Gaining from Co-opetition

I’ve been told I am a very competitive person. At least I used to be. Like when I was skating in the roller derby. Or, racing my best friend on our bikes on a 200 mile ride through Wisconsin. Or, when I was vying to be the number one salesperson at most jobs I had.

Then I went and had kids and started my own business…things began to look very different to me. I still face a lot of competition for the services that I offer; there are a lot of bloggers, coaches and marketing consultants out there. But it’s how I view my competition and how I approach it that has totally changed my life and my outlook.

Competition is good for us. It keeps us honest. It makes us work harder. At least that’s what it SHOULD do. But it can also bring out the worst in us sometimes.

For example, it is a KNOWN axiom that you should never bad mouth your competition. But I’m willing to bet there are those of you out there who just can’t resist and find yourself doing some trash talking now and again. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

I used to take this concept one step further. I just never said the competition’s name out loud. When a client would mention another company’s name, I would smile and nod and change the subject, unless of course the client was asking me a direct question. Or, I would ask what the person liked about doing business with that company, what it could be doing better and, my favorite question, “When is the last time they brought you a new idea?”

What if we went even further? What if we treated our competition like friends? What if we actually used them as a network, a resource and a shoulder to cry on?

Now working as a consultant, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include client recovery, retention and acquisition, and marketing communications projects.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league.

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  • steveadams291

    I have always found that if i approach my competitors I find that they are receptive of having a conversation and I eventually end up doing work with them in some manner. I think all printers need to know their competitors personally. We need to support and help our friends in this business.