No Room for Second Place

Steve Van Remortel, founder of SM Advisors and creator of the Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream process, educates and inspires business leaders on how to differentiate their organization by applying the fundamentals of strategy and talent. In his first book, Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream: The Scoop on Increasing Profit by Differentiating Your Company Through Strategy and Talent, he provides all business leaders a simple step-by-step planning process they can implement into their organization to optimize its performance. The book launches, Tuesday, October 16 and is available on

Vince Lombardi once said, “There is no room for second place.  There is only one place in my game and that is first place.”   That is true in business as well as football.  When it comes to your competence and strategy second place is not an option.  

The first fundamental of the Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream ® Strategic Planning Process is defining your competence.  Your competence is something you do better than anyone else in the markets where you compete.  It is why customers choose you first, not second.  

When helping a company define its competence, SM Advisors uses our proprietary methodology called the Competitive Competence Analysis.  The objective of this analysis is to evaluate your new or current competence against the competitors in the markets where you compete.  

7 questions to determine your organization’s competitive competence

Here are the questions you will answer as you complete your competitive competence analysis for your organization (download template here):  

  1. Who are your primary competitors in the markets where you compete?
  2. What is the perceived competence of each competitor?   You can gain insight to how competitors are differentiating themselves by looking at their websites and sales collateral.   What is each competitor’s go-to-market strategy?
  3. Based on their competence, to what level does each company differentiate itself on a scale of 1 to 10?   A rating of 1 means they are selling vanilla ice cream and a 10 is a clear differentiation (selling mint chip ice cream as we call it)
  4. Are any of these competitors delivering or trying to deliver a competence similar to your company?
  5. If yes, can you tangibly prove that you will deliver it better?
  6. If you find out that your competence is similar to that of the competition, then it’s back to the drawing board until you define a competence that you can deliver better than anyone else in the markets where you compete. 
  7. Ask yourself, once we implement our competence and execute our plan will it create a “real” differentiation for our company?  Remember, there is no room for second place.   

Your competence only benefits your organization if it helps you stand out from the crowd. Otherwise, it’s just another version of vanilla ice cream and likely to become a price-driven commodity.   This simple methodology can help you determine the level of differentiation your company has versus your competition.   

Your call to action is to complete this methodology with a team of your colleagues.   Is your organization selling vanilla or mint chip ice cream?   Remember, Those Who Plan – PROFIT!




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