Most of the sales teams I meet cite one specific competitor with whom they enjoy (or endure!) locking horns, where intense battles often focus on their opponent’s inferior product at cheaper cost stealing away business.
Then travelling to Heathrow to catch a flight I picked up a deshevelled paper to read a delightful article by Bill Taylor. If you’re suffering at the hands of one particular competitor, to the extent that you could be seen as obsessing about them, this article is a must read to help yourself soon get back on track.
One of many examples comes from the founders of Netscape. Despite a cracking early start, they got trounced by Microsoft’s IE. A lesson one of them learned after thinking too much about beating Microsoft:
“you can never, ever take your eye off the customer; even in the face of massive competition, just think about the customer“.
“At Netscape, the competition with Microsoft was so severe, we’d wake up thinking about how we were going to deal with them, instead of how we would build something great for customers. Basically, we ‘mooned’ Microsoft. And man, did we pay.”
A terrific quote, and to ‘moon’ by the way, (I had to look up what it meant on urban dictionary!) is a wonderful expression: “To spend time lusting over a person or an object. To be seriously and obsessively addicted to something or someone.” Which is an interesting new slant on a word that when I was a nipper meant, ahem, to drop your pants and show someone inferior your bare behind 🙂
Anyway, I was reminded of a quality fella called Mark Kelly, now Euro-Chief of a $200m division of IMI. When selling plumbing kit in a previous life, before he finished his day, he’d drive ’round to his biggest competitor’s branch and park outside. With Def Leppard’s ‘Run Riot’ blaring from full volume out of his car stereo, he checked to see if lights were still on in the sales office. His aim was to ensure that every night, he’d be working later (harder) than his competition. It’s a great example.
Then on the flight out of London, I was struggling to choose a movie to watch over dinner. Reluctantly, I plumped for Blades Of Glory, the Will Ferrell two-fellas-ice-staking-pair comedy. Surprisingly enjoyable, spookily there was another such message on not focussing inappropriately on competition. When the established sibling team got their younger sister to secretly video our heroes’ training sessions, it meant they took their eye off what they should have focused on; doing their own good job.