Let me start with my description of a public forum: for the purpose of this post I am referring to a public program
such as a speech, awards ceremony, educational presentation, and the like. And,
when I state public is just that – public, I am targeting my competition.
I’m not sure why some sales people, and
other business colleagues for that matter, don’t like the idea of “checking out
the competition”, but I find it to be extremely useful. I’ve long made it a
practice to attend programs where my competition is presenting or being recognized.
I do this for two reasons: (1) it provides insight into who they are, what they’re
about, how they present themselves, and what level of knowledge they possess;
and (2) they oftentimes entertain their clients at these events, so I can learn
who they are doing business with and why.
When the various forums are open to the
public, whether free admission or paid, I want to take advantage of the opportunity
to educate myself on the marketplace. Many time’s I learn of new competitors
through random chit chat. This is also an opportunity to take the temperature
of the marketplace on a specific topic. For example, if the presentation is on
a new trend in digital marketing, I can gauge the interest of the audience and
plan my own firms’ strategy based on seeing and hearing feedback on the topic
Some sales people have worried
themselves about what to say or how to act if confronted by the competitor in
these situations. My answer has always been to be complimentary and gracious. I
can assure you that your competition will do the same and attend public forums
where you are speaking or being recognized. It is a “business 101” tactic. I
encourage you to become aware of these opportunities, attend, identify
potential business or educational experiences from these forums, and use this
newly acquired information to advance your own business and/or sales agenda.