Despite the new wave of machine tool marketing strategies, the classic question remains to be answered: "Why should I do business with you...and not your competitors?" In Creating Competitive Advantage, Jaynie L. Smith contends that most CEOs and owners cannot answer the question. "In researching mid-market companies I found only two CEOs out of 1,000 who could clearly name their companies' competitive advantage. The other 99.8% could offer only vague, imprecise generalities."
Whether you are a retailer, manufacturer, distributor, or service provider -- if you cannot answer this question, you are surely losing customers, clients, and market share. This eye-opening book reveals that identifying your competitive advantages (and trumpeting them to the marketplace) is the most surefire way to close deals, retain clients, and stay miles ahead of the competition.
The five fatal flaws of most companies:
They don't have a competitive advantage but think they do.
They have a competitive advantage but don't know what it is -- so they lower prices instead.
They know what their competitive advantage is but neglect to tell clients about it.
They mistake "strengths" for competitive advantages.
They don't concentrate on competitive advantages when making strategic and operational decisions.
The good news is that you can overcome these costly mistakes -- by identifying your competitive advantages and creating new ones. Consultant, public speaker, and competitive advantage expert Jaynie Smith shows you how scores of small and large companies substantially increased their sales by focusing on their competitive advantages.
Smith's recommendations include:
Start with objectivity
Go beyond citing good quality and great customer service and show customers how much you save them.
Create a competitive advantage culture
Competitive advantages don't happen by themselves. They require planning, decision-making and implementation.
Turn your disadvantages into competitive advantages
The staff member who identifies a critical disadvantage might be the most effective person to fix it.
When advising a CEO frustrated by his salespeople's inability to close deals, Smith discovered that his company stayed on schedule 95 percent of the time -- an achievement no one else in his industry could claim. By touting this and other competitive advantages to customers, closing rates increased by 30 percent -- and so did company revenues.
Jack Welch has said, "If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete." This straight-to-the-point book is filled with insightful stories and specific steps on how to pinpoint your competitive advantages, develop new ones, and get the message out about them.
Jaynie L. Smith is the founder of ICS Marketing and president of Smart Advantage, Inc., a management consultancy whose clients include hundreds of middle-market businesses. She also serves as the Florida chair for The Executive Committee (TEC), an international organization of over 11,000 CEOs. She resides in Hollywood, Florida.
William G. Flanagan has been a writer and editor at Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Esquire, and New York Magazine. His last book was Dirty Rotten CEOs. Visit www.smartadvantage.com for more information.