“We Hardly Ever Run Into Them”

This is a common presenter response to a competitor question, and a suboptimal one.

Why?  At least two reasons:

  1. It avoids the issue.  Your audience raises the question because they have run into these competitors, and they want to know what you think of them.  Saying “we hardly ever run into them” is a way of dismissing the competition without rendering them a respectful analysis.
  2. It’s beside the point.  Even if this statement is Gospel truth, it’s beside the point because there are numerous reasons why you might not be running into them.  One very common reason: the market may be so big compared to your penetration (and theirs) that neither of you is seeing the other yet, although you may end up as cutthroat competitors as things develop.  In this case, saying “we hardly ever run into them” is disingenuous; you may well hardly run into anybody (yet).

Much better to say something like this:

“We see our major competition in the market today as X (an incumbent) and Y (a rival).  We believe this is because the market is still maturing and customers aren’t sure what solution they should be adopting, so the FUD from X and a known name are pretty important.  When they pick Y, it’s because Y offers self-service teleportation, which we think is a key feature.

“Z (the company mentioned) has gotten a lot of venture money from good firms, but their approach is too techie for customers, we think.”

Respectful; lays out your views of the ecosystem, lays out your competitive differentiation.

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