AIIP holds its annual conference from April 2 – 6 this year in Baltimore, Maryland at the Hyatt Regency in the Inner Harbor. I will be giving a half day workshop from 8 am – Noon on April 2. The topic is elicitation skills with my corporate spin rather than the military intelligence angle. The talk is entitled, “How to Use Conversation to Optimize Data Collection.”
Small talk is an appetizer to any relationship. People like to do business with their friends. When you forget someone’s name, for example, be open and ask them graciously. This psychology of assuming the burden of someone else’s comfort is similar when you are on the telephone doing research or competitive intelligence. Make the other person feel you care, but also keep in mind that you might be catching them at a busy time.
The first step in primary collection regardless of whether it’s a standard interview, elicitation or some combination is preparation. Do not skimp on this upfront time. Often conversations and interviews don’t go as planned. If you have done your preparation, you can more easily be flexible. Lay aside your preconceived notions. Many of us listen for what we think is the ‘right’ answer or for what we want to hear. We don’t listen to the full story that the other person is telling us. Listen and put your ego aside if you want to be good in primary collection.
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.
Another great analytical tool is personality profiling. Most often companies study their competitor’s management team or key employees such as the head of R&D. Usually their strengths and weaknesses follow them from job to job. It’s good to understand their predisposition; what mistakes they have made in the past; and what blind spots they might have. Don’t just focus on their professional experience as their personal life is just as important, and often highly influences their professional decision-making.
Here are a few takeaways from today’s AIIP webinar, “Going Local: Techniques & Strategies for Finding
Local Business Information,” presented by Marcy Phelps, CEO of Phelps Research and author of recently published “Research on Main Street.” This includes many valuable links to sources for local US sources, and how to buy “Research on Main Street.” If you’re an Independent running a research, private eye, library or competitive intelligence practice, AIIP is the place to get invaluable advice and resources to help you start and run your business successfully!
Competitive Intelligence has historically focused on strategic and tactical forms of intelligence. While CI is an important input to strategic planning, and companies benefit from scenario planning, many companies miss the boat by not conducting and communicating CI in real-time.
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.
Mary Ellen Bates delivered an excellent AIIP webinar on how to market your business more effectively using her tested and tried best practices using the telephone, snail mail and social networks. You will want to buy her book, Building and Running a Successful Research Business” for even more than the 23 tippers she shared. Free webinars are a great AIIP benefit and all webinars are taped for later listening for the membership.
In the spirit of cooperative intelligence, here are short excerpts about the 7 competitive intelligence presentations that will be given at SLA 2010 Annual Conference held in New Orleans from June 12 – 16, 2010 at the New Orleans Convention Center.