/ Insights

Five Keys to Building a Compete Culture

By Ezra Fain

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Every business has competitors and every customer has options. In fact, customers have more options and access to more information than ever before. Still, not all companies recognize their position in the market or understand how to emphasize their points of competitive differentiation. They tend to plan for growth without ever stopping to ask if and how they can outpace their competition.    

Through our client engagements, we’ve learned that whether your firm is in an emerging industry or in a well-established market, building a compete culture is a critical element of long-term success. This goes beyond tracking your competitor’s go-to-market strategies, understanding your points of differentiation, or analyzing how your market share is trending (all of which, by the way, are absolutely crucial). After identifying and capitalizing upon marketplace trends, a compete culture celebrates and rewards competitive gains. 

Does your business embrace competition? Or is it at risk of losing market share? Here are the five keys to building a compete culture.


1. Position competitive intelligence at the core

Market share performance and competitive insights should be foundational to every sales or marketing executive business review. Start by measuring the performance of your largest and most strategic products and services versus your primary competitors. Small changes in market share can be an early warning system for larger impending trends.  Next, look at early adopters. Share of early adopter customer segments can be telling of future market trends. When possible, measure competitive market share in terms of usage, users, services, or units in lieu of revenue. Revenue measurement can be skewed due to pricing, investments, product mix, and other factors.  


2. Plan to win

Too often, shortsighted, insulated business plans leave firms bound to lose market share in rapidly expanding categories. Start by defining your primary products and services. Then, with those in mind, align your business to a set of priority competitors. This will help you develop financial and scorecard plans that emphasize market share and consider the competition. Next, develop marketing and sales content grounded in the points of differentiation most relevant to your targeted customer segments. Review progress against these competitive plans as a core tenant of your business rhythm. 


3. Build a compete community

Any authentic culture must be born from a strong sense of community. This is why every business should build a community of internal stakeholders and external partners focused on uncovering competitive insights, surfacing risks, and sharing best practices. This can be achieved through online social communities or forums, formal training programs, and learning events like competitive workshops. A strong compete community can help you identify weak market signals that have not yet surfaced in market share tracking and will enable you to respond faster to new opportunities and emerging threats.


4. Reward a culture of winning share

If you successfully build a compete community, your next step is to design recognition programs that reinforce your culture. This requires executive commitment and constant communication. It is important to publicly reward market share gains and competitive wins to keep your teams focused on outperforming the market, rather than their previous performance or own expectations. These recognition programs can reward competitive marketing campaigns, marquee sales wins, successful service implementations, or the retention of key clients.  


5. Operate to win

Successfully building a compete culture is a huge accomplishment, but it won’t mean much if you can’t operate with a competitive mindset. Every part of your business must work to build their compete muscle.  

Marketing: Establish tracking for both explicitly competitive campaigns and implicitly competitive campaigns that compare key features.  

Sales: Your sales operations teams should understand where competitors are in your accounts, which clients may be at risk of defecting, and where your net new customer opportunities lie. Understanding how your company wins and why your company loses is paramount.

Customer Service: Services teams should also be equipped to flag clients at risk of defecting and should be rewarded for their clients’ ongoing usage of your products and services.  


Wrapping it up

Is your business positioned to discover and capitalize on the next market opportunity? Or will it stand by as its competitors exploit an ever-changing marketplace? These five key elements of a compete culture will enable a richer understanding of how your firm can outperform the market and could be the difference between being the hunter or the hunted.

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