Having spent years as a competitive strategist, I have a deep understanding for what we need to know about our competitors in order to outsell them again and again.
There are three levels of competitive intelligence. The first includes our competitor’s company—their size, locations, financial situation, reputation, etc. That’s all available on their website. The second level covers the competition’s products and services. Strengths are found on their website as well. The weaknesses are harder to come by. But with a network of customers, business partners, other sales reps, and a bit of ongoing research on the Internet, we can stay up with the challenges our competitors are having with what they sell.
For me, the real value is in understanding that third level—how the competitor’s sales people sell. Only a small percentage of sales reps think about this, even though the competitor’s selling capabilities directly and significantly impact those reps’ income and careers.
Can you imagine a professional athlete going into competition without having completely studied, under the direction of coaches and consultants, and employing video footage, every move, nuance, strength, and weakness of the opponent? Hard to imagine, right?
I know that in most companies those chartered to support the sales effort don’t provide much help regarding this third, and most important level of competitive information. So sales people need to have their consciousness raised about the value of this information. And gathering it must become part of what they do every day.
Ideally, here is just some of the information we need to know about the sales reps who are competing against us in our most important opportunities:
Here are some additional questions for sales leaders:
Dave Stein is CEO and Founder of ES Research Group, Inc. ESR is an independent research, advisory, and consulting firm that focuses on sales training programs and the companies that provide them. Read more at Dave Stein’s blog and ESR’s website. Follow Dave on Twitter at @davestei.
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