How do you feel about your business rivals? Do you loath them, looking for ways to stick it to them every chance you get? Or do you view them as a resource that can increase your success?
I’d like you to consider taking the second position. Instead of wasting your energy feeling negative, pull a switch and look at them as something of value for you to use. This may take some doing, yet consider these ideas.
Reverse Role Models
Look at what they do that you DON’T want to do. It could be how they treat their customers or their billing methods. It could be the level of cleanliness or the quality of their facilities. It could be their lackadaisical culture or their primitive packaging.
Check out the competitive position by having your people secret shop your rivals. They will play the role of a customer and experience what it’s like to do business with the competitor. Then have your people report what they’ve learned. Ask them to present to the team these realizations:
- What the competitive company did well is…
- What didn’t work is…
- What we should steal…
You might be surprised at how fast this strategy can get your team to make adjustments to their attitude and behavior to more CompetitionProof.
Copy Their Strengths
Take a close look at how your competitors find customers and why customers do business with them. How do they prospect for business?
You can discover this by asking your customers about their experiences with your competitors.
Ask questions like,
- ”Who else do you talk with?”
- “How do they make contact with you?”
- “What do you find interesting about them?”
- “What do you find un-interesting about them?”
Look for ways to improve on what they do best and avoid what customer’s don’t like, and you’re instantly more CompetitionProof.
Give Them Customers You Don’t Want
We all have customers that are more trouble than they’re worth. They’re demanding, insulting, and cheap. They pay late or pay short. There are always problems with their order and it’s never their fault. These are the perfect customer for your competitors. You have someone in mind, don’t you.
There are three ways to get rid of troublesome customers. First, raise your prices. It’s most likely that they will go away, but if they do stay it may now be worth it to take care of them. Second, increase your delivery time. “I can get that for you next year.” And third, tell them that you’re not the right company to take care of them.
The seasoned sales professionals in my seminars will tell me that they carry their competitor’s business cards with them for customers such as these. They’ll say, “I can’t serve you in the way that you truly deserve to be served. I suggest you talk with this outfit.”
Think about it this way: the best way to drive your competitor out of business is to give them all of the unprofitable business.
With your headache customers gone, you now have energy and time to find new and better patrons that will be more appreciative and more profitable.
Spare Capacity for When You Can’t Deliver
When you’re CompetitionProof, there will come a time when you will have more demand than can supply. This is the perfect time to subcontract with your competitor. After all, if you can’t deliver, your customer is going to go to your competitor anyway, so you might as well retain control of the relationship and keep the profits.
If you see this situation coming, create an agreement with your competitor about how they’ll interact with your customer, protecting your relationship and keeping your “secret sauce” confidential. As a side benefit, you’ll get to see how their people work and might be able to poach some of their best.
An alternate tactic is to offer your customer an incentive to come back to you. For example, when a restaurant is full and customers don’t want to wait, give them a coupon for free dessert redeemable in the next two weeks. Oh yah, they’ll be back.
Inspiration for New Ideas
All of us get so buried in our business that sometimes we lose sight of what we should be doing next. Being CompetitionProof means delivering what the customer needs even before they think that they need it. And a great source of inspiration can be your competitors.
Have you noticed that your rivals become quite generous with their ideas at industry events, such as conferences and trade shows? This is the perfect place to pick brains for trends. Just buy them a drink and ask what they see in their crystal ball.
You might be delighted at the ideas that you come up with based on your discussion.