Value Acceleration: the secrets to building an unbeatable competitive advantage by Mitchell Goozé and Ralph Mroz offers up seven steps for competitive advantage. The book is also one our giveaways for the first five people that email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
To achieve a sustainable competitive advantage for your business, that is value acceleration, you need to take these seven steps:
- Think process
Most companies still think about their marketing and sales activities in a disconnected manner. Each function does what it thinks is the “right” thing to do. This causes money to be spent (not invested) in motion that does not make progress towards creating valuable customers. Marketing/Sales is a process, just like any other business process. The sooner you get it, the sooner you can manage it correctly. And, like any other process, if you manage it you can improve it.
- Understand the external environment
The external world in which your company exists affects your ability to accomplish your goals. Some of these external influences help you achieve your goals (enablers), and some get in the way (obstacles). While you cannot control the external environment, successful companies develop processes to monitor and predict the external environment so they can adapt their strategy to optimize their chance of success.
- Have a strategy
The key to a successful strategy is to identify the strategic direction that allows you to take advantage of your enablers while also overcoming the obstacles that must be overcome. Your strategy should be a unique, customer-focused direction that allows your company to achieve its goal.
- Understand your value differentiation
What can customers buy from your company they don’t believe they can buy from any other company? What is your competitive differentiation? These phrases and similar ones must be answered well for you to succeed. Platitudes, vague ideas, or “quality” won’t cut it. Hoping you have a differentiation is not a strategy. Without knowing what your value difference is, your sales team cannot succeed, and sales will suffer. Or your prices will fall to a “commodity” level.
- Translate that value into products/services
Once you know how you are valuably different, you have to take that knowledge and use it to create new products and services your customers will want to buy … from you. Knowing what to bring to market increases new product/service success rates and maximizes the return on this critical investment. Marketing, with their knowledge of the customer and your value differentiation should be partners with the development group to specify new products/services that will succeed in the marketplace.
- Develop a sales process that helps the right customers buy right
Too many companies create sales process that are either convenient for them, efficiently use their sales organization, or attempt to get customers to buy when the company needs them to buy, as opposed to when the customer wants to buy. If your sales process is like many, it is at least a partial (if not significant) obstacle to your prospective customer’s ability to buy from you. You can accelerate the sales cycle by helping (rather than pushing) the customer to buy.
- Continue to improve
You can’t sit still even if you create an acceleration engine that propels you to number one in your market. Today’s market is hyper-competitive and you have to continue to improve to compete. What was a differentiator yesterday, is a cost of doing business today. Learn to use proven process management principles like lean thinking, constraint analysis, and continuous improvement to maintain a competitive edge and you will continue to accelerate the value creation and competitive gap between your company and the rest of the pack.