Rial-Bates: Bad-mouthing the competition doesn't help

Kay Rial Bates
Kay Rial Bates

I had a disturbing conversation with a client this week. I took note that this entrepreneur was belittling his competition in the hopes of growing his own. I pointed out that his statements regarding his competition were weak and flawed.

Yet this new business owner vehemently stated that he would continue his blemished sales approach. This is a very dangerous practice and should be avoided at all costs. Why? Because it doesn’t work!

There are reasons for this:

First, bad-mouthing a competitor gets old. Prospects want to hear what sales people can do for their business, not what another organization cannot do. That is why they scheduled the appointment.

Second, belittling competitors shows that the sales person is insecure in his ability to sell his product. He does not have the faith in the product he is selling to allow it to stand alone. states, “Never badmouth your competition. It makes you appear petty and bitter. Your competition will look good by comparison.”

Third, I truly believe sales people and business owners need to study their competition. This is a good practice. Learn competitors’ good points and bad points. Then discover ways to present the fact that the sales person’s product is best for the client by serving these weak areas. (Again, without mentioning the competitor’s name.)

Fourth, and most important, the demeaning of the competition that the sales person’s prospect is currently using is insulting to the would-be client. By bad-mouthing his choice of suppliers the sales professional is ridiculing the prospect’s decision-making capabilities. “If you are looking to gain a client that is keen on your competition you should never demean their decision to go with your competition,” according to That sales person will never get the contract.

Lastly, by following this advice, all sales people will appear professional and interested in their prospect instead of someone slinging mud just to get a sale. 

The bottom line is that we should never, ever demean our competition. We will not win! Instead, by bad-mouthing our competitors we will look insulting, insecure, unprofessional and petty. Not an organization with whom a prospect wishes to do business.

Upcoming events

Downtown Uncorked is returning to McHenry for its fourth year on Saturday. This sold-out event invites attendees to sample wines of International House of Wine and Cheese as well as delicacies from local restaurants. Shopping is superb as visitors discover the diversity of shops in downtown McHenry. Next year, order tickets right away to not miss out on this popular event.

WINGs, the Chamber’s Women’s Professional Group, is showcasing Stop, Collaborate, and Listen: Problem Solving 101.

This Sept. 18 luncheon will focus on collecting, analyzing and using feedback for business, as well as how to work with clients, competition, and co-workers to improve and grow.  Each of the panelists will focus on a different aspect of problem solving and then we will participate in a group discussion. Our panelists include: Laurie Retzlaff, vice president of human resources for The State Bank Group, Arlene Lynes, owner/president of Read Between the Lynes and Geri Condon, owner of Capture Your Path Counseling.

Our next Lunch ’n’ Learn is on Sept. 25, featuring Scott Schultz of Orthogo Physical Therapy.

Schultz prides himself on caring for the patient with one-on-one interactive care.

Starting at noon until 1 p.m., plan to bring lunch and hear how to relieve back pain.

Next Lunch ’n’ Learn will be provided by Tim Santos of Health Markets Insurance Agency. Learn how to navigate Medicare with Tim, who has been providing the answers for many years.

Mixers coming up include: Pioneer Center on Sept. 17, McHenry County College on Sept. 24, MCI’s annual Food Blast at Artistic Embroidery on Oct. 1, The State Bank Group on Oct. 10 and Senior Care Volunteer Network Multi Chamber Mixer on Oct. 15.

• Kay Rial Bates is president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at 815-385-4300 or visit More information can be found at

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