To Beat The Competition, Product Managers Have To Do Some Homework

by drjim on June 3, 2013

To beat your competition you are going to have to do some homework…

To beat your competition you are going to have to do some homework…Image Credit

Based on the product development definition that you used to create your product, your product is the best available product to solve the problem that your customers are facing. This means that your customers should all be buying from you and your competition should just dry up and blow away, right? For some odd reason, that does not seem to be happening. Product managers who want their products to beat the competition need to do some homework in order to find out just exactly what their completion is up to…

How Much Is Your Competition Selling?

This one’s pretty simple, isn’t it? In order to determine just how much of a competitor a firm is, you’re going to have to find out how successful their product is — this is basic product manager resume stuff. This means that you’ve got some sales numbers that you’ve got to uncover.

I’m sure that we all know that getting this information is valuable. However, do we understand why? One of the most important reasons that we need to understand how successful our competition is comes down to the simple fact that it will help us to set our own expectations for our product. At the same time, it will expose potential market opportunities, reveal possible partners, and might even let us know about threats that we had not realized existed.

Getting the sales information that we need may not be easy especially if your competition is not a publically traded firm. However, there are always ways around this. One such way is to go to trade groups or industry publications to get information on the size of your product’s market. Then see if you can get analyst’s estimates of the portion of the market that your competition has captured. If they have 20% of a US$100M market, then you know that they’re selling $20M worth of product each year.

How Much Does Your Competition Pay Their Employees?

In order to design, develop, market, and sell their product, your competition needs workers. As we all know, there will always be turn over when it comes to employees. This means that your competition is always going to have “help wanted” ads running. These are ads that you need to be spending some time reading.

These ads are going to tell you a lot about how your competition is running their business. One of the most important things that you can learn is how much they are willing to pay their staff. Since you’ll be needing the same types of workers for your product, if you know how much the competition is willing to pay, then you can raise your salaries just a bit an you’ll be able to land the very best employees.

Nothing Beats Talking To Real People

Google is a very powerful tool when it comes to finding out what your competition is up to. However, there are even better ways to get good information.

Simply by talking with your competition, you can often learn a great deal about not only their product, but also how they are going about selling their product. This is the kind of information that you’ll never get out of Google.

However, you need to realize that you are operating in dangerous territory here. You can never misrepresent yourself. I am going to suggest that you always identify who you are and who you work for when you are talking with your competition. You’ll be amazed at just how much they are willing to share with you even when they know who you are!

What All Of This Means For You

In order for your product to be successful, you are going to have to acknowledge that you will have competition. This means that you’ve got some homework to do: you need to find out as much about your competition as possible. This kind of work should have been spelled out in your product manager job description.

In order to do this, you can use many freely available resources. This should allow you to determine just how much of the available market your competition has been able to capture. It should also let you find out how much they are paying their employees and what kind of benefits they are providing. Finally, you need to keep in mind that going out and talking with real people is always your best way of collecting valuable information about your competition.

It can be too easy for a product manager to spend their time only looking inside of their own company. We can get caught up in our product development process and interacting with our own sales teams. Take the time to do your homework and you’ll learn more about your market. Your competition is being successful, study what they are doing and your product can become successful also!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that it would ever be ok to pose as a customer and try to get information from one of your competitors?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

You’ve made a new product— hooray! But how can you get people to buy it? Here are some tips for ways to get the word out and how to make sure your customers are satisfied.

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