Understanding your competition

Over the past week or so I have covered three important components of a sales pursuit strategy:

2/14/2020     Key contacts and their roles

2/18/2020     Mapping the customer’s decision process

2/21/2020     Customer decision criteria

This article focuses on understanding your competitors and what they may be doing.   Learning about your competitor’s approach to the opportunity is another critical perspective that should guide your pursuit effort.

Who are your competitors?

Large opportunities may attract a variety of competitors and a larger number of them than you are used to seeing.  When you are thinking about who is competing for the same deal remember there are different kinds of competitors including:

  • Similar capabilities
    • Geographic coverage
    • Depth of resources
    • Breadth of solutions
    • Experience with solutions
  • Partial alignment of capabilities
    • Focus on specific cities
    • Resources are specialized in certain areas (deeper than yours?)
    • Narrower set of solutions
    • More experience in areas of specialization?
  • Indirect competitors
    • Subcontractor to some of the above competitors (e.g. your internal Financial Services organization vs. a competitor that uses a third party leasing organization)
  • Doing nothing
    • Customers considering continuing with their current approach can be a huge challenge…do NOT underestimate this “competitor”.
    • Great qualifying question…What happens if nothing changes?

What do you need to know about your competition?

You will want to understand your competitors as well as you understand your own company.  Critical information includes the following:

  • Strategy they are most likely to focus on:
    • Ease of doing business (if they are the incumbent)
    • Value
    • Return on Investment
    • Ease of transition to new solution
    • Pricing
  • Who inside the customer are they working with?
    • Level(s) of customer management they work closely with
    • Their coaches
    • Key contacts that favor/do not favor their solution
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses

Leverage your coaches and co-workers

Coaches inside your customer will be great sources of guidance.  Proactively take care of these relationships before you are pursuing large deals.  Remember that others in your organization that are in contact with your customer may be able to gather valuable competitive information from their contacts.