How are you different compared with your competitors?


How Are We Different from Our Competitors resized 600There are a number of ways to better understand this. The best way we’ve found is to conduct a comprehensive mystery shop.


What’s a mystery shop? A mystery shop is the process of measuring the buying experience your customers have with you and your competitors. 


A mystery shop focuses on a number of factors that compare you with the competition. Among them:


  1. Your market relevance
  2. Marketing’s ability to capture potential buyers
  3. How quickly your team responds to active demand
  4. The effectiveness of your sales team
  5. The effectivenss of your marketing team


You can download the Mystery Shop Scorecard here. It’s a free template to help evaluate how your company differs from the competition. In the end, you will learn one of two things about the difference between you and the competition.


  1. Your team is asleep at the switch. Your competitors are outpacing you. You are falling behind.
  2. Your competition is asleep at the switch. You have an opportunity to gain share quickly if you pounce.


If your competition does a better job in the above areas, your numbers will suffer.



A Story on Differentiation

We conducted an extensive mystery shop for a client of ours (“Acme”). The CEO felt his team was falling behind. Too many stories of losing to the competition. He knew his solution was superior, so why was he losing?  


We selected 3 competitors to shop. Below is one key finding specific to how well Acme interacted with its buyers.   


Effectiveness of the Sales Team Findings

Acme’s process for routing a new lead was to immediately pass it to a sales rep. When we engaged with the Acme rep, it was obvious we were being qualified. The rep was short, direct and awkward.


  • What is your pain point?
  • Do you have any money to solve it?
  • When are you looking to make a decision?
  • Who else will be involved?


Once the rep realized we were “just looking for some information,” he hurried to get us off the phone. We weren’t a “hot lead” and therefore not worth the time. We hung up with no further action planned.


Contrast this with competitor A. When we got on the phone with them, we were asked if the information we downloaded was helpful. We were then asked specific questions about the subject matter of the content we read.


  • I noticed you’ve looked at a few things in this area. What questions can I answer for you about this?
  • Can I offer you a couple best practices you might consider?
  • I did a little research on your company before we got on the phone. We have done some work with a few of your peers (lists A, B, C company). I have a case study you might be interested in. Would you like me to send it?
  • Is there anything else I can help you with at this point?


The call concluded with the agreement to send us some additional information. The representative scheduled a follow up the following week to discuss our additional questions. Next interaction scheduled.



Acme made several mistakes. Key among them was passing us directly to a sales rep versus a lead development rep. Once the sales rep realized we were in the early stages of evaluation, he rushed to get rid of us.


The rep actually did the right thing. Acme’s sales reps are paid to make the number, not nurture leads. We weren’t ready and should never have made it to a sales rep. The result is we “fell out of the funnel” as a lead. Marketing put the effort into getting us interested. Sales wasted the lead and no further follow-up occurred. We were out of the funnel.


Competitor A realized giving early-stage leads to sales was a mistake. They put us on the phone with a lead development rep (LDR). LDRs are focused on nurturing leads to opportunities. Before giving them to sales, they are facilitating the buyer through his journey. Non-threatening. Focused on educating the buyer. Single objective to keep the buyer engaged until ready to talk with sales. In the end, a second appointment was scheduled. We stayed in the funnel.



Through the mystery shop, Acme realized they were letting leads fall out of the funnel. They were asleep at the switch. Getting outpaced by the competition.


The CEO had money earmarked in the budget to add sales headcount. Rather than hire more reps, he decided to stand up a lead development team. This team would focus on nurturing early stage buyers. The focus was on keeping leads engaged until they were ready to buy.



Within 6 months, the sales opportunity funnel grew by 150%. Sales win rate improved 15%. LDRs were focused on delivering quality opportunities to the sales force. Field reps were engaging with buyers who were ready to act. 


Acme took learning from the competitive landscape to change its results. The CEO leveraged the mystery shop to change his investment strategy and got results.


Call to Action

Competitive advantage comes in many forms. If you’re interested in understanding how you’re different from the competition, consider a mystery shop. The Mystery Shop Scorecard can help you become the next Acme.