Nothing hurts revenues (and egos) more than getting carved up by the competition. One day you’re gobbling up business like hickory nuts, and the next day —WHACK!—you’ve been roasted and toasted and served up on a platter at your competitor’s dinner table.
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Here are four of the main reasons companies get eaten up by the competition, along with ways to stay off the menu!
1. The Competition Knows Your Moves
If your sales playbook is written in stone, competitors will pulverize you into gravel. For instance, if you always try to get in the door with a low price, competitors will come in even lower, include a “match any price” clause in their purchasing agreements, and prep buyers for your pitch by pointing out the unreliability of “low ballers.” Before you know it, the competition is basting you in the oven. Game over; pass the gravy.
Bottom line: Don’t be predictable. Not only have a wide variety of strategies in your playbook, but also refine and add to those strategies continually. When competitors are guessing, they become tentative when they are playing defense or on the attack.
2. You’ve Gotten Dumb, Fat, and Happy
turkey in ovenYou’ve heard the expression “Nothing succeeds like success.” Let me alter it slightly for sales and say, “Nothing fails like success.” The minute a company feels satisfied with its base of business, it becomes a big, fat, juicy turkey ready for the axe. Complacency is death. Your hungry competitors are always pitching new ideas, better products, better service. These days, no matter how strong the customer relationship, business is never locked up; buyers are under too much pressure for them to become complacent.
Bottom line: Keep showing customers new ideas and better products. Keep improving your service and remind them of your value. Equally important: Keep prospecting! Assume you’re going to lose your best customers and make sure the lead pipeline is full. Energetic prospecting forces competitors to play defense instead of going after your customers.
3. You’re Sending Out Salespeople Unarmed
Are you training your reps to be rulers of the roost? When companies provide half-baked sales training, their sales reps get eaten up by competitors and customers. What little new business they are able to secure will be on disadvantageous terms, perpetually vulnerable to attack. Pass the gravy.
Bottom line: Train sales reps in the classroom and in the field. And remember: Training is not just for newbies. Prevent veteran reps from becoming dumb, fat, and happy by continually testing and updating their skills.
4. Your Infrastructure Is Shaky
Without strong support, even the best sales department will get carved up like a turkey. Spotty customer service equals a drumstick. Late delivery equals a thigh. Erratic quality control equals the giblets. And hands-off, meandering leadership? That is one big, tasty turducken for the competition to devour.
Bottom line: Competitors pounce on weakness. Your unresponsive customer service, unreliable delivery, quality defects, and other performance deficiencies become talking points for your competitors—the recipe for turning your formerly rock solid business into cranberry sauce.
Keeping the competition at bay is never easy, just as life itself wasn’t easy for the Pilgrims when they first arrived in North America. And just like those early settlers, we businesspeople have to be forever vigilant, resourceful, and industrious in order to survive.
Brad Shorr is Director of B2B Marketing for Straight North, an Internet marketing agency in the Chicago area. With in-house, freelance and agency experience, he writes frequently about content marketing, SEO, social media and small business strategy.
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