How to beat B2B competition?

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Little nightly thoughts
by Business Exploration

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It was terribly annoying:

every time I was adding a new twist to the AIRsana website,
this @##%&%&!!! of competitor was copycatting it,
and making its way to the top of the Google results.

Annoying, but useless.

I had moved the game on another terrain and avoided competition…
This is the how marketers play the sales game:
Bringing the ball on a playfield competitors do not even know the existance.
Here is how…

Do your homework – because your competitors have already done it.

You cannot beat your competition, if you did not do your homework:

  • aligned all the pieces of your business model
  • built a great value proposition
  • done your market analysis and built a robust pricing model
  • setup a convincing communication and a memorable brand
  • built a trustable sales force…

All these steps assure that you have minimized the risk that competitors will outsmart you.
Now that you did your homework, you are on pair with your competitors.
Exactly: all you effort in building a great product or service and an organization capable to deliver counts nothing. Your inbound marketing? Nothing. Your design thinking? Nothing. Your lean performances? Your digitization efforts? Still nothing.
Assume your competitors are at least as good as you in doing the same.
(If you need a checklist: try my booklets )

Choose your battleground

There are four ways to play the “solution provider” game.
They are defined by the problem-solution matrix:

  1. Compete on value:
    Get a competitive advantage, or avoid competition
  2. Compete on alternative approach:
    Exploit their sub-optimization or jump on their disruptive trajectory
  3. Compete for priority:
    Build the urgency and escalate Customer’s to-do list
  4. Compete on innovative vision:
    If your solution is used for a problem it was not meant to solve, you may have found a new market

The worst situation is the first: when you are bringing your solution to sostitute a similar one that is already in place, or to be chosen among comparable competitors.

In the first case you face the resistance of the Status Quo, with all its sunk costs, entrenched systems, personal interests, in the second case you are confronted line by line with your peers.
Beating the competition in B2B sales becomes therefore a game of moving the ball where competition cannot play.

Stop fighting:

Trying to move the game on another battlefield is a quite specific effort, however there are some general rules or best practices that we can use:

  1. Anticipate Google:
    Instead to talk about the problem and promote the solution with your content marketing, talk to customers who are experiencing the symptoms of the problem (D.Kurlan), but are not yet aware. To do so you need to anticipate supply crashes monitoring the market with proper analytics and intercept the customer inviting, informing and (i)ntertaining her.
  2. Perturb the status quo:
    Instead to promise a gain or soften a pain, show them the loss and tell them to get their’s back. “Make America great again” is the lesson for all those believing a customer is moved by luring her or helping her regain efficiency. Customers move only when they want their stuff back. Tell them that good performance is the enemy of great performance – the one someone has stolen to them. (J.Berger)
  3. Change the scale:
    Instead to let your customer compare apple with apple, change the scale used to compare your offer, stopping them profile your offer. To do this you have to put your offer in a class of its own: positioning it on a unique step of a category’s ladder, or positioning the competition’s offer in the box of the old games. (A.Ries / A.Raskin)
  4. Redesign the market:
    Instead of traying to differentiate to appeal existing customers, create a value profile that appeal non-consumers. Check what are the level of non-consumption in under-developed market and build a proposition that can appeal those that cannot (yet) consume. (W.C.Kim – C.Christensen)
  5. Move to the service side:
    Instead to insist proposing a solution of the past, leverage the competitor’s disruption. When a disruptor tiers down your business model like Air B&B has done with small hotels, remember you can always jump on the new solution trajectory, building the services needed to make the disruptive solution work.
  6. Shift the sales focus on the story:
    Instead to offer something that your competitor cann’t, make a claim not otherwise made in that particular field, or build a unique brand. (R.Reeves). In other words: sell your approach or sell your why.
  7. Get a Bigger Ally:
    Instead of fighting the Goliath Corporation on the market, outflank it with the help of a Political Ally. They are always interested in bringing work on their territory, and get the merit for it.
  8. Make the customers lock themselves
    Instead of shaping the solution to the customer needs, ask the customer to help you fit your solution for him. A wise negotiatior ask the other party to take part in the creation of the solution, and therefore lock out the competition (C.Voss).

I hope these hints may help you win the competitors in your next B2B sale.
If you need more, get in touch.

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