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3 ways to protect your customer base from rivals

15th Mar 2021
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Competition for your customers doesn’t end after the first contract is signed, and neither should your competitive strategy. If you have battlecards, playbooks and objection-handling guidance for account reps but haven’t thought to extend that enablement to the account management, customer success and customer marketing functions, you may find yourself losing customers to the competition even while meeting new business goals. 

Forrester benchmark data indicates revenue from new logos accounts for nearly 23% of total revenue, while retained business plus growth via upsell and cross-sell account for the rest. How are you protecting that 77%? This has always been important and is even more so in markets where the global pandemic has been disruptive. 

The easy answer is, “by delivering value and ensuring a resonant customer experience.” True. But why not augment that strong relationship with a strategy to counteract competitive pressure? In the B2B Summit North America session “Keep Your Customers Close: A Competitive Strategy for Retention,”  Forrester will review key tenets of a competitive strategy for B2B organizations and show how those can be applied to improve revenue and account retention. Here are three things to consider: 

  • It’s not just the product. Focusing only on feature and product comparisons is one of the most common mistakes in a competitive strategy. Those comparisons are important, but existing customers who have been using your offering now have a better understanding of which features they are using and which have delivered the most value. To counter competitive innovation, a competitive strategy for existing customers should also leverage the experience with your organization. Has the customer benefited from communities, information or exposure as part of your ecosystem? Have you been easy to work with? Flex these muscles in your interactions with customers – up to and including the renewal conversations. 

  • Repurpose and recycle. If you already have materials to guide account reps on competitive positioning, you might be halfway to providing the same enablement to account managers and customer success managers who are responsible for driving growth and retention of customers. For example, a standard battlecard might contain information on the ideal prospect for an offering, with data on industry, size or geographic location. For the account management, customer success and customer marketing teams, that information could be replaced or enhanced with guidance on existing segments that are particularly vulnerable to competition. If you have documented the last known best competitor during the selling process, continue to emphasize the points of difference well into the post-sale customer journey to validate the reason for purchase. 

  • Activate your advocates. Existing customers and partners are a rich source of competitive information. If you have customer advisory boards and partner networks, mine their insights on which competitors are a potential threat to your customer base, and why. A plan for assessing and disseminating this unstructured feedback will make it easier to action. Customer marketing is increasingly taking on the role of managing customer advisory boards, according to Forrester’s Q3 2019 Global Customer Marketing Survey, so marketing practitioners needn’t cede this effort to other functions if they see an opportunity. 

Disruption ushered in by the pandemic isn’t the only reason a competitive strategy for your customer base is important, but it’s a compelling catalyst. 

To learn more, please register for Forrester’s B2B Summit North America here

This post was written by Principal Analysts Amy Bills and Paul Ferron, and it originally appeared here.

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