How do you view your competitors? For most people in business, whether they are running a company or simply working in one, the answer is easy. They view their competitors as the ones with whom they are in battle against in the fight to win customers, clients, and market share. And while they may not view them in terms as harsh as being a foe or an enemy, many would certainly not view them as “friends” either though. However, it may serve business people well to re-think how they view their competitors, and maybe think of them as friends. Friends who can be a major source of leads and friends who can actually help them grow their businesses.

Here’s why. Rarely do two or more businesses compete with one another in every specific facet and on every single level of their respective businesses. Within each business there are distinct nuances that make that business ever so slightly unique from any other that it competes with, whether it is something specifically about their product, how they deliver a particular service, or possibly where and when they are able to deliver that product or service. As marketers we know there is always something that makes a business one-of-a-kind in some small way, and of course it’s our job to identify that something and make it meaningful and compelling enough that people are willing to spend money to get it. But for the companies themselves, when that unique differentiator is identified, it opens a door through which referral opportunities between competing companies or business can truly exist – but only if only those companies recognize that opportunity and are savvy enough to also recognize the benefits that opportunity can provide.

It’s Summertime and many people are attending nice outdoor parties, events and get togethers. So let’s say, for example, there are two companies, Company A and Company B that are each in the catering business. Both have comparable prices, menu items, service areas, etc. And let’s say that catering company A gets the call to cater an event the 3rd Saturday in August, but is completely booked that day and cannot take on that order. If catering company A views their competitors as more as friends rather than foes, they will recognize the value of referring the people who are seeking a caterer to company B.

If these types or What happens

Of course, making these types of referrals are a 2-way street, but if these types of friendly competitor-relationships can be developed, it’s not a bad street to have your business “located” on. But when these types of relationships are developed, over time something interesting happens.

1. Company A will start to be on the receiving end of referrals from Company B.
2. The people the Company A refers will think very highly of company A. for making the referral, which can result in very good will being created at large.

Plus, any business that is referred back to Company A. will be more likely to land because the mindset will be “If their competitor recommends them, they must really be pretty good.” All of this coming as a result of viewing competitors as friends and not foes.

Although they may not think of themselves viewing their competition as “friends”, to be sure. there are many companies and businesses that routinely refer any business that they can’t service to a trusted competitor. The point here, is to maybe consider developing more of those relationships and start reaping and enjoying the benefits in greater measure.