At some point, I hear from practically every person I’ve ever worked with about the competition in their market. Companies spend so much time trying to outsell, outwit and out price their competition without realizing who their greatest competitor truly is. As such, they focus all of their energy on trying to beat out the wrong competitor.
Consider this. You have no external competition. No, I haven’t fully lost my mind as of yet, so just try this on for a moment. I’m certainly not disputing the fact that there are other companies selling similar products that you are.
What I am suggesting is that the only competition you truly have is you; in other words, your current beliefs or outlook, your mindset, expectations, assumptions and your current way of doing things. While some people may already embrace this notion, let’s explore it on a deeper level.
There are several words synonymous with competition. They are, “Struggle, resistance, disagreement” and “conflict.” “Competition” implies one side working against the other.
The two competing sides that I’m referring to as it relates to each of us are as follows. That which you are comfortable doing and that which you haven’t done or tried consistently as of yet.
In truth, you are really competing against what you did yesterday. You’re competing against the status quo; you’re competing against feeling comfortable and doing what’s predictable with feeling uncomfortable and doing what hasn’t been proven yet.
To illustrate this point, let me share a story about Dave. Dave was the owner of a mid sized company. He had a hard time managing and motivating his team. Like many owners, he was also responsible for selling. He didn’t really have a specific management or sales process laid out. He wasn’t organized and didn’t adhere to any type of daily routine. “Sales were tough,” as he said. Dave felt his product was a commodity, He felt he was always in reactionary mode, reacting to the changes in the market and to what his competition was doing. As such, his typical approach was to try to sell on price, making it even more challenging to produce the results he wanted, especially since he wasn’t the least expensive option.
Dave and I spent the first few weeks working together crafting a selling strategy and approach he was comfortable with. We developed his MVP (Most Valuable Proposition). He upgraded his mindset and removed some mental barriers that were preventing him from engaging in the activities that yield the greatest return. We crafted questions that enabled him to uncover new selling opportunities. Dave put together a routine that outlined the measurable activities he needed to engage in on a daily basis. He made one to one time with each member of his team non negotiable and put a process in place to track productivity, progress and their goals. He even interviewed his team, investing the time in asking them how he can improve and how he can best manage each of his salespeople.
The result? Dave doubled his personal sales volume by the third month of our work together. By the 5th month, his salespeople increased their volume by 40%.
So the question is, did his external competition change during this period of time or disappear from his market? Did the economy dramatically turn around? Did his product’s demand suddenly skyrocket or become more effective and unique? It did not.
Dave accelerated to a higher level of productivity because of the work he did and the things that he can control, which is the path he chose to take as it relates to his development and daily activities.
Dave embraced his biggest competitor which was himself! He turned this adversary into his greatest ally.
For example, if you are responsible for bringing in new business, instead of thinking that every prospect you meet with is a potential sale for you to win, consider that every sale is already yours for the taking. Therefore, each sale is yours for you to lose; not to your competition but to yourself based on how well you develop and manage your selling process and coach your direct reports.
The next time you run up against some resistance when managing or selling, remember Dave. Remember who your competition really is and embrace this as an opportunity to refine how you approach managing, selling and your prospects. Compare your progress today against what you did yesterday, not against what others are doing. This is the only accurate measurement of your growth and evolution.
After all, once you get yourself out of your own way, that’s when extraordinary things happen.
Photo Credit: Igor Dutina