OUR RESEARCH PROCESS

We solicited the expertise of Jonathan Jensen, a Senior Strategic Sales Executive at Lucid Software and who has been in professional sales for 9 years (3 Years B2C; 6 Years B2B). Jonathan has closed over 600 customers in the past 9 years for over $5,000,000 in Revenue.

IF YOU REMEMBER NOTHING ELSE

  1. Invest the time to understand where you stack rank to your competitors based on your customers’ perspective.
  2. When interviewing your customers to understand their perspective do not sell them. Do not correct their perspective of you if its not accurate. This will alienate them from being honest with you on the rest of the questions. 
  3. Take notes and say thank you. If you do feel that you need to follow up with them, ask them if you can share your findings.
  4. Train you sales folks to leverage this information.Arming them with this knowledge and being able to articulate it to future customers will increase your win rate.

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A Competitor Matrix is a chart that scores your company along with your competitors on key factors that are important to your customers. Spending time in building a Competitor Matrix out will enable you and your sales reps to:

  • Build your sales and messaging strategy
  • Identify areas where you excel compared to your competition
  • Identify areas where your competitors excel compared to you

With this knowledge you can work to improve your product/service as well as prepare for conversations with your clients (who are undoubtedly shopping around).


Key Factors
Best Practices
Critical Success Factors
  • Start by interviewing your customers.
    • What criteria did they use when determining who to buy from?
  • Aggregate this data from many customers into a list of Critical Success Factors.
    • Be sure to ask them about factors they consider regardless of your specific product. You need to know where your product falls short too. This list may include, but should not entirely be composed of features/capabilities of the product, quality, price, ongoing support/warranty, etc.
Weight
  • Once your customer has told you what success factors they consider, ask them to stack rank them.
  • Have your customers assign a weight to each of the items.
    • You need to know how your customers perceive and weigh these items, not how you yourself would do it (you are biased).
Rating
  • While it might be intimidating to ask your customer to score you relative to your competitors, you should have them do it: they might point out areas where your competitors are better.
  • Take customer feedback back to your team and look for ways to improve.
Score & Total Score
  • Once you’ve gathered all of this information (which will likely take you some time), aggregate it all into a very easy-to-digest visual.
  • Unless you have a huge number of competitors, this should distill down to a 1 page chart.
  • You can also build out full profiles (sometimes called “Battle Cards”) that deep dive into an individual competitor.
  • See example below
  • What does my product/service do for you? What about Competitor A’s? Competitor B’s? (etc.) What do these products solve for you? (each product specifically?)
  • When comparing different products/vendors what are the criteria you use to determine who you select? 
    • Quality
    • Speed to Implementation
    • Buying Experience
    • Ongoing Support/Warranty
    • User Experience
    • Cost
    • Etc.
  • Can you stack rank those criteria from most important to least important?
  • For this stack ranked list of criteria, how much weight in the decision does your first criteria hold? The second? Third? (etc.)
  • For each criteria, can you stack rank the solutions (competitors) from best to worse.
  • If pricing and other information for your competition are private, you can look to third party reviews to understand relative cost. Depending on your business/space, there is bound to be some type of review board/comment board out there somewhere. 
  • You might find someone who has reviewed your competitors in a blog, or you might find news articles describing your competitors’ strengths/weaknesses.
  • Depending on the product you offer and the price point, it might make sense to purchase a product/license from your competitors to try it out yourself.
  • Don’t forget that you can ask your customers about pricing and relevant information.
  • Interview your customers as well as prospects that chose a competitor over your solution.
    • Have someone who isn’t in sales do the interview (they’re less likely to lead the customer to say your solution is the best). 
  • Explain to the customer that brutally honest feedback is crucial for what you want to learn. 
    • When you hear the feedback (positive and negative) don’t respond, don’t counter argue: just take notes and continue to probe until you understand. This is not a selling moment, this is not the time to win over the customer. 
  • Thank them for the understanding they’ve provided. 

Learning about your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses is crucial for your success. You can potentially: 

  1. Make changes to your product/service
  2. Make changes in your pricing (not just lower, you might be able to charge more if you see your offering is valued higher by customers in the market)
  3. Make adjustments in overall strategy and how your sales reps sell

Improvements to your sales messaging can help you take market share from the very competitors that you are learning about. Good sales closers, early on in the journey with a prospect always approach the topic of alternate solutions in one way or another. To consistently close business over your competitors, it is imperative that your sales reps are in control of the narrative around your competitive landscape. Some questions that top sales people ask:

  • What other solutions are you [the prospect] considering?
  • Why are you considering them? 
  • What have you learned about those alternate solutions so far? 
  • What criteria will you use to stack rank the different solutions? How do you stack rank my solution to the alternate solutions so far?

With this understanding, an effective sales rep can provide the relevant information about your product/service to satisfy the criteria that your prospect is looking for. The rep can also plant seeds of how your solution is more effective than the competition. 

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Almanac Template | Competitive profile matrix