Partnering with the Competition

Who is your biggest competitor?  We all have some competition…in fact competition motivates, drives us, and forces us to be better.  Competition is that elusive person, business, product or service that could potentially put us out of business and could just as equally drive us to the top of our game.  What if I told you that there is so much more opportunity for you on the table if you partnered with rather than fought against your competition?  In business, collaboration will often mean the difference between colossal success and extinction.  It’s a fine line we walk as entrepreneurs.  Recently, as an owner of one of the largest real estate firms in New England, I partnered with my competition to put on an awesome motivational training event for our agents.  This competitor is bigger than me, and in many ways, better than me.  I have recruited agents away from their firm, and likewise, there are agents at their firm that once worked for me.  So, how does partnering with one another make us each stronger?

1. Pooled Resources – By partnering with one of my biggest competitors, we now both have resources that we didn’t have before.  For this event we have pooled our resources, including our money and talent to prepare the program.  As well, we can leverage the impact we have by offering a greater number of agents the content of that program, rather than just one office hording all of the lessons for their team.

2. Unified Front – The real estate world is expansive.  There are many competitors.  Even if we took one another off the table as competitors, there’s still a huge world of potential agents that could work for our firms.  Together we are stronger against the other individual competitors.

3. Strength – In my speeches I often pay credit to this competitor for making my business stronger.  This competitor forced me to create better systems, to build a stronger company culture, and to create a strategy for success.  I re-invented my company over ten years because if I didn’t, this one competitor could have put me out of business.  Now, I call this competitor a friend.  How much more can I learn…how greater may my company now become now that I can ask questions and share ideas with the same company that made me who I am today.  The cooperation goes both ways too….now they have me and my company to talk to and share ideas with.

What makes me and this competitor so unbelievably unique is that we both believe that our biggest competition is ourselves…not someone else…not another company…we each compete to be better than who we were yesterday.  When you realize this one virtue…when you realize that your competitor is not really your competitor at all, it opens up a new reality for you to grow within.

I own a real estate empire…as do lots of other entrepreneurs in my market.  All offer a unique value proposition to attract clients.  There is a limited pool of agents who will make a move in their real estate business…and of course, we all want those agents to choose us.  Perhaps the secret to attracting amazing agents is realizing that there are no competing brands….just unique value propositions for agents to choose from.  If you have ever shopped for a new pair of shoes, you’ll know that the competition is not just about which shoes are more shiny, colorful, or fashionable….but rather which shoes simply fit the best.  When, as business leaders, we realize that the customer chooses based on a personal fit that we cannot control, then building a business has little to do with competition and everything to do with giving the customer pool a comfortable environment to try on what you are offering.  As well, there’s no risk to me exposing my customers to my competitor, and vice versa, because our customers choose us because of fit. Me and my competitor don’t really compete if the customer is choosing based on their personal fit….so doesn’t it make total sense that me and my competitor can team up to create an environment where potential clients can come in and try us on…all while we simultaneously provide value to our own current customers.

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

I’m Being Sued! What’s YOUR Value Proposition?

I am going to reveal a secret to you….it’s a secret that will change your business forever.  It is a tool which, wielded properly, will stave off your competitors and catapult your business to an entirely new level.  I’m talking today about Value Proposition.  Not the regular old run of the mill value proposition like bigger, better, faster, cheaper, shinier.  I’m talking about the value proposition that you live and breath. It’s the nitty gritty value proposition that is the core of YOU and so becomes the core of your business.  It’s the deep down dirty little secrets that make you and your business ooze with awesomeness….the value proposition that nobody can put their finger on….they know you’ve got SOMETHING….but it’s so much more than the bigger, better, faster, cheaper, shinier value proposition that you sell on your websites, presentations, and your mission statement.  Until recently I wasn’t even sure what made me or my company so one of a kind….but now I know.

After being with a franchise for fourteen years, I left.  It’s not because I didn’t love the brand, because I did.  It’s not because they didn’t offer some neat tools, because they did.  It’s because the employees at the regional level had a history of stepping on me, holding me back from growth, discouraging my partner and I from going after bigger and better.  These employees were vicious in their tactics to the point that we couldn’t share our dreams or visions because they’d do their best to subterfuge them….to steal away prospects and give them to our competition.  This went on for years.  Like a person in a bad relationship, I kept justifying in my own head that I deserved this…that I shouldn’t dream so big because my big dreams scare people.  I kept telling myself to dream smaller so that I could fit into the mold that these regional employees wanted me to conform to.  In 2014, after telling these employees, who were supposed to support my dreams,  that we were about to grow again, they stomped me down again.  Have you ever had anyone take your dreams and shred them up in front of you?  I have.  It’s like a knife in the heart….especially for an entrepreneur like me.  I realized then, that my partner and I were going to have to make a really hard decision….the hardest we’ve ever made in our entire combined lives.  We had to choose between living in mediocrity forever by figuring out a way to fit within their mold…or we were going to have to break out of it.   Breaking out would be the hardest, heart wrenching, move my partner and I could ever fathom making.  We knew we COULD do it…because our franchise held us down and broke the rules of our agreements.  But did we want to potentially break apart something we had so carefully constructed for fourteen years when the easy thing to do would have been to live within the mold?

For us…the answer was YES.  Our dreams….the dreams of our organization were worth fighting for.  We made the hardest decision any business owner ever has to make….to throw a huge, heavy, hammer at the beautiful business we built….we had to knock it down to it’s knees to build something better.  We had to kill the old to give birth to something new.  We had to revolt against the people that stepped on us, kicked us, and thought they could because we were chained by contracts the size of skyscrapers.  Our dreams were worth the fight.  Our people…our business…our families…were worth fighting for.

It’s so interesting to me because in the past several weeks we’ve been growing our business by leaps and bounds.  When agents from other firms tell their old employers that they are joining my firm, those employers say…”Really…They are being sued by their old franchise.”  As if, it’s better to throw one last little rock at our company rather than trying to keep agents by reminding them of their own value proposition.

Here’s what I say to that lawsuit:  THAT LAWSUIT IS MY VALUE PROPOSITION.  We are fighters.  We don’t get beat down by the status quo.  You cannot shove us into a mold, handcuff, chain us, and kick us down….and think we are going to take it.  NO YOU CANNOT.  We are brave.  We do not stop when someone holds up a stop sign.  We don’t stay down when someone kicks us.  We don’t retreat when someone fires at us.  We REACH!  We DO!  We fight back… when we know that our dreams are worth fighting for.  That lawsuit, my dear readers….my friends, fellow entrepreneurs, and sales professionals…..that lawsuit is my BADGE OF COURAGE.  I now incorporate that lawsuit into my presentations.  I share it with the world.  I tell prospects thinking about joining my firm….Do you want to work for a company that teaches you to stand up for yourself…to REACH…to persevere….to stand up 101 times when you get knocked down 100?  Or would you rather work for the little guy who sits back and takes what’s handed to him….and accepts the life, the rules, and the abuse that life sometimes hands us?

I know my nitty gritty, dirty, little, value proposition.  I KNOW what makes my organization the best damned real estate firm in the entire world.  Do you know yours?  I hope so.  Because, there’s nothing I love more than when my competition says to an agent that is leaving their firm, “Do you know they are getting sued….” and that agent looks their owner right in the eye and says, “Why yes, it’s exactly why I’m joining them.”

By the way… lawsuits go both ways….they are getting sued by me, my partner, and my business too…..and it will be a cold day in hell before I settle.  I will fight this to the end because my dreams…the dreams of my people…my company…my family are worth it.  My value proposition is that I’ve got the gumption, guts, and grit to fight for what’s right.  Their value proposition?  I guess you could say that they enjoy waking sleeping lions….we’ll see how that works out for them.

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.