If you want your salespeople to beat the competition, they need to fully understand who they’re up against.
A competitor analysis is a critical part of your business strategy and something that each of your reps should be comfortable doing on a regular basis.
By evaluating your industry as a whole—and the players within it—you’ll be able to:
- Clearly identify what makes your company, product, or service unique
- Spot future competitors early and prevent them from encroaching on your customers
- Determine the sales and marketing strategy that makes the most sense for your company
Coach Your Sales Reps to Gather Competitive Intelligence
An effective competitor analysis doesn’t need to be complicated. To gather competitive intelligence, your reps can research direct competitors (and emerging, potential competitors) by using search engines and tools such as Hoovers.
They can also simply talk to customers and prospects to gather data. Any insight your reps can uncover will be helpful to develop your competitive strategy, but coach them to investigate the answers to these 5 questions:
1. Who are your direct competitors and how is your brand different?
Have your sales reps begin by listing out who they’re competing against directly. Then, they can explore where your company’s competitive advantage lies.
This can be done by listing out the strengths and weaknesses of your own brand, and the brands you’re up against in the marketplace.
Being able to differentiate yourself from the competition will allow your reps to compete on more than just price. It’s important that you work with your team to understand your true strengths and differentiators, so your reps can confidently convey to prospects and customers why they should do business with you.
Without differentiation, the lowest-priced provider will often prevail.
2. What new competitors have entered the marketplace in the past three years?
This answer may give rise to a growing market segment that has potentially been underserved in your industry.
A new way of doing business may have been developed by these upstart competitors and they are able to capitalize on their innovative approach to the market.
If they’re winning business, it’s possible that your market still has room for growth. You’ll want to be vigilant, however, so that they don’t swoop in on your customer base.
Taking a look at emerging or potential competitors will give your sales team insight into why they’re gaining ground, and which of their strategies might benefit your company as well.
3. What kind of marketing strategy does the competition have?
Knowing the message your competition is consistently communicating to the marketplace will allow you to prepare your own unique marketing messages in a way that keeps you elevated above them.
Are they touting benefits that you have but aren’t conveying? Are there gaps in their messaging that you can take advantage of?
An in-depth analysis of your competition’s marketing materials can clue you in even further to the competitive advantage that your brand can claim as its own.
4. Why have your customers chosen you over the competition?
This is a very basic question that many sales organizations fail to investigate. Make it routine for your sales reps to conduct a win analysis after every successful sale they make—focusing on why the customer chose your company over the competition.
On the flip side, a postmortem analysis can also uncover valuable information on your weaknesses and growth opportunities.
Don’t just ask new customers why they’ve chosen to work with you. Have your reps ask long-time customers why they enjoy partnering with you as well.
Let your customers talk, and be thankful for every insight they give you.
5. What market segments will provide you with home-field advantage?
It’s far easier to win when you have the home-field advantage.
Work with your sales team to identify the segments you already have a strong presence in over the competition, and hone in on that target market.
You also should evaluate which market segments your competition has a stronghold on, and work to identify untapped markets you have the best chance of penetrating.
These questions are designed to provide your sales team with a framework for understanding your strengths and weaknesses as compared to those of your competitors.
Understanding where you can differentiate relieves pressure to lower prices when the competition is stiff. Find what makes your brand unique, and use that advantage to build value in the eyes of your customers and prospects.
If you’re looking to help your sales team build value, outsell the competition, and master negotiation techniques, the Sales Negotiation Training Program is a great option. Learn more and request an info packet here.