If you’ve taken a peep at our brand-spanking-new Competitive Enablement Maturity Model, then you’ll know that the 20+ competitive experts who helped build the model emphasized the importance of getting executive support for your competitive enablement program.
So, why is getting executive support critical? Sure, it sounds nice, but is it really necessary?
When we spoke with Scot Kim, Director at Lenovo, he shared two key reasons why you’ve got to get your execs on board:
If your competitive program is helping the business, then getting credit for that puts the gas on your career acceleration. The more you can showcase the value that you bring to the company, the more likely you’ll be able to get the budget and resources to elevate the reach and impact your competitive program has on the company.
“You want to get as much visibility and as much credibility as you can from the executives. It makes it so much easier when the executive team knows who you are and the value that you’re bringing to the company,” says Scot.
Competitive enablement connects the dots across the company. Executives are your fastest path to making these connections, especially at large companies.
“Competitive is all about collaboration and cross-functional collaboration with different departments,” says Scot. “If the executive teams know who you are, they’ll start to mention you by name or function to other teams. That’s going to help in busting down walls.”
In today’s article, we’ll jump into two examples of how people in charge of competitive enablement at their company earned the executive support needed to elevate their programs.
When Chris Owen, Director of Product at Saviynt, took ownership of competitive enablement at the company, getting executive sign-off for his competitive program was “the quickest business case” he’d ever submitted.
The reason for getting such fast approval from his executive team to support with budget and resources was because Chris tapped into some good old-fashioned FOMO. Chris used data from their Salesforce instance and survey feedback from sales to outline where the company’s competitive knowledge was at.
“We have around 100 competitors. Yet, if you look at the material that exists and people’s knowledge, you could count the number of competitors that we really understood on a single hand,” says Chris.
“The business case for us was: we’ve got this much knowledge of these known competitors, but actually there’s an entire gap over here that we don’t know about. It came down to a 60-70 per cent gap of knowledge… you can’t argue with the data.”
But laying out the problems will only take you so far. Chris estimated the increase in revenue that would occur if they could improve win rates against certain competitors, and also laid out the vision of how they’d achieve this changed state.
“We set seven objectives for the competitive program. Those ranged from centralizing all existing content, building sugar-free messaging, and enabling our sellers to feel confident about what they are saying… We essentially analyzed what we have now, compared to where we want to be.”
To wrap this up in a neat little bow, here are the four steps that you can take from Chris’ business case masterclass.
Step 1: Identify the problem that needs solving.
In Chris’ case, Saviynt had a TON of competitors across different product lines that they needed to get a handle on.
Step 2: Use proofpoints to validate the problem.
Chris quantified sales’ lack of confidence through survey feedback and mapped every competitor mentioned in deals in Salesforce to highlight how vast their competitive landscape was.
Step 3: Present why a solution will help the company.
Chris shared where the team’s competitive knowledge and win rates were, and then calculated the increase in revenue if they could win X percent more competitive deals based on previous quarterly performances.
Step 4: Share a roadmap on how you’ll get to your solution.
Chris’ seven objectives are the measurables that he can hold his competitive program accountable to. It makes it far easier to update the progress of this project.
Chris’ path to executive sponsorship revolved around highlighting the competitive problem, and outlining an actionable blueprint of what they were going to do to solve it.
However, you can also get executive’s attention by pointing out what you’re already doing to improve how your teams compete.
This was how Scot Kim approached getting executive support when he joined the team at Conga.
When Scot arrived, the team was getting blown out by the competition. As the person in charge of competitive enablement, he had to figure out why.
“Our win rates were atrocious,” says Scot. “Then after a lot of cross-functional interviews, the one thing we learned is a lot of the Account Executives (AEs) were pretty new to the company and they didn’t really understand the market or the product.”
Now that he’d identified a key problem, Scot came up with a creative solution.
“We created the concept of a weekly war room for that specific product that had really low win rates,” says Scot. “On a weekly cadence, we’d have an AE come in with a particularly important deal.”
In the war room, the AE would walk through the deal with a team of key subject matter experts across different departments in the company. They’d share the key areas that were stretching out the sales cycle, and the subject matter experts would then support the AE with a micro sales enablement session.
This approach allowed Scot to give hands-on support in a competitive deal, and allowed the longer tenured experts from the product, engineering, and sales teams to educate these newer reps, which was the core competitive issue Scot identified.
Scot’s competitive war rooms immediately got the attention of executives on his team.
“The biggest key reason why you’ll get executive credibility and buy-in is because the war room is a cross-functional, collaborative effort. All executives want to promote that,” says Scot. “An executive’s worst nightmare is working in silos. The war room by nature is a silo buster.”
Not only does sparking this collaboration pique the interest of your execs, but you can also point to the impact your competitive enablement is having on revenue.
“You can you can start seeing which deals we closed that went through a war room,” says Scot. “Boom, that’s data that you can’t disagree with. Share that with the executive team and they’re going to say, ‘okay, something’s working here now’. That’s how you move the needle and increase your credibility with the executive team.”
In both Scot and Chris’ examples, they clearly outlined the value of competitive enablement in ways that resonate with their executives.
Scot used cold, hard data to underline the competitive problem that needed solving.
Scot used examples of hands-on competitive support to win more competitive deals.
Both earned the support of their executive team, which led to more budget, more resources, and competitive enablement becoming more strategically important within the company.
Chris Owen and Scot Kim explain the importance of executive support for your competitive enablement program, and what they did to earn it.
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