What A Market Leader Looks Like

You’re ready to claim Top Dog status in your market. The Alpha of Outsourced IT. The Big Cheese of the Blockchain. The Cat’s Pajamas of Payments. You’ve got the best products, provide great service, and have lots of happy customers. You deserve to be the market leader. Yet, there you are, mired in RFPs, competing on price, and duking it out with the also-rans.

What’s happening?

Solid execution across product, technology and operations are only half of a differentiation strategy. And it all comes at the expense of a great message, a defined brand and culture, and perspective people can actually use.

It’s time to give your business front-end some love. Here are some examples of what market leaders do differently than the rest of the pack:

Market leaders know who they’re selling to. They know their customers intimately. They know who writes the checks and who guards the door. And they know exactly what these people care about, how they think, and where they go for information. They’re systematically listening with the intent to understand.

Market leaders have a clear strategy. Much like Airbnb’s “the sheet,” market leaders have a business strategy that’s so clear that 1) they can easily articulate it and 2) other people can too.  There’s never any confusion over whether or not their vision aligns with their customers.

Market leader put solving customer problems first. They take seriously the distinction between selling and serving. They provide so much value, insight and data that sales opportunities and introductions within the client organization happen naturally. They even provide insight on problems they don’t have a solution for.

Market leaders have direct decisionmaker relationships. They have mastered the right blend of strategic counsel, showing value and gentle pressure to develop regular interaction at the decision maker level.

Market leaders obsess over their brands. They don’t outsource brand development to marketing or confuse a strong brand with graphic design. They obsess over their customers’ experiences with the organization and continuously seek to align those experiences with a clear vision.

Market leaders speak with confidence. They don’t sell for being a “leading provider.” They’re not afraid to talk about things they do well, make a valid claim, or challenge a competitor.

Market leaders maintain control. They don’t chase their competition or set off fire drills every time the other team gets a win. They do their homework, develop a plan and implement it until it no longer works.

Market leaders take stands. They understand the long-term benefit of aligning their business to a purpose. They understand the issues that are important to their customers and their employees and aren’t afraid to pick a side when necessary.

Being a Market Leader Matters

Just ask the CEO of well-funded unicorn or a public company with exorbitant multiples about the power of some swagger and a good story. Market leaders set the rules of play in ways that make their competitors envious.