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Competitive Enablement

5 Competitive Intelligence Skills You Need to Master

The skills and traits of a competitive intelligence master all have one thing in common: connection.

Connecting the dots between people, ideas, and execution.

In baseball, a five-tool player is someone who is fast, fields well, has a strong arm, and can hit for power and average.

In competitive intelligence, and more specifically competitive enablement, the five skills and traits you need to master are:

  • Storytelling
  • Communication
  • Research
  • Curiosity
  • Project Management

Let’s dive into each one.

5 competitive intelligence skills you need to master

1. Storytelling

For your prospects, customers and colleagues, it’s not enough to explain WHAT you do. The real magic is in explaining WHY you’re doing it.

The skill of storytelling in competitive intelligence is all about making the WHY come alive.

Effective storytelling makes your product, service and brand more relatable.

If you can tell a story that resonates with people and shows you understand the problem your prospects and customers are facing, you are more likely to grab and hold their attention.

What’s more, you need to be a good storyteller for your internal audience as well.

Whether you’re telling the story of how your compete team is prioritizing projects for the quarter or the story of how a new product release came to be, your ability to weave in a consistent narrative will pay dividends.

2. Communication

Communication is to storytelling what technical writing is to creative writing.

Whereas storytelling is about maximizing relatability and emotion, communication is about organizing thoughts and disseminating them with maximum effectiveness.

Ultimately, good communication boils down to:

  • Clarity of thought — make your ideas concrete, not abstract
  • Clarity of outcome — declare your primary call to action
  • Conciseness — get rid of extra words and unnecessary context
  • Presence — show up to meetings, be active in group chats, and make yourself available
  • Consistency — communicate where you’re at from beginning to end and at points in between

Mastering communication makes every other part of your role easier — fewer surprises and better outcomes. It’ll definitely make you better at all the competitive intelligence jobs you take on.

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3. Research

No matter the job, virtually every competitive intelligence job description will include a section related to research.

And no we’re not talking about the “Google something and look at the first hit” kind of research.

In reality, true research involves a systematic process of:

  • Searching for competitive intel
  • Collecting competitive intel
  • Organizing competitive intel
  • Analyzing competitive intel
  • Updating outdated competitive intel

The crucial point here is that competitive intelligence research needs to be much more in-depth than simply finding intel and collecting it.

In other words, the skill that takes you from a one-dimensional competitive intelligence professional to a full-fledged competitive enablement manager is your ability to analyze the data and enable your teams with it.

4. Curiosity

Curiosity may seem more like a trait than a competitive intelligence skill. And yes, being naturally curious isn’t exactly something you can control.

But the skill of curiosity is about honing your ability to ask great questions.

We’ll scream it until we’re blue in the face: the best, most actionable, most valuable intel comes from internal sources.

(A close second is intel from win-loss interviews with customers and prospects.)

Both internal sources and win-loss analysis require you to be genuinely curious and ask engaging questions.

Sure, it’s normal to have your own hypotheses and assumptions. But you need to do your best to put those aside and let your curiosity shine through.

Go into every aspect of your competitive enablement role with an open mind, maintaining honest and genuine curiosity, and the data you need to make good decisions will reveal itself.

5. Project Management

The first four competitive intelligence skills all ladder up to the big one: project management.

  • Powerful storytelling gets stakeholders invested in the project at hand.
  • Good communication enables you and your team to get on the same page and set clear expectations.
  • Intentional research provides the knowledge base for you to make informed decisions.
  • And curiosity lets you learn on the fly, take in valuable information from your stakeholders, and be agile in your decision-making.

But while these skills play a role, effective project management goes beyond these skills.

Using an intuitive and easy-to-use project management tool is a must — especially with a dispersed and remote workforce.

You’ll also want to develop a project roadmap, highlight key milestones along the way, and provide regular status updates.

Bonus skill: Teamwork

We’re pretty sure John Donne wasn’t referring to competitive intelligence or competitive enablement when he wrote the iconic phrase “no man is an island.”

But he sure could have been!

Even scrappy competitive teams of one cannot be successful without first building cross-functional relationships and earning organizational buy-in.

So do yourself a favour, and get into the mindset that you’re a part of a larger team, and that your job is to enable them with the insights they need to win.

Teamwork makes the dream work after all.

And the dream is to enable every team across the organization.

If you master these six competitive intelligence skills, the dream is well within reach.

competitive intelligence job description

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