Do You Know What Your Competitors
and Clients Are Saying About You?
Using Competitive Intelligence to Uncover Vulnerabilities in Your Products and Services
Many Competitive Intelligence studies are conducted to uncover strategic information on competitors within a specific industry sector such as:
- New product/service development;
- Sales and marketing strategies;
- Hiring of new employees;
- Targeting of new market segments;
- How competitors perceive their position in the industry, etc.
In a recent study for a client within the Software as a Service (SaaS) sector, one issue of particular concern to the client company was the fact that they had been losing business to a specific competitor. This loss of business included both lost bids as well as the loss of long-term clients.
It was important for the client to find out the cause or causes behind these losses so that changes can be implemented to stem and reverse the tide.
During the course of the study, it became clear that the competitor had found, and was exploiting, a significant vulnerability in the client company’s offering.
The vulnerability issue can be described as a “use it or lose it” condition in the service contract, whereby a client must use a pre-paid service within a specified time line or else lose whatever is not used.
The competitor consistently exploited this vulnerability during sales presentations.
Buyers of this service, including the customers of the client company’s service, agreed that this vulnerability existed and that it could cost them thousands of dollars in wasted expenditures.
A perceived vulnerability that could cost clients many thousands of dollars in unused service is a serious weakness that needs to be quickly and aggressively addressed.
At first, the client company reacted by denying the problem existed and that it was a “misinterpretation” of how their service works.
Misinterpretation or not, the vulnerability was a real issue to be exploited from the competitor’s point of view, and it was a real issue (involving thousands of dollars of expenditures) for the companies using of this service – including the customers of the client company.
In this case, the client company had to act to either 1) modify their service to eliminate this vulnerability or 2) communicate with customers to correct their perceptions on how the service works.
Either way, the client company was forced to intervene quickly to correct the problem and staunch the losses in sales and clients.
In the study described above, the client company solved the problem by forcing itself to look at the issue through the eyes of the client and competitor, by looking at the issue not from the standpoint of defending their offering at all costs but rather by looking at it from a user’s point of view and finding things that could go wrong and needed to be corrected.
In other words, the client company was forced to step outside a view of the world where they saw themselves as one provider among many of a particular service, and to look at their service from the viewpoint of their customers, the companies and individuals who buy and use their service, before they were able to see the problem.
This creative re-interpretation of the issue opened the eyes of key decision-makers within the client company and led to vital changes in the structure and delivery of the service.
Competitive Intelligence provides the opportunity to not only to study the activities of your competitors but also to observe competing products from the point of view of customers, the companies and individuals who purchase your products.
The full value of Competitive Intelligence is often determined by the willingness of a client company to accept the findings of the research and to use it to develop creative interpretation and solutions to better serve their clients and remove a weakness exploited by their competitors.
Does your company have a vulnerability that causes customer dissatisfaction and is being exploited by your competitors?
Don’t be the last to know.
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