In business-to-business selling we do a lot of war room planning against competitors. In fact, discussing competition often sounds like being in a war.

What if you disarmed the thought of competition – and instead used a term I call, Industry Counterparts?  Here are the subtle differences:

Competitors are rivals, opponents, seekers, and claimants. They seek to take what we believe is ours – namely our prospective customers. They are rivals for the food on our tables and the clothes on our backs.

Industry Counterparts are people and companies in your market niche. They are in your space and they serve many of the same types of people you do, although they can have very diverse backgrounds. They can actually refer you business. They can help you to stand out.

What are 3 ways you can make your competitors into industry counterparts?

1.  Remove the word from your vocabulary. There are no competitors, only industry counterparts. Why? Because what you think about is your reality. I purged the word from my vocabulary years ago, and even though I work in “war rooms” with big technology companies where we work to determine our advantages in gaining new customers, I view things from an industry counterpart mentality.  I may say it (or write it, as you can see), but I work from an abundance theory.

2. Use the abundance theory. There is enough out there for all of us to build thriving businesses. Unless you are in a commodities-driven, head-to-head battle every day, you can build business in and around industry counterparts. Using the abundance strategy, focus on your company’s strengths and help buyers understand what you CAN do for them rather than what your competitors can’t do for them.  Think of the Texan proverb, “When you throw dirt, you lose ground.”

Strategize with your sales team on your company’s distinct advantages and make bullet-pointed lists for when they are crafting messaging with prospective customers. Focus on us, not in putting down them.

3. Actually engage with your industry counterparts. I had the extreme pleasure of meeting up with 20 of my industry counterparts last weekend. We all write, speak, train, coach, or mentor within the B2B sales world. It was like no other day in that everyone who showed up really showed up. We were able to put faces to photos and handshakes (or hugs) instead of phone calls or emails. Everyone left there a better person, and we were able to discuss issues in our industry and even ways we can collaborate. Yes, I said it – industry counterparts can collaborate.  Attendee Leanne Hoagland-Smith wrote a post as well.

Bonus Tip: Be more open-minded. Instead of being guarded, open up the possibility of learning from those in your industry. If you think you know it all, you’re never going to grow and improve.

What can you do with this new mindset?

How can you engage someone in your industry to collaborate on a creative deal that would not happen as competitors?

When will you make this happen? (no time like the present…)