September 5, 2018 by Katie Berg
So you’ve created some competitive materials for your Sales, Product, and Marketing team. You’ve built some competitive battlecards, sent them out into the world and completed all of the competitive components of your latest product launch. We know exactly how much work it takes to just make it to this point.
The next step, the one that separates a competent competitive strategist from an excellent one, is to measure the ROI of this competitive intelligence (CI) work.
Evaluating the effectiveness of your competitive intelligence program helps you to understand how Sales perceives your competitive content, how they use it (or don’t), and its impact on sales performance.
Whether you’re looking to improve an existing and robust CI program, or you’re looking to build it from scratch, understanding baseline metrics is a must. We’ve compiled the 10 essential metrics you need to evaluate your competitive enablement program.
Sales performance numbers aren’t going to tell you the full story about your competitive program; you’ll need to get direct feedback from your stakeholders. By using a variety of methods including direct interviews, focus groups, or surveys you can pull internal feedback that you and your team can use to identify areas for improvement.
The simplest way to evaluate your competitive content is to see if your stakeholders refer to it regularly. To learn this, you just need to talk with them. For the purpose of keeping this article simple we’re going to focus on Sales reps as your primary consumer and stakeholder. However, in reality, you want to be collecting direct feedback from all of your stakeholder groups on the quality and usefulness of your competitive materials.
You need to know if sales reps are reading what you’re making. What’s working and what’s not useful to them in deals. What battlecards they’ve specifically used to push forward a deal.
Set up interviews with a handful of sales reps, and explore all of these topics to get as specific as possible about how they’re using your competitive content. Your objectives are to understand the following about your reps:
There are a couple of responses that you might hear. One common comment is, “Your content is great for training and occasional reference, but really we’re already ahead of it.”
This isn’t isn’t ideal, but the world hasn’t ended. It doesn’t mean what you’re creating has no value, just that you’re not as agile as you need to be, and are likely months behind your sales team in terms of finding and sharing new intel. The silver-lining to this sort of comment is you have a real asset on hand; it signals you have strong sales people who are good sources of information on competitors.
Once you’ve established the usefulness of your competitive content, you’ll also want to evaluate its accuracy. As mentioned above, if sales is catching competitor news first, it could also be an indicator that your competitive intel is slow to roll-out, or that you have inaccurate data sources.
Conduct interviews with sales reps to talk specifically about your competitors. If you have a relatively new competitive intelligence program, stick with your top 5-10 competitors. If you’re looking to optimize performance of an already robust program, try covering tier 2 or 3 competitors, ones who are faced off with less frequently and less likely to be known in-depth.
The purpose of this interview is to ask the strengths and weakness of the competitors you’ve selected. Another way to extract competitors strengths and weaknesses is by asking for five specific examples of win and loss stories against a competitor.
Compare your findings with what’s in your competitive content. If it lines up, your program is on track. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to source better intel sources or strengthen your direct line of communication with Sales to improve the accuracy of your compete materials.
There’s a lot that can influence deals. Understanding what’s happening in the organization outside of your competitive intelligence program (product/feature roll-out, new sales initiatives, etc.) will be important in seeing the big picture and should be considered when evaluating the impact your CI program is having on sales performance.
One of our clients paired the roll-out of a new distribution system for their competitive battlecards with a tighter qualification process for SQLs. Improvement in win rates against competitors unsurprisingly went way up. Knowing this played a role in improving win rates, the CI team knew to compare only the previous deals with prospects who qualified under the new SQL criteria to recent deals in order to get a more accurate look at how their improved competitive content was able to influence deals.
Hard numbers are a requirement to measuring your competitive intelligence program – and tying your CI practice with sales performance is often the best indicator of it’s effectiveness. So, we’ve compiled a list of the metrics you’ll want to pull to get insight into how your CI program is impacting revenue.
You need to know what content people are using the most to understand where your content is being used to help sales reps in deals.
Engagement rates with your competitive content will give you insight into which sales reps are using your content and how it’s impacting their sales win rates. When analyzing the engagement rates of your content you may also create different segments to analyze based on different criteria including:
Of all the competitive content being viewed by your salesforce, analyze what types/topics of content are being viewed most frequently.
Over time you’ll want to be able to track engagement with different types of competitive content as a way to get a view of your sales reps ability to sell. For example, you want to eliminate sales reps frequently searching competitor questions like “What is their pricing?” and instead you want to see ones that reveal something more complex about a competitor, such as strategies for de-positioning early in a deal.
Watch for high views of pricing cards and product content – both can indicate you’re getting into feature battles. This might be an indicator that you’re spending too much time building feature matrices and setting your sales reps up to race to the bottom, rather than enabling them with effective positioning tactics.
The most important metrics you can track for your competitive intelligence program are your win rates against known competitors and how often you’re facing off against different competitors. This information will become your benchmark which you’ll compare to on a quarterly basis as a way to identify:
Everybody wants to know when a competitor comes up in a deal, but odds are you’ll have a hard time getting that information. It’s going to be shoddy at first because Sales might not be in the habit of tracking known competitors in every deal, and you’ll likely have to do a lot of follow-up and clean up to your data on a quarterly basis.
The quicker people can dismiss and remove competitors the faster you can close a deal. Understanding your average sales cycle length sets a benchmark for your CI program; success is seeing shorter sales cycles over time.
When you know your competitors you know how they price and how they pitch and you *should* be able to talk more to your value and price higher as a resut. That’s the idea anyways.
One of our clients knew their competitors’ pricing strategy, so they knew when they faced that competitor they knew how to price as high as possible. When they knew they were against a smaller competitor they would have to price accordingly. Average deal size should go up with a good CI program as your reps won’t be leaving contract value on the table.
You know what your average contract value is and you can track average discounts by competitor. What you want to see is this discount number shrinking as your sales people are armed to sell on value not price. Make sure your sales are minimizing discounts because they know how to dismiss competitors to avoid pricing battles.
Track the total revenue for the deals you’ve influenced. In many companies, you can track which deals you’ve supported based on direct requests for support materials from Sales. Take your metrics a step further by tracking when in the deal cycle your materials are requested. Initially, we wouldn’t suggest that you weight the revenue influenced by when in the deal your support materials are requested, but it will be important to track trends over time to give you insight into the type of support content you want to focus on building.
Understanding the total revenue your competitive intelligence program has influenced is a hugely important metric; one that’s critical to building buy-in from executive and leadership.
If you’ve found these metrics useful be sure to let us know on Twitter or Linkedin, and if you’re looking for more tips to improve your CI practice be sure to subscribe to our Competitive Intelligence Expert Series. It’s in-depth. It’s based on experience we’ve gained working with CI leaders at hundreds of leading B2B tech companies. It’s crafted to give you a behind the scenes look at how high-performing CI teams work. Subscribe here and we’ll send you new articles and resources as they’re developed.
In the meantime, check out our Ultimate Guide to Competitive Intelligence and catch up on advice, tips and more tools on how to build a high-performing CI program.
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