Learning from the competition is often an exercise that begins at the very start of a business’ journey. It’s included in the SWOT analysis and a more detailed competitor analysis. But, in fact, regularly tracking what your competitors are doing should be a recurring exercise.
For salespeople, tracking your competitors will give you the perfect ammunition to counter-attack if you face losing a client to them. While your competitors are often seen as the enemy, instead, try to learn from them – how do they work, who do they target, what industries are they approaching, and are they doing something you are missing?
Here are three things you should be tracking to get some valuable insights from.
1. Competitor customer wins
Within your CRM, you should include a property that can be marked as ‘using competitor X’, so at any given stage you can pull a list of all the prospect companies you have that are with a specific competitor. Do that so if there are any opportunities to target them, such as if the competitor is struggling to meet their needs, then you can do so easily.
Every time your sales team either speaks to a prospect and gets told they use the competitor, or you see a customer win on the competitor’s social media or website (these should both be monitored) then update the property in your CRM. On the flip side, if you feel like targeting prospects who are using a specific competitor is a waste of time, you can exclude those from your calling and email lists as well.
2. Prospect reasons to choose a competitor over you
Additionally, if you lose a deal to a competitor, you want to know why. Create another property in your CRM with a few drop downs of the regular reasons you’d lose a deal and make sure your team updates them when a deal gets lost. Over time, that will give you critical insights to address – is it the product, is it the pricing point, is it the service, is it the sales pitch or relationship.
Every time you lose a deal, learn something from it. Find out why the prospect chose the competitor over you, and use that information wisely to better position yourself next time. Track the trends over time.
3. Where your competitors play the game
Every business needs to make sales and if your business is struggling a bit, get inspiration from your competitors. Look at where they are playing the game – the channels they are using, the tools they have implemented, the industries they are targeting, and how they are doing it.
If at any stage you notice, for instance, competitor A has suddenly started increasing their LinkedIn presence, ask yourself why and think about what you can do to counter it. Additionally, if you see a competitor starting to target prospects with digital ads, you should probably be doing the same.
Keep a document of competitor activities to track them, and if you see a correlation at any stage then you know you’re missing out on an opportunity.
4. Identifying opportunities and insights
It’s all about learning things from your competitors. Even if you think your competitors are useless compared to your business, you should still monitor the three above things in case you suddenly start hearing about lost deals or stolen customers.
Never underestimate the competition and respect what they do. Even if you think you can’t learn anything from them, it’s still a useful exercise to keep on top of who their customers are, what outreach channels they are using, and why they’re winning deals.