Leaders and losers and competitive checklists
"I can't sell your product without a competitive checklist showing how we're better than bigsoftware.com"
He attached something that he's been using:
- More developers than Oracle
- More marketing spend than Microsoft
- Better implementation assistance than SAP
- SaaS-ier than Salesforce.com
- More carpeted areas than our leading competitor
Poor Robin. How does she deal with this request? She knows that checklists are the sales tool for followers and losers. Only the leader can win at the checklist game, and the smart leaders don't even play. Nobody wants to see the leader thump their chests and no buyers believe the followers' claims that they're better than the leader. Great competitive strategy lies in positioning, not in feature lists.
What's a product manager to do?
Robin should do a competitive assessment of her product compared to each major competitor. Then analyze the key strengths of her product and the distinctive competence of her company. Finally, she should position her product around the established positions of her competitors.
Competitor A is great--if you want your data hosted and managed by a vendor
Competitor B is great--if you have a small installation
Competitor C is great--if you're always connected to the internet
Don't play the leaders game; play your own game. What strengths do you bring to the equation? What do you offer that is truly unique? And are those strengths valued by your potential clients?
Unique is how you start a sales cycle; better is how you win. You can't just claim to be better in every area than the leader. (Well, you can claim it but you won't be believed.)
Play to your strengths; don't play the leader's game.
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