For Better Business Results, Focus on Your Customer, Not Your Competition 

By Marsha Lindquist

In running, as in business, looking behind you to see what your competition is doing only slows you down. Worrying excessively about your competition distracts you from the job at hand—doing your best for your customers. After all, if you are focusing on the customers’ wants and needs, then you don’t need to worry about the competition overtaking you. However, if you stop to look behind you to see what your competition is doing, you risk slowing down and having them overtake you.

Obsessing about your competition is wasteful. Time, manpower, and money are not infinite. Any effort you expend to focus on the competition means you’re wasting valuable energy by playing the competition’s game. You should only be competing against yourself—playing the best game you can by serving your customers right.

While you will undoubtedly be vaguely aware of what your competition is doing, it shouldn’t be anywhere near to your primary focus. If you’re constantly worried about what your competition is doing to outsmart you, then you are never going to be able to satisfy your customer. You will always be spending your energy and resources worrying about outsmarting your competition instead of trying to satisfy your customers with what they want and need. So ask yourself, “How can I satisfy the customer so my competition isn’t even an issue?” Then, take action.

You need to focus on how you do business, determine if you are the best solution for your customers’ problems, and then go out of your way to meet their needs. When you implement the following tips, you’ll be able to confidently compete only against yourself and stop playing the competition’s game.

1. Focus on your customers’ needs and wants: Your customers should be your top priority. With new customers, you need to work to get them on board; with your existing customers, you need to make sure they stay with you. If your current customers are not happy with you, they’ll leave. Ask them how you’re doing. Listen to their input. They already know you and love you, and they will be glad to tell you what they need from you. Your job is to meet those needs.

2. Assess your own resources and strengths: Don’t worry about who else is interested in your customers. Just like a horse in a race, put blinders on. Focus only on why you are the best company to solve your customers’ pain. Assess your assets to determine why your customers love you. Keep doing it. If you do what you do best, you will keep your customers happy.

3. Differentiate with the customers’ best interests at heart: Tell your customers how you are different—how you are quicker, better, easier, or more cost-effective to do business with. This is your opportunity to shine—don’t be modest. Here is a scenario where you do need to know enough about your competition to differentiate yourself. Once you have that information, you have the opportunity to show, demonstrate, or tell your customers all those things that are different about you so your customers remain with you.

4. Make a wiring diagram of their needs and wants: Make a map. On it, write your customers needs and wants. Also write down your resources. Then record how you provide your customers’ needs better and faster. Make a cross-diagram that shows how their needs and wants map, or relate, to what you can do. Now you know exactly what your role is and who your ideal customers are.

From an analytical standpoint, your cross diagram will show you the solution to what your customers are looking for. You may find one or two things they want or need that you can’t satisfy. Don’t panic: this puts you in the perfect position to provide a needed solution. If you have a customer need you can’t meet, go to your competition and say, “I need you to help me with this customer for this particular item. I need you to develop one small piece of what this customer needs.” And you bring the business to them because they do it best. You are still focusing on your customer, while using your competition to your advantage.

5. Focus only on that wiring map and you can’t get off-track: You won’t get distracted by what else, or who else you’re going to chase. You are now going after the same kinds of clients and that’s how you become successful. Your success happens because you’re taking this process and repeating it time after time after time. You’re riveting in on how you can focus on this customer and what they want, not on, “Oh my, what is my competition going to come up with next?”

If you worry about your competition, you’ll start second-guessing yourself and changing the way you do business. You won’t be satisfying that customer; instead, you’ll be trying to “one up” your competition and spend money on doing fancy stuff rather than the basic stuff that makes your client happy. You will start to get derailed and off-track. When that happens, you start losing business and you lose a customer. And you lose it to the very competition that you are worried is going to take over.

Hone Your Customer Focus for Better Results: Worrying about your competition is a natural phenomenon. You need to have some idea of what your competition is doing, but it shouldn’t be anywhere near your top business focus. Don’t let your competition infiltrate your thinking. You are playing your own game, not your competitions’. If you can consistently meet your customers’ needs, you will be able to stop wasting valuable time and money trying to compete with your competition. Remember, you are in business for your customers, not your competition.

Read other articles and learn more about Marsha Lindquist.

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