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Status Quo

I’ve put in my time in Corporate America.  I’ve worked with people in every size of business, from the Fortune 100 to the brand-new startup with only a few employees.  And there’s a trend in the marketplace that all of them are facing.  It’s the challenge of moving a customer off the status quo.

We spend so much time chasing our competitors, comparing ourselves to people who look just like (or very similar to) us.  And while I certainly understand the fascination with the competition, their capabilities aren’t always the most important question.  The customer is the one making the purchase decision – the customer must be the focus of our attention.  Because customers don’t like to change what they’re already doing.

As humans, we all know this intuitively.  Convincing another person to change what they’re doing is hard.  And if you’re trying to acquire new customers, you’re asking them to change what they’re doing today.  Whether they’re not using a vendor at all or using a competitor, unless what they’re doing today is really broken, it’s an uphill climb for you.

So back to my original point.  So many of my clients are focused on the competition instead of developing a deep and rich understanding of what’s important to their customers.  Instead of a point-by-point comparison of your capabilities vs. those of your competitor, wouldn’t you rather engage your client in a conversation about your ability to solve their problems better than anyone else?

Don’t get me wrong, competitive intelligence is critical to the success of many businesses.  But I think truly understanding your customer is the foundation for a strong business strategy.  And why would you assume your competitors are doing it right?