Where are your competitors? Well, do you know? You should.
Understanding where and why your competitors are located is part of any successful sales manager’s job. Back in the day, when the kids in the neighborhood put up lemonade stands to sell to thirsty tourists, it was important to know where the other neighborhood stands were located. Any third grader knows to not locate their stand on the same corner as the next third grader, unless it’s truly as busy as Time Square.
It won’t take a lot of effort to find or create a spreadsheet that includes the addresses of your primary competitors. Import competitor data into a business mapping software and think about what the web map tells you. Look at it in terms of your sales territory and your competitors’ sales territories.
Retailers will view the competitive landscape in a very practical way. Retailers want to know whether they are missing growth because they have no physical presence in that location or if the target geographic market is too crowded to justify the required investment. Viewing competitor locations on a map may instantly reveal obvious courses of action, like exploring a new mall location through a kiosk placement, or perhaps a site visit to a department store. Often a closer look is required but you can start by simply importing business data onto a web map.
Competitor locations, viewed in conjunction with imported customer and/or prospect locations, can reveal answers to sales planning mysteries. Perhaps a key customer’s sales activity is not what it once was. Could it be that a competitor has moved into the neighborhood? Are specific cities developing niche markets that support certain industries? Often a manufacturing environment will spawn subset industries which might require your products or services. Do you understand these subset market possibilities? Do you fully comprehend why your competitors are located where they are?
A higher level view of the whole United States with competitor locations displayed in your map view will strategically inform the manufacturing sales manager. Consider which competitors have locations by region. There may be certain products located close to large users for logistical reasons. If you compete in that product field you could consider alternative areas where you can dominate a local niche. Also, by tracking competitor locations overtime competitor strategies may come into focus as they open and close locations to try to leverage strengths and weaknesses.
And what about competitor company headquarters? Where are they located and why? Ever think about sending a sales person to call on accounts in your competitor’s backyard? Why not? Maybe the prices in that area are inflated. Perhaps there are some easy pickings within your competitor’s sales comfort zone. At worst, you can talk to customers that know your competition well and learn something about the way they do business or the industry in general. Because ultimately, competitors compete in markets based on what the market wants. The more you understand about your competitors the better you will compete. Competitor location is a great place to start.
Viewing competitor locations will generate questions. Questions are the first step to answers. And answers can help provide a competitive edge in your business.
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