Leverage the Competition

October 24, 2008 — Leave a comment

I’m amazed every time I fly.  The flight attendant thanks us, saying “We know you have a choice.”  The fact is I don’t really have a choice because I live in Charlotte.  And I can think of numerous cities I’ve been to that don’t have a choice either.  Generally there is one airline that works well for the trip I’m taking, and if you live in a hub city, the dominant airline is the only real choice. Now, when I check into my hotel I really do have a choice.  There are always several hotels clustered together or within a few minutes of my meeting. 

This explains why hotels are constantly trying to beat out the competition…they actually have competition.   If you travel frequently you’ve probably noticed the constant upgrading of mattresses, bedding, and funny shaped shower curtain rods; and one chain I use on occasion even has two shower heads to make sure I have enough water volume.  There’s also an obvious difference in point status.  At the hotel, as a platinum member, I get the red carpet treatment every time.  They are happy to see me and will go out of their way to make sure all is right. On the airplane it’s the opposite. The more I fly, the less I get.  Something’s wrong.

The lesson here is that competition is good.  It spurs us on to achieve greater things and to improve our value proposition to the customer.  I will be speaking later today in Orlando, on creating an effective value proposition, to a group of VAR business owners.  If they are like most groups their marketing sheets and elevator pitches all sound the same; they design, install, and manage some area of technology.  If you are a technology reseller what will keep your competition from coming in and taking the business?  Is your value proposition any different than the other qualified VARs selling in your area; is it price?

Your ability to be an advisor sets you apart.  If you can’t advise, in an area that needs advisement, you may be in trouble.  As one responsible for developing and maintaining clients you can’t afford to sit still.  Technologies and strategies are changing.  Expect to see major changes in our industry in the coming year as more software moves to SaaS (Software as a Service), cloud computing or Haas (Hardware as a Service) replaces large storage purchases, and virtualization threatens to eat away at offerings you used to count on as your main revenue stream.  Learn how these apply to a client’s business, how they affect risk and operational efficiencies, and be prepared to discuss these at the executive level. 

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