People often ask me what is the benefit of elicitation versus the standard interview. Actually they share more in common than they differ. Preparation in similar. You want to learn as much about that person as you can before you talk to them. Elicitation is a conversational interview, a planned conversation. Elicitation builds off human tendencies that most people have: a desire for recognition; showing off, curiosity, gossip, complaining, correcting you.
A recent HBR blog post, “Just Call Someone Already,” focused on when to use the phone versus email, often used instead of the phone. I resonated with the author, Dan Pallota in his comment, “Much worse than the inefficiency of using email to set up phone calls are the missed opportunities and unnecessary misunderstandings that come when we use email instead of phone calls.” A best cooperative intelligence practice is to think about how the individual you want to reach likes to be communicated with, even if it’s not your preference. Another cooperative best practice is only send communication to those who will value it.
People often ask me how I engage people so readily in conversation over the telephone. “Who do you say you are? Why do you say you’re calling?” With all calls, you want to give the person a good reason to talk with you, and not waste their time with small talk and listen very closely to how and what they share with you. The bottom line is I consider who I am talking to and try to think of all the ways the person might answer my questions to be prepared for the unexpected. Calls seldom go just as planned. Don’t take yourself too seriously and keep that smile on your face.
In competitive intelligence and other forms of primary research we so often just concentrate on techniques to extract information. We often forget to get ourselves grounded and in the right frame of mind to conduct these interviews. Yesterday I was reading Lee Glickman’s relational presence description, and it spoke to me. In relational voice, you start with deep, relaxed breathing and use your voice to almost do inner calisthenics. This exercise will strengthen you by getting you in the right frame of mind to do primary research of any type whether it’s cold calling, win loss analysis calls or trade show collection.
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.
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.
Whether it’s for research, cold calling to collect information, competitive intelligence or win loss analysis, when you instigate a telephone call you are in the sales mode. You want information. This blog lists 18 tippers to improve your telephone collection skills.
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!
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.