How to Leapfrog Your Competition: What You Can Learn from Apple

If you want to keep your competition out of the running, focus on leap-frogging them. This means you jump so far ahead of them that your customer has no interest in considering anyone else. That’s CompetitionProof!

A great example of this showed up this week. While teaching a sales training class, I noticed that three of the attendees were taking notes with Apple iPads and two attendees were using Apple MacBooks. A year ago, all the portable computers in the class would have been traditional laptops from HP, Lenovo (formerly IBM), or Dell with an occasional other brand.

Two of the iPad users were taking notes with a pen device and the third using a wireless keyboard. All of the Apple users spoke enthusiastically about their computers, appreciating the extensive battery life (while the other laptop users were looking for power), instant-on with no booting time, easy to use, and a bullet-proof system. None of them had Web connectivity problems because they had either brought their own cellular hot spot or had the cellular connection built in. One of the laptop users took almost five minutes to boot up and log on to the local WiFi connection. (Why do companies make it so difficult to log on to their “guest” WiFi access?)

Here’s the leap frog: while traditional laptop vendors focused on the technology–adding more speed, more memory, bigger screen size–Apple focused on how people use the technology–adding battery life, ease of use, quick Web connectivity, virtually bullet proof. (I have to buy anti-virus for my Windows machines. Not required for my Apple machines.)

Unless Apple severely stumbles, their customers are committed and wouldn’t consider another vendor. Until other laptop manufacturers can make a compelling case, Apple has the corner on this market.

But the compelling case won’t be based on technology or even price. Apple is the most expensive in the market for comparable performance and they still rule. For 100 percent of Apple’s market, price isn’t the deciding factor. For 85 percent of your market, price isn’t the deciding factor.

What I found interesting is that all of the non-Apple users were making excuses for why they hadn’t bought an Apple “yet.” Couldn’t justify it. Wanted to see what would happen with the new HP tablet and the new Blackberry Playbook tablet. Didn’t like that it wouldn’t play Adobe Flash video files. 

Meanwhile the Apple users were productive, happily living with the short comings to get the key benefits. And they are illustrating to their customers that they understand cutting edge technology.

Here’s why this is important: buyers want to do business with obviously successful sales people because they are doing something right. They are leery of underfunded, old-technology-toting sales people because they aren’t keeping up. So how can they help a customer select technology that’s going to make them competitive and profitable? If you don’t believe enough in new technology to own it, why should your customers believe in your new technology?

When you can show your customers how you leapfrog the other options, you become CompetitionProof.