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Using Competitive Intelligence to Retain Customers

Your sales team pushes each month to help deliver your product to new customers, but despite every company’s best efforts, even the oldest subscription companies see over 2% of those hard-earned sales churn every month (thanks to ProfitWell for the stat).  

Your team is offering a great product at a great price, so what more can you do to keep happy customers using your product?  

The world for sellers has changed, and retaining users has only gotten harder. While most companies pin customer churn on customer success teams, some of the best customer retention efforts can start with your sales team. Having the best data to educate your customers on both your solutions and your competitors is important for preventing customer churn. Sometimes an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

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Here are some great ways to give your sales team a leg up in helping with retention.

Track Shifting Language From Competitors

Are your competitors coining new terms to generate differentiation in a crowded market?  

As your buyers are bombarded with messaging that includes both jargon and coined terms, the laundry list of terms and ‘use cases’ can leave buyers confused and frustrated during the buying process, as well as generate doubts further down the line. My favorite example around this is the plethora of terms surrounding intelligent solutions: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Cognitive Computing. The list goes on and on, and every time a new term pops up, buyers wonder if what they’re using is suddenly behind and no longer as effective as the new kid on the block.

Preempt this uncertainty by keeping your sales team up to date on the language competitors are using in their messaging. Data on this shifting language can be mined from the new or updated copy on their website, the terms and tags used in social media posts, and the focus of new content marketing.

Rather than facing an uphill battle when prospects mention previously unknown terms, competitive intelligence allows your sales terms to lead the conversation around upcoming terms circulating in your space and educate your prospects on what are actual differences versus what is simply marketing speak. Down the road, your sales team will have better-educated customers who will be willing to return to your teams for help understanding new terms and phrases while not feeling FOMO as with every new marketing campaign.  

Figure Out What Customers Truly Care About in the End

We’ve all seen this scenario:  

Your sales team runs a great discovery process with a customer actively seeking to buy and closes a customer in a competitive deal. After a few months of usage, the customer comes back with a list of product concerns that completely blindsides your customer success team and ultimately leads to that customer churning. These “unknown unknowns” come to haunt your customer success team, pushing churn even higher.  

Thankfully, you might be able to learn from your competitor’s failures before making more of your own.  

By tracking the negative reviews left for your competitor’s products, you may uncover areas of dissatisfaction that take weeks if not months for customers to encounter. By mining these negative reviews for common themes and patterns, you’ll see the later-stage issues customers face when using similar products without going through the costly exercise of experiencing their frustration yourself.  

You’ll be able to use the insights from this competitive intelligence to give your sales team additional questions and tips for qualifying leads based on potential future roadblocks. You’ll also be able to produce content and materials for educating customers on mitigating the common issues they’ll face down the line in their usage. Drive future churn down by stepping in front of the issues you’re seeing customers face with your competitors.

See What Promises are Being Made Elsewhere in the Market

One of the toughest aspects sales teams face while closing new customers is managing expectations of what the new product will be able to provide your customers. While bringing on new prospects, one of the biggest knowledge gaps your sales team faces is understanding what competitors can reasonably offer to relieve your prospect’s pain points. Failure to understand what advantages your competitors may have leaves your closed customers at a huge risk for poaching down the line if you aren’t able to educate your customers on how your product is best for a given customer.  

Following your competitor’s product announcements, website changes, and content marketing will allow your sales team to remain completely up to date on the evolving feature sets and use cases your competitors are broadcasting out to prospects. Keep your battlecards freakishly up to date by immediately bringing in insights and trends from the announcements and changes your competitors are making online.  

Rather than defensively having your product measured up against competitive solutions after a customer is closed, give your sales team the data they need to educate prospects on the capabilities available in the market, and convey to your prospects why your product is optimal on day one. It’s far easier to educate a user on day one than is it to rescue a churning customer on day 90.

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