Prevent Exponential Competition From Killing You
“Fifteen years of competitive mayhem!” That’s the title of the webinar you might be getting in your inbox soon. As I survey some of the forces flowing through our economy and witness the way in which they affect my clients, I concur with the “competitive mayhem” description. Barring the Great Depression, the Information Age is one of the most challenging times business people have faced.
The force causing the greatest challenges is rapid, unrelenting change. As the saying goes, “change is the only constant in life,” I like to say, “new beginnings is the constant in life.” Regardless how you look at it, businesses are competing with exponential changes occurring all around them. Consider this; until the turn of the 20th century, the total amount of knowledge that mankind had was doubling about every 500 years. Today, it doubles about every five years. Just check out the facial recognition technology deployed in China today on the streets, stores, office buildings and apartment buildings. Then try to comprehend how the world is about to evolve socially and legislatively. This will blow your mind. The pace the world is on continues to increase with no indications it will slow down. I read that one futurist surmises high school seniors in the coming years will have to absorb more information in their final year alone than their great grandparents did in their entire life.
At the same time that things are changing rapidly, competition is increasing in almost every industry. Foreign competitors have entered our markets, mergers and acquisitions are at an all time high, the wave of corporate downsizing has transformed thousands of displaced executives into reluctant entrepreneurs, and the knowledge explosion continues to evidence itself in new technologies that often provide radically different ways of accomplishing some task.
What all this means?
Burgeoning competition is in almost every industry. Excluding the airline industry, I have yet to meet an executive who has said, “I have fewer competitors today than I did three years ago.” Continually growing numbers of competitors seems to be a characteristic of our economy that we are going to have to live with for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, these forces of rapid change and growing competition have brought a cloud of confusion to CEOs and sales executives trying to grow their businesses.
One common response to this cloud of confusion is what you can call “Popcorn.” Imagine kernels of popcorn simmering in hot oil in the bottom of a popcorn popper. As the heat grows, one of the kernels explodes and rockets off against the side of the popper. A few moments later, another kernel explodes and shoots off in another direction. Before long, the canister is full of careening kernels bouncing in every direction.
This is an accurate analogy to the way in which many businesses attempt to increase their sales when the temperature created by growing competition gets hot. As the heat of the situation grows, they know they have to do something. Then along comes a good idea and, pop, like a kernel of exploding popcorn, they lunge at the good idea. The good idea can be anything. Maybe it’s a media representative who suggests a new advertisement. That sounds like a good idea. So, “pop” off they go after that. Or it could be a salesperson suggesting that a computer program will solve their problems. That sounds like a good idea, so “pop,” off they go after that good idea. Next is a manufacturing company suggesting a new e-brochure. That also sounds good, and “pop,” like kernels of corn exploding in every direction, they expend money and energy in short term “good ideas.”
Like kernels of popcorn, they frantically chase lots of good ideas hoping that one will be the answer to the marketing problems. The problem is that these good ideas rarely have any relationship to one another. And, they generally present superficial solutions to problems that are often deeper. The company’s time and energy is diverted toward these superficial “good ideas,” and away from the deeper solutions.
For example, an advertisement in a trade journal may be a superficial solution for a company that does not have a system for identifying qualified prospects. And a new e-brochure may be a superficial response for an organization that doesn’t have feedback mechanism (Voice of The Customer) in place to adequately understand its customers.
The unfortunate consequences are often more pressure, more confusion, and more energy expended in the wrong places.
Is there a better way? Sure. A far more effective response is to create a powerful sales and marketing system using RENAISSANCE METHODOLOGY. This sales and marketing system provides an interconnected, measurable set of processes and tools that ultimately result in increased sales. Where would McDonald’s be today without a system to consistently produce hot hamburgers? Where would Ford be if they had no system to design and build new automobiles? The keys to success for these businesses have been their ability to create and manage effective systems to accomplish their goals. Most businesses think they are special and unique and in many ways this is true, however, the raw truth is that all Businesss-to-Business (B2B) companies have striking similarity with their business development components. Furthermore, most B2B companies think they know their exact buyers but they actually don’t have this information updated and readily available in a database that is being utilized consistently by the marketing and sales people. Also, these companies falsely believe they have their business development system working synergistically together and they don’t. It requires “Sales Science” and “Marketing Science” blended together to handle today’s exponential changing competitive landscape. The Renaissance Methodology formula, R+E+NxAISS(A+N+C)E, guides and structures the go-to-market approach for executives and their frontline teams.
Your sales and marketing system should start with a thorough understanding of the needs and interests of the prospects balanced with your available budget for exerting your people, processes, technology, core competencies and resources. Fold into that an honest awareness of the unique value your company brings to the market, and you have the beginning framework for your aligned business development system. Your system should focus on the highest potential market segments and develop segment-specific processes and tools to help you reach your market in the most cost-effective way.
A well-designed Renaissance Methodology system allows you to move out of the desperate reactive mode into a confident pro-active mode.
Here are some critical questions to determine whether you’re operating from the Renaissance Methodology perspective or the “Popcorn” mind set.
1. Do you have specific, realistic, measurable objectives for your sales and marketing people?
2. Have you precisely identified more than 50% of your highest potential markets segments and have the exact buyers (decision makers) contained in your database?
3. Have you identified the sequence of decisions that a typical prospect goes through to come to a decision to buy your product or service along with the timing and rejections involved in the sales cycle?
4. Have you identified the key activities and processes that must take place on daily/weekly/monthly basis in order for you to reach your sales objectives?
5. Do you have a monthly measurement of the quantity and quality of your key marketing and sales activities?
6. Are you able to track exactly how much it costs to create a customer and understand the profit margins for everything you offer?
7. Does your sales message) the pitch) blow your decision makers away and leave them believing they have to have what you offer?
Crush your competitors before they crush you! Less than twenty-five percent of the businesses I have surveyed in multiple countries could answer yes to more than half of these questions. Wow. So, how did you do with these questions? Check out the links I provided to Renaissance Methodology and also check out these links to Theory of Accelerance, Modes-to-Market Analysis and Consistent-Repeatable-Processes (C-R-P). This will provide more insight into how you can take your business development system to a competitive level that doesn’t have to rely on mergers and acquisitions in order to capture substantial revenue growth. The world isn’t slowing down the pace of change and competitors are coming for your market share so do something about it today. The longer you hesitate and continue to do the same things you are doing, the less chance you have to survive and the value of your business lessens each day.