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Outperforming your competition



When you craft a corporate strategy as a commercial entity one of your objectives should be to be at the Number One slot – being above the competition. You should aim to ensure that you outperform your competition.
As you do that you should also be aware that other players in the industry are also eyeing that same spot. You therefore can’t afford to rest on your laurels.

Rodney George “Rod” Laver, an Australian former tennis player widely regarded as one of the greatest in tennis history said: “The time your game is most vulnerable is when you’re ahead. Never let up.”

The challenge that comes in being at the top is to maintain that slot. A number of businesses have made it to the top but struggled to remain there because of competition. Business is about how you can have a competitive edge over your competition.
Your business should have that unique competence that is difficult to copy but that which the customers value most. If your competition cannot replicate this competitive advantage then you will be able maintain your leading position.

Some businesses have managed to maintain the top slot but quite a number have lost that position. There are a number of factors, that as a business leader, you need to take cognisance of if you have to maintain that coveted top position.

You should ensure that your focus is in providing the best value to your customers rather than only focusing on price. It’s true that being the lowest-cost provider is a definite competitive advantage but if price is the only issue that keeps your customers then you can lose them to new low cost providers anytime. What customers want is more than price. They want you to provide a combination of price, excellent service and relationships.

Everyday customers are bombarded by adverts of competing products. So how can yours dominate in such a competitive environment? You need to build rapport with your customers and provide value. Your value proposition should be the one that attracts customers to you.
You have to differentiate yourself from the crowd through your value proposition otherwise you will not be successful in the long-term. Clients want to work with someone who understands their business.
Business is about relationships. Most customers buy from your company because they have developed strong links with your sales personnel. Yes, they might like your brand, but more often than not they love your employees.
Customers buy from people – your employees. It’s therefore critical that you maintain your sales reps. Don’t rotate salespeople, customer facing reps, or key contacts in your company or lose the key sales people unnecessarily. Rather do everything possible to keep your employees and to protect and foster the relationships your employees have developed with your clients.

If you are on the Number One slot you need to guard against complacency. The competition is not sleeping but is looking for ways to dislodge you from the top position. You should keep on innovating better ways to serve your current and new customers. You should never sit on your laurels, or on your past glories and thus stop thinking of ways to remain competitive.

Take a leaf from Nokia the cellular phone manufacturer which was regarded as the standard in cellular phones. Nokia used to be the market leader in cell phones but unfortunately it has seen its global market share dwindle to a miniscule. It lost its market to Apple and Samsung.
You have to continue being innovative if you want to outperform the competition. If you are not alert to changes in the environment a new company can come up with a completely novel product which will provide what your customers want. Your market can be lost overnight.
Some companies have managed to remain at the top because they have built barriers of entries. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have managed to keep new entrants away from their industry because of extensive bottling and distribution networks which have resulted in the two companies enjoying huge economies of scale.

It would be very difficult for a new entity to make the substantial capital investments required to compete with these firms. They have also managed to brand their products so well that Coke and Pepsi are synonymous with carbonated soft drinks.
Ben M. Bartlett, a strategist and coach said, “To succeed in business you need to constantly out-think and out-manoeuvre your competitors in order to out-sell them. Business success is about identifying a market segment you can dominate and then owning that segment.”

If you want to succeed and maintain the top slot find a market niche, focus on it and then concentrate on that and put all your effort to ensure that you provide the best product or service.

l Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy (ACCA P3), advanced performance management (P5) and entrepreneurship. He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.

For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: or WhatsApp +266 62110062 or call +263 58881062.


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