If someone mentions the name of actor George C. Scott, more than likely the first image that comes to mind is the role he is best known for; his portrayal of General George S. Patton. For his depiction of the infamous World War II General, Scott was nominated and won the Academy Award for Best Actor, an award he refused to accept.
Scott did extensive research for the role, studying old films and newsreels about Patton, as well as interviewing those who knew or worked with “Old Blood & Guts”. Patton had a persona and image that was bigger than life, much of it built based on his leadership during the Battle of the Bulge. In the film, the German High Command is depicted as being consumed with Patton; where he was, what battles he might be involved with, and what offensives he might be leading. While this makes for great cinema, in all actuality, the German’s respected Patton,and viewed his tactics as most “German”. But in truth Patton was not considered their most threatening adversary, and they did not spend hours fretting about his comings and goings. They were aware of him, but it didn’t cripple or distract them in developing their strategy. Like Patton, they strived to know and understand the strengths and weaknesses of their competition and used this knowledge to inform their strategy. This information was used, taken into account and acted on accordingly.
The Art of War
Fifth Century military strategist Sun Tzu is well known for his treatise “The Art of War which is a world-renowned classic on strategy and tactics. One of his best known quotes is; “Every battle is won before it is fought.” The Art of War has been applied to nearly everything including politics, education, business strategy, and management. As an example; Andrew Kucheriavy, CEO & Founder of Intechnic outlines the Five Strategies from The Art of War in business:
1. Learn Who Your True Competitors Are
2. Determine Your Competition’s Strategy
3. Learn What Works and What Doesn’t
4. Position Yourself to Outperform Competitors
5. Beat Your Competitors Before They Beat You
Importance of Competitive Intelligence
In manufacturing, you will likely see a few different scenarios play out when it comes to gathering competitive intelligence. Some organizations spend little or no time understanding who they are competing against. There is a tendency to have tunnel vision, and the belief is that “no one else is offering the capabilities and services we do” or “nobody else can do what we do”. With all due respect, unless you have developed a cure for cancer, chances are there are many people doing what you do, providing an equal or better service than your organization, and doing a better job communicating that to customers. If you truly believe no competitor can do what you do, then why is your pipeline not full, your capacity not 100% utilized, and why are you not forced to turn away business?
Part of every successful strategy is knowing your competition and using that information to inform your decisions. Some key questions Management, Engineering,Operations, and Business Development need to ask:
1. Who are my chief competitors and what do I know about them?
2. Who and how many competitors are quoting this business?
3. What are their cost models and pricing strategy?
4. Am I using historical data to develop and inform how I quote?
5. How do we stack up against them in terms of services, communication, quote turnaround time, quality and OTD?
6. What is my position versus competition; e.g.Front Runner, Shared/Equal positioning, Only an Alternative Option, or Zero leverage (“me too”)?
7. Do I have a Unique Value Proposition (UPV) that makes me stand out, and can I prove it?
8. What are my strengths and what are my weaknesses as compared to the competition?
9. How does my proposal address or solve the customer's needs or pain points?
10. Have I covered every base, and how do I think competition will respond?
Gathering and understanding these basic questions and using this to inform your decisions allows you to beat your competition before they beat you. All too often companies are so consumed with “leaving money on the table”, they simply quote their standard pricing model and tell their sales team to “take that hill” or go sell it. The problem is the battle has been lost before it has ever been fought. You show up at the casino prepared to play Roulette and the game is Texas Hold ‘Em, and then act surprised when you don’t win.
In an article published by Business Insider; illustrator Jessica Hagy gave this advice to the modern business world; “If you do the same math your competitors do, you’ll both have the same strategy. The value of prep work is in the novelty and depth of it. Make your strategy a point of differentiation. Do your own research.”
ATG understands the importance of gathering andunderstanding the competition and can assist your organization with developingyour Unique Value Proposition (UPV) to aid you in opportunity identificationand business capture. Contact ATG todayand we can help you win the battle before it is fought, and work with you torealize accelerated tangible growth.