This is a guest post by Dom from Turbo
Are you building a company in a crowded market?
Most of us SaaS founders are.
And the problem with challenging our competitors, is often times the have more sales and marketing muscle than we do.
But I have good news.
It’s more achievable than most realize. You just have to be resourceful with identifying these prospects, find a unique way to get them into your funnel and create a seamless transition experience.
We call it the 3 S’s of Stealing Your Competitor’s Customers:
Searching, Stacking and Selling.
We’ll share our findings from working in an incredibly competitive market and share how you can implement our favorite tactics to acquire new customers from both competing and complementary products. These expert sales prospecting tips will help you grow your business manifold by enabling you to target right customers.
Finding customers of your competitors can be easy to do, but difficult to scale.
While most people may browse Twitter or naturally keep an eye open for these customer, the problem is, only two types of people are actually talking about them.
Those who love the them, and those who hate them..
Which makes searching require a more sophisticated approach if you want to discover them at scale.
Here are our 5 favorite ways to discover the customers of your competitors.
1. Searching the web for code snippets
Is your competitor a tech company?
If so, they likely require their users to install some custom code on their customers’ website.
Whether it’s a chat widget or a retargeting platform like Adroll, you can search the public internet for sites that use a particular technology.
It’s like google search for code. And the website is called PublicWWW.com
Say my competitor is Adroll, I can search for all of the website’s that include the custom Adroll tracking pixel. All you do is go to their site and enter a search phrase.
You can see PublicWWW returns a huge result of over 200,000 sites that contain the keyword “adroll” in source code.
It’s safe to assume these are Adroll customers.
And with this free tool, I can even export the results into a csv.
For this example I was able to export around 8,000 sites without having to pay or sign up for an account.
This is a great source of pre-qualified leads if you query for highly relevant products/competitors.
2. Review sniffing
What are your competitor’s customers saying about them?
If you don’t know, you’re missing out on a lot.
Listening to everything they say is an excellent opportunity to identify their strengths, weaknesses and of course, find more potential customers.
And with tools like Mention.com, Google alerts or twitter alerts it’s incredibly easy to monitor social media and chime in when the time is right.
3. Product Hunt
If you’re a SaaS startup, producthunt.com should be your best friend.
Not only is one of the fastest growing tech/product communities, but it’s full of early adopters and potential customers. Not to mention the ability to find competitive companies and see who is saying what about them.
Did you know you can see who up-votes a particular product?
This means you can navigate to ProductHunt.com, search for your competitors and look at every person who upvoted that post!
These are hot n’ ready prospects if you’re an early company seeking your first few customers or early product feedback.
Through the ProductHunt API and a little bit of coding, you can actually programmatically extract all up voters of any post.
4. Social Profiles
This one’s a no-brainer.
Customers, fans, enthusiasts and company supporters all follow their favorite brands on social media.
Which makes extracting the followers of competitor’s social media sites an absolute must.
And with tools like Audiense and handful of others, it’s easier than ever to turn your competitor’s social profiles into a hot source of leads, especially Twitter.
5. BuzzSumo Content Sharers
Piggy-backing off the last point, identifying those who share your competitor’s content are also likely to be potential customers.
To gather a list of people who share certain content, you can use (freemium) a tool called Buzzsumo.
Simply grab a free trial and search for your competitor’s content. It will return a list of all their content filtered by popularity.
From here, you can click the View Shares and view or extract all of the people who share this content. It gives.
If you wanted to go even a step further, you can search twitter for the specific headline and gather all the people who “liked” it.
6. Find more competitors (and repeat)
If you feel like you’ve run out of competitors.
While nobody wants more competition, it’s good to be aware of them all and at least have the opportunity to take their customers.
Once you exhaust these searching strategies on the competitors you know of, here are a few sources that will help you find more:
- Getapp (notorious for doing comparison articles on enterprise software)
- Siftery (great categorization of software, ie., developer tools, social media, HR, etc.)
- Capterra (also has good categorization and comparison)
- G2Crowd (more comparison)
- GlassDoor (More of a recruiting/company overview tool, but shows similar companies in the industry)
Once you run through these other sites to discover more complementary or competing products, you can repeat the “Search” phase to double or triple your initial gathering.
Now that we have a good source of potential customers, we want to find the most effective and scalable way to stack them into our funnel.
Here are three ways to get users into your funnel that’ll work particularly well in the context of these lead sources.
1. Ask for feedback.
There’s a famous quote in Silicon Valley that goes something like:
“If you want my money, ask for advice. If you want my advice, ask for money.”
While a large number of investors share this advice for raising capital, we’ve found it to work really well for acquiring customers.
Although this isn’t scalable, you can offer them a free trial and ask for product feedback.
This will get them in the door and present an opportunity to close.
2. Strong lead magnet
You don’t want just to throw some random e-book at these people. You have to keep in mind the context of which you found them.
For example, if a customer is already using AdRoll we shouldn’t be sharing some “Retargeting 101” ebook at them.
Instead, we would share something like “6 downsides of using AdRoll and how to get around them.”
See the difference?
Any person who is paying big bucks for AdRoll doesn’t want to miss out. So they are going to be drawn to this magnet like a bee on honey!
Distribution can be through email, Facebook ads, tweeting at them, etc. but if it’s a strong and relevant lead magnet, it will perform well.
3. Paid Acquisition
When your team is full of Facebook marketing ninjas, it’s hard not to talk about Facebook ads.
But we’ll let you in on a little secret that has been driving our company massive results.
We target our competitors’ customers with ads.
But not just any ads. Ads that are incredibly relevant that mention (our competitor) the current solution they’re using.
Imagine how painful it would be to paying hundreds of dollars service and know there is a cheaper and or more effective solution.
It’s painful, and that’s what drives tremendous results for our ads.
By mentioning our competitor, we’ve been able to drive incredibly high amounts of clicks due to this ad’s relevance.
Hooray! Time for the best part.
After we’ve identified potential customers and managed to get them into our funnel, it’s time to sell.
But if you plan on using the same strategies that you use for a cold audience, you’re going to fail miserably.
With these types of prospects, you have to remove “sell” from your vocabulary and replace it with “transition.”
These customers are already using a solution. Whether they are dissatisfied or not reaching their highest potential, to get them to convert you have to do two things:
One, exploit their current solutions flaws – as much as possible.
And two, make the transition as friction-free as possible.
So for us, exploiting competitors’ flaws in practice looks like sharing case studies, infographics, etc. on dollars saved/earned and explicitly pointing out how/why they are better off by switching to us.
It doesn’t matter if you do this through video, an article, customer interviews, etc., just do it.
The the second step of selling is to make the transition as smooth as possible.
For most tech companies, this means one-click integrations, easy importing and a well thought out onboarding process for these transitioners.
Even if your product will save them a ton of money, time is their most valuable resource. And you need to acquaint for that.
By exploiting their current solutions’ flaws and making the transition seamless, you can truly capitalize on your competitor’s customers and all of these leads you’ve acquired from these strategies.
Competition is an inevitable challenge in the early days of building your SaaS company.
But the way you handle it could be a huge determinant in your company’s success.
With a strong product, acquiring their customers can both be attainable and a huge growth lever for your company if you follow the Search Stack Sell approach!
If you have any thoughts/questions, leave a comment or tweet us @UseTurbo