In tough or uncertain times, like now, then its quite normal for businesses to get predatory on their competitors. They do this by attempting to lure the competitors’ customers says Malcolm Gallagher of Bizvision.co.uk
The key question is what are you doing to keep your competitors out of your best customers?
And a second question could be what are you doing to attract the customer of your competitors?
Coming up is a 2 in 1 strategy you can use to answer both questions
First, let’s address keeping your customers out of the hands of your competitors.
Sometimes the loss of a customer comes with a great shock. You may have a great and long track record with them, you may excellent customer service ratings from them, and you may have felt secure in your relationship.
And then suddenly they sign with a competitor. Worse still it may be a competitor you have not seen before or one who cannot offer the depth of service and expertise that you do. You’ve been blind-sided.
However, you shouldn’t be surprised that it happens!!
Long term relationships usually breed some form complacency. Too much familiarity for example, or not spending enough time connecting across your customer and its people is another.
That’s your “failure” reasons but you also need to consider the cunning or strategic approach by competitors.
One of the ways I coach people to steal customers from competitors is to develop an outflanking strategy.
Often you CANNOT steal a competitor’s customer in straightforward like-for-like situation. So you need to become a game changer.
For example, you may like to help your target prospect evaluate how they buy your type of goods or services. You can do this effectively, informatively and persuasively with white papers or articles or videos or blog until you can get to make a meeting and presentation. Of course, you always insert into such material the criteria that play to your strength!
Aim to change the focus of your discussion away from what has been the traditional approach to their buying whatever it is you make or offer. Look carefully at the validity from a buyer’s perspective of your Value Proposition ( you do know it don’t you?), how they “see” your offer and its ROI for them.
Now you need to do something that most businesses will not. Most will run away from doing this which is great for you provided you are not a runner also!
The best way to stop your competitors being stolen is to think NEGATIVELY. Yes, I did say think negatively, half-empty, gloom-mongering whatever you want to call it!
It’s about deep diving into what could go wrong.
I coach people to first assume the role of their competitors and then to plan an attack on their own customer base!
It’s not easy to do this as you are likely to get all defensive but surely it’s better than losing customers?
Do an honest SWOT analysis. You know Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. SWOT is an oldie but goldie tool. Remember you are deep diving into negativity so truly critique yourselves against your competitors.
Oh, by the way, you do know your competitors don’t you and you do know their strengths and weaknesses? If not you better get started. Build a “Comp Set” of your top 5 competitors along with an analysis matrix. (mail me if you want a simple spreadsheet one )
Now get yourself and your team into a “blue sky” session to think about how, as one of your competitors, you’d steal one or more of your customers away. Here are some prompts for your thinking session:
- What could your competitor say that may cause concern or doubt about your company?
- How could your competitor show or highlight your weaknesses?
- How could you be different or game-change so you wouldn’t have to compete head on?
- What could your competitors do to sneak in so you don’t spot them?
- Who else at your customer might get involved in the decision to select your competitor?
It can be a really enjoyable exercise if you get your team really involved. Over the years I’ve facilitated many a session for clients and I’m now not surprised what arises! Your people will love the opportunity to have their say. But don’t do it, or lead it yourself if you are not prepared to have an open session, to genuinely deep-dive and to fully explore your dangers.
Once you are clear about your, let’s call them vulnerabilities, it’s time to develop strategies and action plans to do something about them. Over to you!
Now for part 2 of this 2 in 1 strategic approach.
So far I have helped you prevent the loss of customers. Now you can “reverse engineer” my approach to create a strategy of stealing your competitors’ customers. Think about it!
Remember in tough and uncertain times your competitors will want to steal your customers. Don’t be soft. Toughen up and don’t let them. Go for theirs!