For many organizations, competition—both domestic and international—has become more fierce, necessitating explicit strategies for differentiating and remaining competitive. As an outcome of several trends, including globalization, competition grows when organizations become more similar, regardless of how many players there are. Organizations know they are in a seriously competitive environment, whether there is only one other competitor or a thousand competitors, if they cannot differentiate themselves—that is, by adding more value, a different value, or the same value at a lower cost than the other guy(s). According to one company, “The only way to grow is to take something away from a competitor. . . . Today, more people are after less business and we need a bigger piece of a smaller pie.”
Today, all players, prospective customers, and true competitors alike have access to much of the same knowledge and many of the same resources. Furthermore, yesterday’s competitive differentiators, such as price or securing a presence on the Internet and the ability to deliver via the Web, are no longer unique points of difference. This has leveled the playing field in many industries.
Competition no longer comes only in the form of other organizations that do the same thing and sell to the same markets. Increasingly, organizations are competing against their distributors or agents, against companies providing “substitute” products and services, and internally across their own channels to market in the form of channel conflict. There was no sales organization or salesperson in our study that did not feel competitive pressures on a daily basis. Competition may come in different forms, but identifying competitive sources and managing their impact through the strategies discussed in this book will help organizations to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.