My iGoogle home page gives me three quotes every day. I like this. I like reflecting on the quotes and what they mean for me.
One of today's quotes is from Kathy Sierra. She says "the more you try to compete, the less competitive you really are". Brilliant.
I had a recent experience in a fireplace shop that illustrated these words. The salesperson spent the first few minutes of his interaction with us dissing the competition.
This resulted in a few outcomes. One, it took the focus of the conversation in a negative direction. We were directed to look at what was wrong with the other providers. It was an easy leap from there to wondering what was wrong with the provider in front of us. Two, his words created a sense of unease. If he could be saying these things about the competition, what was he capable of saying about his customers? Three, that valuable first impression time was taken up with something other than what his company stood for.
I wanted to know about what his shop valued. Maybe that customer satisfaction was important, that I would be happy with a purchase and feel well looked after. Or that they were proud of the products they carried, used them in their own homes, and had excellent success with them.
When a customer comes to you, everything that you say and do becomes a part of the story they make up about you. What is the story that you want them to have?
I don't think you want your story to be about how much worse the competition is. You want them to write it about you: what you offer, what your promises are, what you care about.
Customers can and will draw their own conclusions. Their story about you is what will have them choose you. Or not.