By masterfully blending strategy and execution, the world’s top growth leaders consistently outpace their competition and their industries in revenue expansion. It starts with picking the right strategy: operational excellence, product leadership, or customer intimacy. When you have no product or price advantage, customer intimacy is your ticket to success. For a comprehensive set of questions to help define who you compete with and how you win, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to the competitive section on pages 78 – 85 of the workbook.
Rooted in deep knowledge about your customers as well as your competitors, the customer intimacy strategy calls for a unique offering that meets the needs of the individual customer. It must be clearly differentiated from the competition. Typically, sales initiates the customer interaction. If that is the case at your organization, you need to pose two crucial questions:
- How do you know whether your sales reps are better than the competition?
- How do you know what shortcomings your sales reps need to overcome?
Whether you’re leading or trailing the competition, it’s imperative to understand precisely where and how your sales force needs to be successful. Conducting a mystery shop both on your organization and on your competitors helps uncover why you’re winning or losing.
Emerging Best Practice:
Mystery Shop A mystery shop enables organizations to measure quality of service, assess compliance with regulations, or gather specific information about products and services. This tool is used externally by market research companies and watchdog groups, or internally by companies themselves. Read on to learn more about this emerging best practice.
Step 1: Determine Your Target Audience
Go after accounts that are going to spend a lot this year and avoid the others. You must understand your sweet spot to focus research efforts properly. Analyzing verticals or geographies that are not aligned with your corporate objective could lead you to the wrong conclusions.
Step 2: Outline Your Buyer’s Journey
Understand how executives make purchase decisions for your products and services. Mapping this process step by step will help you determine when deals fall out of the funnel. For example, are you losing deals early in the process or when buyers are evaluating their options? Develop a list of questions across the buyer’s journey to gain insights.
Step 3: Baseline Your Competition
First, ask your sales leader which competitors show up in the most deals. This can be pulled from win-loss reviews. Second, assess whether these competitors are targeting your sweet spot. Don’t waste cycles trying to diagnose a competitor who is selling into markets, accounts, or buyers you are not pursuing.
Step 4: Pull Insights from Your Competition
Your three best resources are customers, prospects, and competitors. Start by going back to your opportunities sold in the last quarter and interview key buyers. Pinpoint where in the buyer’s journey you are differentiating from the competition. It’s not as simple as asking why your customers choose your solution. Then follow the same process with prospects. Go as far back as you need to until you can determine the trends.
Lastly, add your competitors’ former sales reps to your interview process for open sales positions. Yes, you read that correctly. LinkedIn can be a great tool. Search your competitors and find salespeople who previously worked at their organizations. Interview them to find out your competitors’ critical success factors. Who knows? They may be a great fit for your position. By gathering enough data points, you should be able to outline your competitors’ sales processes as well as their go-to-market strategies.
Step 5: Develop Sales Success Factors
Gather the insights and iterate your strategy. Translate this information into action plans for the different functions across your organization. This will focus everyone’s attention on the key levers for success. By ensuring strategic alignment of this execution plan, you’ll see the proper behavioral changes cascade throughout your organization.
To operationalize your strategy, you need to understand where and how your team wins. This takes deep domain knowledge of your customers, your competitors, and your own organization. Flawless execution allows you to find new sources of competitive advantage to exploit while generating long-term value.
If you would like to spend some time with me on this subject, come see me in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art executive briefing center. A visit to The Studio increases the probability of making your number because the sessions are built on the proven strength and stability of SBI, the industry leader in B2B sales and marketing.