Choreographing the Competitive Dance

Planning Moves in a Competitive Environment

By David Yesford(傅大卫)

Several months ago, I found myself in a dance hall in the middle of Moscow. It was Tango Night! I could see that it was a very structured, disciplined dance. With limited tango skills, I was able to watch and enjoy the wonder of a dance floor moving in front of me, everyone reacting to everyone else as the music played.

To choreograph the competitive dance that happens in every selling situation, you first need to understand why people are out on the dance floor in the first place. That sits squarely in understanding what the customer values. Specifically, you need to understand the issues or problems that have direct impact on the customer’s business performance, where they feel the fire to take action, and their most compelling business issue. You also need to understand clearly what the customer values with respect to a solution. Once you have this compelling business issue demanding action, and the customer’s characteristics of an ideal solution, you can now draw the borders of the dance floor. Price (Y axis) includes things like acquisition costs, life cycle, switching costs, or maybe some other industry-specific factors. Performance (X axis) includes ease of purchase and acquisition, product features and delivery, business impact, or even personal impact. The more descriptive you are here around the customer’s understanding of an ideal solution and your (and your competitors’) alignment with those descriptors, the better you are able to choreograph the moves.

Take a moment to plot your customer, yourself, and your competitors on this newly defined dance floor with the Price and Performance axes setting the boundaries. Where are you, compared to how the customer defines value? Where are the other competitors? It’s important that you plot these positions based not on what you think about your Price and Performance, but on what you believe the customer thinks about it.

Step back and look at the dance floor. Where is everyone? Now, consider your strategy to outmaneuver the competition.

  • Can you Pursue? If so, go head-to-head on price, features, delivery, etc.
  • Can and should you Reconfigure your offering? If so, change your offering to better align with the customer.
  • Can and should you Reframe? Help the customer see the situation differently—but only if it serves their interests and yours.
  • If none of these three are right, even in combination, consider having a go/no-go discussion with your sales manager.

No matter what strategy you choose from the three above, remember that everyone moves. If you Pursue, Reconfigure, or Reframe, consider how the customer will react and how your competitors will react. You are choreographing a dance, so you cannot just consider one move. You have to anticipate and think ahead several moves. Executing this with discipline—the discipline of a dance like the tango—should give you a new framework to use as you focus on meeting your customers’ needs, priorities, and interests better than the competition!

David Yesford(傅大卫)

作为Wilson Learning 全球资深副总裁、亚太地区董事总经理,傅大卫有着30多年在全球范围内发展和实施人力绩效解决方案的经验。 傅大卫先生总能以其宝贵经验、策略方向和全球视角为客户和团队带来价值。多年来,他在Wilson Learning的核心领域——销售、领导力、e-learning和策略咨询业务上扮演着重要的角色。

傅大卫先生是多部书籍的合著者,其中包括《双赢销售》(Win-Win Selling),《灵活多变的销售人员》(Versatile Selling),《社交风格手册》(Social Styles Handbook),《销售培训2》(Traning Book 2)等。并在美国、欧洲、拉丁美洲、亚太地区的商业出版物中发表了多篇文章。他经常被邀请在国际性会议上做有关销售、领导力、员工和客户参与度提升、品牌和战略实施的演讲。