We are obsessed with our competitors. We develop all sorts of content and presentations focusing on our differentiation and why the customer should choose us over the alternatives.

I don’t know how many “comparison charts” I’ve seen. You know those I’m talking about. The rows show the features and functions we think important. The columns show us and the competitors. Inevitably, more boxes are checked off for our products and solutions than those of the competition.

And our competitors have their versions of the same comparisons. But it’s the features and functions that best support their case, making them look better than the alternatives.

We compare our corporate glamour charts. Inevitably showing all the locations we have, number of people, financial performance. We always have the “customer chart.” It has a list of logos we think are impressive. These things are important to us, consequently, we think they are important to our customers.

And, our competitors have their version of these charts, trying to demonstrate how impressive they think they are. I always laugh, inevitably, there are overlaps in “customers.” Seems like companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Siemens, Citicorp, IBM, Walmart and so forth are everyone’s best customers.

As we sell and position ourselves, competitively, we focus on the competitor, trying to demonstrate how we are better and why we should be selected.

And our competitors usually are doing the same thing.

Inevitably, something terrible happens. We end up focusing on the competitors and not on the customer.

Through this we miss the most important area of differentiation.

Helping the customer understand and solve their problems! Helping the customers navigate their buying process!

The customer’s biggest problem is solving their problem and navigating the buying process. Who has the most feature or functions is irrelevant and not helpful to the customer. The reality is that any of the solutions on the customer short list of buying alternatives can meet the customer needs.

Our biggest differentiation has little to do with feature function comparisons, but focusing on what the customer cares about most.

While your competition is busy presenting their comparison and glamour charts, you create the greatest value and differentiation by focusing on the things most critical to the customer and their success.

While it is helpful to understand our competitors and their positioning, the only way to win is through focusing on the customer, not the competitor.