Be Client-Driven, Not Competitor-Driven

2 Minutes Read

It may seem that part of a CEO’s job is to know what the competition is doing. You want to track what’s happening on your competitors’ websites, the changes they make to their products and services, new marketing strategies and so on. You may think it’s better to closely watch the competition rather than ignore them.

But there’s a better way.

Yes, it’s important to stay aware of what’s happening within your industry. But I strongly believe that when businesses become obsessed with watching their competitors and devising ways to “outsmart” them, they end up on a downward slope from which they never recover. In this competitor-driven mindset, a business can only do what’s already been done before. It loses the drive to innovate. It fails to reach the next level.


Embracing the Client-Driven Mindset

Instead, you should look to your clients for ways to increase your value. There are many tools to gain this information—focus groups, online chat rooms, extensive customer surveys—but a more useful approach is to engage in a heartfelt, one-on-one conversation and ask your client some forward-thinking questions:

  • “How do you see your business changing in the next 12-18 months?”
  • “What challenges do you see on the horizon?”
  • “What resources can I provide to help you continue to grow?”

Chances are, these are the kinds of questions they’re constantly mulling over (If not, your willingness to ask for them is a genuine client benefit). Maybe the time has come to enter a new market or roll out a new product. Maybe they have to address a nagging supply chain issue or introduce badly needed technology to their organization. Your role is to match your expertise with these issues and opportunities, so your client clearly sees how valuable you are. This client-driven approach enhances your value to them and improves on your professional relationship.

For example: Say you’re an IT systems provider. When you ask what’s looming on the horizon, your client says he plans to expand his business in multiple markets in the coming year. As the information technology expert, you can see—even if he can’t—that he’ll soon need an efficient, hassle-free integrated systems approach.

Here’s an opportunity you might never have uncovered had you been solely engaged with what your competitors are up to.


Offering More Value

What’s more, as you become part of a client’s forward solutions, you effectively shut the competition out. When your clients rely on you as a source of consultation and future solutions, the relationship between you deepens. Why would they turn to another outside entity when they know you’re looking out for their long-term needs and opportunities?

This is how you become part of your client’s solution team—not just another vendor.

Every client faces opportunities and challenges ahead. What truly sets you apart from the competition is your drive to uncover what those are and see how you can provide exactly what your client needs. To accelerate your leadership skills and sharpen your strategic focus, I invite you to learn more at

Brad Mishlove