The question reads, “How do you differentiate when you have no advantage on service offerings?”
Another prompt read, “We are struggling because we used to have no competitors and now we have a strong competitor in our market. We also haven’t had a new product in five years.”
All of us work in crowded markets now. If your market isn’t crowded, it soon will be. If your market isn’t yet commoditized, there are forces at work to push you in that direction. While there is still room for innovation in every market, little of that innovation creates an opportunity for a monopoly—or anything like one.
As much as you want your company’s products and solutions to create the defining differentiation that causes your prospective clients to beat a path to your door, it is more than unlikely that will be your experience. Instead, you will be challenged with having to differentiate on something other than your company’s products and solutions.
As much as you want white space, with little competition and clients clamoring for help, you will instead find yourself in a crowded and cluttered marketplace full of “me too,” “look-alike” companies with offerings that are difficult to distinguish one from the others (which is why I wrote Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition).
Here is how you win: You become the differentiation. You are different in a way that makes a difference, creating a preference.
Here is how you win (part two): You become the offering. You are what your client is buying.
Here is how you win (part three): You become the value proposition. You realize that you already are—or that you are not.
If you are waiting for your company to suddenly develop a monopoly to win, I promise that strategy will fail you. If you believe you need a new, compelling product to sell, you misunderstand sales altogether. Success isn’t situational. It’s individual.
Competition isn’t as much about your company’s value proposition as it is you as the value proposition.