Should I research Competitors?

It’s easy to become a bit paranoid about competitors, especially when it seems like they are winning more business than you are. The temptation is to spend a lot of time trying to second guess competitors plans which can become very frustrating due to a lack of data. One of the reasons for this lack of solid data is that surprisingly often your competitors don’t know enough about why they are successful either.

Most suppliers think that they win or lose business based on product capabilities and/or price.  My own experience of carrying out win/lose reviews with my clients customers is that suppliers assumptions are usually wrong. It’s more often factors other than price and product capabilities that swing the final decision. In short companies don’t always understand what their customers really care about.

The only way to find out what customers really care about when making supplier decisions is to ask them.  You will almost certainly learn that customers care about a range of things that you have not considered. To you they may not necessarily be logical or even sensible but they are factors that influence buying decisions which no amount of competitor analysis will uncover.

Success doesn’t  come from exploiting the detailed differences between your products and those of your competitors that customers don’t understand or care about.  The secret of success is knowing the questions to ask customers and acting on that information.

 

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