This is the first in a series about how I evolved in my career in competitive intelligence, and what I have learned over time. Overall I am glad I had a start back in 1985 for the critical thinking and deeper relationships I developed. I am glad to still be in this field today where I can reach out to sources quickly that I would never have dreamed even existed in 1985, thanks to social networking.
How many times have you heard people say, “I am too busy. I am soooo busy.” Are most of us really busier than we used to be? Or are we imposing busyness by all the distractions of everyday 21st century life? Do people really need to know what you’re doing all the time and where you ate and what airline you’re flying? Knowing when to connect on social media is a competitive advantage for individuals and for companies. Knowing when not to connect gives you more independence.
In a recent webinar I learned a few new things about the psychology behind conducting win/loss interviews. I have always told clients to makes sure that the sale is complete and implemented before handing them off to me to interview. Win/loss learning is often more about the failure of the selling process rather than selling the product. if you just have one time to conduct win/loss interviews, wait until after implementation or a rule of thumb is wait 2-3 months after the sale closes. If you wait too long, they’ll forget the details around the sales event that you are trying to collect and analyze.
I am always surprised that more companies don’t have a formal win loss program.
To conduct win/loss, interview your customers or lost customers shortly after the sales event to find out why they chose to do business with you or decided on a competitor. The data gathered combines knowledge from sales, customers, competitors, and your marketplace. Those companies that do win loss claim do improve their win rate by 15-30%. That’s a nice return on investment.
Thanksgiving is a time for sharing, caring and expressing gratitude. In the spirit of cooperative intelligence and sharing, I recently was a panelist in an SLA Competitive Intelligence division (CID) webinar on “Integrating Marketing and Sales to Capture & Deliver Intelligence.” While this is an SLA CID member benefit, all four of us panelists posted our slides on Slideshare, which follow. Likewise we just concluded a series of Colorado Future Ready blogs on SLA’s FR365 site which features a blog a day. This blog contains the list of authors and links to each blog. Don’t forget to read the Thanksgiving poem, “Thanksgiving….More Than a Day by Karl Fuchs.
While many people ask me to share the templates I have prepared over the years, when I conduct win loss interviews, actually it’s the upfront planning that matters more. If you don’t have all the salient facts around the sales situation or a good value proposition as to why the customer or prospect will want to talk to you, you’ll never get that communication off the ground!
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.
I am enjoying David Meerman Scott’s book, Real-Time Marketing & PR. He explains the competitive advantage to companies and individuals of being responsive to events that affect them in real-time. No longer can you just monitor the news: you have to take action! So many companies are stuck in the past and the future and forget that we operate in the NOW!
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.