Why Can’t Your Competitor Do the Same Thing?

Why Can’t Your Competitor Do the Same Thing?

No doubt you’ve had the experience of a prospective client asking you what makes you different so that they could justify, both to themselves and to others, why they’re spending time with you. If you were on your game, you snapped back with an answer that differentiated you and that your prospect found compelling.

But what do you say when they follow up with “Why can’t your competitor do the same thing?”

Why They Can’t Do the Same Thing

Sometimes your competitors can’t do the same thing you do because they have a different business model. If you are a realtively small, scrappy, boutique firm doing bespoke work, your larger, global, competitor isn’t going to work that way (they’re all about scale). But if scale and reach is important, then the global guys are going to easily make the case that a bespoke player isn’t going to keep up.

Even competitors that are realtively the same size have different ideas about what is right and what is wrong when serving their clients. You likely have very different processes than your competitors, and the way that you deliver results might be more attractive to some clients. If you struggle to protect your margins it’s because you don’t have enough meaningful differences here to make you worth paying more to obtain–or your not focusing enough on how the differences make a difference.

But sometimes the answer isn’t something so easy.

They Can, But They Don’t

There are occasions when you know what the right solution is, you can deliver it, but so could your competitor. But for some reason, your competitor has not or will not give your dream client what they want.

Sometimes the difference is your willingness to execute where your competitor can’t, won’t, or isn’t executing for their clients.

Maybe your competitor is complacent. Maybe they’re not proactive. Maybe they haven’t recognized the need.

The honest answer might be, “Our competitors could do this if they wanted to. I don’t know why they don’t, but they don’t. We think that this is the right thing to do, and we’d like to pursue it with you.”


What make you different? How does that difference make a difference for your clients?

What do you do that your competitors have chosen not to do? What do your competitors do that you have chosen not to do?

How do you explain that your competitors could do what you do but don’t, and retain the opportunity to work with the client instead of having them consider other partners?

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  • http://twitter.com/MZazeela Marc Zazeela

    Anthony – One of the most difficult questions a sales person can ask themselves is what makes us/me different?

    Then, once you have answered the question, ask yourself if your competition can make the same claims? Would they?

    Back to the drawing board.

    What REALLY make you different?


    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Most difficult question in business.

  • http://twitter.com/CharlesHGreen Charles H. Green

    Great topic. Let me offer a slightly different take on it.

    The one thing a competitor cannot do the same as you is to have a personal relationship – with you. If your personal relationship with the client is of higher quality – more trust-based, for example – then it is completely un-copyable.

    Personal relationships are unique to the two individuals involved. You may have a better or worse relationship with the client than does your competitor, but it can’t be the same relationship per se, because they’re not you. And because it’s not product or service related, you can potentially have a better relationship even if you compare poorly on many other dimensions.

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      It’s true, Charlie. All things being equal relationships win. All things being unequal, relationships still win. You make things unequal with relationships.

      You can’t be copied, can you?

  • http://smallbusinesstalent.com/ Stephen Lahey

    One of the most powerful ways to illustrate your points of difference is by giving specific, real life examples of you making a difference – in the very ways that matter most to your prospective client. In my experience, few people who sell use this kind of storytelling to engage with clients and confront their skepticism. If you can tell a relevant, true story in a powerful way – you’re probably already one step ahead of your competitor.

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Agreed. I think that telling stories is easier than most people think. I am beginning to believe that “in a powerful way” doesn’t matter as much as just telling the story using concrete examples.