- Forward-thinking competitive analysis distinguishes high-performing organizations from those that resort to misguided tactics or choose to do nothing
- Portfolio marketing’s unique vantage point can help a business understand how the changing competitive landscape impacts go-to-market efforts
- Buyer insights can be leveraged across sales, marketing and product management to maintain or regain an advantage in the face of new competitors
It’s the end of the quarter, and a sales rep sends a panicked message about FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) from a new competitor. Some organizations may fail to take the threat seriously and do nothing, while others choose to erode their value with a deep discount to save the deal. And some may turn the FUD into mud and sling it back, which can lead to misguided anti-competitive tactics that result in serious harm to the company.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you’re not alone. Even the tiniest competitive nuisance can create distractions among customers, prospects and sellers for established providers. Getting a head start on the best approach to handle competitive threats is a distinguishing characteristic of high-performing organizations.
Portfolio marketers have a unique vantage point in the organization as the bridge between product management and sales; they understand how changing market and buyer dynamics can impact upstream and downstream efforts in the go-to-market ecosystem. They can leverage their buyer insights to help the organization maintain or regain a competitive advantage with the following approaches:
- Analyze buyer data. As an incumbent or leading provider, you have sources of market and customer data that likely far exceed those of emerging competitors. Work with sales and marketing operations teams to mine information from the organization’s sales force automation system and marketing automation platform for historical sales, win-loss data and buyer persona behavior and preferences. Understand current market conditions by attending sales pipeline and deal desk meetings to identify early signs of competitive disruption.
- Emphasize buyer needs. Odds are, the emergent competitor is focused on new killer features or benefits to get a prospect’s attention. You can avoid the tendency to devolve into a feature comparison and instead emphasize how your offering meets buyer needs. Analyze business, market and competitive data to uncover insights about the evolving needs of the buyer and adjust messaging and/or innovation strategies.
- Integrate with sales enablement tools. Portfolio marketing can address rapid-fire competition questions from the field with up-to-date competitive battlecards and integrate that knowledge with existing sales enablement tools. For example, if the sales organization uses chat or messaging apps as the preferred communication channel, consider creating a specific channel on competition. Assign someone from the portfolio marketing team to monitor and respond within an agreed-upon timeframe.
- Identify customer advocates. Investing in a customer advocacy program can help improve sales and marketing performance throughout the buyer’s journey. And as the entrenched provider, you likely have a lot more advocates to choose from than the new competitor. SiriusDecisions recommends customer engagement teams take the lead on managing a customer advocacy program and partner closely with portfolio marketing to identify ideal candidates to recruit into the program. If your organization doesn’t have a dedicated customer engagement resource, the responsibility should fall to portfolio marketing. Look for stories that underscore the business value the customer experienced with the offering, and make sure it aligns with the value proposition used in campaigns and programs. Also, leverage buyer persona insights to appeal to the individual’s need for participating in the program. Clearly articulate the value he or she can expect by investing time in the program.
- Communicate value throughout the customer lifecycle. Get ahead of potential competitors who are knocking on your customers’ doors, and work with customer engagement teams to regularly communicate the value of their investment in your offering. Portfolio marketers should be consulted on “boss-ready” reports with the information that matters most to the economic buyer who makes the final decision to continue the relationship. Make sure the report is in a format that can be shared easily across the buying center.
For more information about sharpening your organization’s understanding of buyer audiences and their needs, download the e-book “Marketing Transformation: Dialing Up an Audience-Centric Approach.”