I worked for a newspaper in my early sales days. We had one major competitor in the market. We were instructed to never use their names on a sales call, because you don't want prospects to start thinking right then and there that they should be evaluating another option. Times have changed.

Now that anyone can research anything at the push of a button online, it's foolish to think that a new prospect won’t immediately go check out the competition. I make it easy for my prospects to research the competition. These days I provide my potential prospects with a list of companies that I would short-list if I were going to buy my own services from someone else. I invite them to compare our services, request quotes from them, and make an informed decision. 

You may want to try something similar when you’re pitching. Why?

It eliminates sticker shock. Prospects will come to you with a preconceived notion of what something might cost, especially if they have worked with a competitor that prices differently. If you are trying to win a managed contract from a company that has been paying for break-fix services, for example, you’ll want them to see that you’re not priced much differently than any of your competitors. 

It allows you to (in a classy way) show them who you wouldn't choose to do business with, which in my opinion, is even more important. 

It helps you identify which clients you should be on-boarding, and which are better suited to work with someone else. Sure, you may lose a potential client or two to one of the competitors you name, but here’s the thing: If they prefer your competitors approach, you’re going to lose them anyhow. If you think your competitors aren’t gunning for your client roster, think again. I would much rather help identify the right provider for a company right off the hop than spend a lot of time on-boarding a new client only to hand them over to a competitor once we’ve done all the work and solved all their problems. When you check in to see how it’s going in 90 days, if they’re happy, they’re grateful and if they aren’t, they’re soon to be yours and you won’t have to do any of the heavy lifting.

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I don’t recommend handing out your competitors' brochures or anything like that — make the prospect do their homework themselves. I do recommend becoming known in your market as someone who truly believes in win-win relationships, even when that means you don’t always win the business.

Do you shy away from mentioning competitors? Do you invite customers to compare your services to other similar ones?