The brief

Customerwise Ltd was approached by a B2B consultancy / service provider to manage an in-depth competitor research project, which included “mystery” B2B sales enquiries.

The client, the largest company of its type in the UK,  faces ongoing competition from law firms of all sizes, and from other similar consultancy firms.

The client wanted to gain insights into the competitive landscape generally, and  specific information from particular competitors, including pricing models, sales techniques used by staff, incentives. They also wanted insights into positioning, as well as wider marketing and business strategy.

Our approach

We worked with the company to help them to brainstorm and then  identify valid ideas for what information could be gained through the research. These included:

  • Intelligence to be gained from competitor websites.
    • Online content: quality and quantity
    • General appeal functionality and accessibility
    • Competitor online engagement tactics (e.g. behavioural automation, lead bait, etc)
    • Social media presence and activity
    • Strategic partnerships and affiliations.
  • Intelligence gained online or through telephone contact or in person:
    • Apparent specialisations.
    • Pricing structure, limits, thresholds, add-on services, etc.
    • Software solutions – capabilities etc.
    • The sales process employed (or attempted) by competing companies
    • Standard of enquiry handling and sales skills shown by staff.
    • Positioning and approach towards competition
    • Range of complimentary services.
    • Key contract terms.
    • Follow-up activity by sales staff.
  • Specific details relating to the services and industry
  • Overall impressions

We then devised a strategy including a plausible enquiry approach that would be used to gather the information.

Then we moved to preparation and made all the arrangements necessary to make the project really work for the client, and reveal the required information.

Each known  competitor was to be the subject of an individual report, and the results were to be collated and compared and summarised for presentation.

The individual report structure allowed for written commentary across several areas, so any factor that might affect a decision (to use or not use the company in question) could be included within each report.

Overall the goal was to take a balanced and open-minded approach searching for the potential perceived strengths and weaknesses of each competitor’s offer.

The project needed to be completed within a tight timeframe as the information was to be used during an upcoming conference and to aid strategic decision making.

Execution and delivery

The project was delivered on time and we went beyond the agreed parameters of the project in several ways:

  • A higher number of target businesses were included.
  • During data collection, we made further suggestions to enhance report content, and improve formatting and presentation. These were appreciated by the client, approved by them, and implemented.
  • The amount of information obtained from each target exceeded client expectations.

In addition to the agreed deliverables, we produced an executive report, summarising key strengths and weaknesses for each competitor and providing a subjective ranking of their individual appeal.

 

Value and impact

The quality and quantity of the data exceeded the client’s  expectations. The findings themselves proved to be of very high commercial value, and they will be influencing the client’s pricing, sales and marketing strategy going forward.

The research as a whole unearthed  many previously unknown details regarding strengths and weaknesses of the client’s competitors, and it placed the company in a far more knowledgeable position in terms of their competitive environment.

The company is planning to undertake more competitive research through Customerwise in the near future.