This article contains some best practices to engage sales to share competitive intelligence information. It is a timeless topic that I have been researching in my 30 years as a competitive intelligence professional.
Join us (Ellen Naylor, Business Intelligence Source; Mitch Emerson, Compelligence; Dean Davison, Forrester Research) for a free 45 minute webinar, “From Competitive Intelligence Collection to Sales Enablement,” on April 22, 2014 at Noon Eastern US. Learn how to collect more effectively from your sales force; how to transform that data into competitive intelligence that Sales can tap into for each deal; and how to hold conversations with customers in ways that resonate with them and engage them to buy.
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.
This blog focuses on maximizing your ROI (return on investment) while providing competitive analysis.Competitive intelligence is a support role. You need to shelf your ego. I learned that I portrayed a cooperative attitude aka &quot;cooperative intelligence”, which opened up the floodgates of sharing from Sales in particular. I was fortunate in that I came from field Sales, so I knew I could improve our company’s ROI by helping Sales win more deals. I could connect individuals who were combating the same competitor, and let them strategize together, then share their success story.
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!
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.
Win Loss Reviews is real-time intelligence collection from selected sales events. Author, Rick Marcet describes how he established a scalable win loss process using technology that hangs off Microsoft’s sales force management system. I particularly appreciate the psychological aspects Mr. Marcet weaves throughout this book to engage Sales as so many in marketing and competitive intelligence fail to motivate Sales to share! This book is a must read for anyone in sales management, marketing especially customer insight, and competitive intelligence.
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!
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!
While GE uses rivalry to stimulate innovation, I believe it can also be used to support other functions such as competitive intelligence in the case of war gaming, in particular. Another group that responds well to healthy rivalry, if you publicize their contribution, is Sales. People are naturally competitive and want to be the best, so healthy rivalry that advances your company’s goals for innovation, improved competitiveness and winning more deals—is a good thing!