General Competitive Intelligence Books You Want to Read Now
I have been buying and organizing competitive intelligence books for over 20 years. These are my Top 13 competitive intelligence books, listed in alphabetical order by title.
Analysis without Paralysis: 12 Tools to Make Better Strategic Decisions, 2nd edition—Babette Bensoussan and Craig Fleisher. This book provides a simpler explanation of competitive intelligence tools and techniques without as much depth as Babette and Craig’s previous two books. In addition to updating techniques, the second edition has included 2 more techniques than the original book.
Business and Competitive Analysis: Effective Application of New and Classic Methods, 2nd edition—Craig Fleisher and Babette Bensoussan. Thorough review of 24 analysis methods. Provide structure for each technique: background and rational; examples of key intelligence questions or topics; strengths and limitations; how to use the tool—step by step; their FAROUT summary (Future orientation, Accuracy, Resource efficiency, Objectivity, Usefulness and Timeliness); and a worksheet. Case studies are sprinkled throughout.
Competitive Intelligence Advantage: How to Minimize Risk, Avoid Surprises, and Grow Your Business in a Changing World—Seena Sharp. A great read on why and how to use competitive intelligence which dispels a lot of myths management mistakenly holds about the value proposition of using competitive intelligence in decision-making. You will learn that competitive intelligence is a lot broader than just analyzing the competition.
Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors—Michael Porter. No collection is complete without this classic which contains the world famous Porter’s Five Forces driving industry competition: potential entrants, suppliers, buyers, substitute products, and the industry competitors.
Confidential: Uncover Your Competitors’ Top Business Secrets Legally and Quickly, and Protect Your Own—John Nolan. The book covers both elicitation skills for intelligence gathering as well as counterintelligence tactics. A must read for anyone doing primary research over the phone, SKYPE or in-person.
Early Warning: Using Competitive Intelligence to Anticipate Market Shifts, Control Risk, and Create Powerful Strategies—Ben Gilad. Risk identification, intelligence monitoring and management actions are identified at the key components of the competitive early warning triangle. Many case studies are included to give life to the processes discussed.
Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works—A.G. Lafley and Roger L Martin. Learn how leaders in organizations of all sizes can guide everyday actions with larger strategic goals built around the clear, essential elements that determine business success—a playbook for winning. This book draws on the author’s success turning Proctor & Gamble around over a 9 year period. A. G. was CEO of P&G and Lafley, a key adviser from the Rotman School of Management.
Starting a Competitive Intelligence Function—Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) edited by Bonnie Hohhof and Ken Sawka. This is a timeless read, and there are 42 contributing authors, many well known in the competitive intelligence field. The book covers five areas in competitive intelligence and case studies: intelligence system planning, information collection, intelligence analysis and production, intelligence tools and resources, and measuring the impact of competitive intelligence.
Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Manager—Mark McNeilly. More than two millennia ago the famous Chinese general Sun Tzu wrote the classic work on military strategy. Mark McNeilly shows how Sun Tzu’s strategic principles can be applied to twenty-first century business.
The Complete Guide to Competitive Intelligence, 5th edition—Kirk Tyson. Comprehensive guide to collecting, analyzing competitive intelligence and building a corporate competitive intelligence process. Woven throughout are case studies from Kirk’s extensive experience, and great tips like, “Published information should not be used for intelligence purposes until it has been confirmed with non-published sources.”
The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business—Rita Gunther McGrath. Most leaders are using frameworks that were designed for a previous era of business where the goal was to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Companies need to forge a new path to winning: capturing opportunities fast, exploiting them decisively, and moving on before they are exhausted. The goal is transient competitive advantage.
The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher—Randolph Hock. In its 4th edition, this guide provides the latest online tools to new and enhanced services offered by Google, the major search engines, social media and much more.
The Secret Language of Competitive Intelligence: How to See Through and Stay Ahead of Business Disruptions, Distortions, Rumors and Smoke Screens—Leonard Fuld. Fuld takes us through the multiple ways companies can learn more about the marketplace in which they are operating, and the tools and thinking of their competitors. Leveraging his many years of experience in the world of competitive intelligence, this book informs the reader on how to build and maintain a competitive edge.
Competitive Intelligence Books: Strategy, Marketing and Sales
From this list, you’ll learn that competitive intelligence books are not just about the competition!
Basic Interviewing Skills—Raymond L. Gorden. My favorite book on how to interview people for data collection. Provides an initial, guided experience for the complete interview-learning process, including planning, doing, and analyzing phases. Includes tips to improve your observation, empathy, and intellectual judgment while data gathering. A must read for competitive intelligence professionals who want to be experts in data collection.
Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into Your Customer’s Expectations, Align Your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business—Adele Revella. A recent services industry survey reports that 52 percent of their marketers have buyer personas, and another 28 percent expect to add them within the next two years – but only 14.6 percent know how to use them. This book provides comprehensive coverage of a compelling new way to conduct buyer studies, plus practical advice on adopting the buyer persona approach to measurably improve marketing outcomes.
Competitive Intelligence and the Sales Force: How to Gain Market Leadership through Competitive Intelligence—Joel Le Bon. Because of their daily presence in the field and customer relationships, salespeople can be the eyes and ears of their companies. This book aims to assist sales and marketing managers to engage sales in ethical and ongoing competitive intelligence collection.
Heavy Hitter I.T. Sales Strategy: Competitive Insights from Interviews with 1,000+ Key I.T. Decision Makers and Top Technology Sales People—Steve W. Martin. Determine how to gain strategic account control based upon the people, process, and politics of selling to complex businesses. Learn to conduct persuasive sales calls using sales linguistics, the study of how the customer’s mind uses and interprets language.
What Every Body Is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed Reading People—Joe Navarro and Marvin Karlines. Send your nonverbal intelligence soaring as Joe Navarro, a former FBI counterintelligence officer and a recognized expert on nonverbal behavior, explains how to “speed-read” people: decode sentiments and behaviors, avoid hidden pitfalls, and look for deceptive behaviors. Learn how your body language can influence what your boss, family, friends, and strangers think of you.
Win/Loss Analysis: How to Capture and Keep the Business You Want—Ellen Naylor. Learn how to do Win/Loss Analysis by following the author’s 12-steps to develop and execute your Win/Loss program.
Win/Loss Reviews: A New Knowledge Model for Competitive Intelligence—Rick Marcet. This model collects sales intelligence directly from sales soon after the sales event: a win or a loss. The accumulation of this data provides a tremendous database of real-time customer decision-making criteria and competitive intelligence. Rick Marcet tells us how to build this process. It’s the only book I’ve read where Sales is the primary executor of this process.
Winning the Big Ones: How Teams Capture Large Contracts—Michael O’Guin and Kim Kelly. The authors, using the techniques in winning the big ones, have helped their clients win over $286 billion in contract awards with an 86% win rate. This book describes how capture teams pursue and win large contracts. Learn how top performing capture teams pursue and win large contracts, particularly business with the US federal government.
Winning with Customers: A Playbook for B2B—Keith D. Pigues and Jerry Alderman. Do your customers make more money doing business with you? Knowing this answer will help you build measurable and valuable customer relationships, outperform the competition, and unlock profitable growth. With a rigorous and measurable understanding of how customers make more money today and in the future with you, combined with supporting plans and tools to align the entire organization for success, a company can win—and win big.