Most consumers understand they have a choice when determining where to spend their dollars. Regardless of what it is they need, if they are smart, they will do their homework and shop around for whose product offers the best solution for them. Some customers shop based on price while others shop based on services. Whatever their reason, smart consumers will make their purchasing decision based on data they’ve gathered about you AND your competition.

And although your employees have been extensively trained to be experts on YOUR products and services, they oftentimes find themselves talking to informed consumers as much about your company as they are about your competition. Your customer service reps might even hear facts about your competition used as reasons for potential buyers not choosing your company.

It’s hugely important for your reps to understand your products and services. But with consumers getting smarter and educating themselves on all the players in your industry, it’s a good idea to try and stay one step ahead in the game. What if you and your reps could anticipate potential buyers’ objections? What if you knew as much about your competition as educated consumers? What if knowing that information could help you position yourselves more attractively to potential customers?

Mystery shopping is most often viewed as a tool that helps you understand your business: how is your customer service? What areas can use improvement? What training can we put in place to sharpen our edge? But mystery shopping can be equally productive in helping you understand your competitions’ business as well. Is the competition cheaper? Are they offering more or better products and services? What are they doing that you aren’t?

To gain insight about your competition, mystery shoppers can be utilized to either place recorded phone calls or visit the competition posed as a potential customer. Comprehensive reporting based on the parameters you have outlined can give you insight into what your competition is offering – making you as much, if not more, informed than your potential customers. Possessing this knowledge allows you to know both your strengths and weaknesses in the marketplace and improve where necessary. Brand repositioning based on findings will proactively negate customer objections and concerns, making you the best choice before they even place a call to your customer service department. Additionally, continued training for your reps with competitive data will allow quick and accurate responses when talking with potential customers.

Established companies are not the only ones who benefit from competitive analysis; it is also one of the most important components of new business plans. Whether you have been around for decades or are establishing a new business, it is always helpful to understand the competitive marketplace. Knowing your competitors pricing information, product information, sales information, and more can be key factors in making you competitive; but this information is not always available as public information. Mystery shopping can help overcome this obstacle; you can personally shop them, or more conveniently, you can hire a professional mystery shopping company to do it for you. They will send in shoppers, compile the data, and deliver polished reports. No matter where your business is at in its lifespan, mystery shopping can be used as a competitive analysis tool to position yourself better!