Etiquette vs Revenue: A real-time case study in “switcher” campaign strategy


Stealing your competitor’s customers.  Not exactly a new strategy, and generally a highly-efficient means of acquiring new customers (since you know they already need the solution and/or outcome).

But how hard do you go after it?  How directly or aggressively do you call out how “bad” your competitors are?

If you call them out by name, do you win more customers at the expense of your reputation?  Does naming your competitors directly require disparaging remarks?  Can you be both aggressive and polite?  Where is the line?

This debate is happening in real-time, literally right now, in the sales technology market.

A couple weeks ago, Salesloft announced that it was stepping out of the prospect generation space.  They chose to instead focus their energy on Cadence, a sales automation tool, vs. splitting attention between Cadence and Prospector, which helps sales professionals generate new leads from LinkedIn.

So basically, Salesloft is getting out of a business that KiteDesk has doubled-down on.

(Full disclosure, Heinz Marketing is a paying customer of both Salesloft and KiteDesk at the time of this writing).

KiteDesk also offers the ability to generate leads from across the social Web, and just last week introduced several new features that make workflow and integration faster and easier.

So, if you were the CMO at KiteDesk, what would you do?

Does Salesloft have qualified prospects for Prospector that they no longer are pursuing?  Are those prospects now actively seeking alternatives?

Do you aggressively go after Salesloft’s existing Prospector customers?  Salesloft has committed to keeping the service alive for current customers, but that status is by definition now vulnerable.

There are so many ways to approach this.  Some passive, some aggressive.  Some polite, some scorched-earth.

Every situation is different, of course.  But here are some guiding questions I find myself using most often when asked to help clarify or mediate opportunities like this:

  • Do you want/need the immediate sales bump or do you want to preserve long-term brand reputation?  These aren’t mutually exclusive, but you may have to sacrifice one or the other.  Be intentional about that decision.
  • Do not act or decide based on emotion.  You’ve trained yourself to hate your competition.  But your customers and prospects are typically more rational or indifferent.  And they will be confused or annoyed by your emotional response.
  • Are you willing to burn a bridge with your competition?  This is a different question and/or decision that the first two above.  You can go after the competition by delighting your prospects, and their customers, in a completely polite way – that still pisses off your competitors.  If you sincerely don’t care about that, then a whole range of options are open to you.
  • How widely do you need to share that message?  If you’re trying to steal your competitor’s customers, you really don’t need that message to be heard by anybody beyond….those customers.  How can you focus and/or limit your message to that audience and mitigate (if not eliminate) it’s exposure anywhere else?

In this situation specifically, what would you do?  Do you take the high road?  Do you go for the throat?  Is there a middle ground and/or opportunity to do both?