Web-based technologies, dramatically reduced shipping costs, and a laser focus on expenses have combined to promote the globalization of these services. While competitors may be headquartered across town or in the next state, the employees delivering their services, as well as the customers purchasing their products, could be located anywhere.
As a result, business and professional service providers need to keep abreast of a continuously evolving competitor set, including nimble new entrants not burdened with legacy costs and robust competitors from overseas. Competitor capabilities and investments in far flung corners of the world must be watched more closely, as technology allows them to not only be brought on line more quickly, but also to impact the cost structure, product portfolio, and servicing capabilities in the US and Europe. Fuld recently opened its China office and entered into a strategic alliance with a firm in India, for just these reasons.
Despite the term business services, many purchasing decisions in these industries are really the result of personal relationships, whether they are between an individual customer and a preferred service provider (e.g., the decision to stay in a Marriott versus Hilton), or an executive and a consulting firm. Understanding the buying criteria of one’s customers and the effectiveness of competitor promotional efforts can give a significant lift to both client retention and acquisition efforts.
When the decisions are larger, such as those for multi-year servicing contracts in the business-to-business arena, the cost of basing a proposal on outdated or inaccurate information can be very high. Every win and every loss can create upheaval to both the victors and the also-rans. Having a firm grasp on competitor offerings, capabilities, and pricing is critical to expanding market share in any business. However, in the business-to-business services arena, this ostensibly basic competitor knowledge can be very difficult to obtain. With “customized solutions” and one-off negotiations on price, a large amount of B2B competition happens behind closed doors. Players who don’t attempt to analyze what goes on behind those doors can be blindsided by competitor moves and suffer rapid market share erosion. Companies that examine the full spectrum of competitive issues are more likely to prevail, potentially increasing their slice of the pie even when the overall market may be stagnant.
Fuld & Company’s Business Services Practice supports clients from the hospitality, legal, consulting, outsourcing, education, and many other industries as to understand and conquer the invisible competition they face. An ongoing stream of timely and accurate competitive intelligence enables our B2B clients to compete more effectively and efficiently, and to win more often.
Sample Case Studies