You need to know and respect your competition. You have to want to beat them and you have to compete like you believe they are trying to beat you. It is irresponsible to believe that you should focus only on doing the best that you can with your offering. You also have to know how your offering is going to be perceived in comparison to your competitor’s. You have to be able differentiate yourself and your offering.
But knowing and understanding your competition, what they offer, and how they compete doesn’t mean that you have to match or leapfrog their offering. Too deep a focus on what your competitor does distracts you from your true objective: meeting your dream client’s needs and their vision of the right solution.
More Isn’t Always More
You may feel intimidated or threatened by a bigger, fierce, and better-financed competitor whose offering has countless bells and whistles. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that each and every offering is evaluated and weighed equally, scoring points that allow your competitor to win. Sometimes the all-too-rich feature set sells, and sometimes it is enough by itself to win.
More often, though, it isn’t. Instead, the real competition is found elsewhere.
Winning by Focusing on What Counts
Your strategic objective is to more exactly meet your dream client’s needs.
It is to more precisely meet their vision of the right solution.
It is to be someone they believe has the better ideas and who is more resourceful.
It is to be the right people to choose as partners in their change initiative.
Your dream client wants an outcome, and they want to know that the outfit they choose is going to care enough to ensure that they get it.
You need to consider your competitive analysis in the context of meeting your dream client’s needs, and not in the context of how do you match the competitor tit for tat.
All Offerings Aren’t Created Equal
Two organizations can each achieve similar results using very different methods to do so. Sometimes the method used to achieve the result is important because it makes it easier for your dream client to achieve their outcome.
Just as often, however, what you believe—your company’s unique vision, your philosophy—is even more important than a shiny, new, branded program with a fancy acronym. Sometimes what you believe—what you stand for—is bigger and weighs more than anything that your competitor may have in their arsenal.
Your one true strategic objective in sales is to win the deal—not trying to match or equal your competitor.
You need to have a burning to desire to beat your competition, not a burning desire to beat them by playing the game exactly as they play it. In fact, trying to beat them at their game—if it becomes your strategic objective—means that you aren’t playing your game and you aren’t playing to your strengths.
- Do you believe that you have to have a competitive answer for every offering, every feature and benefit set that your rivals sell? Does doing everything that your competitors do in the same way they do it differentiate you in any meaningful way? Or does it commoditize you?
- Do you have the ability to achieve the same or better outcomes in certain areas without a similar offering?
- Does your differentiation strategy include a point of view, a philosophy that means that you have to perform at a different level because you hold this belief?
- Have you ever made the mistake of buying something based on the hype, only to find that the essence of what you really wanted wasn’t part of the hype? How do you transfer that experience to how you sell?
- How much does commitment, caring, and producing results really count for your dream clients? How do you shift the contest to factors that you can more easily control and that you can easily outmatch your competition.
For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4729.
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