• May 1, 2003

Hot Seat: Fred Weirsema on Leadership

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During DCI's most recent CRM Conference and Expo, Fred Weirsema, business strategist and author of a book entitled The New Market Leaders, talked about what winning companies do when customers stop buying. CRM's Martin Schneider sat down with Wiersema to discuss market leadership. CRM magazine: Define market leadership.
Fred Weirsema: Obviously, you're not a market leader unless you have plenty of followers, i.e., customers who cast their purchasing vote for you rather than other suppliers. Inevitably, that won't happen unless customers perceive you to have a superior value proposition. Market leadership starts right there. With discriminating customers ruling the waves, value propositions make or break your business. That's how market leaders create an edge, maybe by offering customers the best price or maybe it's their product performance or reputation that stands out. Maybe they're making the customer's life easier, offering a more appealing experience or a better-tailored solution. Whatever it is, you won't become a market leader unless you develop a critical mass of customers that perceive you to be better than the alternatives. And you won't sustain that lead unless you relentlessly continue to offer them a better deal than your rivals do. CRM: Why aren't more companies following this lead? Weirsema: It's certainly not for lack of trying. Virtually every company I know has greatly improved its business practices and savvy in the past decade--but so have their rivals. It's like in sports, where lots of aspiring athletes will pursue the latest training breakthroughs, yet not everyone is going to be a champion. Likewise, it's foolish to expect that a potent technology such as CRM is going to turn every single adopter into a market leader. It takes dedicated and cross-functional teamwork to create superior value propositions, and it takes superb orchestration and execution to consistently and profitably deliver on them. Having said that, I view CRM as the single most important development that can strengthen our go-to-market activities. I also believe firmly those companies that ignore or botch CRM will run a great risk of getting kicked out of the race.
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