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How do you gather information about competitors?

how gather competitive intelligence

The only thing more important than keeping your finger on the pulse of customer and employee sentiment is maintaining a thorough understanding of the competitive landscape. Your customers may be pleased, and your employees may be engaged – but if a competitor generates enough buzz, both may be at risk for defection. Therefore, it’s vital to find ways to establish a continuous stream of feedback about your competitors so you can maintain the visibility necessary to protect your business from potential encroachment.

Many of our clients have found that a formal Sales Win Loss Program and Customer Defection/Churn Analysis are each valuable endeavors to understand the competitive landscape. That’s because individuals who have recently evaluated your offering compared to others have fresh perspectives on your company’s value proposition versus those of your competitors. Soliciting those insights often proves to be an immensely valuable exercise.

Want to learn more about these specific programs? Read more here:

Outsmarting the Competition

Our senior consultants have conducted hundreds of Sales Win Loss phone interviews and Customer Churn phone interviews on behalf of our clients. Each time, we’ve learned something new and interesting about our client’s competitors – everything from overall market perception, to pricing strategies, to how they sell against them.

For example, I recently prepared a Sales Win Loss interview report for a large SaaS client after they won a meaningful deal. They always found themselves competing against another major player and wanted to identify new points of differentiation to stave off the competition.

However, during our interview with the decision maker, we discovered that the main competitor was not seriously considered with this buyer. Instead, it was a new startup that proved to be the most intriguing competitor, which might serve as an early warning sign that this upstart could be gaining mindshare and market share.

Advantages of Knowing Your Competition

Because of our deep understanding of this client’s business, the Satrix senior consultant went “off script” to collect information they knew would be valuable to the client. Specifically, we learned three key findings about this new competitor that we shared with the client:

  • The nature of the competitor’s demonstration was such that they remained abstract when answering questions and couldn’t show how their product would perform in several specific use cases. Comparably, our client had performed considerably better in this phase than the new competitor.
  • The competitor’s configuration was perceived as more difficult and rigid than our client’s.
  • The competitor was not able to interface/integrate with two specific software applications that this prospect uses.

Armed with this information (and feedback from several other interviews), our client has an improved understanding of where their product sits in the marketplace in relation to other competitors, and they know more about this new threat and how they can continue to win business over them.

But what if the roles were reversed? What if it was in fact our client that was lacking in these areas? In that case, they would be furnished with specific areas they can improve on.

The Value of Understanding Customer Buying Criteria

Whether you’re a market leader or new entrant to an industry, whether your company has strong customer retention or high attrition, it’s always a good idea to employ a Sales Win Loss program or Customer Defection Analysis to uncover the real reasons behind why businesses choose your company or go with the competition.

As a third party with a decade of experience interviewing prospects, new customers, and recently churned customers, we’re able to uncover some truly helpful insights. This includes perceptions of how our clients fit within the marketplace with regard to the sales process, price, service, and solution.

Additional benefits of partnering with a third party:

  • Less bias: It is unlikely that you can point to someone internally who doesn’t have skin in the game in either (A) selecting who to speak with, (B) what to ask, or (C) how to analyze the feedback.
  • We offer a “safe place”: A third party can be a more comfortable outlet for your constituents to offer open and candid feedback.
  • Expert questioning: As a third party who is dedicated to this work, we’ve learned how to probe to garner the most useful information, while remaining respectful of all parties involved. The top-of-mind response to certain questions is rarely the full story. It’s important to have a skilled interviewer who knows how to uncover kernels of truth below the surface.

Beyond that, the actual interview program itself signals to prospects, new customers, and churned customers that you care about improvement and value their perspective. This builds considerable goodwill during times that your competition comes after your business, and one major signal that you are establishing a culture of excellence for your customers is that they come directly to you when competitors reach out.

In the end, keeping a pulse on these unique constituents uncovers insights that are crucial to the long-term success of your business, thereby enabling you to improve your products and services to outperform your competition.