An old boxing saying goes, “You have to knock out the champ!” When an upstart business wants an established business’ customers the upstart must be prepared to knock out the incumbent to get them. A proven way to win the battle is by executing a niche strategy. Be better at a specific attribute that satisfies the buyers’ specific need. Don’t combat the incumbent on his terms. Attack the incumbent’s vulnerability until doing enough damage to win.
Serve Serve Sell
Business needs are constantly getting more specialized. Consequently, more nimble competitors can acquire clients and market share by solving increasingly specific problems. Buyers have learned that one stop shops are inefficient and ultimately expensive. Besides, vendors with detailed knowledge are becoming increasingly valued because streamlined operations want to acquire expertise without hiring it. Niche-focused providers solve both problems. Customers know this. To slay marketplace giants, an effective weapon is serving the prospect, even before selling the solution. Serve, serve, sell favors vendors that deliver the attention and knowledge which maximizes the value that customers demand. Incumbents may have reputations. Niche-specific vendors cut reputations by demonstrating better individualized service.
Fail Fail Succeed
But, what happens when the niche vendor delivers amazing service and does not close the deal? The niche player gets hurt. They gave away valuable resources; then failed to close the transaction. However, “the failure” does not make you “a failure”! The next failure does not either. Fail, fail, succeed is the premise to continue battling as long as confidence exists that progress is coming. Niche-driven vendors throw a blow, they take a blow. But, they keep swinging. Nevertheless, vendors who continue giving solutions without successful commitments need to re-evaluate their target. They must explore the real reasons that the incumbent provider remains despite the prospect taking the upstart’s value. Is it embedded relationships, or iron-clad agreements? Or, is it merely a matter of time before the target’s decision maker is punished for not making profit maximizing choices for his business? Fail, fail, succeed requires courage. Courage is not ignoring risk. It is understanding the risk, then making the best decision toward the ultimate goal. For the niche-driven enterprise it is taking a punch on the chin, then delivering a cut below the eye. Create wounds that requires stitches.
Ultimately, fail fail succeed is a big bite to swallow. But, so is engaging the giants in the marketplace. The successful entrepreneur uses multiple weapons in their arsenal to earn every victory. Victorious tactics include acquiring newer intelligence, leading with better service, and failing faster to succeed sooner. These are advantages for the niche-driven vendor. Niches give stitches because they throw more punches. They fight to throw the last blow. And, they savor victories when sending the incumbent provider home with nothing but their stitches.
By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond
Thanks Melinda Emerson for the introduction to “Serve Serve Sell”.