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Here are some insightful articles related to competitive intelligence and customer intelligence. Emotional Intelligence: Cult or Competitive Advantage? How to Build a Culture of Givers: 4 Tips; Employers Want Critical Thinkers, But Do They Know What It Means? 10 Great Questions Product Managers Should Ask Customers
I am most fascinated by what motivates people to share, and how to figure this out quickly, especially during a telephone conversation where you don’t have the benefit of body language. Contrary to what I have been taught: “Do not treat others like you would want to be treated.” Treat them the way THEY want to be treated.
I have applied Johari’s model to classifying those we talk to in the collection process. It’s helpful to be aware of their pre-disposition towards sharing versus what they know. My classifications are: Egocentric; Deeply Knowledgeable; Intellectual and Helpers.
The key to success in communication to and from sales is to understand your company’s sales culture, and what might be fun and engaging for them to be cooperative in sharing what they learn in a timely manner. Go to where sales is to get them to engage. Many sales people travel extensively, so they have time in the car or airplane to write, tape or text about what they’re learning. They also value information from their peers. Maybe you can facilitate more sharing among peers, even informally. In my experience it takes a couple of years to get sales information to flow. You have to earn their trust to build that relationship.
Join us, Arik Johnson and me, Ellen Naylor, for an informative webinar on the how to behind win loss analysis. Win/loss interviews and analysis, are still one of my favorite tactical collection techniques. This is a low cost form of primary collection which always provides a high return for improving your company’s bottom line. Who better than your customers and those who decided on a competitor to tell you what you are doing well and what you need to change?
While competitive intelligence is not a kind business function, it is a necessary one, and we can be kind people when we bring cooperative intelligence practices into our work. Cooperative intelligence is kindness: you give without an expectation of something in return. People realize that you genuinely want to help them in their work. After all, competitive intelligence is a support function. You need to keep giving, and eventually those in your network of contacts will support you by sharing great tidbits on the competitive environment since your giving is infectious, and they just can’t help themselves. People are attracted to you by your good example of producing the goods they need and your giving attitude.
Companies have business blind spots, and since they’re run by people: we also have blind spots. Two common blindspots are:
Assuming that others see what you see, feel what you feel, and think what you think
Thinking you understand and remember what others say, when you really only remember what you think about what they’ve said
One way to loosen up those blind spots is to engage in dialog with other people and listen, truly listen to what they’re saying. That’s behind many a successful marriage, business relationships, effective interviewers and successful researchers.
This is the first in a series of blogs to improve your collection skills. Figuring out how others are motivated is a great start. Even if you’re cold calling, you can get a hint of how they might be motivated by learning more about their profession. People like that you appreciate their occupation, and I have found this to be a prime motivator to get people to open up to me regardless of their profession. It also pays to be polite regardless of which profession you are targeting. So many people are rude these days, especially to trades people, who feel they are taken for granted.
Critical thinking and intuition are two skills that are often overlooked in this information explosion. We often jump to conclusions with more certainty without testing our conclusions by standing back and questioning our assumptions in a broader context. Likewise, many have lost touch with our intuition, which I consider the barometer of veracity. I have been in business for almost 20 years, and still make mistakes when I don’t listen to or trust my intuition. Listening to your intuition saves you time in the research and competitive intelligence processes, and can help you qualify your sales prospects and deal with people authentically.
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