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« The Competitive Enablement Show

A Practical Guide to Competitive Intelligence

Authors and competitive intelligence pros Zena Applebaum, Phil Britton and Alysse Nockels joined Adam to talk about their new book, A Practical Guide to Competitive Intelligence. Below is a recap of the three most important takeaways from their conversation. You can pre-order the book here.

🙅‍♀️ Strategic intelligence is not more important than tactical — stop pretending like it is

“If you don’t win business today, your five year strategy doesn’t mean crap.”

The conventional wisdom has always been that strategic intel is the most important intel. It’s where compete pros should focus their efforts and how they’ll bring the most value to their companies.

Alysse, Zena and Phil want to turn that belief on its head. The disparity between what is preached in theory and the reality in practice is part of what inspired them to write this book.

“What really irritates me about what most people are preaching in CI is you have to be strategic. We need to stop dismissing tactical as being lesser than.” – Alysse Nockels, Sr. Director, Competitive Intelligence at Palo Alto Networks.

“Tactical to me are the individual Lego bricks and strategic is what you build using each individual brick.” – Phil Britton, Assoc. Director, Sedulo Group

“You have to fast track the building of trust on the tactical level so that you then can be trusted on the strategic level.” – Zena Applebaum, VP Product Marketing, Thomson Reuters

All three experts make it clear that there is definite value in the theoretical side of competitive intelligence. They also acknowledge that the higher-level strategic work is some of the most rewarding work in competitive intelligence.

But what compete pros need today more than ever is tactical advice. And this book delivers on that need.

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🔨 Nailing tactical intelligence will earn you a seat at the strategic table

“We don’t always know the impact we’re having on people, but if we keep being tactical, eventually we’ll be invited to be strategic as well.”

One of Zena’s favourite stories to tell is about a time she got an impromptu performance review from an old boss.

“He said: A third of the time you send me things I already know. A third of the time you send me things that I already know, but you provide additional colour, and a third of the time you tell me things that I didn’t know.”

Was Zena’s boss trying to tell her to stop sending the one-third of things that the boss already knew?

In fact, he was encouraging her to keep doing more of what she’d been doing.

Because Zena, or anyone for that matter, will never be able to know what someone else knows — whether it’s brand-new intel or intel that requires more colour.

The lesson here is that the basic tasks of daily intel collection and its tactical application are what lay the groundwork for invitations to contribute on a strategic level.

But it has to start tactically.

Learn how ServiceTitan’s Director of Market Strategy Jennifer Roberts builds her compete programs to ensure she gets that all-important seat at the strategic table.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Where would the authors invest if they had 10x the budget? In a word: people

“Whether that’s more people or better compensated people, it’s all about taking care of the people.”

These three share more in common than competitive intelligence expertise, writing prowess, and a desire to give their colleagues tactical support.

When asked what they each would do if their budgets increased ten-fold overnight, they all answered they would invest in the people.

“100% into my team, either through extra training, offsites, getting to know each other or getting in person. Just it’s the core team. The people you have are your most valuable assets.” – Alysse

At the end of the day, it’s the people — not the tech — that make competitive intelligence the indispensable discipline it is.

Thanks to anecdotes from Zena, Phil and Alysse’s peers all throughout the book, A Practical Guide to Competitive showcases a new side of competitive intelligence — a human side.

The stories and the people are what make this book come alive. And you can pre-order a copy here.

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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.