To know them is to love them…well, perhaps not love, but certainly to know them is to understand how to beat them. This week, the news is full of hurricanes and storms and sometimes fending off your competition can feel like sheltering from a hurricane in a paper tent. So how do you combat such a threat?
Knowing your competition allows you to maximise your own strengths and reduce any limitations that are giving your competitor a winning advantage. This is the knowledge that lets you compete at the top of your game and build a successful business. Just the same as knowing how fierce a hurricane is, and the path it will follow, allows you to minimise your risk to life, limb and property.
But how do you get to know your competitors? Research. Research. Research. Your company probably has a lot of material into the public domain to attract customers and your competitors will do the same. Investigate their websites, ask your customers, use Google. These are valuable resources for building a picture of your close competition. In addition, don’t forget to ask your salespeople. They’re on the front line and are in direct contact with your customers and sometimes your competitors, it’s a natural fit for them to take on the role of information gatherers. You might consider including collecting competitor intelligence as a KPI to ensure your salespeople understand how important it is and what an impact it can have on your company’s success. Once you have the information, share it with everyone in your business. All departments need to be able to match any new developments in the market to protect your market share.
It is vital to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and compare their offerings to your own products. You may be able to identify gaps in the market that would be easy for you to fill. For example, if your research showed a competitor was performing poorly with post-sales service, you could step up your own post sales service offering to create an additional selling point.
It’s also a good idea to understand how the market is evolving and what is driving the change. Are there new developments, technological or otherwise and how are customers responding? Is the market expanding, declining or remaining steady?
When you’ve got information from as many sources as possible, you should have enough ammunition to build your Battle Cards. Battle Cards are your cheat sheets giving you the set of criteria by which you can measure your performance and products against your direct competition. They are a useful tool for your salespeople and you should have one for each of your major competitors. The Battle Card is similar to, but goes beyond a SWOT analysis, by detailing the relative strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ products in addition to profiling their activities and market positioning and comparing it directly with your own. The Battlecard allows you to see how each of your competitors stack up against your product offerings in the market and will highlight ways in which they can be countered or exploited.
Sales is a super competitive arena and the sales function is the engine of your business. It doesn’t matter how your sales team operates or the size of your business, lack of knowledge will make it difficult to plan how to position your company to beat your competition. The more knowledge you share with your sales people, the more ammunition you’re giving them to win a greater share of the market. Creating Battlecards that show what your competitors are doing, how they operate, what their products are and how they compare with yours is the key to maximizing your market share. It’s not about working harder, it’s about working smarter.