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
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?
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
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
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
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