The Importance of Understanding the Competitive Landscape in B2B Customer Development

The differentiation in B2B is market knowledge. If you don’t know anything about your market, you start with two strikes. – Simon Labbé, xD3 Solutions Founder and CEO

If you can find the companies and people selling in the space, you can identify the customer roles and functions (e.g., Vice President, Global Communications).

Example of a buyer role for Yammer

By digging a bit further, you can also identify the kinds of value propositions and promotion models that are currently working in the industry.

Be sure to understand the buying reflexes of your target customers and adapt to that reality. For example, if customers in your industry are accustomed to purchasing software by check at tradeshows, starting with self-serve Software as a Service (SaaS) is adding extra hurdles to your product’s adoption.

Entrepreneurs often underestimate the value and knowledge of the people that are successfully selling in an industry. There’s a lot of information that can be gathered just by speaking to salespeople and businesses already selling in a space.

Through this process, you’ll also discover potential competitors — or partners — for your business. Take note of the other businesses selling in the space and figure out the types of overlaps and comparisons prospects might perceive.

Competitive analysis skills are critically-important for startup CEOs.

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