Recently, I was at a home show where one of our SHE Members was exhibiting. At this same exhibit, one of her competitors was also there. When I approached the general vicinity of her competitor's booth, the woman yells across the way, "Have you ever considered an XYZ Product?" I was in a hurry and was not planning on doing a competitive shop for this member, and said, "I am already working with someone on the XYZ Product." The competitor asked who it was and I told her. I guess I expected that would be my quick and easy out of the conversation. But, the competitor was offended and rudely asked, "What do you mean you are already working with them? Why won't you give us a chance?" Being a customer service trainer and customer experience consultant, I can't walk away from a great opportunity to mystery shop someone with a rude introduction like that. Fortunately for our SHE Member, this turned into a courtesy impromptu mystery shop.

Things I would normally evaluate on a mystery shop would be the customer service and sales skills, what the competitor's positive attributes are, what they are promoting as their strengths and how their marketing materials look, among other things. What came out of this women's mouth next, does not happen often! She began to bash our SHE Member's product and falsely did so! As she bashed our trusted, highly vetted member, I stood with my ears wide open taking every mental note I could about all the negatives she was saying! I really get to know each of our members, so I knew what she was saying was false. Instead of taking the high road and telling me why their company is the best (their USP), she used this precious time to talk negative about her competitor.

What a tremendous opportunity for our SHE Member to know what her competition says about her! When I left the competitor's booth, I went back to our SHE Member's booth and wrote on the back of the competitor's business card all the negative points the competitor said. Since they were all false, the SHE Member is now able to tailor her talking points accordingly. Competitive mystery shops are a very valuable endeavor, but few business owners actually do these.  In fact, without doing competitive shops, you really cannot develop proper marketing messaging or a marketing plan. If you are investing to have someone write your marketing copy, pay a few dollars more and have a professional mystery shop your competition. Be careful who you have mystery shop your competition, as it needs to be someone thoroughly experienced in sales, customer service and marketing. Using anyone else, they may not recognize what went well and what went bad in all those areas.

At SHE Leads Group, we strive to teach and support our members in any way possible. What an added-value I was able to give to our SHE Member by providing her with this information. I love being able to help and empower women in any way possible. If you would like to experience the SHE Difference, please visit us at a chapter near you, where your business category is not already taken.

About the author

Beth Boen, Founder of SHE Leads Group

Beth Boen has more than 30 years of experience in sales, marketing and customer service. She is an award-winning marketer. She is also a professional trainer and customer experience consultant. Beth loves helping people build long-term, loyal relationships that produce quality connections in their business that lead to lifetime customers and endless referrals. Beth helps people do this through her thoughtful blogs and training curriculum. Members of SHE Leads Group have access to more in-depth business development training through presentations at meetings from Beth, her curriculum, and guest trainers. In addition to being the Founder of SHE Leads Group, Beth has had a training and consulting business, The Voice Customer Experience, that she started in 2005.

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