November 6, 2020 by Adam McQueen
Everyone wants to build a sturdy competitive intelligence framework that delivers insights across the organization, but many don’t hold up when they are tested.
Because teams don’t map out a cohesive plan as to how the competitive intelligence framework will operate and enable various teams with real-time, actionable insights.
In order to create a plan that works, it is vital that you identify the problems that need to be solved and then establish the key requirements that will become the pillars that hold your competitive program together.
Here’s how Tracy Berry, the Sr. Competitive Intelligence Analyst at Service Max, built out the key requirements for the company’s competitive intelligence program.
You can learn how Tracy built Service Max’s entire CI function in 90 days here.
Tracy identified the common problems that the company was facing by conducting thirty minute interviews with thirty key stakeholders across different departments. During these ‘30-in-30’ interviews, she asked the same questions to every interviewee and surfaced similar pain points that various teams were facing.
However, the final question that Tracy posed in these interviews went beyond just identifying problems. She asked interviewees ‘if you had a magic wand, where would you wave it’?
This question bridged the gap between addressing problems, and solving them. It highlighted where employees were currently frustrated, but also the solutions they envisioned a new competitive intelligence program providing in order to be successful in the future.
Employees wanted a deeper level of competitive analysis provided to them that provided real actionable insights. They wanted intel that was provided in newsletters to offer context as to why it was important, who it mattered to, and how they could leverage the insight.
Respondents also requested that competitive intel was provided at a regular cadence. They wanted weekly debriefs, in-depth monthly webinars, scheduled sessions to learn about updated documents. It was also critical that the intel was stored in an easy-to-access central location.
Sales teams needed competitive intelligence to better guide them throughout the entire sales cycle. They wanted clear best practices for engaging competitors and a guide on ‘How to win against XYZ competitors’. There was also an appetite for technical insights such as a strategy for laying landmines against competitors.
In order to better position themselves, interviewees wanted a clearer understanding of how their customers defined success. With this knowledge, sales teams could better present their value proposition to prospects and customer success teams would be able to better retain clients. Respondents also wanted channel partners to help with competitive intelligence gathering, and to discover what competitive deals they were being left out of entirely.
Ultimately, employees wanted a clear competitive strategy to help them use competitive intelligence in their respective roles. This meant that short-term and long-term KPIs had to be established, and that there was an individual leading CI strategy.
The results of those answers, combined with the problems being identified, allowed Tracy to begin to piece together the key requirements of their competitive intelligence program. This drove the makeup of their program. The key requirements became:
The organization needs to know exactly where they stand out. No more focusing on feature functions; they need the truth on their strengths and weaknesses compared to their competitors. In order to establish differentiation, it is essential to get insights on a competitor’s go-to-market strategy, the value proposition they are presenting to prospects, and the customers they are targeting.
The competitive intelligence process has to become more efficient, therefore intel must be stored in a central repository that all employees can access in real-time. This ensures organization-wide alignment on the intel available. It also allows for employees to break out of information silos and share the competitive intel they encounter on a daily basis. This is critical to allow your teams to remain on the same page as your organization grows.
There is no value in a company falsely celebrating themselves. The ‘rah-rah we are awesome’ rant doesn’t cut it. If sales reps are given that type of internal messaging, they’ll trip up in the field by landmines that target their known weaknesses. Cutting the fluff in the messaging of your competitive content will allow all departments to have a more realistic look at where they need to catch up with a competitor, and where they are ahead. Truthful internal messaging enables smarter tactical and strategic decisions.
It has to be mandatory for salespeople to fill out win/loss analysis from sales deals. This is some of the most important competitive information and it cannot be stored in the minds of a few. It is also critical to educate salespeople on best practices to complete accurate win/loss results so that the intelligence reports are valuable. If these practices are established, win/loss results can become a way to measure the ROI for competitive strategy since sales improvement is often a significant focus of the competitive intelligence program.
The competitive intelligence program has to enable employees with insights ahead of time. Consistently playing catch-up has a negative long-term impact on a business’ effectiveness. Therefore, the program has to establish a regular cadence of distributing competitive intelligence to employees. In order to truly prepare your teams, provide context to the competitive intel being distributed – why it matters, who it matters to, and how they can use it.
Don’t build your competitive intelligence program blindly. Listen to the struggles that your consumers have faced in the past, learn what they want to be successful in the future, and let this feedback guide the construction and key requirements of your competitive intelligence framework.
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