Why competitors are like milk... (3-min read)


I was thinking about competitors earlier today and realised that with the training work I do there are quite a few of them out there. There are global companies with Australian offices, large, medium and small Australian training companies, along with dozens of sole traders like me. Then I looked at my sales funnel and realised that the top of it was looking a little bit thin, I started worrying about all those competitors.

My thought process was getting negative, so I decided it was time to take a break and make breakfast. As I was pouring almond milk on my cereal I realised that my competitors and I are a bit like milk. Bear with me here...

I’ve never liked cow’s milk, even as a kid I didn’t drink milk by itself - I only ever had milk on cereal, or in a glass carefully placed on top of two-inches of Milo in the bottom (damn that Milo was good). However, a lot of people like cow’s milk, some like full cream, low-fat or skim. Others like soy milk, or almond (the best), coconut milk, goats milk, UHT, coconut-soy blend and the list goes on… And if you add cereal into the mix then there are countless variations of what people like and don’t like. Some people don’t even like cereal (weirdos).

So, there I am pouring almond milk (the best type of milk) over my cereal (I like muesli), and I realised that whilst there may be dozens of competitors in my space, we’re all a little bit different, just like milk.  And importantly not everyone will like my flavour, whilst others will love it.

My point is that not only are Consultants and Trainers different, so are our customers. Not everyone likes the same milk, and Bob might like almond milk with his cereal, however, full cream milk with his hot chocolate (much like me, seriously who likes almond milk with hot chocolate?). 

So just like Bob, a customer might not need your services one day, however, as his or her needs change they will need them on another day. 

And some people don’t even like any type of milk (those people are crazy). Why should you care? I think it is just a different way of looking at Competitive Strategy – using milk as an analogy. Some key takeaways:
  • Virtually all businesses operate in a competitive environment, markets are getting disrupted and competition increases over time. However, there are always opportunities to find because new customers arrive, current customer’s needs change and disruption creates possibilities
  • Just because I have dozens - if not hundreds - of direct competitors in Sydney, when you scratch under the surface we are all delivering outcomes for our clients in our own unique way. And while my approach may not appeal to everyone, it will appeal to many
  • Considering point 2. above, whatever you are selling (most of us are selling something), you need to understand your value proposition, and how to communicate it clearly to attract the right customers (there is no point selling a coconut- soy blend chai latte to a ‘milk with one’ tea man)
  • B2B sales is all about relationships and connections. Being authentic and focusing in on your value proposition will help you create connections more quickly and build longer lasting relationships that ultimately benefit you and your customers

Now that the competitive landscape is less worrying, it’s time for a nice long-black coffee with no milk (why spoil a good coffee with milk).

Thanks as always for listening and feel free to share, comment or contact me with any thoughts or questions that you have.

Cheers,
Gareth


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other person, organisation, employer or company. The author is a consultant and coach focused on improving performance. I draw on 25 years corporate experience, a Bachelor of Arts in Social & Cultural Anthropology and a Masters of Business Administration.




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