Competitive intelligence for B2B companies is an overlooked method of research because of its complexity. It all begins with questions.
What are your competitors up to? For most small to medium sized businesses, this is difficult to keep up with. It may be something you think about only when you learn you lost a sale to a competitor. Or, when you take a look at their website to see what is new. That easily leads to questions about pricing, etc. Most B2B companies do not post pricing on their website. You either need to sign up for a demo or submit a request for a meeting through their site. There are many ways to gain this kind of B2B competitor intelligence covertly. B2B Mystery Shopping is a great way to begin.
B2B Mystery Shopping
You may be wondering what in the world is B2B mystery shopping? Traditionally, mystery shopping is used for restaurants, retail, banks and even medical offices. Business to Business or B2B mystery shopping is an excellent way to gain market intelligence for your business as well as get a good snapshot at your internal customer experience.
B2B Mystery Shopping Case Study
Let me explain by giving you some details of a recent B2B competitive intelligence study we did for a client. We were hired to reach out to our client’s competitor and initiate interest in their services. The very first step in this process is to find an evaluator in our data base that closely matches an actual customer. We interview the evaluator to be sure they are not involved with the client or the client’s competitor in any way.
Once selected, the evaluator gets briefed on the objective of the shop with exact requirements of what marketing collateral we require they capture. If a demo is needed, screen shots may be part of the report, so the client can see a step by step process.
From the narrative example above you can see that it took from November 7th – November 13th to receive an answer. It took so long that our evaluator asked if he should abandon the initiative altogether. We pressed on, and finally received the information the client was looking for.
Steps to Begin
- Test your own process first. Mystery shop your company to evaluate any internal issues you may have that you were unaware of. This gives you a fair point of reference and you are better able to benchmark against your competitors.
- Price is important but so is marketing. What type of information are they including in their marketing materials that are better than yours?
- Take it a further step and conduct an audit on their Google keywords and their social media reach.
- Listen to the buzz around your competitors in social media. Check out the review sites.
One bad review online, one lost email, or an unreturned phone call message that was never returned can break any business. It gets a little trickier when you are a B2B company.