In my recent post, I discussed the in-depth market analysis you’ll share with company leadership. Naturally, this report’s information is too sensitive to be shared with everyone. In this post I’ll discuss the narrative competitive analysis. You’ll share this with customer service, the sales team, and others with face-to-face customer contact.
Build a Competitive Analysis Specifically for Customer-Facing Teams
Those who deal directly with customers need competitive profiles created specifically for their needs. Knowing about competitors helps your sales staff deal most effectively with objections in the sales process. A point-in-time competitor profile can fulfill this need. Competitive profiles can be used to quickly get new team members up to speed and ready for the field.
Elements of a Useful Point-in-Time Competitive Profile
There are 12 elements in a point-in-time competitive analysis profile:
- Competitor’s name
- History of the organization
- Business model and revenues
- Estimated client levels (overall and by product)
- Detailed analysis of product/service offerings and stated benefits
- Recent developments
Sure, it takes time to build such an analysis of each competitor. However, the help it provides is well worth the effort. Plus you’ll be surprised at the information you can gather rather easily. Be sure to check these resources first:
- Competitors’ annual reports
- Company websites
- Press releases
- Social media
- Win/loss analyses
Also be sure to check out Hoovers, a source of information on industries, companies, and corporate executives.
What to Include in the Organizational History
Pay close attention to how the competitor describes itself on its website and in literature. When was it founded? What changes has the company experienced since inception? You’ll probably find these answers in the annual report and on the company’s website.
What to Learn About the Competitor’s Business Model
Is the company privately or publicly held? Is the competitor solely focused on your market or is it part of a larger organization? Can you determine the annual revenue? Revenue figures will be easier to locate if the company is publicly held.
Finding the Mission and Vision
The company mission should be presented on the company website. Regarding the vision, consider what it is focused on, how far it reaches, and what it implies. How does the company stack up to its vision at the current time? Are steps described that will help them fulfill their vision? Is the vision for three, five or 10 years?
Identifying the Competitive Strategy and the Client Numbers
To find your competitor’s strategy, try to review investor presentations. Information can also be found on the website and even in press releases. To find what your competitor says about their client numbers, check out information available in the public domain. Be aware that methods used to calculate these numbers can lead to inflated estimations. Pay special attention to who’s listed as key customers.
Partnership, Positioning, Products, and Pricing
What partnerships do your competitors flaunt? Are these partners strategic, channel, marketing relationships, or something else? It helps if you can determine what needs these partners meet. This information also gives you a view of what the company sees as its weak areas.
Next consider how the competitor positions itself and its products. Succinctly describe each product. What are the products’ capabilities? What does your competitor highlight? How do your own products compare to the competition’s? What have you discovered that will help your sales team in the sales process?
To discover your competitor’s pricing, listen closely to your own customers. You may get hints about the pricing from them. You may also find pricing information in the public domain. Tread lightly if using information not found in the public domain. To do otherwise could lead to a lawsuit.
Lastly, note any recent developments with the competition. Is there a new CEO, a refreshed strategy, or a new product?
In my next post, I’ll discuss how to use the information you’ve gathered to best help your customer-facing team members.