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    Discuss hostile competitors. How do you deal with half-truths, sometimes lies that they feed to your customers?

  1. You want to work with your salespeople on this issue and control what they might say. The last thing you want to do is respond in-kind. Then you end up being as bad as the other guy - use something called "setting a trap." This is a small industry. If someone is lying about the performance of your product, or grossly exaggerating the performance of theirs, you can say something positive to your customer. For example, "You may want to talk to so-and-so at IBM. They might have experience that is helpful to you if you are going to consider this." Of course, you know so-and-so hates the competitive salesperson or company with a passion. You have not been the black cat. You have basically said to your customer, "I understand how you feel and here?s a way to get some perspective on this."
  2. Our customers love data. If you know specifically what the competition is misrepresenting, get the data to support your claim. Not in a hostile manner, but simple indicate this is the information we have compiled and can prove.
  3. I've always found it helpful when somebody is distorting an issue to shine a light on it. The truth will normally surface and disgrace the perpetrator of the misinformation in the process. Positively and without judgement, indicate we should examine what was stated - pull out the information relative to it.
  4. The most important thing you can do tactically in marketing is to lay a foundation for credibility. You and your team are talking to people as strangers, but you lay the credibility by having published papers, by having data as was previously stated. You, as a marketer, should know in advance, by studying the competition, where these half-truths lie. In my experience it is usually in uniformity or transition with some film quality issue. You should be prepared to show up, not with a ton of data, but a half-ton of carefully selected data, in terms of being interesting to the customer. It should not be in the form of a flash presentation and then you are gone. It should be in the form of something you leave; something that is reprinted from a published article. The other thing is relationships. If you and your salespeople don't have relationships with that account and the competition does, the other person's lie will carry until someone gets burned.