Winning On Our Terms

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“Winning can be defined, in part, by never letting the competition define you.  Instead, you have to define yourself based on a point of view you care deeply about.”

–     Tom Chappel, founder of Tom’s of Maine, a natural dietary supplement company

The competition’s job is to knock us off our game.  Get us to price differently.  Alter terms.  Somehow, someway to do something that either weakens our position in this deal, or in the next one, when they can talk about what we did in this one.

It’s one thing to be consistent.  It’s another thing completely to have our identity be born of a “point of view we care deeply about.”  Earlier in my career, I worked for a company that wouldn’t, under any circumstances, negotiate price.  In one of our biggest deals ever, the prospect pushed back pretty hard.

My mentor / boss, our CEO said, “Someday, you’re going to be at an event with another client about your size,” he said.  “I don’t want to have to worry about what you tell each other about the deal we struck with either of you.  I sleep well at night.  Always have.  Always will.”

The ideal, the point-of-view that he had might have been fairness, although I doubt it, because life isn’t fair, and nowhere is it written that we should expect it to be fair.  I believe it was integrity for my mentor.  He never wanted to explain the unexplainable.  To justify the unjustifiable.  He knew the value of what we offered.  He priced it to reflect that value.  And he never had to worry about one client comparing notes with another.

Today, we’ll probably have more than one opportunity, perhaps not foundational or principle-based, but more than one opportunity to define ourselves in our markets.  What is it we care about deeply enough to have it guide us?

 

 

 


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