Know your biggest competitor

Nathan Anibaba
April 7, 2019

Ask most marketing agencies who their biggest competitor is and they will likely list the names of businesses that sell similar services to theirs.

In the traditional sense that’s true.

If people need SEO, content or advertising services they search for businesses that offer those services. But in today’s marketplace it’s not where your biggest competition is coming from.

Break the status quo

Marketing decision makers in medium to large businesses are busy and the last thing they want is to create more work for themselves. They are already overloaded with a pile of work and requests from colleagues, vendors and suppliers that just keeps growing.

Even if a change is good and positive for the business, change is disruptive so they try to minimise it as much as possible.

For example, I know there are several energy companies I can switch to to save money on my utility bills but I’ve limped on with my current supplier because I was so swamped with work. I knew I could save more with other companies but I also knew that finding the right provider for me would involve time to evalue the offerings from them all, find the best one for me and implement the change. So I lived with the status quo until I had no choice but to make a change.

Your target decision maker is exactly the same.

Because time is their most precious commodity, they don’t seek out change. Even if they know their interests could be better served by making a change with their existing marketing agency, making that change would take time to:

  1. Asses their current processes
  2. Evaluate the financial returns
  3. look at options
  4. Negotiate contracts
  5. Set up new vendors
  6. Implement new ways of working.

Just the thought of doing this for busy decision makers is exhausting.

When selling to larger businesses the status quo is your biggest competitor because these decision makers need to protect their busy time at all costs.

Change really has to be worthwhile to get someone to take you on.

If these decision makers can get by without having to make the change they will.

Your job as the salesperson is to make the the case that change is imperative.

Their business stands to lose more in the long run than if they don’t make the change now.

Suddenly something will blow up in their face, and all attention is focused on dealing with this catastrophic thing. Money is then poured into the solution, budget that was not allocated before is suddenly found as its taken from other budgeted areas.


  1. They’ve launched a new product and sales are not as good as they hoped
  2. New competitors are launching a new disruptiive product and they must respond
  3. Investors announce aggressive sales growth in the next 3 quarters.

Effective salespeople are the ones who help their clients understand the total costs of their current processes and strongly articulate the business imperative for change. This must be framed in terms of the business outcomes the client is looking for not your products and services.

For instance:

  1. Increased sales output
  2. Increased time to value
  3. Boost in lead to sale conversion ratios
  4. Cost efficiencies
  5. Implementation efficiencies and shorter ramp up periods.

Today you may come up against a direct competitor in a small percentage of cases, however you’re always fighting the status quo and other uses for the marketing budget.

Have a good week.