The bitter truth about your competitors and corporate brain freeze

Ready for it?

  • Anyone can copy your product, service or solution (or create a better one)
  • Anyone can get it made, at whatever scale is needed.
  • Anyone can reach a target audience and convert qualified prospects

Recently I’ve been pondering why some clients hit the long ball and some of them don’t. They can’t seem to get out of their own way. Why do some clients grow happily, and get acquired if that’s their aim, and others just sort of sit there?

The answer? Brain freeze about the competition, at the highest levels of the organization.

Over the past fifteen years my clients have mostly been tech and B2B services companies. All have good products and most already have a footprint in the targeted market space when they hire my firm.

With clients that languish, the brain freeze always stems from the top and is often driven by ego.

 No one has a product like ours

We don’t compete with those companies

All we need is better marketing

They ignore existing competitors. They pooh-pooh new entrants in their market space. They gloss over the need for corrective actions.

Once, in  a meeting with a new enterprise software client, I laid out the competitive facts including the entry of a hundred new competitors in the past few years. And that their revenue would continue to decline in a fast growing market, while their same size competitors were growing an average of 23% annually.

The response? Crickets, then visible anger. Then a plethora of reasons why this new information wouldn’t impact next quarter’s revenue hockey stick, as forecast by the CRO. I was told that Gartner, IDC, Forrester and all the others covering that market space didn’t know what they were talking about. Twelve months later their results were predictable and the CRO was gone.


What to do

If you’re a CEO, COO or CRO you must be assertively on the prowl for changes in market dynamics.

Your chief marketing officer has to be a driven change agent because it’s their job to recognize important changes in market dynamics and recommend a course of action.

My clients that grow impressively are always aware of:

  • their competitors, both new and existing
  • their strengths and weaknesses vs. their competitors
  • how to position their strengths against their competitors’ weaknesses

Be uber aware of change

It’s human nature to get complacent, especially when we think we’re special. We all need to remember that every week can deliver a new inflection point. Someone gets funded big time. Someone introduces a similar solution that’s genuinely better, or costs less. Someone goes after your customer base and does it better than you.

Here’s how I illustrate the current pace of change.

In 1990 most of us weren’t using presentation software, like PowerPoint. We used slideshows sparingly because acetate transparencies needed to be created by the ad agency, which was time and labor intensive, and costly.

Today we create presentations in an hour for free and connect them directly to a wide screen with an HDMI port on our laptop.

That is exactly what’s happened with market dynamics. In 1990, reviews of the competition were done annually and often glossed over. Why? Because the bulk of our competitors changed very slowly, and everyone pretty much marketed the same way. That’s one reason why American manufacturers got clobbered by new competitors from Asia.

How to fix

Anyone can experience brain freeze when presented with facts counterintuitive to long held beliefs. That’s why it’s critical to challenge those beliefs at least several times a year, preferably monthly. Do it by asking these three questions in CEO meetings with sales and marketing leaders:

What moves did our existing competitors make last month?

Who entered our market space and how are they funded?

How and why should we address these new market dynamics?

If you need a new one, use our SWOT template to guide your thinking. Google Sheets

And feel free to get in touch if you need help.

Learn more about B2B competitive strategy

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Harris CMO Partners
Nashville, Tennessee, USA

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A case study in B2B go-to-market strategy

A case study in B2B go-to-market strategy

Silicon Valley company skips direct sales, focuses on partners

sales presentation best practices


DataFrameworks was a technology company with a unique solution for file management in enterprise data storage environments. A year after beginning work with Harris CMO Partners, they were acquired by DellEMC.

Here’s the story.

Founders recognized a trend

The founders recognized a growing trend in the data storage space. Rich content (sound, video and images used at the same time and place) was overwhelming enterprise IT departments with petabytes of unstructured technical data and rich media content. There was no dedicated solution for allowing end users to access and retrieve massive rich content files from storage environments.

Consequently, IT departments were overwhelmed with requests from end users to find and deliver rich content files. This was driving up the costs of storage management dramatically in companies that used these files in production. Affected industries included media and entertainment, software development, life sciences and more.

The trend was forecasted to keep growing for years.

The challenge…

Like most early stage B2B companies, DataFrameworks had a limited budget. They decided to forgo marketing except for a website. Also, they decided to forgo direct sales and focus on partnering with large OEMs in their market space. These included HGST, Quantum, DellEMC and others.

Instead, they used a small sales team to call on the OEMs. And they chose us to do the partner marketing. Selling their solution to thousands of OEM salespeople would be a lot of specialized work. DataFrameworks needed a variety of support materials created to get their new, expanded OEM sales teams up and running.


The solution…

Harris CMO Partners was hired to help. Working closely with the founders, sales and technical teams, we created architecture diagrams, solution briefs, business cases, sales presentations, sales kits, press releases, event marketing and more.

The great thing about this client was that they knew precisely the business value of their solution. “Bringing business and IT together to unlock the value of data trapped in silos.” With that, and a couple of white papers they had created early on, we went to work.

Shortly after we started working with DataFrameworks, they partnered with DellEMC. It was a perfect fit with Dell’s Isilon product line, a family of scale-out network-attached storage systems, designed for demanding enterprise file workloads.

Isilon’s sales team already had relationships with the companies DataFramework wanted to target. Now, all DataFrameworks needed to do was educate and coach the DellEMC team.

The first customers…

We decided to focus on large OEMs (like DellEMC) serving data intensive industries including media and entertainment, life sciences, oil and gas, EDA, software development, automotive and others with complex workflows.

In their first phase of sales, they focused on acquiring a handful of marquee clients. These included Disney, ESPN, Quantum, IBM, NetApp, illumina, Sony Pictures and many more.



We worked closely with both DataFrameworks and DellEMC to create the sales and marketing story, sales training and plenty of intriguing content.

Once DellEMC had the new solution firmly established as a partner offering to its existing customer base, sales materialized quickly.

The tech giant saw distinct value in acquiring DataFrameworks and completed a succesful acquisition.

DataFrameworks’ solution is currently featured in DellEMC’s Enterprise and Midmarket IT Transformation solutions.

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Location – Nashville, TN (U.S. Central Time)


Website content and all attachments are the property of Harris CMO Partners LLC  2022

Harris CMO Partners
Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Privacy Policy

Will The Dogs Like the Dog Food?

Will The Dogs Like the Dog Food?

Discovering product/market fit

Your product/market fit will determine whether you grow fast, slow or not at all. Remember, a B2B product or service exists for only two reasons:

  • saves time
  • saves money

You must prove to yourself and your investors that your idea will fly in the marketplace. But the typical Catch-22 is that you don’t have a ton of money for formal market research.

You don’t need it. Use these no/low cost techniques to determine your product/market fit, before you open the vault to develop it.

Why am I doing this?

  1. To see your product’s value from your prospects’ standpoint.
  2. To hear what your salespeople will hear.
  3. To learn how to align your new concept with the marketplace.

Remember that business is a social process

The first thing to understand (and many people don’t) is that business is a social process. To do this successfully you’ll be spending the bulk of your time talking with people…not staring at a laptop screen.

If this provokes anxiety you’re in good company. Many people are hesitant to reach out to strangers. If you take the plunge, however, you’ll find it gets much easier as you go along.


Do this first

Work through the following 5-point strategy model first. Just apply what you already know, or strongly suspect, is true about the market. Support each assumption with whatever market information you have on hand.

  1. What are the trends in my industry?
  2. What’s driving the trends?
  3. What are we doing about the trends?
  4. What are our competitors doing about the trends?
  5. What should we be doing about the trends to grow revenue and profits?

Now you have a baseline.

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Location – Nashville, TN (U.S. Central Time)


Website content and all attachments are the property of Harris CMO Partners LLC  2022

Harris CMO Partners
Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Privacy Policy