Friend or Foe?


A few years back when I was in technical sales, I was new to the Company so my boss accompanied me on a trip to a chemical plant. When we met with the outage manager, my boss proceeded to tell him all about our services and how great our Company was. He didn't seem to give the gentleman much of a chance to tell his story, but the meeting went fairly well for the most part. 

When I returned to the plant for another visit on my own, I delved deeper into their situation and history with other vendors and the maintenance/installation situation in our region altogether. The vendors all pulled from the same pool of mechanics, so when jobs were in progress at different company's plants, the best were split between them - leaving some of the not so great to fill in the gaps. I suggested to the client that they split the job into two - with different companies each taking a turbine or compressor - and that way they would get everyone's best on the job without the previous problems. He loved the idea - but unfortunately we never actually tried it out.  

I did get us on their bidders list for future maintenance/installation jobs at the plant. When we attended a joint meeting to review the required proposal details for one job, all of the vendors were there. The client was surprised we all got along so well and were friendly. Why not? - I thought. We are all in the same business - competitors - not foes. 

I recently spoke to a group of corporate trainers and consultants on creativity and freely shared ideas and techniques with them. One consultant/coach asked after if she could use some of my exercises with a company she was teaching team building for. Of course, I replied. We are also meeting up to brainstorm and see how we might be able to work together in the future.

Sometimes we think that because someone is our competitor we must treat them as a foe. What kind of risks are you taking by treating them as a potential partner - or by not connecting? Who could you partner with that you wouldn't typically think of connecting with. Take a chance - reach out to them.