Competitive intelligence…ready for the truth?
- competition’s getting tougher in 2023
- alternatives and substitutes exist for your solution
- one or more competitors may have advantages over you
I work often with competitive intelligence.
And it’s caused me to ponder why some clients get it, and some don’t. Why do some clients grow steadily and others do not?
The answer? Steadfast refusal to do competitive intelligence.
My clients are mostly tech and SaaS companies. All have good solutions. They’re awesome at technology.
But clients that languish often are not paying attention their competition. They think:
No one has a product like ours
We don’t compete with those companies
All we need is better marketing
Yet, they ignore existing competitors and new competitors in their market space. Also, they don’t see an immediate need for a course correction.
Once, in a meeting with a new enterprise software client, I laid out the competitive facts including the entry of a hundred new competitors in the past few years.
Also, that the client’s own sales would continue to decline in a fast growing market space.
Additionally, their same size competitors were growing an average of 23% annually.
But what was their response? Crickets, then visible anger. As well as a plethora of reasons why this new information wouldn’t impact next quarter’s revenue hockey stick, as forecast by the CRO.
Indeed I was told that Gartner, IDC, Forrester and all the others covering that market space didn’t know what they were talking about. Twelve months later their results were predictable and the CRO was gone.
Artificial Intelligence will play a big role in assessing your competition.
What to do
If you’re a CEO or CMO, you must stay alert for changes in the competition.
Your CMO’s job is to recognize important changes in market dynamics instantly, and recommend a course of action.
My clients that grow steadily are always aware of:
- existence and strengths/weaknesses of competitors
- their own strengths and weaknesses
- how to use their strengths against their competitors’ weaknesses
Size up your competitors regularly!
It’s human nature to get complacent, especially when we think we’re special. We all need to remember that every week can deliver a new inflection point.
- gets additional funding
- introduces a competitive solution
- goes after your customer base
Here’s how I illustrate the current pace of change.
In 1990 most of us used transparencies for presentations. Creating them was a long and cumbersome ordeal.
Today we create presentations in an hour, connecting them directly to a big screen with an HDMI port on our laptop.
That is exactly what’s happened with market dynamics. In 1990, reviews of the competition were done annually and often glossed over. Why? Because the bulk of our competitors changed very slowly, and everyone pretty much marketed the same way. That’s one reason why American manufacturers got clobbered by new competitors from Asia.
Use competitive intelligence to fix it
Anyone can experience brain freeze when presented with facts counterintuitive to long held beliefs. That’s why it’s critical to challenge those beliefs at least several times a year, preferably monthly. Do it by asking these three questions in CEO meetings with sales and marketing leaders:
What moves did our existing competitors make last month?
Who entered our market space and how are they funded?
How and why should we address these new market dynamics?
I offer competitive intelligence services for tech and SaaS companies.