Conducting an Effective Competitive Analysis for Sales and Marketing

Gain strategic insights to outpace business rivals through this straightforward 7-step competitive analysis process.



If you run a business, keeping a close eye on your competitors is essential. Conducting a competitive analysis allows you to benchmark your performance against others in your industry. It gives you critical insights into your strengths and weaknesses relative to your rivals. This enables you to refine your sales and marketing strategies to gain an edge.

In this blog post, you’ll learn how to perform a practical competitive analysis from start to finish. With the right approach, you can uncover market opportunities, adjust your messaging, and position your business for sustainable success!

Why Competitive Analysis Matters

Before diving into the steps, let’s look at why competitive analysis should be a top priority for your business:

  • It helps you identify marketplace opportunities and win more business. When you understand competitors’ weaknesses, you can meet unmet customer needs.
  • It allows you to differentiate and stand out. By benchmarking against others, you can better showcase your unique value proposition.
  • It informs sales enablement. Knowing competitors helps sales teams better position against them during the sales cycle.
  • It guides go-to-market strategy. Analyzing competitors’ messaging, branding, pricing, etc., prevents you from blending into the crowd.
  • It highlights areas for improvement. Seeing where competitors excel can motivate you to improve your game in specific areas.

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In short, competitive analysis leads to data-driven decisions and more refined, customer-focused sales and marketing. It shows you how to seize opportunities and capitalize on your strengths. Let’s look at how to do it right.

Step 1: Identify Your Key Competitors

 Identify Your Key Competitors,Conducting an Effective Competitive Analysis for Sales and Marketing

Start by making a list of your direct competitors - companies selling similar products or services to your target customers. The key is focusing on your ten closest competitors, the ones most likely to steal business from you.

Look beyond just the service or product category when identifying these rivals. Also consider factors like:

  • Target customers - Companies selling into the same niches or segments
  • Business model - Those using similar sales & distribution channels
  • Messaging - Ones with comparable branding and positioning
  • Pricing - Those in a similar price bracket

Additionally, note any indirect or adjacent competitors customers may compare you to, even if they have somewhat different offerings. These could provide useful context when evaluating your capabilities versus the market. Spend time clarifying who your true competitors are so the rest of your analysis zooms in on the right benchmarks.

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Step 2: Research Their Offerings

Now perform in-depth research on your key competitors’ products, services, and capabilities. Get to know their business almost as well as your own! Below are the things to look at:

Products and Services

  • Product lines - The full range of products and services they offer. How broad or focused is their portfolio compared to yours?
  • Core products - Their most popular or highest-selling offerings. Do they align with your best sellers or differ?
  • Product features - Specific capabilities, functions and features in their products. How do these compare to your product features?
  • Product quality - How reliable, durable, and well-made their products are perceived. How does it compare to the quality reputation you have?
  • Technology - If they utilize proprietary technology, APIs, or unique tech capabilities you don’t have.
  • IP - Any patents, trademarks, or copyrights protecting their products and intellectual property.

Messaging and Positioning

  • Value proposition - What core customer problems or needs do they claim their product solves? How does it align with your value proposition?
  • Target customers - Which customer segments, industries, or niches do they aim to serve? To what degree do your targets overlap?
  • Brand image - The personality, identity, tone, and voice reflected in their messaging and branding. How does your brand image compare?
  • Thought leadership - Any content, campaigns, or partnerships establishing expertise and credibility as an authority voice.

Go-to-Market Strategy

  • Pricing - Their price points, discount structures, bundled packages, payment terms, financing options, etc. How does it compare to your pricing model?
  • Sales model - Do they sell directly, through resellers, affiliates, wholesale channels, or some hybrid model?
  • Marketing and ads - The specific marketing channels, campaigns, assets, and budget they deploy. Contrast this to your marketing strategies and programs.

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Step 3: Analyze Their Online Presence

Analyze Their Online Presence, Conducting an Effective Competitive Analysis for Sales and Marketing

An in-depth look at competitors’ digital footprint can reveal a goldmine of insights. Accomplish both quantitative and qualitative assessments of these critical elements:

Website Features

  • Site design - The visual design, layout, navigation, features, and overall user experience of their site. How does it compare to your website’s design and UX?
  • Conversion optimization - How well their site converts visitors into leads and customers. Examine calls-to-action, lead gen forms, and customer signup flows. How could you improve your conversion optimization?
  • Site speed and tech - How fast pages load, mobile optimization, backend tech powering the site. How does their technical performance compare to yours?
  • Site content - The types of pages and content they have, like product pages, blogs, resources, etc. How does their overall content strategy compare?
  • Search visibility - The keywords and terms they rank for, their overall search traffic, and visibility in SERPs. Contrast to your organic search performance.

SEO Performance

  • Keyword rankings - Which terms do they outrank you for and vice versa to compare strengths?
  • Local SEO - Their optimization for local search rankings and map listings if location-based.
  • Backlink profile - The quantity and quality of backlinks pointing to their domain. Analyze via tools like Ahrefs.
  • Content marketing - The types of blogs, videos, and content they use to build organic search traffic.

Social Media and Content

  • Content marketing - Their blog, videos, podcasts, ebooks, and other content formats. How does their overall mix compare to yours?
  • Social media - Their presence, following, engagement rates, and community-building on each social platform.
  • Influencer marketing - Any partnerships or co-marketing with influencers in your niche.
  • Reviews and reputation - Online ratings, reviews, and general sentiment toward their brand across the web. How does your reputation compare?

This digital assessment surfaces how findable competitors are online and who’s winning the battle for visibility. It also shows where they are outperforming you digitally.

Step 4: Talk to Your Customers and Prospects

Talk to Your Customers and Prospects, Conducting an Effective Competitive Analysis for Sales and Marketing

While conducting your own research is vital, viewing competitors through your customers’ eyes is crucial. Speaking directly to your audience provides a unique perspective.

Some smart ways to incorporate customer feedback:

  • Casual conversations - Ask customers their thoughts on competitors naturally in discussions. Go deeper with sales prospects to understand their views during the evaluation process.
  • Surveys - Build short surveys to gauge customer perceptions of competitors’ brands, pricing, quality, services, etc.
  • Win/loss analysis - Interview those you won deals with and lost deals to. Learn how you measured up against competitors in both cases.
  • Focus groups - Gather small groups of customers to discuss competitors in an open setting and hear unfiltered feedback.
  • Mentions analysis - Use social listening and brand monitoring tools to see who customers are talking about.

The qualitative insights from conversations reveal nuances missed by your research. They highlight areas to double down on and competitors’ weaknesses to target.

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Step 5: Compare Your Capabilities Side-by-Side

Making side-by-side comparisons highlights your competitive advantages and disadvantages. This allows you to play to your strengths and close gaps where competitors have an edge.

Specifically, call out:

  • Areas you lead in - Showcase these points to customers to win against competitors. Lean aggressively into them in messaging and positioning.
  • Areas competitors lead - Be honest about where you lag behind. These become opportunities to improve and adapt your strategy.
  • Unmet needs - Note any customer problems competitors fail to solve well. Address these needs with tailored messaging and offers.

Step 6: Uncover Opportunities

Now comes the most valuable part - uncovering tangible opportunities from your findings. Think through how to apply insights from the competitive analysis to fuel your success.

Find Areas to Differentiate

Look for areas where your capabilities are superior to competitors. If your product has innovative features they lack, highlight this in messaging to stand out. If your support is faster and high-touch, showcase this advantage. If you offer faster shipping, tout it boldly.

The goal is to isolate your differentiated strengths. Then, feature these prominently in branding, campaigns, content, and sales conversations. When you consistently communicate areas of competitive advantage, it makes you shine in customers’ eyes.

Improve Where Lacking

 Improve Where Lacking, Conducting an Effective Competitive Analysis for Sales and Marketing

Next, pinpoint areas where competitors have an edge over you. Maybe they have stronger organic visibility, a more engaging social media presence, or a slicker website.

Make it a priority to invest and catch up in these areas. Set specific goals like improving loading speeds, launching a blog, or revamping UX. Incremental gains here pay rewards over time as you erase any competitive gaps.

Step 7: Monitor and Update Regularly

Markets evolve quickly, so it’s essential to monitor competitors and update your analysis frequently. Set a reminder to refresh it each quarter to keep insights relevant.

Watch for these events and changes:

  • Take note of new offerings or features - If competitors launch new products, product enhancements, or bonuses. These could influence customer perceptions. Respond with comparable offerings if needed.
  • Rebrands - Pay attention if a competitor repositions their brand, refreshes their visual identity, or overhauls messaging. Determine if it shifts the share of voice in the market.
  • Marketing changes - Look for shifts in competitors’ marketing campaigns, segments targeted, promotions used, channels leveraged, etc. Adjust your marketing mixes accordingly.
  • Leadership changes - New executives, especially CEOs, can radically change strategic direction. Closely follow mergers, acquisitions, or leadership moves.
  • Buzz and press - Track media coverage, influencer commentary, and reviews mentioning competitors. This signals how market winds are shifting.

Regular monitoring provides an up-to-the-minute pulse on competitive dynamics. It allows you to evolve strategies to match and outmanoeuvre rivals continually.

Set a calendar reminder each quarter to revisit your analysis. Update all metrics, refresh research, and add new insights. Competitive intelligence gathering is an ongoing activity, not just a one-time project.

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To Wrap Things Up

Conducting an in-depth competitive analysis is pivotal for sales, marketing, and product teams. It reveals precisely how you stack up against alternatives - your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

You now have a blueprint for performing rigorous research, tapping customers, and translating insights into strategic action. But remember to keep your competitive analysis continuously monitored.

Innovative competitive analysis leads to refined positioning, messaging, and offerings. Staying one step ahead drives growth and customer satisfaction in a crowded market. Use these tactics to sustain your competitive edge over the long haul.

Get the Edge with a Competitor Analysis Template

Gaining a competitive edge takes rigorous analysis. But organizing all that data can become overwhelming. That’s why at Lunas, we offer a free template invaluable for your competitor research.

The right template allows you to benchmark your company against rivals in a structured format. It enables seamless data gathering, side-by-side comparisons, and tracking over time.

So don’t do it alone - get the competitor analysis template from Lunas to accelerate insights. It provides a clear framework within which to build your analysis. Plus, it summarizes findings into an executive presentation to drive strategy. Download it now to conduct focused research tailored to your market. It’s the secret weapon for staying steps ahead!

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