Few marketing activities give rise to more discussion than competitive analysis. This series of blog posts explains why it’s so necessary, especially in cybersecurity; presents a methodology for getting the info you need; and shows how to use the results to give your entire organization a leg up on the competition.
The sales team needs up-to-date competitive information, especially around competitive weaknesses that can be highlighted in a sales situation. The marketing team, meanwhile, struggles to find the time to do a full competitive analysis with so many other tasks vying for their time. It’s hard to do, very time-consuming, and new competitors pop up all the time, so this task often falls to the bottom of the list.
Yet timely competitive information is extremely important. Without it, technology companies waste tremendous amounts of effort either trying to out-feature the competition or attempting to deal with each and every real and potential competitor. Pressure from the sales team all too often results in a move down the slippery slope of cutting the price to win deals.
Competitive analysis is especially important in the chaotic world of information security where the threats from nation-states, cyber gangs, botnet operators and APT groups are real, but cybersecurity vendor hyperbole and grandiose claims muddy the waters for prospective customers. It’s worthwhile digging to really understand what your competition is doing because:
- To close deals, you need a clear understanding of the competition and how to sell in this fiercely competitive environment.
- Understanding the competition helps you stick to your revenue plan and enforce discipline in pricing.
- You can help prospective customers understand how you differentiate your solution. You can only rise above the noise if you understand what the prospect is hearing and seeing from others.
The ugly truth of most competitive analysis
It’s a sad truth that many companies do an inconsistent, inadequate and insufficient job of competitive analysis. It’s incomplete, because they only look at a handful of the most obvious competitors, ignoring the up-and-coming competition and other solutions that might be good alternatives. It’s inadequate because most competitive analysis is laser-focused on features and technical capabilities; it often completely misses issues related to messaging, targeting, delivery, pricing model and customer service. And it’s inconsistent, because a full competitive analysis is done rarely — perhaps only for the first sales kickoff for a new product. Subsequent sales training and enablement activities often involve just a quick refresh.
To be really useful, competitive analysis needs to involve a thorough evaluation of the most important direct and indirect competitors, focusing on the company, the products, the marketing strategies and other aspects that are worthwhile to product planning, sales, marketing and development. The analysis needs to be built on a solid foundation of data, both quantitative and qualitative, gathered through a variety of methods including primary research, open source information, tapping the knowledge of subject matter experts, and the like.
Granted, it’s not easy, and it takes time and ongoing effort. But done right, deep competitive analysis yields results that can impact all parts of the business, including insights that help you validate your value proposition, identify industry trends, prioritize your development efforts, enable your sales team with clear strategies, create barriers to entry, and ultimately impact the bottom line.
A methodology for deep competitive analysis
The second blog post in this series (Competitive Analysis – a Proven Methodology) describes a methodology for determining which competitors to include in the analysis, and how to go about getting the information you need to obtain the desired results.
We’d love to show you how AimPoint Group’s expertise and experience can help drive value for your business! Contact us today for a free competitive analysis strategy session; together we’ll look at your needs and map the best path forward.