While the majority of businesses are usually strong in their “home” markets, where the sense of familiarity is deeply ingrained in their day-to-day operations, going global opens up a brand new (and often intimidating) world of opportunities to explore and convert. While it opens the door to an increasingly competitive landscape, competition is great because it drives you to be better. There’s lots of work to be done if you want to improve global sales in such a tightly controlled environment. Let’s get right to the point(s).
Know your competitive landscape like the back of your hand
A thorough understanding of your competitive landscape revolves around two groups of players:
In global terms, you’re at the center of both competition and demand, which is why it’s paramount to understand how competitors and customers are operating and evolving. First, you have to perform a wide scan of your landscape and look under every rock for your direct competitors (those with a similar approach and targeting the same audience) and indirect competitors (those that aim at the same audience but solve their problems differently). Find out who your key competitors are, who their customers are (top clients, the overall number), what they are offering, where they are offering it (geographical breakdown) and what is their unique selling point (USP). This will allow you to identify primary competitive threats, the areas you need to compete in, as well as provide insights you can use to differentiate your business and take off globally.
Image credit: Udemy
Customers are a different breed. Their expectations are varied, especially when market conditions change. So you need to figure out what matters to your customer - is it the price tag, better customer service, a more flexible or encompassing solution? To gain a sense of their mindset, you need to collect every little bit of information valuable to the cause, including info from your existing customers. Focus on key market segments to learn about your potential customers and create highly targeted campaigns. Market segmentation will help you get a deeper understanding of the market in order to discover where the biggest window of opportunity is. As a result, you’ll wind up with a number of customers who have particular demands, needs, and traits you can successfully address with your solution. Pay attention to demographics such as company size, company type, it’s industry, sales volume and else, as well as geographical data such as customer location and concentration, growth rate, and other key industry metrics for your space.
Naturally, all this data bears little importance compared to the technology aspect, which is the lifeblood of any SaaS business. From information like web traffic and monthly visits, all the way down to the technology stack and its elements can give you an indication of a given company’s focus. Going deeper can reveal correlated technologies: overlapping technologies potential customers are using. Knowing how they apply them, along with other actionable insights can help you widen the scope of your focus and identify new sales verticals to tap into, as well as other technologies, services, and geographies to explore next.
Show what makes you a better option
Once you acknowledge your competitive landscape and segment it based on what matters to you, you need to display why your company is a better fit for prospective clients than the rest of the market. In essence, you need to give your customers a solid reason (or more of them) why they should pick your company over your rivals.
Image credit: Aperture Insights
The key is to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. This is where your USP enters the fray. It should tap into what your target audience wants and present it in a clear and obvious manner. Absolutely no one should have to ask or figure out what makes you different - you have to show it for yourself. On a global scale, competition can either fall short on catering to specific market needs or fail to operate at peak capacity. In either case, the opportunity is there for you to make your case and offer unique benefits that appeal to the market. You need to determine specific value propositions for your solution and tailor your message to the particular needs and demands of the market you’re aiming for. For example, how is your service different from that of the competitor? What exact pain point does your prospect have? How do you plan to relieve it? Highlight key relevant features, define clear benefits to potential customers and check in with your existing customers to identify types of clients you haven’t even thought of before. If you can do better, that's a strong basis for better sales.
While you deal with needs that aren’t being met by other companies (at least, not in the way that’s 100% satisfactory), you also need to keep an eye on trends in your industry. This means monitoring trends regarding your prospects, as well as old and new competitors that could ultimately affect how potential clients see your value proposition. Armed with real-time information, you can extend your advantage into new areas immediately as important events happen.
The question now is how do you achieve all this? The most straightforward answer I can give you is by using the right sales technology that will supply you with relevant actionable insights. Sure, you can turn to Google as an obvious stop en route to finding your competitors or touch upon websites like Crunchbase and LinkedIn to give you information. Doing some heavy reading and looking for solutions that solve similar problems as your own is fine. However, these can only do so much for you. Sales technology such as sales insights platforms provide the volume of actionable data needed to uncover opportunities, as well as possess advanced features to enable companies to survive and grow in the global competitive landscape. It’s your gateway to buying behaviors that form opportunities and customer data shaped into critical insights you can use to drive sales.
Startups have enough on their hands to add “not understanding their competitive landscape” to the list. Without it, they can’t really understand the opportunities present in the global market and seize upon them in order to improve sales. Lacking a proper understanding of your key competitors, customers, and how your business fits in the picture, you will, almost by default, make poor strategic decisions that will end up in failure. One might even say it’s the biggest non-fundraising mistake a startup can make. Luckily, with this post, that shouldn’t be an issue now.