“From a Good Sales Call to a Great Sales Call” focuses on improving Sales’ post-decision debrief process with prospects, referred to as win loss analysis in the competitive intelligence world. I like how the author, Richard Schroder, adds ‘post-decision debrief’ as the 7th element of the sales process. Apparently only 18% of US companies have a formal win loss program. Thus, in most new business situations, sales people don’t have a complete and accurate understanding of why they won or lost sales. If armed with such data, Sales can make behavioral changes to improve close rates by 15%.
Many competitive intelligence, marketing, research and product developers complain about poor communication from their sales force, who has a direct conduit to your customers—one of the best sources of knowledge about what your company is doing right and wrong as well as ideas for new products, services and tweaks to your existing products that can be revenue generating!
So how do you encourage cooperative communication from Sales?
How many companies say “Our Employees are Our Most Important Asset,” but their actions don’t match these hollow words? This is not the case at Southwest Airlines, where employees are valued in all phases of their relationship with the company’s management, and provide the company its competitive advantage!
How often do we get stuck in patterns and either make mistakes or don’t see events coming? In competitive intelligence, we look for what isn’t or what looks odd or out of place since oddity often is a precursor to change. There is always surprise in life and business. How we prepare ourselves for it is what separates the excellent from the average. I find I react better to surprises if I get out of my comfort zone more often.
Read about 10 top tips recommended by Arthur Weiss of Aware shared in a recent AIIP webinar. These will help you no matter what type of research you do. Aside from sharing some great websites, browsers, social networks and Internet people sites, I like Arthur’s framing of research. Learn exactly what you are looking for and put yourself in the target company’s place as plan for and conduct the research. Also think laterally. Look for oddities and things that don’t look, feel or sound right.
How do you assess the reliability of your human sources? I consider their motivation to know what you’re trying to learn as a primary yardstick towards reliability, although people don’t always tell the truth or in the spirit of trying to be helpful when they don’t know…they unintentionally misinform. What’s been your experience?
The simple idea behind design thinking is that leaders need two key traits: the exploratory innovative to produce great ideas, and the analytical that exploits the business, improves the offering, and develops the right processes to gain market share. he ideas behind design thinking are well expressed in Roger Martin’s The Design of Business. Think of both the learning and the discovery process as moving through a knowledge funnel. People need to apply analysis and creative thinking at different points within that funnel. Morton suggests that to develop your design mind, broaden your “personal knowledge system.” Design thinking and operating can give your company and you a competitive advantage since they provide a good balance between innovation and operational excellence and often uncover business and individual blind spots. What a competitive advantage!
Jenny Shank and I will speak at a publishing venue sponsored by the Denver Notre Dame women on November 5 at Good Shepherd Catholic School Cafeteria at 620 Elizabeth St Denver 80206 starting at 6 p.m. Jenny will read from her book, The Ringer and I will talk about my journey in publishing in my field, competitive intelligence.
Recently, I wrote about the Extreme Presentation format for presenting material to smaller audiences. At the conclusion of that post, I gave an example of how Extreme Presentation looks. This post describes and illustrates an example of Extreme Presentation by defining what and how to use cooperative intelligence in competitive intelligence or research.
In competitive intelligence we have more issues than most when building and maintaining trust with our customers. Many think our work is only COMPETITOR intelligence which doesn’t help the cause. The other more obvious issue is many consulting firms are experts in a certain industry. What are your best practices and ethics around a company asking you to research their competitor, who might be your customer?