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Competitive Intelligence

How to Be Central Command For your Organization: 8 Tips to Distribute Competitive Intelligence

April 9, 2020 by Katie Berg

Things are changing quickly. And constantly. That’s what our new “normal” looks like right now. New information on markets, industries, competitors and even your own company is available every hour, every minute.

As teams try to navigate the best way forward in an upside-down world, they need knowledge to guide the way.

We’ve spent the last few weeks listening to our customers and see one very clear trend emerging →

Knowledge is business-critical and everyone’s hungry for it.

This is true for all industries. Ours. Yours. Everyone.

The role of the competitive intelligence manager has shifted from serving specific teams (mainly Sales) with periodic competitive updates, to operating as command central for the entire organization. You centralize information in real-time and distribute competitive intelligence to help every function make better decisions.

Your value to the organization has never been more critical.

We’ve collected the best approaches of leading enterprise CI teams on how you can elevate your competitive intelligence program to drive more value across your company. These are the things to consider in your organization right now.

1. CI Teams are already strategically positioned to be Central Command

That’s the good news. Product marketers are used to bridging the gaps between teams. Being an expert in stakeholder engagement is a requirement for the job. If you’re running a Competitive Intelligence program, you’re already tasked with connecting teams to insights on the market and competitors.

Your biggest opportunity is to broaden that reach, and to fully own the role of being Central Command; acting as the point of centralization for all knowledge and information collection, and directing how insights are shared out across the company.

2. Silos are the biggest threat to your effectiveness

It seems we might have more questions than answers right now. And yet, in each function of the company – Marketing, Sales, Customer Success, Product, etc, we all have access to unique sources of information. Information that might be valuable to other teams.

For example, over the past couple of weeks at Klue, we’ve been sharing information openly from all levels of the company. SDRs and Account Executives share what they are hearing from the front lines, Customer Success Managers share learnings on our clients’ priorities and pains. Marketing shares insights on how behavior has changed with our various marketing programs.

How to become Central Command: Deliver value and distribute competitive intelligence across your organization

As individual teams, it’s easy to forget that the knowledge we hold can be useful to others. When we all have question marks, every piece of information helps to fill out the puzzle.

Think of these silos as physical barriers between your team and decision making. The longer it takes to navigate around them, the more time is wasted. The fastest route is always through. Speed and agility are critical when we have to pivot quickly.

So the question becomes; How can you act as a conduit? How can you break down the knowledge barriers between teams and align your company on a common mission, and a common set of information to make decisions from?

The answer: Deliver value to each function with your Competitive Intelligence program.

Okay, but how?

In a time where knowledge is currency, you have a great opportunity to prove value across the org. to demonstrate that market and competitive intelligence can support better decision-making for all functions of the company including revenue-facing teams.

The first step is to map out who needs what.

Consider the questions each team faces and what information they might need to be more effective:
Marketing Teams Ask → What do our target personas care about right now? What are their new pains? How do we refine our go-to-market to resonate effectively at this time?
Sales Teams Ask → How do I sell in this environment? What are my competitors doing to adapt their strategies?
Customer Success Teams Ask → How are my customers being impacted? How do we provide value and support them? How will our competitors respond to their clients, and what do I need to know to handle that?
Product Teams Ask → How do new customer pains impact how they use our solution? How are our competitors likely to react? What product initiatives could this prioritize?

The next step is action. Today. Not tomorrow. Here are 8 ways to start.

Engage teams to collect and contribute information

There is an abundance of sources to collect information for your competitive intelligence research. However, also consider the following ideas on how to engage teams in your company to share their tribal knowledge:

  1. Consider new sources of information. Whether that means getting your Sales and CS teams to share intel on their daily calls directly into a message channel or in daily stand-ups – real-time updates keep a pulse on the market.
  2. Elevate your Frontline. Consider who is closest to your prospects and customers and give them the go-ahead to share their intel regularly. Your Support, Customer Success and SDR teams have direct access to your customers and will be the first to pick up on changes in the market.
  3. Create social payoff for contributing intel. At Klue, our company is highly engaged in sharing and commenting on competitive and market intel. Right now, we’re doing the same with information from the field. We’ve created a culture where posting insight on what our prospects are saying will get high engagement. Social payoff like this helps to create the flywheel of intel collection. When it feels good to contribute, people are just more likely to do it.
  4. Keep all the information in one place. Having everything together – and in plain sight – will make it easy to track and monitor trends.

Increase how often you distribute competitive intelligence across your organization

With more intel coming in, you need to summarize and share insights in a digestible way. Make these updates a ‘need to have’, rather than a ‘nice to have’ in your company’s day-to-day.

  1. State of the Union updates. Weekly stand-ups or all-hands meetings are a great time to share insights on the market and competitive landscape. Making this part of the already existing routine encourages adoption.
  2. Curate team intel digests. Once you’ve established norms to get teams to share intel to your centralized repository, consider sharing out key insights in a regular newsletter. Many of our clients create newsletters for different teams within the org. This could include an executive digest, and unique digests for different teams including Marketing/Prospecting, Pipeline, Customer Success, Talent Acquisition, Product, etc.
  3. Create a CI effectiveness team. Bring together leaders from your Marketing, Sales, CS and Product functions to help source content and provide regular input on your Competitive Intelligence program.
  4. Infiltrate team meetings. Join the Sales meeting occasionally to provide updates on competitor and market changes.

Whatever you do, remember two key rules to delivering insights:

Keep it short and to link out to longer sources where possible. The key is to align teams on high-level insights.
Make it easy to access – don’t make people hunt. Get your insights out in front of the org and easy to find when needed.