Guest post by Primary Intelligence, CustomerCentric Selling® Partner
Any electrical socket around you provides a tap to a near endless supply of energy. Inside the wires, there is enough power to run a houseful of gadgets, recharge your electric car or deliver an awful shock (don’t try that at home).
But, until you use the power to do something (turn on the lights, recharge your phone, etc.), it really doesn’t offer much value. For the electricity to be effective, it must power something that is important to you. Otherwise, it is just a bunch of electrons with potential energy sitting in copper wiring.
Your competitive intelligence is very similar to the electricity in your wires. You can collect as much competitive intelligence as you like, but until someone uses it to power change in your company, it really isn’t effective at all.
Competitive Intelligence for Strategy
Your competitive intelligence is most effective if it:
- Strengthens your company’s position when you compete
- Enhances your offerings to create desirable solutions that customers will buy
Answer These Competitive Analysis Questions
To maximize effectiveness, we recommend answering these questions:
1. Top-line Revenue
- Does this intelligence create new revenue opportunities?
- Can we take away sales from the competition?
- Will our existing accounts stay longer and be more profitable?
- Can we be more efficient or learn best practices?
- Are there better ways to manage our processes?
- How easily will we be able to act on this data?
What’s Your Best Source for Competitive Intelligence? Your Customers!
How often do you talk to your customers? If you add up the touches made by sales, account management, marketing, and other client-facing services in your company, you might find that each of your customers is talking to you on a regular basis.
You should have a central management group that has established some formal information gathering processes. Very common programs would include Customer Satisfaction, Account Loyalty, Win-back, Win Loss, Client Retention and Defection. Usually, these programs fall under the heading of “Voice of the Customer” (VOC). (Check out our Resources page to learn more about these programs.)
So, you have two types of contact:
- Informal, everyday conversations
- Formal programs to gather Voice of the Customer data
The fact of the matter is that your customers know nearly as much about the competition as they do about you. They evaluated the competition before selecting you as their vendor. They are regularly courted by the competition and many of your best clients also have purchased from your competitors, either in the past or currently.
Take a minute to see if your win loss program is generating competitive intelligence.
In our experience, most customer satisfaction and loyalty interviews focus on the client’s experience with their present vendor. Go one step further and:
- Ask your clients who they perceive as your biggest threats.
- Find out what they are hearing about the competitors’ recent initiatives and offers.
- Understand how you stack up in various performance areas.
Put the Competitive Intelligence Collected to Work
The competitive information collected from your customers will not only be enlightening but will show your company what is happening in the market place in real time. (For more reading, download 7 Competitive Intelligence Strategies Used by Successful B2B Companies.)
Your company will benefit in the following ways:
- Sales will know what is being said about your company by the competitors. They will have more intelligence to sell more effectively and counter negative messages.
- Marketing will know what the prospects and clients value in the marketplace and will be able to establish messaging that drive home the most important value propositions.
- Product Development will know the advances being made by the competition and will understand how well these innovations may be received by the marketplace.
- Executives will have the right competitive intelligence to make strategic decisions.
Are you sharing competitive intelligence with the stakeholders in a timely manner to make sure that your company is capitalizing on the market as efficiently as possible?
Collecting data and sharing customer insights are valuable competitive strategies, but competitive intelligence must be converted to actionable decisions if you truly want change.