How to Achieve Sales Growth With Your Competitive Advantage


Using your trump card, your competitive advantage, in the game of business, is the key to more sales growth. Remember, if you don’t have a competitive advantage – don’t compete. And, quality and service are NOT a competitive advantage – everyone says it but nobody believes it.

As Roger Martin identifies in his book, Playing to Win1, once you as the business leader has identified the winning aspiration or vision, you then need to develop your plan of where you will play, how you will win, and what capabilities you will need to do it.


Where you will play will decide the location you will want to be located in, you will determine what markets, segments and perhaps verticals you will want to be operating in three to five years. And if you cant determine that exactly, you will at least identify that you will need to have diversified into a new market in that timeframe and work toward refining what that will be overtime.


Once you understand the target you’re going to focus on, you will then confirm how you will differentiate yourself from the competition. As a leader, you need to get really clear on and understand what it is that makes you unique. What’s your competitive advantage? (And by the way that isn’t by being better, cheaper or faster).

Having determined this will determine what capabilities you need to have in your business to be able to deliver your plan. What do you need now? What will you need? How will you get it? What is critical to have internally? What can you outsource?


How are you positioned in the market, are you a leader brand or a challenger brand? A key player or someone watching from the sidelines, waiting to make a move when the time is right?

What is the category that you own? Where can you claim, “this is us, we are the market leader”? Did you know that the entry of other players into the market could actually grow the winners of the category?

It’s crucial to be able to position your business but also to know how you do this. Seth Godin once said: “If you can’t state your position in eight words, you don’t have a position.” Once you have a clear position, you will have competitors, so you need to understand why you are the choice for the marketplace.

But not only that, you need to be able to communicate this to your audience in order to stand out. Did you know that businesses that can show what they do and why they should buy from them have 70% more success in their market place?


To create a great brand promise you’ll need to understand the three fundamentals of every purchase decision. This relates to how the product or service affects people functionally, economically and emotionally.

While the others are important elements, the emotional relation is the most powerful element as all decisions are made emotionally at some level.

Take Harley-Davidson as an example. As a brand, it’s etched itself a clear position in the world of motorbikes although let’s be honest. It’s not necessarily the best, fastest, cheapest, or most reliable of bikes. So, why do so many people buy Harley’s? People buy them because it’s a Harley – so that a 49-year-old accountant can feel scary and cool driving down the street.

Have you specified the three key benefits for your brand? Do you have a clear and compelling brand promise? Think about:

  1. Functionally: How are we superior?
  2. Economically: How do we help people save time and money?
  3. Emotionally: How do we make people feel?

The brand promise must always include the emotional benefit, and ideally one of the other two. If you’re world class, you’ll have all three.

What can we take from all of this? If you take into consideration all three of these functions of the brain (functional, economical and emotional) you can come up with a really strong brand promise. The end result is that your customers recognise this and say: “That’s what I need!” And that will be your powerful, world-class brand promise.


Here’s an exercise that you can use to determine your brand promise. Take 60 seconds to quickly jot down as many keywords that represent your business as possible. Does anything represent the functional, economical, the emotional? If you can string those together – that’s your world-class brand promise. What’s more, if you distil these into a sentence for marketing (your tag-line), that’s a great leap ahead.

Running a profitable and successful business is all about getting the strategy development and execution right. Get our comprehensive, free e-book The Four Cornerstones of Strategic Execution to learn everything you need to know about executing your strategy well.

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