Do you perform better when you feel there is competition? The answer is yes. A runner can be expected to finish a 5k race (~3.1 miles) 25 seconds faster on average if a rival is running against them. And let’s be honest, there is always going to be competition no matter what you attempt.
Having a comprehensive understanding of your competition and how they sell against you is a critical foundation to successful strategic selling and marketing. How can you effectively communicate your unique selling proposition and value if you have no idea what your competition is saying? Well, you really can’t!
There are three levels of competitive awareness that you need to… well, be aware of. The first is product knowledge competitive awareness. Can you explain in detail how and why your product or services outperform your competitors? If you can’t, you are in trouble. Do some research ASAP and increase your competitive information collection efforts. Knowledge is power! The more information that you and your team are armed with then the more power and competitive advantage you can gain. Check out their brochures, websites, trade show booths, what is said about them in the news and blogs. You can also ask clients who decided to buy from your competition over you. Don’t be shy! Even though you lost the sale, you have hopefully established trust and credibility with your prospective customer that they will share when asked.
The second level is pricing knowledge competitive awareness. This is all about how aware you are of your competition’s pricing and discounting strategies. Can you accurately identify what a customer is paying for the competition’s products? What are their current usage levels? There is a lot to consider here – discounts, promotions, package deals and even more creative ways to manipulate price. Can you predict how far your competition is willing to go to close the deal?
The third and final level of competitive awareness has to do with messaging. This causes the most challenges by far. Do you really understand what your competition is saying when selling against you? Most of us have a strong awareness of the product, a slightly strong awareness of the pricing, but what is the competition really saying?
The first thing you and your team should try to pump up competitive awareness is to have an open discussion about these ideas. Get the whole team together and really dive right into it. This should be a regular part of any team meetings, each member is equally important in contributing ideas and discovering new information about the competition.
When you seek out more information from external sources, be professional and persuasive. There is no time or place where it is right to get negative dirt on your competitors. You only need ask positive questions to learn as much as possible about what they are doing right.
You can really only communicate your marketing message effectively if you are aware of what others are saying. When you increase your competitive awareness, you can create an even better and more unique value for your customers. And isn’t that what we all want?
How do you stay competitively aware? Leave me a comment below!