The key to victory is not defeating the enemy but defeating the enemy’s strategy. Therein lies his vulnerability. ~SunTzu
In order to understand your competitor’s strategy, there are 5 things you must know in every deal. Once you have this insight, only then can you plan and execute your competitive approach, whether it be a Frontal, Flanking, Fractional, or Forgo Strategy.
- Who are the competitors – really?
You will typically know the list of competitors and who the incumbent is in a deal. What you really must understand is who the client believes the top contenders are, so that you can focus your competitive strategy appropriately.
- Who are the competitor’s Partner Allies?
Once you know who the real competition is, you should determine who their Partner Allies are in the client, and why they are Partner Allies. Has the Partner Ally worked with the competitor before? Is the competitor better aligned with the Partner Ally’s Personal Agenda? Does the Partner Ally not understand, or do they have misconceptions about the value you can deliver vs. the competitor? Have they had a bad experience with your company in the past?
- How much power do the Partner Allies have?
Understanding how much power the competitor’s Partner Allies have will help you gauge your level of risk. Obviously, the more power they have to influence and make the decision, the higher the risk. You should then determine who has the power to overrule the competitor’s Partner Ally, to help you establish your relationship and political strategy.
- What are the competitors saying about their value and offerings?
The biggest mistake here is assuming that each competitor always sells the same way. Every deal is different, and every salesperson is different, in your company and in theirs. What is their value proposition and approach? What Go-to-Market Strategy level are they employing? How is that message being received by the client?
- What is the competition saying about your company and offering?
Finally, what is their competitive strategy when it comes to your company and offering, and how is the client receiving that message? Does the competitor have a Win Theme they are using to define themselves and also define you? Have they deployed any competitive countertactics that you will need to overcome?
You are probably now asking yourself, “How in the world am I going to get all of that competitive intelligence?” The answer is simple. From YOUR Partner Ally. Which is why it is so critical that the very first job in any pursuit is to create a Partner Ally. Without a Partner Ally, you are just guessing as to what REALLY is happening in the deal, and using that age-old strategy called “Hoping to Win.”
Once you have gathered this competitive intelligence from your Partner Ally, you are ready to leverage the Competitive Win Plan™ Tool to identify the competitor’s vulnerability and develop your competitive strategy and approach.
Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster. ~ Sun Tzu
Personal Challenge: Sit down with a Partner Ally who’s guidance you trust, to discuss your competitive position in a key deal. Focus on the 5 things you must know about your competition and what you or your Partner Ally DON’T know. Agree on actions to get that competitive intelligence.