Jun 21, 2021 • Podcast

How do I compete against a big competitor?

Paul breaks down the age-old battle of the little competitor versus the big competitor.

Show Notes: 

You can’t out-Goliath Goliath. Play to your strengths.

Remember, those big competitors are worried about you, too!

Ask yourself, “How can I make it easier to do business with us rather than that big company?”

Let the buyer know that as the little guy, you will try harder to ….

Be ready to fill in the gaps left by the big competitor (i.e., service and support).


(If links below are not clickable, visit us at https://www.theqandasalespodcast.com.)

Click here to pre-order a copy of Selling Through Tough Times!

Click here to purchase the latest edition of Value-Added Selling!

Thanks to our production team at The Creative Impostor Studios!

Click here to book a complimentary consultation with Strategist and Producer, Andrea Klunder, to find out how to launch, produce, and grow your company’s podcast.


Thank you for tuning in. Our show is updated weekly with the questions you ask. So, please go to the home page to ask the question that you want answered.

Be sure to follow our show in your favorite podcast app and share this episode with a colleague or friend.

And most importantly…make it a big day.

Check out this episode!

How do I compete against a big competitor?

(Transcribed from podcast)

On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about how to compete against big competitors. In fact, this question came in from Randy. So Randy actually went online, he asked us a question, and we are going to turn it into a show.

So to give you a little background on Randy. Randy is in the jan-san industry, so, janitorial supply among other products, and Randy’s competing against a lot of big competitors. I know many of my listeners out there feel like small business competing against big business—David versus Goliath, that whole battle. We’re going to break it down on today’s episode on how you can compete against big competitors.

Before we get into that, though, a quick shout-out to our sponsor. Andrea, over at The Creative Impostor Studios does an absolutely wonderful job. Again, the podcast continues to grow. It’s in over 70 countries—I think 72 or 73 countries last time I checked. So it continues to grow, and a lot of the credit goes to her and her team. You know, they help with editing, they help with producing the podcast, giving you ideas, insight to help it grow. So kudos to you, Andrea. We are going to have a link over to your website on this episode’s webpage.

Also, pick up your fourth edition of Value-Added Selling, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, wherever you get your books. We’ve got a lot of ideas in the book that I will mention, but again, your comprehensive guide to sell on value is Value-Added Selling. So, if you’re dealing with price resistance/price objections, pick up your copy today. It’s available on Amazon or wherever you get your books.

So, let’s get to that question: How do you compete against big competitors? Well, I’m going to give you a couple of thoughts. Number one: you can’t out-Goliath Goliath. You can’t beat your competitors—bigger competitors, I should say—at their own game, so you’re going to need to play to your strengths. Now, I remember, I was doing a program several years ago, and I was talking to an industrial distributor, and they said, “Man, Amazon is just driving us nuts. Amazon is you know, it’s hard to compete with them.” And I told them frankly, I said, “Look, you’re not going to be able to out Amazon [Amazon]. You can’t compete with Amazon at their own game and expect to win. You’ve got to play your own game. You have to play differently.” And so, that’s the mindset you need to approach when you’re competing against a big competitor. You have to play to your strengths.

Now, what’s interesting, whenever I work—’cause I work with big companies, I work with small companies, and everyone in between—whenever I meet with small-to-medium-sized businesses. Let’s say they’re, you know, anywhere from just a few million in revenue up to, a hundred million in revenue, fewer than 500 employees and all that. They always want to know, “How do I compete with the big guys out there? How do I go up against them? How am I going to win?” The funny thing is, when I go and work with my Fortune 100 companies that I’m interacting with—huge companies, huge multi-national organizations—they will always tell me, “You know, man, we’re doing pretty well, but we’ve got this one competitor who’s just a thorn in our side. Man, we can’t shake them. They keep beating us and we don’t know how. And they’re much smaller than us.” And so, I think it’s interesting, when we have these conversations that the small guys want to know, “How do we compete against the big guys?” but the big guys still have the small guys that they’re worried about as well, that they just can’t shake.

With that being said let’s remember, we’ve got to play to our strengths. So if I’m a small business competing against a big business, here’s where I’m going to focus. I’m going to focus on flexibility. I’m going to focus on my responsiveness. Flexibility is a big one. Companies like to work with other companies that are easier to do business with. And so, ask yourself, ‘How can I make it easier to do business with us than that big company?’ And because you’re a smaller company, it’s easier. And the reason it’s easier is because you can go directly to the owner of your company if you want to make a big change.

I had this conversation the other day. And again, it was another small/medium-sized business competing against a large, multinational organization. And I told the guys, I said, “Look, play to your strength. If you wanted to make a fundamental shift, a fundamental change in the way you do business to win a customer, who do you need to call to make that happen? And everyone pointed to the owner of the company that was in the actual meeting. Do you know how rare that is? And in a big corporation, when they want to try to change a policy or gain approval, it has to go through multiple layers. I remember one company who had to get approval to buy toilet paper because they were over their budget on toilet paper. Give me a break. So, if you’re competing against a bigger company, you need to show your flexibility. Show the customer how you’re flexible.

Also, you’ve got to be responsive. You have to be available. You have to win them over with that personal service. So, support is going to be key as well. The bigger the companies are, the more things can get lost in translation, especially when you’re communicating across different time zones, different departments, even different areas of the world. Things can get lost. So make sure you’re being responsive and being supportive. And not only that, but you can also appeal to your customer base. If you’re a small-to-medium-sized business, I’m guessing a majority of your customers are also small-to-medium-sized businesses. Invoke a little empathy with them and let them know, “Hey, partner with us because you know what? We’re not as big as the big guy. We’re going to have to try harder to keep an earn and win your business.” That’s the old Hertz, “We’re number two.” Who brags about being number two? Well Hertz used to do that in their in their commercials and they’d say, “We’re number two. We have to try harder.” And I thought, ‘Man, what a great tagline.’ It’s old. But it’s still pretty effective in messaging.

Another thing you want to do is emphasize the communal aspect of partnering with you versus a big multinational competitor. I remember there was a great sign. I saw this sign, it went viral on LinkedIn, Facebook, a few other places. And the sign basically said, “Buy from us instead of Amazon, because we’ll support your kid’s little league team.” What a great message. So that’s an area where David can beat Goliath, that communal aspect. So again, Randy, when you’re competing against those big guys, remember this segment.

Now a couple other things you can do, Randy. You’re going to have to address the areas where, you know, your competitor, the bigger competitor, might be able to beat you. But the key is, you have to get that information from the customer. So, here’s what I’d recommend doing. Go talk to a handful of customers and prospects in your territory. Go on a, you know, this is almost like a voice-of-the-customer type of marketing project. You want to talk to all these customers, and think of the big competitors that you’re referring to, and ask those customers, “What do you like about this competitor?” “What do you dislike about this competitor?” Those two basic questions are going to be able to tell you what you need to know and how you’re going to have to adjust your value proposition to compete more effectively. I’m guessing you’re going to get a list of things that they like, which is going to be the areas where you need to address.

You might not be able to beat the competitor in those key areas, but you’re going to have to be able to address it. You’re going to have to be able to adjust and change/evolve to start to climb that hill. For example, if they have better technology and you’ve been delaying investing in a better technological solution, now is the time to start investing. You might not be able to beat them in that, but you can try to get to the point where you’re reasonably okay compared to. Find out what they like, and then also find out what they dislike, and I’m certain that what they dislike about those companies is going to align perfectly with your strengths. That’s the key is you want to be able to fill in the gaps that they’ve created when it comes to flexibility, service, support, all of those things.

Well, Randy, I hope that helps you.

Make it a big day.

Ask a Question


Value Added Selling

New Value-Added Selling (4th Edition)

The global, go-to guide that started the Value Selling Revolution - now updated for today's market.

Order Now