Senior Fashionista

I’m up to #6 of my Ten Ways to Lose . . . Even When You’re the Best.  Here’s one that I see far too often: You are out of touch with your changing market.

This problem reminds me of the grand dame who was at the height of fashion during her early and middle years.  Today, however, 20+ years later, she is still sporting the same hairdo, the same clothes, the same make-up, shoes, handbag, jewelry–and she has become a “fashion police” candidate. She was the best–in her day–but the fashion market changed immensely and she failed to change with it.

For her, of course, it hardly matters.  She’s happy, and she’s not selling anything.  But for you, failure to recognize and adapt to market changes can be fatal.

How long have you been “the best”in your market?   What are your competitors doing to catch up with you or to overcome your advantage? Is there anything you are

missing? When you stop thinking like an underdog and behave like the best in field, unless you are constantly vigilant  you can miss minor and even major signs that your marketplace needs and priorities are changing.

One circumstance you’ll encounter is that as you get bigger deals with bigger customers you attract an entirely new level of competition.  Often they are more sophisticated and experienced at the new market level than you are, and frequently they’ll pull out all the stops to prove that to a prospect that they’ve chosen to fight over.  It’s like being a business fashionista in Tampa and wearing your favorite outfit to Manhattan.  Fashion police! No offense to Tampa, but you’re safest in black in a New York board room.

Market changes are constant.  Your customers want different things, or they want things delivered in different ways, or they want to engage with you differently.  They want more, or they want less.  You need to be continually vigilant about what matters to them and how you can update your fashion to remain in style.  Ask them.  Bring on a customer advisory board.  Go out and visit, not to sell something but simply to listen.  They will tell you what you need to know.

What’s changing in your market?  What are you doing about it?