I write this blog to continue a post I started within LinkedIn that you can find here.
But as I ended that post, I asked a question about whether or not the current political warfare that is being conducted “candidate-to-candidate” was going to usher in a new form of accepted business strategy – and the question of whether “negative selling and character assassinations” had really ever gone away?
As a business owner – all you really have at the end of the day is your integrity. Nobody has a monopoly on any one product or service. There will always be competitors. There will always be some differing view on competitive advantage – with one product selling their unique feature and benefit “as the best” and another one selling a different uniqueness in the same way.
To put it simply – your brand’s loyalty has to have something else that makes your customer base want to come back.
As a business owner, your reputation (which is a broader combination of consistent performance, ethics, and position within a market) either feeds your growth or speeds your demise.
As consumers – it used to be that we thought ill of a business that moved in and tried to steal market share by “buying” the market (usually if they had the operating capital to outlast their competitors especially the small “mom-and-pop” establishments), yet many consumers would still buy from them – as they would save money.
It used to be that it was wrong to get people to give negative reviews of an item much less the more coordinated acts of sock puppet marketing or astroturfing negative reviews, yet we commonly point people to these reviews to show why they should use us.
While these and many others business strategies are seen as unethical or uncomfortably close to it – they do not compare to accusing a rival of perpetrating heinous crimes or denigrating/insulting a special needs population, women, or minorities for personal gain.
While this behavior and strategy is commonly dismissed as “political theater,” its mainstream use – and especially its visibility to our children and their evolving minds is setting a stage for what is acceptable in the future for business and even personal relationships. If it is ok for the President of the United States to use bigoted language about a competitor – why can’t a business do the same in a customer service review? If it is ok to go after a competitor and represent a biological physical disorder (stuttering) as a reason not to trust them and if so – should it also be fair to do the same for someone’s color of their skin?
As a sales trainer – I try not to teach a tactics-based sales process, rather, to look for cues in human behavior (specifically the customer’s). If you see a customer doing this – it is a request for this. If they respond this way – you should do this. To me – having a conscious competence about human behavior is the most consistent path to success as you are not doing what you want to do but rather, you are doing what the customer is asking you to do.
But human behavior also has a dark side, especially when we begin to subconsciously accept what we see as being ok – especially when it is done in and from a position of trust.
We are struggling right now in many areas of our lives.
Struggling against a virus which we were not prepared for.
We are struggling with a medical system which was not adequately prepared for it.
We are struggling as the health of the nation is losing out to the health of the economy.
And we will continue to struggle with how this will reshape many industries and the many people who are out of work because of it.
Whether we should have been more prepared for this will be debated for years to come.
And the election will be equally debated for how far a person (or business) will go to win.
Until next time, Stay Optimistic ~