One of the biggest questions I get when training sales teams, is “should I connect with my competitors?” My response is typically these 2 questions, “Do you agree with the old adage keep your friends close and your enemies closer?” and “Are you leveraging LinkedIn better than they are?” If you answer yes, to either, connecting with your competitors may be beneficial.
The number one push back I hear is that their competitors will poach their connections. Well, if they can lose a client because someone knows who they are connected to on LinkedIn, than we have bigger issues to work on.
While this is ultimately a personal decision, here are some of the core reasons it is advantageous to connect with your competitors, just remember it is a two-way street:
- You will most-likely have visibility into their connections. Simply click on their 500+ on their profile or scroll down to their connections section. If they have their connections open, you will have access to all of their connections, your shared connections and their new connections.
- Look at the companies they are following to get an idea of who is currently on their radar.
- Read their LinkedIn recommendations to get a clear idea of who their clients are and what they say about them. These insights give you a good grasp on who they work with and the way they conduct business.
- Take a look at “People also viewed”. Get a good look at who else your prospects are looking up and maybe even considering. Although we typically use this section from identifying prospects similar to your clients, it is quite valuable in identifying other competitors that you may not be aware of.
- Read new publications and activities that offer you competitive insights into their strategy.
- View and even engage with the folks that are “liking”, sharing and commenting on their posts and updates.
- Embrace their mistakes. By paying attention to their value proposition, or lack there of, it is an ideal way to use what they share against them when pitching a client. For example, if they list product features and they are missing important features that you offer, when you know you are up against them, this knowledge makes it is easy to position yourself as the better choice.
- Collaborative opportunities come up on occasion and it is important to be open to others bringing you in, and well informed on who you might bring in when the moment arises.
- As you and your company grow, recruiting the best and the brightest will become more and more vital to scaling in a stable way, already having knowledge and even the respect of viable candidates makes this process much smoother.
- Most company owners contemplate an exit or growth strategy entailing selling to or purchasing a competitor. Although it isn’t the fate for every business, having relationships with your competitors gives you an edge when it is time to make a move.
Please share with us your thoughts on connecting with your competition in comments below, your opinion means a lot!