4 items tagged "competitive enablement"

  • 3 Steps to ensure your competitive intel is put to good use by sales reps

    3 Steps to ensure your competitive intel is put to good use by sales reps

    J.K. Rowling didn’t write seven Harry Potter books for no one to read them.

    Just like you didn’t put in the time to research and source competitive intel for no one to use it.

    There’s nothing more frustrating than having the competitive battlecards you’ve created collect dust on the sidelines while sales reps are going rogue in the field concocting their own messaging against the competition.

    And hey, sometimes it will work for them! But that’s not the point. It’s not scalable for your business to have individual reps making different talk tracks on competitors on a case-by-case basis. 

    Plus, all it takes is one game of telephone between buyers who have heard different things from different members of your sales team to erode the credibility that you’ve built.

    Since sales are the most important consumer of competitive intel, what can you do as the person in charge of competitive enablement to get them to use the information that you’ve vetted and approved?

    1. Start by Getting Top-Down Support

    Now, this may seem counterintuitive. Don’t we want to have long-term, organic usage from our sales reps that are in deals and talking with prospects daily?

    Why, yes, yes we do. However, getting early support from leadership teams is like a jolt of caffeine that will perk up your sales reps’ initial interest.

    Sales leadership and members of the exec team set the table for the importance of your competitive program. They can enforce reps’ behaviours, carve out time for you to share relevant insights during sales meetings, and ensure that competitive intel doesn’t fall to the wayside.

    Ultimately, they’re the most influential voices in the company. Their support will spearhead the business adopting a competitive culture.

    How do you get executive support for your program?

    Execs aren’t blindly buying into your competitive program. They support a program that presents a strong business case rooted in data, research, and internal feedback. 

    One of the most successful ways that Alex has seen programs generate support is by getting in front of leadership early and outlining who presents the biggest threat to your business.

    “I encourage running threats to pipeline analysis, which is based on your CRM data. It will immediately allow you to identify who are the key competitors that are coming up in deals most frequently.

    “Show to senior stakeholders — these are the competitors that are coming up and that we’re losing to most frequently in deals, so these are who we’re going to address first. It is very infrequent that we see a sales leader not want to be involved in that as you’re showing that you want to help increase revenue.”

    2. Explain Why Competitive Enablement Will Help Sales in Their Role

    During a recent call with an exec at an enterprise company he shared with me a succinct, but insightful one-liner.

    ‘Sales are the best B.S. detectors in the company.’

    This line should dictate how you explain the ‘why’ of your competitive program to sales.

    Don’t sugarcoat it. Tell reps why it matters to them and how it will help them in their role, Alex explains.

    “If you think of yourself as a sales rep, they’re really busy. They’re trying to reach quota, a pipeline to follow-up with, and prospecting to do. If you present this program without any reason for them to want to use it, or any benefit to them, it’s going to be a real challenge.”

    And a great way to explain this ‘why’ starts by internally surveying your reps.

    Why will the program help sales win more competitive deals?

    Get reps to provide initial feedback on how confident they feel against different competitors and where they feel least equipped to battle them.

    You can even conduct regular sales confidence surveys using our competitive confidence survey guide.

    The most common responses from the survey can be the roadmap that then dictates what answers you need to uncover first. Your competitive intel is there to support the users, after all.

    Plus, if you can solve these common problems that they’re facing, then you’re naturally presenting why your program will help them in their role.

    (If you conduct this internal survey regularly, the feedback will also work as a reporting metric that measures how well your team’s knowledge and confidence of a competitor has improved over time. This is how Saviynt have been able to report on the KPIs they established.)

    If your program is more established, then you can also use data to cement why your intel will help sales. 

    Showcase the individual reps that have used your competitive battlecards and then won bigger deals, faster. Measuring each reps’ competitive win rate by content usage presents a quantitative case — proof that the reps that are using your content are closing better than those that aren’t.

    It’s a clear call-to-action that triggers reps' competitive instinct. 

    How will the program make sales more efficient?

    During Alex’s time overseeing many competitive program roll-outs, there’s been another common result that she’s seen from these internal surveys.

    Sales reps are spending a lot of time making their own competitive content. 

    “During these surveys, we often see that each sales rep is making a whole bunch of competitive collateral themselves to respond to when a prospect asks questions about a competitor. They’re spending a lot of time creating that in the background. 

    “Maybe they’ll share it with another rep, maybe they’ll store it on a drive, maybe they’ll send it in an email. But most times, it never gets reused or resurfaced and it goes out of date very quickly.”

    Sales reps across the company are diverting too much of their time towards answering the same competitive questions. Explain to them that your program is providing the intel that they need so that they don’t have to research themselves.

    “Show reps that by leveraging a competitive program they’re not going to have to create any of their own competitive content. It’s all been done for them.”

    3. Start Small, And Then Scale

    How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

    I didn’t fully appreciate that quote until I saw competitive leaders at enterprise companies having to present their insights to hundreds of sales reps across the globe. Yeah, it can seem a little daunting at first.

    But, those in charge of competitive enablement that have been most successful targeted their initial efforts towards a smaller group of selected reps first to generate early champions. Consider this the bottom-up approach to accompany your top-down executive support.

    Strategically bringing in a select few seasoned reps that have the deepest institutional knowledge and giving them early access or piloting your program is a strong foundation for success, Alex said.

    “Get some experienced reps involved in a pilot early so that they can actually invest, give feedback, and contribute intel. Then it’s in their own interest to get other people using this as well given that their time and effort has gone into it.”

    Seasoned reps will likely provide you with the most intel from the field, and are a credible voice amongst their peers. When other salespeople see a veteran using your competitive intel it will naturally spark them to follow suit.

    Sales Are The Lifeblood of Your Competitive Program

    Regardless of if you’re just starting out your research on competitors or are a veteran in the industry, sales are the most important team that determines the success of your program.

    As a competitive leader, there’s no greater validation than having sales pounding the table for you. So, get them on board early and make it clear that your goal is to support them to win more competitive deals.

    Author: Adam McQueen

    Source: Klue

  • 5 Skills a competitive intelligence expert should possess

    5 Skills a competitive intelligence expert should possess

    The skills and traits of a competitive intelligence expert all have one thing in common: connection.

    Connecting the dots between people, ideas, and execution.

    In baseball, a five-tool player is someone who is fast, fields well, has a strong arm, and can hit for power and average.

    In competitive intelligence, and more specifically competitive enablement, the five skills and traits you need to master are:

    • Storytelling
    • Communication
    • Research
    • Curiosity
    • Project Management

    Let’s dive into each one.

    1. Storytelling

    For your prospects, customers and colleagues, it’s not enough to explain WHAT you do. The real magic is in explaining WHY you’re doing it.

    The skill of storytelling in competitive intelligence is all about making the WHY come alive.

    Effective storytelling makes your product, service and brand more relatable.

    If you can tell a story that resonates with people and shows you understand the problem your prospects and customers are facing, you are more likely to grab and hold their attention.

    What’s more, you need to be a good storyteller for your internal audience as well.

    Whether you’re telling the story of how your compete team is prioritizing projects for the quarter or the story of how a new product release came to be, your ability to weave in a consistent narrative will pay dividends.

    2. Communication

    Communication is to storytelling what technical writing is to creative writing.

    Whereas storytelling is about maximizing relatability and emotion, communication is about organizing thoughts and disseminating them with maximum effectiveness.

    Ultimately, good communication boils down to:

    • Clarity of thought — make your ideas concrete, not abstract
    • Clarity of outcome — declare your primary call to action
    • Conciseness — get rid of extra words and unnecessary context
    • Presence — show up to meetings, be active in group chats, and make yourself available
    • Consistency — communicate where you’re at from beginning to end and at points in between

    Mastering communication makes every other part of your role easier — fewer surprises and better outcomes. It’ll definitely make you better at all the competitive intelligence jobs you take on.

    3. Research

    No matter the job, virtually every competitive intelligence job description will include a section related to research.

    And no we’re not talking about the “Google something and look at the first hit” kind of research.

    In reality, true research involves a systematic process of:

    • Searching for competitive intel
    • Collecting competitive intel
    • Organizing competitive intel
    • Analyzing competitive intel
    • Updating outdated competitive intel

    The crucial point here is that competitive intelligence research needs to be much more in-depth than simply finding intel and collecting it.

    In other words, the skill that takes you from a one-dimensional competitive intelligence professional to a full-fledged competitive enablement manager is your ability to analyze the data and enable your teams with it.

    4. Curiosity

    Curiosity may seem more like a trait than a competitive intelligence skill. And yes, being naturally curious isn’t exactly something you can control.

    But the skill of curiosity is about honing your ability to ask great questions.

    We’ll scream it until we’re blue in the face: the best, most actionable, most valuable intel comes from internal sources.

    (A close second is intel from win-loss interviews with customers and prospects.)

    Both internal sources and win-loss analysis require you to be genuinely curious and ask engaging questions.

    Sure, it’s normal to have your own hypotheses and assumptions. But you need to do your best to put those aside and let your curiosity shine through.

    Go into every aspect of your competitive enablement role with an open mind, maintaining honest and genuine curiosity, and the data you need to make good decisions will reveal itself.

    5. Project Management

    The first four competitive intelligence skills all ladder up to the big one: project management.

    • Powerful storytelling gets stakeholders invested in the project at hand.
    • Good communication enables you and your team to get on the same page and set clear expectations.
    • Intentional research provides the knowledge base for you to make informed decisions.
    • And curiosity lets you learn on the fly, take in valuable information from your stakeholders, and be agile in your decision-making.

    But while these skills play a role, effective project management goes beyond these skills.

    Using an intuitive and easy-to-use project management tool is a must — especially with a dispersed and remote workforce.

    You’ll also want to develop a project roadmap, highlight key milestones along the way, and provide regular status updates.

    Bonus skill: Teamwork

    We’re pretty sure John Donne wasn’t referring to competitive intelligence or competitive enablement when he wrote the iconic phrase “no man is an island.”

    But he sure could have been!

    Even scrappy competitive teams of one cannot be successful without first building cross-functional relationships and earning organizational buy-in.

    So do yourself a favour, and get into the mindset that you’re a part of a larger team, and that your job is to enable them with the insights they need to win.

    Teamwork makes the dream work after all.

    And the dream is to enable every team across the organization.

    If you master these six competitive intelligence skills, the dream is well within reach.

    Author: Ben Ronald

    Source: Klue

  • Designing the Ideal Competitive Intelligence Department

    Designing the Ideal Competitive Intelligence Department

    What does the compete department at your company look like? Is competitive intelligence the responsibility of one person? Two people? A whole team?

    Odds are, your CI program is just a fraction of one person’s responsibilities. One designated product marketer or sales team member who owns gathering, analyzing, and activating competitive intel — in addition to everything else on their plate.

    While this limited approach to CI may get the job done for you now, the time is coming when your competitive landscape is too crowded for your ad-hoc competitive intelligence to handle.

    And all signs point to that time coming sooner rather than later — with 94% of competitive intelligence professionals saying their industry has gotten more competitive in recent years, there is a good chance your market is heating up too.

    The first step to implementing a comprehensive competitive intelligence program? Hiring a team of dedicated CI professionals, of course!

    But hold on, not so fast — whether you’re expanding your CI function or building a competitive intelligence department from the ground up — before you run off to sound the alarm on Linkedin and begin drafting job descriptions you first need to know what (and who) it is you’re looking for.

    Introducing: Your Competitive Intelligence Dream Team

    There are three primary functions of any competitive intelligence program — gathering intel, analyzing intel, and activating intel. Therefore, there are three primary roles to be filled on any comprehensive competitive intelligence team — a research role, an analysis role, and an enablement role.

    When you’re operating as a one-person CI team, you are responsible for each step of this process and fill every role at once. 

    In an ideal world, every company would be complete with a dedicated competitive intelligence department — a cozy team with at least one Competitive Intelligence Analyst and Competitive Enablement Specialist, overseen by a Competitive Intelligence Manager and led to great heights by a fearless Director of Competitive Intelligence.

    However — back in reality — it’s more accurate to assume that you are starting out as a one-person CI team (who also manages and directs themself). So, when the time comes to begin expanding your department, it’s up to you to decide which other competitive intelligence team role to begin hiring for first.

    For example, let’s say you are bogged down by fielding frequent requests for intel from departments in every corner of your organization. In that case, you may find hiring an analyst to be of your best interest.

    However, if you operate your CI function from within a sprawling and eager sales department, you may decide that hiring for an enablement role will have the greatest benefit to your organization.

    Then, once that first role has been filled, your competitive intelligence team will take shape and you’ll be able to more easily identify which other roles to fill as you scale — whether that looks like hiring a team of CI analysts, expanding the reach of your enablement specialists, or hiring a Director of Competitive Intelligence to steer your department to new heights.

    Essentially — there is no right or wrong way to hire your competitive intelligence team. 

    As long as you maintain the ability to operate a full CI function — complete with tracking, analyzing, and activating intel — how you scale your compete department is up to you and will depend on your personal goals for the future of your CI function.

    What's in a name?

    Heads up — just as there is flexibility in how you scale your CI team, there is also flexibility in what these CI team roles are known as across industries.

    But don’t worry, a competitive intelligence practitioner by any other name still smells as sweet. 

    While there may not yet be an industry standard for CI team member job titles, here are some of the most common analyst and enablement roles found on job boards today. Keep these titles in mind when creating your CI team job descriptions.

    Competitive Intelligence Analyst job job titles include:

    • Market Intelligence Analyst
    • Competitive & Market Intelligence Analyst
    • Market Intelligence Research Manager
    • Competitive Intelligence Research Assistant

    Competitive Enablement Specialist job titles include:

    • Competitive Enablement Manager
    • Sales Enablement Specialist
    • Sales Enablement Manager
    • Sales Enablement Coordinator
    • Market Intelligence & Enablement Manager

    Author: Madison Blask

    Source: Crayon

  • Making competitive enablement your expertise

    Making competitive enablement your expertise

    You’ve met with your stakeholders

    You’ve prioritized your competitors.

    You’ve built out a content framework, a battlecard template, an executive dashboard.

    You’ve laid the foundation, and you’re ready to rock and roll.

    What’s next?

    The real work of your competitive enablement program begins.

    In this article, I walk through how you can become the competitive enablement expert at your organization, including: 

    • What is curation and why is it important
    • Whether or not curation can be outsourced
    • How successful programs curate intel

    What is curation?

    The first step is to collect competitive intelligence on your competitors. Luckily, there is plenty of technology out there  that will scour the web for intelligence, filter it, and categorize it automatically for you. 

    Many platforms will also help you crowdsource intel from various stakeholders within your organization, via CRM data, email, Slack / Teams, and so on, to help you build a collaborative competitive culture

    But there is a final step to the intel collection process. You need to curate the relevant intel and add your unique perspective so it can be distributed to the right stakeholders in an actionable manner. 

    Curation is the last mile in the intel collection process.

    And curation needs to be done by you.

    Why is curating intel important?

    You know your business. And it’s not just industry-knowledge that you have. You know your buyer personas, your segments, your own solution’s strengths and weaknesses. You know what competitive intel will be important or interesting to your organization, and what intel will not.

    Put another way, intelligence needs to be filtered in two ways to be valuable and actionable for your business: 

    1. objectively: poor quality sources, duplicate articles about the same event, determining what’s a product release vs what’s a pricing change, and so on. This is objective, fact-based filtering.
    2. subjectively: specific around products within a portfolio, competitors you consider major threats vs anklebiters, customer reviews that give real insightful feedback about the competition that you didn’t know before, etc. These are subjective and specific to your unique expertise. 

    Combining objective facts with your organization’s unique characteristics is not only what makes intel actionable, but also what makes your role so powerful. It’s by doing this curation work that makes you the expert and puts your finger squarely on the pulse of the market.

    Can curation be outsourced?

    At this stage in building a program, many teams are tempted to leverage an analyst service to outsource the work of curation. In practice, there are a lot of risks to this approach for your competitive program, your business, and ultimately your reputation. 

    At best, an analyst is filtering out the news that is objectively poor quality. Duplicates, junk, irrelevant website changes, and so on. They can even help you categorize news into buckets. But it’s important to consider whether a third-party analyst would know what’s subjectively important for your business. 

    Furthermore, curating competitive intelligence is what makes you the expert within your organization. Those quick reps every day is what builds your competitive enablement muscle and builds your reputation as the go-to person for competitive insights. 

    Clara Smyth @ Slack (and many others) often shares that having her eyes and ears on the very edges of the business is what elevates her role and is why executives at Slack go to her for competitive insights.

    Curation is not only necessary, but incredibly valuable to CE experts. We asked hundreds of successful competitive enablement programs how they go about curating intel for their business. Independent of industry, company size, and even region, we learned that many programs triage intelligence in similar ways.

    How to curate competitive intel like the pros

    Intel is being generated every single day, both from the outside world, and from your inside teams. And so the first step that successful program owners take is they check their intel every single day. 

    It doesn’t need to take long. Most program owners report that they spend about 5-10 minutes per morning quickly reviewing the intelligence that appeared in the last day or two. This is a workflow we call triaging.

    In those 5-10 minutes, you sort intelligence into the following buckets: 

    Important – This is the intel that is actionable, and urgent. A competitor gets acquired. They release a new product. This is the kind of intel that you reschedule items in your calendar for – because it’s that critical.

    Interesting – This is the intel that is actionable, but not urgent. Your sales team loses a deal to a competitor. A new customer review is posted online. A competitor’s CEO does a reveal-all interview. You want to look deeper into these items, and it may produce something insightful, but it doesn’t require you to drop everything at this moment.

    Archived – This is the intel that doesn’t require action right now, but may be useful in the future. A competitor is attending an event, they’re hiring for a new position, you hear a rumour from the sales team about a lacking functionality… you don’t need to action on this right away, but you certainly want to save it to build your repository of intelligence over time.

    Now that your intel is sorted, you can go about the rest of your day. Maybe you have a time block later that afternoon to do some deeper analysis. That’s when you’ll dive deeper into your Important and Interesting items to do a more in-depth analysis, add context and meaning, and even distribute news-worthy items to the rest of your team via Slack / Teams, your email digest, a piece of content like a battlecard, and so on.

    Again — it’s worth considering how much of the above (if any) an external analyst could do for you effectively.

    This is the work that makes you the competitive expert for your organization.

    Author: Brandon Bedford

    Source: Klue

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