Small Business Challenges > Knowing Your Competitors
In a world where there is so much competition, it’s beneficial for you to spend a little extra time analyzing and evaluating yours. While there is no shortage of to-do’s on your list, it serves you to know who you’re up against, and how you can size up the competition to put more money in your pocket each month.
Talk to your customers.
When it comes to identifying sources of information about your competition, don’t skip over the obvious ones—like your customers. “Speaking to customers is one of the best (and cheapest) ways of gathering real information on competitors,” says Arthur Weiss, managing director of UK-based Aware. “Whenever you win a new customer, find out who they used before, and why they switched to you (i.e. the reason they were dissatisfied with their previous supplier). Do the same when you lose a customer—identify what they preferred about your competitor. If you gather enough of these stories you’ll get a very clear idea on what competitors are offering that customers view as preferable. You can then adjust your own offering to beat that of the competitor,” he explains to Inc.
Knowing what you did right and what your competitor did wrong is the difference between gaining a customer and letting one pass you by. Similarly, if your competitor is superior to you in customer service or carries better products, this will give you great insight into how you can improve your sales model.
Get to know suppliers.
Ask the right questions to your suppliers. While they can’t divulge specific information, you can get a grasp of what your competitors are ordering and how much they plan to sell this coming season. This can give you a good idea of what to expect, as well as identify common trends, allowing you to keep up.
Look at who they’re hiring.
A great way to determine how they’re acquiring your customers is to find out who they are hiring. If they’re expanding their services and need more specialized customer service, or website developers, or even programmers, you know what strategies they’re working on. If they’re growing, chances are your customers are contributing to that growth.
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