Know Your Competition
How to Make Lemonade Out of Lemons
In my previous position at a major print company, my team and I lost a major contract before we even had a chance to be considered. A major Fortune 500 company signed with our biggest competitor, and we weren’t even aware that we could’ve been a player in negotiations.
Put simply, we failed.
How could we still make lemonade when all that was left were sour lemons?
The client already signed a contract with our competition; everyone thought it best we cut our losses and move on. I didn’t agree.
Since the team had brought me in as the industry expert to try to help move the client to maximize our solutions, I wanted to make a bold move—a move that depended on my knowledge of our competitor, inside and out.
My team thought my idea was pointless and crazy.
Upper management thought it was a waste of time.
But they didn’t know that this idea would end up landing us over $6mm worth of projects with the Fortune 500 company.
How well do you know your competitor’s business?
The importance of knowing your competition may not sound like new or innovative business advice, but this statement goes far beyond simply knowing the products or services your competitor offers.
I was so confident in my knowledge of our competitor’s business that I decided to use my expertise of their strengths and weaknesses to launch my daring idea. I started compiling an extensive document to send to one of the key decision-makers at the Fortune 500 Company.
The purpose of this document? To help them make print work, even if they weren’t using our company for their print needs.
By knowing the distinct strengths and weaknesses of my print company and my competitor’s, I was able to deliver actionable tips for the client to be aware of when launching their print campaign. The document had real advice to help them be successful, some of which highlighted how to work around some of the weaknesses I knew my competitor had.
Are you confident with your company?
The “trick” with my project was that I understood the gaps my competition had, and how we could fill them. My confidence in my company’s ability to out-perform our competitor was evident.
Weeks later, it was almost as if I was a fortune-teller. The document I had given the client was like a crystal ball, and they were finally able to see that my knowledge of our competitor’s weaknesses were coming true.
The Fortune 500 Company was trying to follow my tips to succeed, yet their print campaign was failing.
They gave me a call and broke their current contract.
Is the “long game” worth it?
Your unique selling proposition shouldn’t only inform your prospects what you do differently. It should also showcase why what you do differently is better than what your competition does.
By caring about the customer’s success and showcasing my knowledge of the industry and my competitor—even beyond the loss of the sale—I knew that I was delivering a unique solution that would stay in the client’s mind.
Not every sale will result in an immediate success story. But if you demonstrate your willingness to help the customer, no matter the outcome, you can end up winning their business in the long term.
Know your competition’s strengths and weaknesses.
Care about the customer outcome beyond the loss of the sale and support the client to be successful using “Print Category”/Long Game vs short game.
Have confidence in your company’s abilities and products.