How Studying Your Competition Could Lead to More Sales
In today’s crowded market, it’s easy to see your competitors as, well, competition. When we think of it in terms like this, an opposing view surfaces almost instantly—the notion that only one person or company can be victorious, while someone else has to lose, is hard to shake.
But the reality is, competition actually does more good for your business than bad. For starters, it validates the market’s need for your product or service. Plus, it gives consumers options so they’re not pigeonholed into working with just one provider.
Think of it this way: In 1954, James McLamore and David R. Edgerton opened their first Burger King in Miami, Florida. Imagine their reaction when the golden arches moved into the marketplace a mere four months later.
Although the first McDonald’s opened up several hundred miles away in Des Plaines, Illinois, I’m sure Burger King execs viewed this as direct competition. After all, how many other quick hamburger restaurants existed at the time?
Fast forward to today and these two giants are still battling to make money simultaneously, even though more competition has flourished around them. While they both offer a similar product, competition hasn’t stopped either company from getting to where they are now.
How can two similar companies be so successful at the same time?
Despite the fact that the products are so alike, customers still have a preference for one brand over the other. You probably have a preference for either Pepsi or Coca Cola. Samsung and Apple customers are in the same boat.
So what’s the key takeaway here? Competition is always going to exist. Instead of fighting it, it’s time to learn from your supposed rivals and show your potential customers why you’re the better fit for them.
That’s exactly what we’ll be showing you in today’s article. By the end, you’ll see why studying your competition will help you increase your close rate.
Identify Your Competition First
Before you can study your competition, you have to identify who it is you’re actually competing with. Are you competing with large agencies across the globe, or are you brushing elbows with smaller companies in a local radius?
It’s important to compare apples to apples here. So if you’re representing a small company, it won’t make sense to compare your offerings to those of a much larger one. After all, you won’t have the same budget or resources and by comparing yourself to them, you’re only limiting how much you can realistically tackle.
Make a list of your closest competitors and narrow down this selection to no more than three companies for time’s sake. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to investigate.
Do Your Homework
Next, spend some time learning about your competition. To do this right, you’ll need to get into the mindset of a potential customer. You don’t want to use what you know to grade your competitor on what they’re doing correctly (or incorrectly). Try to see things as if you were an unbiased customer without any prior knowledge or experience.
Now, walk yourself through the sales process as if you were in the market to buy. Start with a Google search and then browse the websites that come up in the top third of the results page, since this is how a customer usually begins their research.
Review Your Research & Position Your Brand Accordingly
Once you’ve gathered all of that intel, it’s time to step back and analyze the results.
Ask yourself: What is my competition doing differently? What are they focused on? What are they doing right? What else can I/we be doing better?
Instead of one-upping your competition (you know, like offering a slightly cheaper rate for example), use this information to give your company a competitive advantage.
Be honest and ask yourself how (not if) you could convey your value better or even more than you already have been. Maybe that’s in the form of explaining your process upfront so your customers know what to expect. Or maybe you just need a few more (or updated) testimonials to solidify why customers should choose your brand over your competition.
The more you understand what’s drawing customers to choose another company over yours, the better you’ll be able to position yourself as exactly what your target customer is looking for.
Improve Your Sales Pitch
Many of us get stuck in a rut of using the same ol’ stale sales pitch for months at a time. If this sounds like you, make this the time to change things up!
Using all of the research you’ve acquired from your competition, create a new-and-improved sales pitch that encompasses the benefits your company already offers over its competition. Identify a new angle — even if it’s one that your competitor might already be using — and take it a step further.
Now, to be clear, you’re not replicating their exact strategy, rather, you’re crafting your own unique version using what you’ve uncovered to position your company as a better value or experience for potential customers.
Combining your research with a little creativity will make handling objections a breeze. Anytime an objection comes up, highlight what makes you stand out from your competitor without putting them down.
Let’s go back to our earlier example:
Burger King positioned themselves as the “Have it your way” kind of burger joint, whereas McDonald’s is more focused on delivering their burgers as-is. However, you’ll never hear Burger King advertise that they offer more customization than McDonald’s because McDonald’s does offer this option, albeit on a smaller scale. Instead, Burger King chooses to highlight this as a benefit so many people associate them solely with this advantage.
Find your “have it your way” difference and position it as your unique selling point anytime an objection comes up. You’ll already know what your competitors are doing differently thanks to your homework.
Close the Deal Without Being Catty
There’s a fine line between calling out your competition and using what you’ve learned to position yourself as the right choice. We don’t want you getting ahead by putting down your competition.
Never bring up your competitor in a negative light. Calling them “the other guys” or making statements such as “We don’t operate like that” is never a good idea and comes across as lacking confidence in your product or service.
Focus on the positives of your brand.
Instead of saying:
“Those guys use outdated methods that don’t guarantee results. We continue to improve our methods in order to stay up-to-date and deliver results better than they ever could.”
“Our team is always learning new ways to improve and update our methods. We’ve been doing this for over 10 years and we’re firm believers in constant evolution.”
Your customers will see this more favorably than if you were to point out the flaws of your competition. Plus, you’re basically saying the same thing without explicitly getting catty. Customers appreciate professional business courtesies like this.
As you can see, your competition isn’t all that bad. If you study what they’re doing right and take your angle a step further, you’ll be able to improve your sales pitch, handle objections like a pro, and position your brand as the best option. Remember, you’re not just replicating or one-upping their strategies. You’re showing potential customers why your brand is the right choice.