Un-spin Your Competitor's Propaganda
By Dave Stein
Did you ever feel that you are living in a world of spin and hype? With damage control consultants, corporate spin doctors and whole companies out there whose job it is to reconstruct a corporate image, it's hard to tell "where the truth lies."
Here are some considerations for getting to the bottom of a competitor's press release or interview:
1.Why are they announcing now? Press releases and conferences don't happen by chance. In order to start to get at the truth, you'll need to question the timing and ask, why now? Perhaps the company is attempting to preempt their opponent. Or are they were caught off guard and are trying to make up for lost ground.
2.Do you hear (or read) new words, concepts or phrases? That's generally a sign that someone is jockeying for a leadership, first-out-of-the-gate position. The use of generally accepted terms signifies a me-too position, often by someone who is behind the curve and attempting to justify why.
3.If there is a problem, whom are they blaming for it? If it's your company, you have just been declared the enemy. What is the real reason for the problemﾗthe one they aren't discussing? There may lay a source of competitive advantage for you.
4.Who might be offended or threatened by any statements made? You always want to imagine who might be threatened or offended by a statement, whether it is written or verbal. Is the person or company taking "a shot" at someone? If so, that is at least part of their agenda. The person or company who is the target of the statement may not be clear at first. Listen and read between the lines.
5.Does the person name names? If so, they may be the enemy. A proven way to spin an attack is to praise your opponent, then diminish what they are doing in the eyes of the audience. "I think ABC Corporation really has done a terrific job building market share. We believe that the quality of our products will have an impact of the success of our customers, which will enable us to achieve our growth objectives during the coming year." Translation: Take a serious look at the quality of their products.
6.In an interview, do they answer questions directly or avoid the answer? Here's an example: A chemical company executive is asked, "Have there been any other toxic chemical spills that have not been reported to the authorities?" The answer, "Our company has the best record in the industry regarding compliance with government regulations and has been recognized by the Green Fund fifteen times." What they say is often their message. What they don't say often indicates where their exposure lies.
7.What does the person say when they are interrupted? Will they allow themselves to be driven off course? Or do they persist and continue to drive forward, even overpowering the interrupter. If that's the case, what they are saying at that moment is likely the real message.
8.Is their body language incongruent with what they are saying? Learn how to read body language. As experienced and coached as President Clinton was, he still managed to touch his nose an inordinate number of times during his televised testimony about Monica Lewinsky.
9.Are questions planted or is the interviewer free to ask what they please? Whether you like him or not, part of the success of Bill O'Reilly's TV show is his assertion that he will accept no guests who require adherence to pre-determined interviewing questions or subjects that the interviewer must stay away from. That is opposite from prime-time news and interview shows on network television.
Before founding his sales consultancy, The Stein Advantage, Inc., in 1997, Dave Stein served for more than 20 years in various corporate executive sales and marketing roles. Now, through his coaching, speaking, and training, Dave provides companies with substantial diagnostic and remedial expertise enabling them, among other capabilities, to readily overcome tough competitors, refocus their selling efforts resulting in new levels of credibility and differentiation with high-level executive buyers, and to hire the right sales professionals, all leading to greater and more consistent revenues. Dave is the author of the Amazon best-selling business book: How Winners Sell: 21 Proven Strategies to Outsell Your Competition and Win the Big Sale, (Dearborn Trade Press, May 2004). For more information go to his website, www.HowWinnersSell.com
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