Being competitive is a good mindset to have in business. But this should be a healthy kind of competitiveness, not the kind of win-at-all-costs attitude that can turn us into the kind of person we don’t want to be. Here are the basic rules for healthy competition.

Don’t put down your competitors. It is unfortunate if you feel that the only way you can win is at the expense of your competitors. Sharing negative opinions about other businesses to prospects can make you appear petty. And if your comments ever get back to those competitors, you can forget about ever getting any referrals from them. So, when a prospect mentions a competitor they’re considering, keep your comments positive—“We know them—they’ve been working in this area for a few years now.” Be confident that the services you provide speak for themselves.

Understand different clients’ differing needs. To compete effectively in your market, you first need to understand exactly what your prospects are looking for. That will change for prospects with different needs and different economic circumstances. Gauge your offerings and the type of service you provide to how those customer needs differ. But in all cases, work to create the best possible customer experience.

Always provide the best level of service you possibly can. Some customers shop only for the lowest price, but many are willing to pay the going rate for exceptional service. Offering state-of-the-art customer service can set you apart from the competition. When you take that approach, you may see other companies respond by adding additional services. At that point, ask yourself if you want to compete at that new level. If the answer is yes, look for ways to not just match their level of service but exceed it. This raises the bar, forcing the competitor to ask if they want to keep up with you. The best thing about this is that the customer is ultimately the winner. In addition, don’t forget to continue your exceptional level of customer attention after the sale. Never forget that future referrals depend on ongoing client relationships.

Don’t be afraid to share. Don’t hesitate to share your ideas about how you compete and succeed. Talking to others at networking groups and industry events, sharing what works for you, and how you do things differently. This is called operating from an abundance mindset, and if what you share helps a competitor serve their customers better, that’s in fact a good thing. In reality, another company cannot literally match something you have created. Plus, sharing your expertise with others outside your region makes you the go-to business for referrals coming into your area. You also attract employees who see the benefit of working in an environment based on that abundance mindset.

Make healthy competition your foundation for providing customers with the highest level of service and care. Your customers win, and down the road, you wind up with some really solid referrals.

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