Gossiping about competitors will tarnish your credibility

Gossip sells. Possibly this is the reason why some sellers assume it’ll work for them. What they forget is that gossip sells in ‘hiding’ and where there is no ownership-not out in the open.

Pitching to a buyer by rubbishing another is counterproductive. If we cut to the chase, it’s basic gossip. It manifests itself in different ways. The seller says: “We are not like them. They will charge you for every transaction but we don’t”; or, “their customers are leaving in droves because their cement is half sand”; or, two of your competing service providers keep you in copy as they tear at each others throats, trying to justify it’s the other who’s at fault that your website is down.

Reasons why sellers gossip

But why do sellers “gossip”? First, naiveté. The green horn doesn’t know better. And so he defaults to rubbishing Jane to interest Jill as his opening gambit to Jane whom he’s just met. His reasoning? If I show the buyer the ills of his service provider and contrast them with the joys of having my service, he will buy. This presupposes that the buyer doesn’t know what you have just revealed and will jump ship at having been shown the ‘light’. It backfires terribly when it turns out that he does know, and proceeds to share what’s being done about it. Another reason is self-righteousness: I’m saintly unlike them; you need me. A third is personality: there are still sellers who are casual about everything they do, and seemingly getting along with everyone, it is assumed they make excellent salespeople. Unchecked, their casualness leads to gossip especially with an equally casual buyer.

Gossip is delicious

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts (Bible). Gossip is sweet. Entire businesses ride on it. There are obscenely profitable radio shows and dedicated TV channels that literary thrive on gossip. Gossip sells. Possibly this is the reason why some sellers assume it’ll work for them. What they forget is that gossip sells in ‘hiding’-not out in the open. Gossip is speaking behind someone’s back-when brought to the ‘front’ (out in the open as in a presentation) ownership scatters as fast as darkness when light shines. And therein lays the problem. Rubbishing the competition as a way of selling doesn’t make your product stand out; it makes you stand out– you pong. And if you gossip about others, surely you will gossip about me, the buyer thinks.

When competitors have a spat in the presence of their customer, it makes them both pong. They are both airing their dirty linen in public. Put yourself in the buyers shoes-possibly you’d be initially tickled at the folly on display and quickly irritated, not only by it, but by how irrelevant it is to you, especially if your problem (that led to the spat) is still unresolved.

Responding to gossip

What to do then when the buyer says, “But Bahari Ocean View are cheaper than you.” Behind his back (in the dark), you may be saying ‘they are cheap because they know what they are worth. They fleece you with their inflated counterfeit alcoholic drinks.’ And this could be true; but because you are bright, in the light with the buyer, you say, “Bahari Ocean is a good company. Would you like to know our point of difference?” And you proceed to show the buyer how your difference meets his needs without a mention of Bahari View again. “Your relaxation during your stay with us is as important to us as it is to you. Freshly caught fish is what we serve. Here, try some” And why do you do this? Because the buyer isn’t really asking for a debate on price (and certainly isn’t seeking to gossip); what he is ‘saying’ is “Tell me why I should buy from you.” Going down the counterfeit drinks road just fuels the fire and tarnishes your credibility-you become the “owner” of the gossip. “Even Kageche said….”.

Gossip is not market intelligence. Knowing they sell fake products is important for market intelligence; I should know that. How I share that information is what separates intelligence from gossip.

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