Most companies are challenged not because they do the wrong thing, but because they do the right thing for too long. Every company has challenges and missteps, but successful companies have good and thoughtful managers who do the right thing consistently.
I didn’t come up with this idea, but I’ve thought a lot about it lately as I think about all the change and disruption distribution sectors have experienced over the past 10 years – technological, economic, generational, cultural and now, of course, political. It’s a lot to digest.
Many gaps have developed in competitive business strategy, and in many ways “the right thing” is no longer “the best thing.” Disruptive technology has found ways to displace traditional business models in so many sectors, from travel agents to automobile ownership. How long before truck drivers are displaced by autonomous vehicles?
Most distribution sectors are fragmented, with a relatively low concentration of market share ownership. The same is true for market segments served. But while in the past economic cycles there were waves of consolidation, this time is different. There will still be consolidation, without a doubt, but market share loss by new competitors – whether purely digital or alternate product channel encroachment – will be a bigger part of the story going forward.
It’s already happening. Our recent research report by Real Results Marketing on customer buying and shopping preferences indicates how quickly buyers are changing habits. It is a clear indicator of how suppliers with strong digital platforms will take more share. The fight, in my view, is how to maintain a historical competitive advantage in local markets served while leveling the digital-savvy playing field to keep new competition in check.
There are a few entry-level questions that define this growing competitive gap at very basic levels. How well do you segment your customer or prospect lists? How well are you targeting vertical customer segments with specific offers, tailored to identify value points unique to that segment? How closely can you track customer and vertical segment trends by purchasing patterns and profitability? This is the type of intelligence digital competitors mine to continuously learn how to capture more share.
The right thing and best thing today is to leverage this powerful data to focus and fight the noise.
If my comments trigger thoughts about how to prepare your organization for these challenges, please join Mike Marks of Indian River Consulting Group and me March 1-2, 2017, for a conference on creating new direction and structure for your sales organization. Learn more at SalesGPS2017.com.