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Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer Part 3


Guest articles > Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer Part 3


by: Daniel Milstein


As tempting as it may seem at times, salespeople should never criticize their competitors, at least not in an overt manner. It is extremely important to remain positive as a salesperson, but also you never know when your critics will become your employees

It's too easy to complain to a customer that the other salesperson 'doesn't know what they are doing,' 'is not ethical,' or 'uses bait and switch tactics.' The problem with being noticeably critical of other salespeople is that customers and prospects may view you as being defensive, unsure of yourself and generally unprofessional. There are ways to point out a competitor's deficiencies in a more subtle manner. For example, when a prospect tells me about another firm that I believe is making outrageous claims or otherwise engaged in questionable practices, I will usually advise her to check for possible complaints with the Better Business Bureau, government agency or the Internet, and to be wary of excessive promises.

I have also found that sometimes your 'best' critics can end up working for you. I had an interesting experience that illustrates both the power of 'karma' and the importance of having a thick skin when it comes to criticism. I was interviewing an experienced loan officer candidate who had run his own mortgage company for 28 years, but had to close it because of the lending industry crisis. We talked for a few minutes, reviewed his background and then he made a surprising confession. 'When you started your first company, I was a big critic of yours because you were young and I saw you as a competitor,' he said, obviously embarrassed. 'I started rumors that you didn't have the best rates and that your claim for fast turnaround was false. During the last 10 years, I've watched as you gained market share and moved to larger offices.' He turned away for a few seconds, then looked straight at me and shook his head. 'I apologize for criticizing you like that.' I could tell he was contrite. 'Now, here I am asking you for a job, and I couldn't think of a better place to be,' he added. How interesting, I thought, that a former competitor was admitting to publicly criticizing me, about which I had not been aware. I hesitated briefly, knowing that it would be easy to turn him away at that point. However, he seemed to be the best candidate for the job and I was more concerned with continuing to build a strong company than reacting negatively to a previous slight. I smiled and reached out to shake his hand. 'Congratulations and welcome to Gold Star,' I said. That was a great decision; he has been one of our best salespeople.

Never have a negative mindset about your competitors. You can learn from them, adapt their practices, and you may even end up working with them.


Daniel Milstein is the bestselling author of ABC of Sales. For more information, visit:

Contributor: Daniel Milstein

Published here on: 24-Mar-13

Classification: Sales


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