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Here’s a News Flash! Competitors Sometimes Lie!

By Tim Reynolds

It doesn’t happen very often, usually at the end of a quarter or at year end when the competitor is falling short of quotas or growth targets.  Most often it’s a sales person, but sometimes it’s a senior sales executive.  I take it as a sign of desperation.  To me, it gives insight into the competitor’s culture and the character of the organization. I correct the lies with the prospect and move on.  No big deal, just some “sharp elbows under the boards”.

For the past 6 or 7 years one particular lie has been quite irritating, although it rarely has the intended impact on the sale.  I thought I’d share the situation with you and perhaps get your advice on how best to handle it.  Blogs are at their best when the writer and the readers learn from each other.

The scenario unfolds this way; Tribute is deep into the sales cycle with an important prospect, perhaps a large distributor or a thought leader in one of the associations we work with.  Suddenly, for unexplained reasons, we see that we are being either dropped from “the list” or the sale goes cold.  When we probe, we discover the “big lie” has been dropped.

The prospect has received a call from a senior sales executive at our competition; let’s call him “Mike”.  During the conversation “Mike” lets slip that his company will soon be buying Tribute, Inc. and suggests that it would be unwise for the prospect to buy our software.  The prospect, a prudent business person, takes the information very seriously.  When we are lucky, I am given a chance to discuss the lie with the prospect and assure them it is not true.  Sometimes we are not given that chance.

Those of you that have attended our Users’ Group meetings during the last many years have heard me address that question very openly and directly, both in general session and in the breakout session I conduct for owners and principals.  But let me answer it here, also.

I have no current plans to sell Tribute, Inc.  I am not in discussions with anyone to do so.  I have an exit strategy, and a succession plan.  But I love what I do and have no intention of getting out of this business anytime soon.  I am 55, happy, healthy and actively engaged in some very exciting plans for my company.

There may come a time when I decide to sell the company.  Those of you that know me will also know that decision will be the end result of a carefully thought out plan that protects my employees and my customers and provides good and fair value to the buyer.  You will also know that I will only sell my company to an entity that treats its employees, customers, prospects and even their competition with integrity and professionalism.

If you hear from “Mike”, you can go ahead and tell him that.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, either as a comment here on the blog, or directly via email or phone.

For our Tribute Users, I hope to see you in San Diego in August!

Tim Reynolds is the President of Tribute, Inc., a provider of management software for industrial distributors and the Chairman of COSE - the Cleveland Council of Smaller Enterprises.

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