Recently I gave a webinar for SCIP chapters in Mercyhurst and Ohio on how to capture competitive intelligence from Sales by using cooperative intelligence skills. I love serving Sales Reps since I can easily translate what I provide into an ROI benefit, namely more sales. Serve Sales well and you will have job security even in a tough economy since they are the company’s revenue producers!
Trade shows are a Mecca for competitive intelligence. Nowhere are there more people who want to share their knowledge and insight with you: industry experts, prospects, competitors, other industry participants such as suppliers and distributors and journalists. This is cooperative intelligence at its finest since everyone is marketing to you whether at formal presentations, exhibitor booths or even informal places like the conference bar or hotel café.
Last week, I shared a summary of “5 Tactics to Research Your Marketplace using Competitive Intelligence Skills” originally published by Adam Sutton of MarketingSherpa. As promised, I am focusing on the first one, Conduct win loss analysis. Win loss interviews and the ensuing analysis are one of my favorite cooperative intelligence tools, since it’s a win/win. Your company receives valuable information from your customers and prospects, and you make them feel important since you care enough to query them and give them an opportunity to provide honest, candid feedback on what they like and don’t like about you, and what they like about the competition, for example.
I was recently asked by a prospective client to summarize how I could help his company develop and implement a competitive intelligence process. While I tend to follow certain steps in setting up a CI process, I was taken aback since this company’s industry is such a specialized niche within financial services, and I am not a “one size fits all” consultant. Here are some of the takeaways that apply to any industry.
Many of the traits that make a good product manager also make a good competitive intelligence manager. Like product managers, competitive intelligence professionals rely on others in their company for support who do not report to them. The best product managers need to understand the customer’s world. Don’t filter customer’s input based on what you believe. A common question product managers ask executives is “what keeps you up at night?” to get focused on what the executive needs immediately. While CEOs may be critical of product managers, they expect leaders to have product management experience. This sure isn’t the case with competitive intelligence, a key skill, which is not a pre-requisite for the executive suite!
When marketing and R&D are truly focused on understanding and acting on customer needs, it makes both of their jobs easier and their results more productive! This is a powerful competitive weapon since this is not the case at many companies. Perhaps R&D can be masters of the art of possibility while Marketing can master the art of the Possible– that is what customers want and are willing to pay for.
Jeff Immelt, GE’s visionary and innovative Chairman & CEO thinks the US needs to create an industrial renewal as follows:
1. Invest in new technology
2. Win where it counts in Clean Energy and Affordable Healthcare
3. Become a country that’s good at manufacturing and exports
4. Embrace public/private partnerships
5. Encourage leaders that are also good citizens
He concludes that as “Business leaders we are responsible for the competitiveness of our own country.” The US is at a competitive disadvantage globally since its private and public sectors are often at odds and do not cooperate like they do in most other countries in the world!
People like stories and can be very persuasive, and I notice stories also make it easy to avoid ego conflicts. In this case study, we used customer’s decision-making criteria rather than our opinions, to persuasively communicate our analysis. However, don’t be so persuasive that you forget about the dignity of the people you are addressing. Tell a good story that leads them to your conclusions, as though your audience had thought them up themselves. This works with everyone I have ever addressed regardless of profession or culture.
AIIP (Association of Independent Information Professionals) is holding its 23rd Annual Conference at the Albuquerque Marriott from March 25 – 29. More details http://aiip.org/ConferenceSchedule. SCIP and SLA members receive the AIIP discounted price. Feb. 20 is the last day for early bird registration http://aiip.org/ConferenceRegistration.