2 strategies to beat your competition with “big company thinking”

For someone looking to grow your business sales, competition is a key thing to keep in mind. There are always alternatives for your customers – and this is a sales fact. However much you differentiate and have uniqueness in your products and services, you know (and expect) that your customer will always ask to compare your quote to a competitor’s.
Now, you’ve been doing this for a long time, and you know that customer relationships matter when they are making a choice. So, you woo them with your services and support and show how you have their back. This is good; however, your competitor is doing the exact same thing. They too are trying to woo your customer with their kind of service and support and their relationships. So, what can we do to overcome this? Just embrace it and do our best? Absolutely not!

Sometimes your company’s strengths can quickly turn into weaknesses.

For example, a small and seemingly unimportant rival might figure out how to use your firm’s size against you. They may tell your customer that you are too small or that you can’t support them 24/7 or that they are providing bigger and better warranties or that they will give “money back” if the customer is not absolutely satisfied. You too may be doing the same against your competition when you get your prospective customer on the phone. So, if this battle continues between you and your competition in the eyes of the customer, it only leads to the customer’s indecision (let me think about it) or inaction (let me not do anything now). Every one of us in sales has seen this happen, sometimes even every day now.

Here’s an exercise to help you look for threats and opportunities where you hadn’t realized they exist. Rest assured that big companies do this continuously. Of course they have teams of people whose job is to do this every day. That doesn’t mean you don’t! Regardless of how small or large you are, and which industry you belong to, getting the better of your competition is not a “hope” or a “battle” or thinking “we are better because of this and that.” For this to work, the customer needs to know that your “this and that” is what they need and that you are the only one who can do it for them at that time.

“Here’s a powerful secret – You can always think like a big company and apply their best practices to your business: same as looking to improve yourself by learning from the best”
Strategy 1: Divide your employees (especially those in sales and customer support, who are in the front lines) into two teams. Ask the first team to list your company’s strengths and second team to list weaknesses. Then have the teams swap lists. Ask the second team to tell you if the strengths are actually threats to the organization’s future, and first team to argue that the weaknesses are opportunities. Next, do the same thing with your competitors: Ask the first team to list the strengths it sees in your competition, and second team the weaknesses. Again, have the teams swap lists and make the counterarguments. If you feel you are not getting the right details you need, you can always ask someone from the outside (a consultant, even your own customer).
Strategy 2: Ask someone in your team (who is not in sales) or you yourself (as an owner/ operator), to be a mystery shopper. This means that they are going to pretend to be a customer and actually call your competition (using another phone number) and learn what they have to offer for the exact thing that you are in business for. Selecting someone who is not in sales is important because you want an unbiased, neutral opinion about “what you need to hear” and not “what you want to hear”. Further, you not only want to know what your competition has to offer but you also want to know how you (as a mystery customer) get treated by them during the sales process.
If this makes you cringe, let me assure you that you should not have to. Haven’t you yourself had situations where someone goes to Macy’s or Target to check something out and then, right from that store, you open amazon and check out the pricing difference? This is no different from that. And, just to be in the up-and-up, mystery shopping is a studied science that people do and research as a career. Many large companies actually do this to keep ahead of their competitors. And, if you are interested, there are lots of other ways to do mystery shopping and get tons of info on what your competition is doing. Check out this article from Harvard Business Review.

The goal of the above exercises is to open your, and your employees’ eyes to new possibilities — and create guardrails against competition.

Studying them and knowing about them before your customer does will not only help keep you honest in the customers’ eyes but also guard against things that could mean trouble for your company. This is a super critical exercise that you must do at least twice a year (every 6 months). Large companies do this every quarter, believe me. And there are tons of small and large consulting companies who actually would do this for you easily. They would even go to the extent of being that mystery shopper, on your behalf!

  Wednesday, October 01, 2021       Blog