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Knowledge is Power

Knowledge is power. Everyone knows that, or at the least, everyone
gives that statement lip service. I say “lip service” because I am
amazed at how little my competition knows about me and my
company, and how little they know about their other competitors.
why should they? What can be gained by knowledge of your
competition? The answer is not for the lazy, nor is it for those who
believe the only factor the general contractor considers is low price.

The GC is politically conservative and especially so on the abortion
issue. Your major competitor is the exact opposite in his
beliefs. Political issues are very personal and emotional to
most/many people. The sales process is an emotional process anyway
Therefore, if I had this information about the GC’s beliefs,
couldn’t I just mention my competitor’s beliefs and stir those emotions?
Wouldn’t this put me in a better position with the GC?
Once in that better position, couldn’t I use that to close the deal?

Business is all about relationships, and the more knowledge you
have of your competitors, the better equipped you are in building
and establishing the type of relationships that affect the final
outcome of the bidding process. It is that simple.

What type of information do you really want, and how do you
get it? When you start out doing this, it will take a lot of work.
Like I stated earlier, this is not for the lazy. However, once you get
the basics and you get a good database going, it is not to hard to
keep up. I already have a pretty good database developed over the
years. However, when a new competitor pops up, I face the same
type of situation that you will.
This type of information is pretty general and easy to get. I can
ask suppliers and/or I can go to our local association and gather
some of the information. I can also go to our state’s Web site.
Once I find out who they have done work for, I can generally
get quite a bit of information from the GC. I keep all this information
in a book, or on my computer. I have a form that lists
hundreds of questions. As I gather the answers, I fill in the form
nothing elaborate, just simple and effective.

The next step is to focus on more specific and personal information.
Some examples of what I look for are marital status, number
of children and their ages, hobbies, etc. I want to know what
his political beliefs are. I want to find out about his estimating
skills. How does he take off and price work? What areas or scopes
are his personal areas of expertise? Is he computer literate? When
does he get to work, and what time does he leave?

I usually get this detailed information from the competitor himself.
I find a way to spend some time with him at one of the local
area golf tournaments, at a dinner for one of our Associations,
etc. I usually don’t ask him all of these at one time, I just ask several
questions initially and build from there.

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