Are you using web tools to gauge your competitive position? Do you know how your performance stacks up against your competitors? How often during your week do you find yourself disappointed during a business transaction? Though it is a disturbing statement, execution has become a value-add. It has become the exception when a vendor or supplier delivers what they said they were going to deliver, when they said they would deliver and at the price that they quoted. It has become uncommon in business that we actually get what we expect from our supplier or vendor the first time and every time.
Are you in a position to deliver? If so, you are in a strong competitive posture. Are you aware of your capabilities vs. your competition? Do you know how to monitor your competitors performance history and the satisfaction level of your customers? If you stick your head in the sand you will most likely miss a rare opportunity to grow your business as a result of your competitors weakness. Here are some web tools and tactics that can help you gain an advantage vs. your competition:
Company Buzz: I call this tool Twitter with training wheels because it allows someone without any experience in Twitter to listen in and learn what is being said in Twitter’s conversation tunnel from your LinkedIn account. Company Buzz is found as an Application from within LinkedIn itself. You choose whether you show the results on your profile page or just for your own use on your LinkedIn home page. Simply put, you enter customer names, competitors names, brand names, prospects and even your own company name into Company Buzz. It will then automatically and without further effort on your part “listen in” to the Twitter flow and report back to you what is being said, good or bad, about any of the terms or names that you have entered. Be patient, you might not get the juicy details immediately, but over a period of time, you will start to get an understanding of what people are experiencing. A note of caution-you need to decide if the results of your saved searches within Company Buzz are shared with your network in the Settings area. I recommend that you uncheck the box and keep them private.
Google Reader/iGoogle: This tool has turned into my online morning newspaper. The RSS orange icon is becoming ubiquitous across most sites and services now, and you really need to learn how to use this tool to save you massive amounts of time and to provide critical information on any topic that is important to you professionally or personally. Google Reader is a free service that every person should have active, that serves as a collector of all information that you have chosen to follow by clicking on the RSS icon. iGoogle is a free service that is similar to Yahoo and other “portal pages” in that you are able to select and layout information in a format that is important to you in your preferred reading style. It is the layout tool that allows me to create my own personal online newspaper. It reminds me of the Wall Street Journal that I had subscribed to for many years init’s front page function. If you recall the front page had two columns of teasers. One had content that was of business focus, and the other was of mainstream news. You might see twelve to eighteen within each of those columns and you were then able to scan quickly down each column and jump to the rest of the article buried back in the pages of the paper. iGoogle works in the same way but is available to any Internet connected device, the teasers are simply links that take you to the online source of the rest of the information. Select RSS feeds from your competitors and customers sites and blogs, as well as for the Twitter feeds of those key search terms and they will be automatically fed into your Google Reader and your iGoogle page for review and action.
Gist: If you use Microsoft Outlook as your email client, Gist will provide a wealth of information that is connected to anyone in your contacts database, both individual or company. Gist is one of the tools that I call an “aggregator”, a tool that pulls in or aggregates information from many sources across the Internet on a 24 x 7 basis and makes it available to me in a format that I already spend much of my day with – email. Gist scours most of the social sites including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as a number of news services and web sites, scrubbing any relevant information about those contacts contained in my contacts database. When I open my calendar and see I have a meeting with Scott today, Gist will provide a screen of relevant and fresh content about Scott’s recent online activity, news information, along with my history of messages, notes and meetings involving him in the past. Quite a time saver and provides me the ability to deliver on expectations.
There are plenty of other tools, most of which I have written about here on Fill the Funnel blog, that will help you learn how you stack up against the competition, the level of satisfaction of your customers and prospects and what you can do to deliver what you promise, when you said you would, and at the price that you quoted.
How do you measure your execution? Which tools do you use?