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Updated on March 19, 2010


Majority of sales strategies acknowledge the importance of competitive analysis. Competitors represent a major determinant of corporate success or failure. Therefore detail account of competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, strategies and any areas of vulnerability should be considered when developing sales strategies and selling tactics.

Analyzing Competitors

Competitive analysis is a central element of the sales planning process with detail attention paid to each competitor’s objective, resources and within the sales territory.

Identifying Competitors’ Objectives

What drives each competitive behaviour?


Competitor will aim for profit maximization either in the short term or the long term.

NOTE: Profit maximization is an unrealistic objective that for a variety of reasons many companies are willing to sacrifice. Each competitor has different kinds of objectives, each of which has a different weight.

These objectives include

a. Cash flow,

b. Technological leadership,

c. Market share growth,

d. Service leadership, or

e. Overall market leadership

Generally, corporate objective is influenced by a variety of factors including

a. The organization’s size,

b. Its history,

c. Culture, and

d. The breadth of the operation

Gaining an insight into this mix of objectives allows the sales person to arrive at conclusions regarding how a competitor will respond to a competitive thrust.

Competitors’ Strengths and Weaknesses

An evaluation of competitors’ strengths and weaknesses is critical to the development of competitive strategy.

The sales manager should concentrate on collecting information under a number of headings as a prelude to a full comparative assessment.

These include:

  1. Sales;
  2. Market share;
  3. Cost and profit levels and how they appear to be changing over time;
  4. Cash flow;
  5. Return on investment;
  6. Production processes;
  7. Levels of capacity utilization;
  8. Organizational culture;
  9. Products and the product portfolio;
  10. Products and the product portfolio;
  11. Product quality;
  12. The size and pattern of the customer base;
  13. The levels of brand loyalty;
  14. Dealers and distribution channels;
  15. Marketing and selling capabilities;
  16. Operations and physical distributions;
  17. Financial capabilities;
  18. Management capabilities and attitudes to risk;
  19. Human resources, their capability and flexibility;
  20. Previous patterns of response;
  21. Ownership patterns and, in the case of divisionalized organizations, the expectations of corporate management

Preparation Towards Selling

Preparation before sales visit can reap dividends by enhancing the salesperson’s confidence and performance when face-to-face with the customer. It is vital to prepare for the sales visit so that the sales person can understand competitors activities.

A number of factors need to be considered to improve the chance of success to achieve competitive advantage for the sales person in both negotiation and pure selling.

These will include:

a. Knowledge of the product

b. Competitors’ product knowledge

c. Sales presentation planning

d. Setting sales call objectives

e. Understanding the buyers’ behaviour

Competitors’ Product

Knowledge of competitors’ product allows their strengths to be offset against their weaknesses. Knowledge of competitors’ product also allows the sales person to bring his competitor’s product features and benefit to reflect the strengths and capability of their product.

Product Knowledge

Product knowledge means understanding both product features and the customer benefit that the product confers. The salesperson has to convey the product features to the benefit of the customer. Knowledge of the product, its features, durability and qualities are all-important tool to the salesman.

Sales Presentation Planning

There are several advantages to presentational planning.

Preparation builds confidence, raises the chances that important benefits are not forgotten, allows visual aids and demonstrations to be build into the presentation, permits anticipation of objections and the preparation of convincing counterarguments.

Setting Sales Call Objectives

Setting sales objective are important and should be phrased in terms of what the customers want rather than what the salesman wants, e.g. for the customer to define what his or her needs are, or for the customer to visit showroom, or for the customer to try the product.

Understanding Buyer Behaviour

Knowledge of the customer’s decision – making unit (DMU) is important to the salesman. Consider the time taken to establish who are the key influencers and decision-makers in the buying organizational.


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