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How to Speak Effectively About the Competition

Discussing the competition with a client feels awkward, maybe even a little wrong. But your client is no doubt considering your competitors’ products or using them already. So why avoid the issue? 

Consider some of these latest statistics from Semrush:

With so many software companies to compete against, you owe it to yourself and your client to know which ones threaten your business and how your product differentiates itself from the crowd

You can only convince clients that you have the best software product if you know what the best software looks like. And you can’t effectively promote your company’s products if you can’t communicate how other products fall short.

So, how can you effectively navigate this delicate topic and set your product apart from the competition? Here are three steps to take. 

1: Do your homework  

First, it’s important to know the competition. You can’t convince a client that your software is better if you don’t know what you’re up against. Sure, most people can list their competitors, but you need to know what doesn’t work well with their products and what does work well. 

“Customer relationships matter more than ever, because your future revenue depends on those relationships lasting well beyond a single transaction.”

Mikkel Svane, co-founder of Zendesk

Does your competition have unique product offerings or pricing strategies? Who is their target audience, and what’s their overall market position? Have they fumbled a few product launches or offered services that no one uses? 

In short, know what your competition is good at and where they fall short.

Doing your homework to understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses will allow you to identify opportunities to differentiate your product. 

2: Develop a knowledgeable opinion 

Once you’ve done your homework on the competition (an ongoing assignment, by the way), you can formulate an honest opinion about their software and why your company’s offerings are superior. 

The critical part here is communicating the specifics about the competitors’ products. Because you’ve done your homework, you can point out areas of the software that don’t work well or that most people don’t find helpful. Clients know that you’re biased toward your company’s product, but they’ll be more willing to listen if you can point out their potential pain points with a rival’s software.

“I discovered that in order to succeed with a product you must truly get to know your customers and build something for them.”

Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce

Once you’ve listened to the client and can identify why a competitor’s software may be failing them, then you can introduce why your company offers a superior solution. Highlight the specific features, functionalities, or benefits that set your product apart. 

Maybe it’s a user-friendly interface, customized options, or exceptional customer support. Whichever area you choose to emphasize, knowing the ins and outs of your competition will help you build a convincing case for your product. 

3: Present your case 

Finally, once you know the competition and have a knowledgeable opinion about their products, it’s time to build a compelling case for why your software is better for the client. 

The good news is that if you’ve done your homework on the competition and have a knowledgeable opinion about a rival’s product, this third part is the easiest.

“Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans.” 

Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot

Highlight what’s wrong with your competitors’ products and what’s right about your software. You know this better than anyone else. Because you know your competition better than anyone else, you know where to point out its flaws.

Whether addressing common pain points, streamlining complex processes, or providing innovative features, emphasize how your product fills the gaps left by competitors. 

Remember: Your rivals are doing the same thing. At least, they should be. 

When you mention the competition, nod at what might work but how your software is better. Emphasize how your company saw details they overlooked and designed a better solution for customers. 

And don’t underestimate the power of an excellent customer success story. Do you know five customers who saw measurable improvements after switching to your company’s software? You should. Have those examples on hand to drive home the point: Your software works better. 

Keep it classy 

Mentioning the competition isn’t about making negative off-hand comments about rival software companies. Being too negative can indicate you don’t have enough experience or aren’t listening to the client’s needs. 

Instead, give your customer the specific reasons why the competition is falling behind, is overpriced, or has a less-than-stellar user experience, etc. When they see you know what you’re talking about, they’ll likely listen to you.   

Remember it’s okay to mention the competition, but you better know what you’re talking about when you do.