Competition and Exclusivity

How do you look at competition? Are you afraid of it? Do you try to keep the competition down or do you make yourself better? Do you help competitors? Do you ever refer people to your competitors? Are you the best or are your competitors just worse than you are?

When is an exclusive relationship warranted? Some networking groups will only allow one member from any particular occupation. I.E., one lawyer, one doctor, one CPA. Is that wise. Who do you want in your group, the best doctor so you can refer them to your friends and they can get healed or the best connected doctor who knows everybody and can refer you to many potential clients? Do you make exclusive relationships with your vendors or customers? Is it two way. Are they the only one in their industry that you sell to? Are you the only one that they buy from? Do you have any “one way streets”?


Even if you’ve never commented before, now’s a good time. Incidentally, if you’d like to comment anonymously, use the link at the top of the page to send me an email. I’ll copy the text of your comment without disclosing your identity.

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6 thoughts on “Competition and Exclusivity

  1. Many parts to this blog so I will start with the competitors. I love competition. I like to find out as much as I can about them and their processes. Than I look at what they do better and what they do worse and adapt my business to be better. But I never bad mouth my competition unless they have used unfair statements to sell jobs. As for some referral groups I am a little undecided if the exclusive relationships works good or bad. What if the doctor is not very good or the CPA you know in the group does not return phone calls. I really don’t want my name attached to their bad business skills. So I pick and choose only the best from people that I have used and I have formed a team of referrals form all the different groups selecting only the best. If they do a bad job I change relationships to someone better!! I don’t know if I would rip up their business card and mail it to them but I do tell them why I will not use their services anymore.

  2. Good topic, Rick. This is a common topic in my life. I often refer people to different solutions than mine if it is the right thing for them. They often come back anyways when they are ready because they realize that my intention is to do the right thing for them. But, if they don’t have the budget for what I do, or if I can’t solve their issues, referring them to someone else is the right thing to do to still try and help them. Eg. A lot of companies think that networking or marketing is the reason their business isn’t succeeding, when they should really be talking to someone like you about sales training. Or if someone wants to just do email marketing to their own contacts and doesn’t care about getting their message out through our network, or if our network isn’t the right fit, I’ll refer them to a cheaper solution that they can use. In a few networking groups I market, membership is exclusive per profession. That’s to create a safe place for people to be able to seek help and do biz development. I wouldn’t want my competitors knowing who my prospects were, I guess. And I imagine that some professions wouldn’t want their competitors knowing who their clients are. (That’s not the case in mine since my job is to promote my client’s businesses.) So, I think that exclusivity in a referral (or mastermind) group is important. My personal take is that exclusivity between clients and providers is silly. I had someone (pretty inexperienced) ask me how I could work with them and their competitor. So, I told them that everything we talk about is confidential. I also made the point that your competition does different things better than you and vice versa. So, I’d refer different people to you based on that. If anything, the fact that I work with a few of the same types of companies, means I am more qualified to help each. But, I am also in a fortunate situation that I don’t have many competitors. I have competition in certain things that I do, but I tend not to run into them much. I do run into a lot of people that talk a lot about exclusivity. And I think they obsess over it too much. People should get business because they are the best. Not because they happen to be the guy in the room. I think I weighed in on all of your questions. Hopefully, you’re going to provide your thoughts too.

  3. I’ll take a different approach than the previous two readers. In a lot of the companies I’ve helped, their goal is to become the exclusive provider of their particular product. In this case, exclusivity means, “we trust you”, “we put all of our faith in your”, “you’ll be the only company providing x to us”, and most importantly to both parties, “we’re partners in this”. It also means that for a period of time, their margins are protected along with a guarantee of a certain level of revenue. That’s a good thing! In another example, as a provider of assessments, Objective Management Group contractually does not allow its resellers to sell competitive assessments (sales specific) but allows them to sell non-competitive assessments (personality or behavioral style), Another good thing! Personally, I’m a very loyal guy so conceptually, I have an exclusive relationship with every store, vendor and supplier I do business with. It’s not mutually exclusive – they can sell to others – but I only buy from them. Unless they mess up so bad that I can’t anymore, at which time I develop another exclusive relationship. I even extend my exclusivity to restaurants but in a very different way. We dine at many restaurants (non exclusive) but I have exclusive dishes from each one. Locally, it’s Chicken Parm at Arturo’s, Chicken Marsala at Ziti’s, Latin Ribs at Naked Fish, Crispy Honey Chicken Salad at Uno’s, the Special at Outback, the Calamari at Romaine’s, the Bolognaise at Bertucci’s, the Hickory Chicken Sandwich at Ruby Tuesday’s, etc. When we go into a new restaurant, I’ll order something different until I find what they do that I like the best and stick with it. I do this because it eliminates one additional thing, in an overly busy life, that I don’t have to think about. I take the same approach to selling and sales development. No options, no choices, there is always one ideal, needs and cost appropriate solution. It eliminates the thinking it over. And when it comes to giving out referrals, guess what? I’m the same. I don’t say here are three accountants you can call, just one. Same one all the time. No exceptions. Do I know more than one? Certainly. Will I mention them? Never. Less to think about for me and the person getting the reference. It might not work the same way for you as it does for me, but I’m all for exclusivity. Simplification, predictability, efficiency, better relationships, peace of mind.

  4. Interesting. Dave took the “exclusivity” from the suppliers perspective. I agree. I only want one supplier for a specific service. I do like to try new dishes, though. You should check out the Calamari Fra Diavolo at Il Forno’s. It’s excellent. Assuming you don’t have an already established go-to dish over there. I have adopted this in my sales process: “I take the same approach to selling and sales development. No options, no choices, there is always one ideal, needs and cost appropriate solution. It eliminates the thinking it over.” which I’ve learned from you and Rick. It’s funny how often that prospects think they can choose the “best” solution from what I can provide if I give them enough information about what can be done. It never works, though. It’s so much better if I find out what their problems, goals, and budget is and then prescribe the right solution.

  5. My comments are these.I believe strongly that competitors can also serve as a great alliance. We have learned that it demonstrates confidence and a willingness to better serve our customers, even if that means sending a customer to a competitor for what we know will better meet their needs.

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