You are finally in front of your dream client. You have earned the right to compete. Then, like a bolt right out of the blue, you get one of the questions you dread most of all: “Your competitor does this one thing we like. Do you do that, too?” It doesn’t really matter what you want say, the fact that all of the blood has drained from your face and your heart is firmly planted in your throat has given your dream client their answer.
You want say something like “Yes, we do something like that,” believing that if you are not at least on par with your competitor you risk losing the opportunity. But “me too” isn’t an effective strategy and here’s why.
Fighting On Their Terms
The last thing you ever want to do is fight on your competitor’s terms. You are a small, boutique, custom work, and value-creating dynamo. Your competitor is a process-drive, behemoth of a fortunate Fortune 500 company. They talk about their acronym-laden programs, processes, systems, and tools they offer their client. They talk about their footprint.
You can’t talk about where you rank on the list because you aren’t on it. You don’t have nearly enough acronyms, and your footprint is miniscule by comparison. You talk about relationships, one-size-fits-one solutions, business results, and trust.
If you try to compete on programs, processes, systems, tools, and footprints you shift the competitive criteria where you are weak and your competitor is strong. You want to make it a competition about caring. You want to make the decision-criteria come down to the choice of who is going to produce the exact results your dream client needs.
You think you have tough being the smaller player? Two equally large companies have a horribly difficult timedifferentiating their offerings. Their strengths are often too similar. Don’t believe me? Ask them.
Not Being Who You Are
You have to be who you are. You have to sell the real and authentic you, as you are now, even when you don’t have what your competitors have.
If you are the scrappy young upstart, embrace the role; be the new kid on the block with the better idea. You have a better chance of winning with an authentic strategy than you do by trying to match your competitor when you don’t create value in the same way.
If you aspire to be the large, dominate industry player, be that. Tell your dream clients that you aren’t the biggest company in the space, that you don’t quite match the biggest player, but that you aspire to and you are growing that direction. Explain how this makes you a better fit—even without what you will surely have someday but don’t have now.
The most important thing to remember is not how your competitors create value, but how you create value. You aren’t going to win by playing their game, especially when that isn’t the game you play.
You don’t want to play “me too,” you want to play “me only!” You want to be a category of one, with no possible comparison. Occupy your space. Be who you are. Compete where you are strong and where your competitor is weak. Remember that your competitor does a poor job being you.
How does trying to match your competitor in every offering benefit you?
How does matching every offering differentiate you?
Can you produce equal of better results than some of your competitors without doing business in the very same way?
What’s the game you need to play to shift the competition to where you are strong and your competitor weak? Where can you go that they can’t follow?
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Filed under: Sales