Ignore Your Competition At Your Peril

One of the most foolhardy attitudes I’ve heard expressed by teams preparing for an important bid, or to make any form of a run for a deeply desired new piece of business, is:

“We really don’t want to focus on and get distracted by what our competitors are doing. We need to just concentrate on our own offer.”

What’s wrong with that, is just about everything. Let me count the ways.

Here are just a few:

  • The less you know about each of your competitors in a particular pursuit, the less you have to competitively benchmark your offer, your track record, and all other key components of your submission, against.
  • The less you know about each competitor’s strengths, the greater the risk you’re taking that you miss the need to emphasise your own comparative strength, where it’s relevant to the pursuit in question.
  • The less you know about each competitor’s weaknesses, the less opportunity you afford yourself to come in under their radar and shine with your opposing strength.
  • The less you know about your competitors as a collective, the less insight you have into all the reasons the prospect should pick you, and thus the less chance you have to emphasise these.
  • The less you know about the competitive field, the less intelligence you have into all the reasons the prospect shouldn’t pick you, and thus you have no chance to correct or compensate in these areas.
  • The less you know about your competition – individually and collectively – the harder it is for you to see your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) as it relates to this particular bid or pursuit.

I could go on … literally, all day.

If you neglect this core, fundamental aspect of your pre-proposal research, you do so very much at your own peril. All the chest-thumping in the world won’t be as effective as having shaped your offer and crafted your words based on knowing exactly what gives you a meaningful competitive edge in the eyes of your prospective client or customer organisation.