There is a difference between respecting your competition and fearing your competition. Respect, they deserve (some more than others). But fear? Never.

They Are Human

It’s easy to think about your competitor in terms of the company for whom they work. Their company is bigger. They have more money. They have to be better. Right?

Maybe their salesperson has that magic smile and that shine on their shoe that allows them to gain rapport the instant they walk through the door. That makes them hard to beat, right?


Your competitors are human, just like you. That means they are susceptible to all of the errors, problems, challenges, and mistakes that any other salespeople are subject to. All of the mistakes that you might make that could cost you your opportunity are the same mistakes that they might make. All of the problems and challenges you have gaining access and information that will help you position yourself to win an opportunity are likely as difficult for your competitor to obtain. If you are honest, you may have a belief or two that violates one of the iron laws of sales at some level and that keeps you from being as successful as you might be; they also share some of those same beliefs.

Your competition is every bit as human as you are. It’s likely that they are worried about you.

Respect, Not Fear

One of my clients was walking into a boardroom presentation when one of their competitors was walking out. Their competitor was a much larger company, and they had their whole sales team in attendance. They had never seen this group up close and personal, and they were literally shocked to see them face-to-face. My clients had a very different picture in their mind. They expected crisp, professional, and unbeatable.

They saw something very different.

Their competitor’s sales team looked worn out, broken, and discouraged. Just seeing their faces made them appear . . . human. It was clear that whatever happened to them in the boardroom, it wasn’t anything good. My clients were encouraged by what they saw.

It’s important to respect your competitors.

No matter how big or small their company, no matter what you might believe to be their perceived strengths or weaknesses, you owe them your respect. They are competing against you, and treating them with respect means taking them seriously, not overestimating their abilities to the point that you are not confident in your ability to beat them, and not underestimating them and believing that winning will take anything less than your A-game.


Do you respect your competitors too much? Does it border on fear?

What happens to your confidence when you fear your competition? What changes do you make to your strategy when you believe your competitor is far stronger than you are?

Do your competitors really have advantages that you cannot counter? Or, are they really ever bit as human as you are? How do you remind yourself that your competitors are just as susceptible to the same things that cause you to lose deals?

What is the risk of over-estimating your competitors? What are the risks of under-estimating your competitors?

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
October 15, 2010