In your business life, you encounter several types of enemies.
There are competitors, who are fighting for the same customers you’re going after, coming up against you in deals, telling those customers all about your weaknesses, and doing their best to “position” themselves against you.
There are bosses or other people in power (such as investors) who have decided they don’t like you, and will do what they can to replace you with one of their people.
There are employees who continue to work for you but who don’t enjoy doing so. They make sure everyone (except you) knows why.
There are bureaucrats who, for their own seemingly nonsensical reasons, take actions that could put you out of business.
And yes, there are even customers who have decided that you are doing a terrible job and take it upon themselves to give you a black eye out in the marketplace.
We encounter these enemies even though we are hard-working, honest, careful, and courteous. Living this way gives us the upper hand with our enemies, before the battle has even begun. Which brings us to the first item on our “how to beat your enemies” list.
1) Do right, so you can be in the right. Enemies take full advantage of your weaknesses. If you are honest and fair-dealing with everyone, your enemies will be hard-pressed to make any accusation stick – especially any claims that you are dishonest or uncaring. If you have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, you start out ahead – and are much more likely to win in the end.
2) Know when to fight. If you are accused of something that you didn’t do, or your enemy is saying something that simply isn’t true, don’t let that untrue thought hang out there in the universe. Quickly take action. Gather and document your side of the story, and then get that story out there. Use the power of the “carbon copy” – something especially helpful when dealing with bureaucracies – where you not only send your side of the story to one body, but you carbon copy others, including the press. This will make it very difficult for your side of the story to be suppressed.
3) Give ‘em rope. There are other situations, such as dealing with a dishonest employee, that will require you to take a patient, watchful approach. Liars, even the most clever and pathological ones, have their inattentive moments. Track-covering is a full-time job and very mind-consuming; at some point, the liar will slip up. Two and two will not equal 4, or their body language will give them away, or their story and someone else’s story simply will not agree. Pay close attention to those moments when they are not aware they are “on stage.” Liars often let their guard down when they’re not talking, and if you observe them during those moments, you will learn a great deal. Their slips will tell you where to look for the evidence that will allow you do take decisive action.
4) Know what they’re saying about you, and make sure you address it. If you talk to customers after they buy, they will tell you what your competitors have been saying about you. A few interviews, and you will understand the main “theme” of their negative accusations. You’ll want to make sure you address them head-on and early in your presentations, without being defensive. Provide proof of your strength in the very areas they claim are your weaknesses. Let your own customers speak for you, either through testimonials or by providing the names and contact names of references (with their permission, of course).
5) Don’t live life in permanent battle mode. Yes, you will encounter enemies. You will have to take some kind of action. And you will need to think carefully about what you should do. But don’t let the battles with your enemies keep you from your positive responsibilities. The real success in business comes from doing good, not fighting the bad. People prefer to do business with those who are most caring and conscientious; people they can trust and depend upon. They don’t care who your enemies are; they care about what you can do for them. The best way to beat your enemies is to be successful helping others. It makes for a very satisfying life.
Yes, Dear Readers, it’s been a while since we visited. I’ve been heads-down doing a sales department turnaround for a beloved client. In my line of work, I go through periods where I am focused full-time on solving problems; once I get my head above water and the skies start to clear, it’s time to reflect and relate what I’ve learned.
Selling is a competitive sport, in spite of the fact that the best salespeople are, at heart, both intensely curious and reflexively helpful. Life is always a combination of loving, working, and fighting for what is right. Those of us who care are all in this together, in spite of the battleground on which we operate every day.