direct confrontation with rival sales rep albeit he is badmouthing your product. Instead emphasize that the great number of your satisfied customers is the best proof of your product and service.
7. Finally, never lie about the competing product. If it has some great features, recognize them and make an effort to emphasize yours advantages as well. Honesty will always win you respect and customer’s attention.
In conclusion, I would like to stress one more time that our business life and career are unpredictable as everything on this planet. If your are a sales manager for a particular brand, you may find yourself in the rival’s camp if a good job offer comes along. If you own a car paint supply shop, you might be selling other brands in a few years. Life is unpredictable, so watch your mouth and be positive!