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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  July 01, 2014

Two Hidden Competitors Every Thought Leader Has

As a market strategist, I look at every business model, every brand and ask myself: who are the competitors here? Who do buyers consider when looking for expertise?

After reading this Wall Street Journal blog, I find that I’m not alone. Chris has a great point: competition is not just other folks the buyer is considering. It’s also the complacency of bad habits and the cost of changing those habits.

Let’s go one step further. Competition is not only other options and complacency. It’s also a comparison of risk. When you consider risk, here are two not-discussed competitors every one of us has:

  1. Do nothing. Yes, buyers know they have an objective that requires action. And…compared to the risk of doing something that may not work out, doing nothing can look pretty good. The rationale? ¬†Well, this can wait until I XXX (get another client, that book comes out, we hire new staff, etc.). ¬†That way, the buyer isn’t saying “it’s true, I won’t take action”, but instead “I’m going to take action, just not right now.” It’s a great escape route without admitting lack of action. This is the #1 reason behind the stalled sale.
  2. Do it ourselves. For reasons I rarely understand, many buyers believe that it is less risky to do something they don’t know how to do (i.e., use “internal resources”) than to hire someone like us who does. My theory: this is a tragic combination of tight budgets and too many bad experiences (example: my journey to revamp the website has left me scarred for life). There are too many folks who talk a big game but deliver less. No one likes feeling ripped off. It feels “cheaper” to learn on our own than be responsible to the powers-that-be for a poor purchase. This is the #1 reason why buyers show interest but don’t commit.

 

There is nothing we can do about these competitors. All the logic (and stories) in the world can’t make scared people move forward. The antidote to both scenarios: a healthy sales funnel that comes with a strong brand. When you are awash with opportunities, it’s OK if some prospects go away quietly.

 

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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.