Think like a challenger

Picture your most important customer.

Now imagine a world where you don’t have them, and never did. You have other customers like them, maybe not as big or as impressive. And you really, really want them. Your business would grow exponentially if only you could land them.

In this world, you think about this prospective customer all the time. You have lots of ideas to make their world better. You even have a one-year plan. And a three-year plan. And a ten-year plan.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.

Welcome to the world of your competitors, who are actively building exactly this kind of plan to steal the business out from under you.

Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner who pioneered the concepts of microcredit and microfinance and helped the economy of one of the planet’s poorest nations, understands how hard it is to get people to accept change. “My greatest challenge has been to change the mindset of people,” he said. “Mindsets play strange tricks on us. We see things the way our minds have instructed our eyes to see.”

Being the incumbent supplier of a big customer is like wearing a set of beer goggles that only let us see the best-case scenario. Because there’s so much at stake, we tend to look for evidence to “prove” that what we are already doing is good enough. As a result we are often blindsided when someone comes in with a more compelling argument that we just didn't see coming. 

Picture your customer again, and imagine for a minute that you were pitching for their business for the first time.

·      Things to fix: What holes could you poke in the current service delivery? Where are the problems that you would want to magically disappear? What doesn’t work well that you could do better?

·      Things to build: What aren’t you doing that you really should be doing? What would the customer love you to do, that you’ve been resisting? If you were the customer, how would you like to see your business transform in the future, and how could you as their supplier make that happen?

Thinking like a challenger does two important things. It helps us get real about problems we don’t want to think about, and it also creates excitement about what we could achieve but haven’t yet.

So take off the beer goggles and have a good, long look at the future. It’s as bright as wechoose to make it.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant who helps helps service-based businesses that compete through bids and tenders to articulate the value in what they do, command a price premium, and build an offer that buyers can’t refuse. Don’t let others dictate how far and how fast your business can grow – take your power back! Email robyn@robynhaydon.com to request the white paper for the Beyond Ticking Boxes program.