Competitors are a reality
Who are your competitors? How much do you know about them?
Do you know what they do better than you? Do you know what you do better than them? How are you viewed by prospects in relation to your competitors?
It’s easy to ignore your competitors, both direct and indirect. But it’s usually at your peril. To pretend that you’re unique and that you have no true competitors isn’t helpful.
But, neither is it helpful to become obsessed with your competitors, what they’re doing, their pricing and trying to directly compete.
Where is the happy middle ground?
Here are some guidelines for you to ensure you’re fixed in reality without being lost in comparison land:
Speak with your customers and prospects
Make it part of your regular conversations with clients and prospects to understand who else in your space they’re talking with. Find out why they’re talking to other providers in your space. Who stands out to them? What makes them stand out? Seek to understand what you would need to do to make any conversation with another provider redundant.
Understand that competitors can often be inside your client organization or prospect’s organization
Competitors aren’t always other people or organisations like yours. The ones that hurt us the most are those within our client or prospect organisations that have influence and are actively talking against you, or are actively talking for another solution. Make it an imperative to understand all of the key influencers through deeper connections, and ask the necessary questions to really understand how the internal relationships work. Know who’s who. While you may not be able to connect with the internal competitor, if you know who they are and what’s causing the behaviour, you’re in a better position to do something about it.
Understand what you do better than your competitors and why that matters to your clients and prospects
This is not for you to answer on your own. It is irrelevant what you think you do better than your competitors. What matters is what your clients and prospects think you do better than others, and why that is important to them. You can only do this by asking better questions such as: “what made you choose us over x? Why is that important to you? By delivering that to you, what impact does that have on the business/your team/your clients/your results….?
Understand what your competitor(s) do better than you, how that leaves you vulnerable, and how to combat that proactively with clients and prospects
As above. Ask questions like: “What does x do better than us? How important is that to you? What can we learn from them? If we did that better, what difference would that make for our relationship?”
Like a rearview mirror, glance regularly at your competitors but know that you’ll crash if you only look over there.
You can only ever move forward by looking ahead. But, it’s still important to learn from what’s behind you or what’s coming from the side.
Make it your business to gather insight about your competitors from a range of sources, with cleints and prospects making up the bulk of your insight gathering. It is what they perceive and believe that matters the most.
Now, go out there and sell! Be informed. Remember, it’s all about clients and prospects. Their opinion is the one that matters most.