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Enabling Product with Competitive Intel | Dustin Ray, Datto

Director of Competitive Intelligence Dustin Ray from Datto joins Adam to share his best practices for enabling product teams. Here are three takeaways from their conversation.

The Sparknotes 📝

🧭 Get aligned with product management no matter where you sit in the org

“If you don’t align to how product management is organized, they don’t know who to get ahold of.”

Dustin Ray from Datto has been around the competitive intelligence world long enough to know the challenges of enabling product teams.

It starts with where competitive sits in the organization.

Aligned too closely to sales, enablement efforts get too focused on the very front-line. Too closely to strategy, and the focus is on supporting senior leaders.

That’s why Dustin makes sure to get aligned with product management regardless of where his team sits in the org.

“We’ve seen success by getting by competitive intelligence analyst integrated into the workflow of our product managers.”

Dustin also found colleagues within the product management team who champion the insights his team delivers — and the entire program by extension.

By aligning with product management, Dustin’s team better understands their colleagues’ needs and delivers on them.

He admits it’s a work in progress, but progress is being made.

And if you don’t know where to start with finding out what product wants, take Dustin’s advice.

Just ask them.

competitive battlecards

📣 Product needs intel that informs their GTM strategy and product roadmaps

“What I can say is this is what we’re going against, this is how they’re going to market, and this is what we shoud be focusing on.”

Dustin’s product team at Datto, and most other product teams he’s worked with, all want the same kinds of intel:

  • How do we compare to our competitors?
  • Where do we sit in the market landscape?
  • What should our go-to-market strategy be?
  • How should we plan our product roadmap?

“It comes down to, here are the functions we care about, how does that compare to the competitor and what functions do they have that we don’t?”

Since his competitive landscape changes so quickly, Dustin’s team has weekly briefings with individual product line managers to share intel.

The regular cadence lets his team share week-to-week updates that enable the product team as a whole to make better decisions.

🥷 Use a tiered system to approach enablement: tactical, strategic and operational.

“Operational intelligence focuses on how we should manage our current products and services offerings to best compete in the marketplace.”

As you may have heard on Dustin Ray’s last appearance on the Competitive Enablement Show, Dustin likes to break competitive intelligence down into three categories.

⚔️ Tactical – How are we enabling sales to sell today?

🔮 Strategic – Who are we going to be competing against in 3-5 years?

🗺 Operational – What product features should we focus on in the next 1-2 quarters?

It’s this last category that sometimes gets ignored.

And it’s the category in which product sits and fits.

“We need to provide the intel that lets product know how the competitive dynamic is changing so that they can update roadmaps to our own products and services.”

Much like how product being aligned either with front-line sales or long-term strategy hinders the ability to enable product, ignoring operational intelligence is equally hindering.

So next time you’re thinking about how you can win more deals and beat the competition with your competitive enablement program, don’t forget the operational category of intelligence.

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What is ‘The Competitive Enablement Show’?

Welcome to the Competitive Enablement Show. On this podcast, host Adam McQueen is joined by experts in the competitive intelligence industry to talk about innovative strategy, tangible advice and tactics that work, and building a competitive program that impacts the bottom line. 

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