Competitive Trash Talking Works In Politics But Never In Business


Though one would generally dismiss candidates who take this approach, here is the only reason this works in politics: Politicians know they are battling over the “undecided” votes of less than 20%. It’s just the way it works in a two-party system. They recognize that their camp won’t be turned away by negative ads. And, the people who already don’t like them, just might hate them little more than they hated them before. A negative ad hopes to convince the ones in the middle that the other candidate is more “evil” than the person running the ad. So, though ethically questionable, negative political ads can be effective.

You might think that speaking ill of your competitor in business would win you some “votes” with your potential customer. Not so fast. Let me share why doing so is not a good idea, and how you can get the negatives on the table without making yourself sound like a weasel.

Three Reasons Why Trash-Talk Does Not Work In Business


First: The person making the decision about whether or not to hire you, also likely played a role in hiring the existing vendor, or selecting which other vendors to consider. So, when you speak negatively about the other vendor, it is natural for your client to get defensive. They probably brought them into the equation.

Second: Your client has enough people in their own organization who can complain about vendors. They don’t need another complainer. So, when you speak ill of them, you put yourself into the complainer/hater category. Most of us don’t want to hire people like that.

Third: When you speak negatively about the competition, you might appear to be jealous or fearful of them.

On top of all of this, you don’t want your client to select you because all of the other options sucked. Rather, you want them to select you because they feel you best understand their situation and they see you as most likely to deliver the best value.