In a world of intense competition, we must examine new behaviours and responsiveness to survive, thrive, drive brand and strategy, and above all, drive sales and profit. Key approaches in extreme environments will include: new focus on competitive positioning so you stand out; extreme ecosystem evolution requiring much better embedding of M&A value to sharpen your innovation; extreme nurturing of key clients and accounts – and major bids – so you can outmanoeuvre your competitors. What’s your extreme strategy – and do you think we live in a harsher environment than ever?
My son is obsessed with Bear Grylls. Every evening I watch Bear wandering jungles, living off luckless frogs.
Bear remains alive in tough environments not because of tools or the way he eats a gecko, but because he adapts his mindset, strategy and operations to extreme environments. After all, what he has to do is the same as us: find food, get shelter, not get killed by homicidal wombats. It’s how he does it that differs. The extreme environment means that the results of failure are harsher, and you need to think and act in a far more connected way.
We can learn from Bear, by focusing on extreme survival strategies in today’s tougher environment through:
- New levels of competitive positioning completeness and flexibility
- Improved M&A enablement to apply your renewed portfolio and innovation expertise better
- Rejuvenated alignment and strategic support for key accounts
- More aggressive, robust and strategically-aligned Bid/RFI/RFP programmes
Don’t just get a bigger knife – focus on mindset, strategy and value
Today’s business environment, as Forbes’ 2015 outlook pinpoints, is perhaps the most extreme, pressured, rapid and full of threats in the modern era. We all know the reasons (or should): digital transformation, customer/user-centricity, analytics, the IoT, etc. These are the forces of change creating enormous stress internally and externally as enterprise organizations effectively try to square circles in their own systems, and outside in their customer and market engagement.
How can you adapt? Many believe the answer is ‘new tools’. Hence the obsession with sales and marketing automation systems; new C/EX; new channels; content; analytics; UX is everything. But these are just tools. What really keeps you alive and successful in an extreme environment, is not ‘a bigger knife’; it’s more robust thinking, strategy and responsiveness, around not what you do but the value you deliver, for harsh conditions.
4 extreme strategies to succeed: positioning, M&A, key accounts and bids
You must be more strategic, and more responsive, than ever, in the extreme environment. In business, as in the jungle, there are underlying traits of survival: key behavioural patterns that can be developed, made more robust, connected and rapid: extreme strategies. These include:
1: Extreme competitive positioning
- In a world where, ‘asymmetry in business’ means that any organisation can compete with any other, your position cannot be static and your positioning must evolve while never becoming unpinned from your value.
- The need for a future-proof, strategic and value-based positioning has never been clearer. True positioning enables your entire organisation to be more flexible and responsive and connected to real IP.
- In today’s environment, where change is constant, positioning must be more rigorous, more strategic and more flexible than ever. Savvy organisations know this, which is why their strategy and portfolio mirror their promise more powerfully.
2: Extreme M&A embedding
- We’re seeing one of the most robust M&A environments ever at the moment, particularly in technology and related areas (witness: Dell/EMC) – but everywhere else as well.
- The reasons are simple: in the extreme competitive environment, organisations are having to meet new needs faster than ever. They are having, effectively, to grow inorganically to add new skills and IP. Organisations have always had to do this, but it’s just (you guessed it) more extreme.
- Acquiring the best innovative organization to make you more competitive is only the first step; how you embed their expertise, how you add their uniqueness to your own, and drive their portfolio into your business at a strategic and fine-grain level, are even harder to get right.
3&4: Extreme key account strategies and bid approaches
- You have to work harder to defend territory, and compete more intensely to win. Now most delivery is commoditized, it’s time to think differently, and far more strategically, about your value to key clients.
- Within key accounts, within even the constrained world of bids, you need to focus not on what’s directly in front of you, but what will meet the goals of that business long term, and how you meet it. How are you challenging them? Adding things others cannot? Changing their agenda?
- This is not typical account-based marketing or bid management; it’s not managed comms or targeted social selling. It’s about changing the alignment between what you say, what you do and what you represent – and showing how that meets long-term strategic needs and short-term goals.
By realigning the way you approach all of these activities, you will not just be driving your brand and strategy; you will be making the way you want to sell your products, services and insight (and your ability to monetise it in current and future relationships) more in tune with the market and the needs of your customers. And that means…well…selling more.