5 Best Ways to Gather Competitive Intelligence in the Sales Environment

BY Tim Londergan
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In our eighth-​grade summer, my friend and neighbor, Jim, started his lawn mowing business. His goal: save enough to buy a used truck in just three seasons when he could ultimately obtain his driver's license. With limited resources and a territory restricted by meager transportation Jim made the most of competitive intelligence.

First, he followed up with each customer to assure they were pleased with his performance, AND he asked for referrals. Next, he noted who was cutting lawns in the neighborhood and approached the homeowners to weigh his services. Finally, he contacted DIYers to convert them to regulars, especially if they were adjacent to his current customers.

Jim was keen on communication; his calendar noted client’s preferences, their vacations and when they planned landscaping projects. His strength was lawn care, and he stayed in his lane, avoiding the temptation to offer additional services. By the end of our sophomore summer, Jim was able to expand his territory with a rough, yet reliable, F‑150.

Competitive Intelligence Helps You Understand Your Market and Your Competitors

How well you know your strengths and weaknesses and the demand of your market is crucial to your ultimate strategy. In a 6‑minute read, Katie Woods, offers a wide-​ranging guide for marketers investigating competitive strategies.

1. Focus ONLY on your top competitors and ONLY on your areas of interest – For instance: is it pricing, product or promotion you’re investigating? Further, narrow your efforts to just two or three of your challengers.

Woods reminds us: “Your top competitor is who your ideal customer would choose if they didn’t choose you.” Specifically, “…your main competition isn’t the largest business overall. It’s the immediate threat to you.”

2. Data Rules; Guessing Drools — The author suggests tracking your competitors’ social media postings, discerning their email strategy and critically scrutinizing their published content. Keeping tabs on your competitors helps you see pricing changes, marketing campaigns and new product launches. Competitive intelligence helps you map your next move, allowing you to stay on offense.

Take Advantage of Competitor Intelligence Tools 

Tools and software that salespeople can use may include:

SalesCred PRO: A competitive intelligence research tool that provides real-​time pre-​marketing research on prospects and clients. In addition, the tool shows exclusive buyer behavior data and deep insights on your prospects' customers.

Crayon​.co: Provides intelligence for sales teams with win-​loss analysis, competitive battle cards, and other features.

SparkToro​.com: An audience analysis tool to understand who's following your competitors and identify the overlap of the audience.

3. A Deeper Dive — Gathering insight from review websites is compelling. Consider the value of customer feedback on your competitors' products: both their pain points and their satisfaction are precious discernments. Forearmed with a competitive intelligence report, you can adjust your sales pitch based on competitor claims and weaknesses.

Additionally, studying product reviews can reveal weaknesses ripe for exploitation. If you identify features or aspects that have escaped your prospect’s recognition, you enhance your value and credibility.

Develop a Culture of Information Gathering and Step Outside the Box

4. A Culture of Competitive Intelligence — By introducing this concept into your organization, every team member in each department can benefit from competitor intelligence research. Informed team members will make better, more focused decisions across the board. Set aside time for each member to share competitive information and its impact. 

5. Outshine Your Competition – My friend, Jim was determined. His territory was defined, his prospects were limited, yet his modest objective was attained. His approach to business, if unconventional, was effective for his goals.

In Jim’s business environment he stood out from his competitors, created experiences for his customers and ultimately outshined his rivals. Competitive intelligence was only one of his attributes, but it sustained his business as he pursued his goals.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels​.com.