The phrase, "Affiliates are an extended sales force for your business", which is often used to explain affiliate marketing, is not completely accurate. The primary difference between the two is that affiliate marketers provide little if any influence on a possible prospect in the conversion process once that prospect is directed to the advertiser's website. The sales team of the advertiser, however, does have the control and influence up to the point where the prospect either a) signs the contract, or b) completes the purchase.
So I can look up my competitors' site in Ahrefs and cross reference it with my own website. It'll show what links the competitor has that I don't have. Then it will hit up every one of those websites and it will be like, “Hey Bob, I noticed you linked to Eric's website SingleGrain.com. And you linked to XYZ article. I also have a similar article on my website, but my article breaks down ABC which Eric doesn't get into. If you find it valuable, feel free to share it with your readers.” And I'll send them a link to my post at the end of that e-mail.