Categories: Business Development
      Date: Oct 26, 2014
     Title: Staying competitive

At a recent Handy Croissant meeting, Tony Thomson of Third Wave Business Development Specialists gave an absorbing presentation aimed at helping members understand how they can become and stay competitive in today’s dynamic business environment.



Staying competitive – know your OWC from your OQC!

At a recent Handy Croissant meeting, Tony Thomson of Third Wave Business Development Specialists gave an absorbing presentation aimed at helping members understand how they can become and stay competitive in today’s dynamic business environment.

Tony described how a business would typically begin its strategic planning by doing an environmental scan to assess the state of the external macro-environment in which they are operating. This could be through a PESTLE Analysis, which looks at political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, legal and environmental factors. Additionally, a Porter’s “Five Forces” analysis could be carried, along with a range of other analyses.

Then Tony suggested following this up with a twist (literally) on the well-known SWOT analysis, turning it into a TOWS analysis. This reminds us to look at the external threats and opportunities before assessing the strengths we have that we can use to exploit the opportunities and the weaknesses we need to address to minimise any threats. Tony recommends looking at the strengths and weaknesses of: the individuals in your team, the team itself (its complementary strengths) and your competitors.

Measuring ourselves against the competitors

When comparing ourselves our competitors, Tony described how we can look at order-qualifying criteria (OQC) and order-winning criteria (OWC). Order-qualifying criteria are the characteristics your product or service or company have to have to even be considered by a potential client. For example, gas engineers should be Gas Safe registered. Without this, they will not even be considered, but it doesn’t differentiate them from all the other Gas Safe registered engineers. Order-winning criteria are characteristics, preferably unique, that differentiate your business from your competitors. For example, if two products meet all the order-qualifying criteria, then price or quality are often order-winning criteria. In small owner-managed businesses the personality and competence of the owner can be the order-winning criteria.

Marketing – accentuate the positive!

When it comes to marketing, you want to try to convince the client that the features that differentiate your product or service are the most important features to position them as the order-winning criteria in the mind of the client. Your competitors will be trying to convince potential customers that their differentiating features are more important and that your differentiating features are less important. You will also want to try to explain why their differentiating features are less important. It is important to keep reviewing the external environment and your competitors because order-winning criteria become order-qualifying criteria over time as competitors catch on and start to imitate.

It is also important to be able to communicate the key benefits of your product or service to potential clients, not just the features. One way to dig down to the core benefit is to keep asking “So what?” until you get something concrete; preferably something that can be used to create a numerical comparison. Take for example the case of a car salesman trying to convince a potential customer of the benefits of airbags:

“All of our cars have air bags” (feature) “So what?”

“So you have better protection in event of an accident” (advantage) “So what?”

“Well in 95%* of minor accidents involving cars fitted with air bags, occupants are likely to get at worst minor injuries. Whereas 45%* of occupants sustain more serious injuries in cars involved in accidents where no air bags are fitted” (Benefit).

* Not actual figures.

Contact Tony Thomson for more information

For more information about Third Wave Business Development Specialists contact Tony Thomson MBA,info@thirdwaveweb.co.uk, mob: +44-(0)7785-363-502, tel: +44-(0)1628-487-912,www.thirdwaveweb.co.uk.