Competitive Intelligence

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 05-11-2007

In my early days of selling in the office towers and office complexes of uptown Charlotte I was quick to  develop certain street smarts.  Things such as who my competition was, how they go to market, their SWOT or strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Smart, street savy sales people will be far more likely to succeed in today’s marketplace and thanks to the internet there is a convenient method of research to gain market intelligence about your prospect.  This whole process involves gathering information and analyzing your competition and industry.

I wasn’t beyond “dumpster diving” in my earlier days to gain whatever competitive edge I needed.  I was hungry and needed to know everything I could about my prospects and competitors.  This less-than-enticing form of information gathering isn’t necessary today.  Instead you can probe their websites, subscribe to their newsletters and e-mail alerts, or purchase a product from them and note how you are treated in their sales process.  You can talk to their employees.  Read their marketing materials, mission statement or vision.  Discover if they are ready for expansion or shrinking.  Learn everything you can about their operations.  See how they segment themselves.  You’ll need all this information in order to differentiate yourself from your competitors and identify a niche for yourself. 

Much research can be done online about your industry and your prospects.  Read trade magazines and learn to anticipate market trends as they occur.  Be ahead of the curve and throughly research each prospect so when you make your sales call you know as much information about that company as possible and have a plan of how you can offer more value than their current supplier.  Price isn’t always the reason companies switch suppliers.  Do your homework in advance and you will gain the edge you need to make a difference and earn the business.  Ask yourself what your competition does and how you can do it better.

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