“Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer” applies to your competition; to beat them, you need to know how they intrinsically function, their strengths and weaknesses, and how to position against them. You can do this first by researching and gathering pertinent information on your current and up-and-coming competition, then using it in your differentiation, messaging, and strategy.
This summer, dissect the competition. You can get your team actively involved, having them research the competition and return with their findings. Or you can hold a competition training day or workshop during which you review the competition together and talk about strategies to overcoming them.
What you need to know
Regardless of how you tackle this project, you need to know the following about the competition. Use this framework to create a competitive report or as we like to call it, a “battlecard”:
- The Basics: What is their background?
- Positioning: Where do they stand in the market?
- DNA: What is their mission and vision? What kind of company are they?
- Approach: How do they conduct business? What is their sales process?
- Key Clients: Who might we lure away?
- Key Offerings: What is their bread and butter?
- Capabilities: What can they do?
- Landmines Against Them: Where is their business vulnerable?
- Landmines Against Us: Where might we have trouble competing?
- How to Position and Win Against Them: What is the best way to achieve victory?
What is a landmine?
A "landmine" is a piece of information given to a prospect that is intended to cast doubt about the competition's capabilities. Landmines drive the prospect to make comparisons where one competitor rises above another. If your customer asks you a very pointed question about one of your weaknesses, there is a good chance that a competitor laid this “landmine” to discount you.
Where to find competitive intel
While you and your team may be confined to their desks, there are plenty of ways to don your spy gear and gather information about the competition. Try these steps:
- First, visit competitor websites and view them through the lens of a customer. Look at the quality of their site, how they describe themselves and their products, their customers if listed, the user journey, keywords used, and any available collateral and downloads. If they have a newsletter subscription, sign up.
- Clearly, a Google search is the next step. Look through multiple search engine pages to see if there’s any hidden information behind the first page results, and click through the news and images sections as well. You can also set up Google Alerts to get real-time updates anytime your competition is mentioned online.
- Continuously monitor LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to find out how they are using these social media channels, and what they and their customers are saying about them. Company pages often have information about employee count and background.
- For a fee, research databases (such as Hoovers) can often provide helpful, more detailed information that’s not readily available about their numbers and history.
- Flip through industry publications to see competitor’s advertisements, articles, and mentions.
- Look at job boards and employee review sites (like Glassdoor), to find out what kind of roles your competitors are trying to fill and what their employees are saying. This is telling about the internal workings of the company and upcoming initiatives they need workforce for.
- Pick up the phone and call your customers to find out what they have to say about the competition and why they selected your company over another. If you have a good rapport with them, customers are often open to sharing their competitive intel. Another way to do this is through a short online survey (best when combined with a reward for completing it!).
Losing more deals than you're winning? Unsure who the competition is, or how to get a leg up? If this sounds like you, contact SRi for a 30-minute complimentary consultation to learn how our approach can make you #1 in your space.