Can we give examples of competitive intelligence without acknowledging that – like many functions within the org – CI teams have been seriously impacted by COVID-19? No. Of course we can’t.
Our new reality has meant a major shift in business priorities. For some, it feels like we’re living permanently in the upside-down world.
Dramatics aside, we’ve been diligently listening to our customers in order to find examples of competitive intelligence (CI) strategies that have emerged – so we could share ideas with you on how to deliver greater value across the organization through your CI efforts.
Competitive intelligence should play a critical function in the org right now
A common theme we’ve heard among clients is that company-wide, there is an increased appetite for competitive and market intelligence. For both PMMs and leaders of competitive programs, there is a real opportunity for competitive intelligence to be seen as mission-critical.
Why does that matter to you? Well, because it’s a great opportunity to demonstrate your value across the organization. Everyone from Sales, Execs, Customer Success, Marketing, Talent, and Product teams are going to want all the intel they can get to outplay your competitors and make better strategic decisions in the months to come.
There’s no better time to build out the profile of your competitive intelligence program and to brand it as business-critical in your company.
Shift beyond competitive to focus on market intelligence
Competitors are important, but tracking the market is as well. We’ve seen many competitive intelligence teams increase their efforts to track other topics. This can mean tracking general changes to the market, building internal COVID-19-specific boards, M&A boards, and others.
Examples of tracking beyond competitors:
1] COVID-19/War Room Boards – At Klue, we’ve built our own “War Room” board which we use to track information on how COVID-19 is impacting our customers and our own business by capturing internal information from employees in every department.
2] M&A Boards – For companies who are thriving in this new world, some are beginning to build M&A boards to keep track of potential acquisitions and or M&A activity happening in the market.
Test new tactics to capture tribal knowledge
All companies will respond to the market impacts of COVID-19 in one way or another. We need to collect intel on our competitors’ responses quickly, and for many, Sales reps can be the closest and fastest way to track competitors’ moves. As a result, CI teams are trying new tactics to pull intel from the field.
Examples of how competitive intelligence teams are capturing tribal knowledge:
3] Having your Sales teams directly update competitive content – Commenting on battlecards or updating competitor boards during meetings has been a huge win for teams with limited resources or bandwidth.
4] Creating a “Rumours” lane in your competitor board in order to capture unvalidated claims from the field which need to be verified.
Focus on enabling better strategic decision making across the org
As a result of many CI programs shifting from primarily focusing on competitors to include more market tracking, we’ve also seen changes in how CI teams keep their companies informed.
Examples of how Competitive Intelligence can inform teams:
5] Use Newsletters for regular updates – Some CI teams have shifted towards using newsletters to keep multiple teams informed on different market intel. An executive team may be kept informed of higher-level market information including forecasts or updates on competitors (who’s still around, who’s getting crushed), where Customer Success leaders or Sales teams may be informed of more granular information: competitor pricing tactics and strategies, customer segment insights, etc.
6] Create a CI committee – It’s likely new teams in your org have a sudden hunger for competitor and market intel. A great way to build engagement with your competitive intelligence program is to build a CI committee. This involves representatives from various functions to serve as advisors in your CI program efforts, to help collect internal information, and to disseminate insights increasing engagement with your competitive content.
7] Executive presentations – Executive briefings on how competitors are reacting to COVID-19.
8] Sales Impact Analysis/ Competitor updates – who’s still around, who’s getting crushed, and what’s changing in pipeline deals.
Sales teams are hungry for intel and support on messaging
Sales teams are hungrier than ever for competitive insights. They’re seeing deals stall out or close completely, and are navigating without certainty about how their competitors might behave in deals.
Examples of Competitive Intelligence that Sales teams need right now:
9] Updated competitive content is critical – In the months to come Sales will be under increasing pressure to close every deal they can. Anything lost to a competitor could be a critical error. If quarterly updates to battlecards sufficed in the past, it doesn’t now. Battlecard content needs to be up to date as of yesterday, and in general, we’re seeing efforts to use all means possible to keep Sales teams informed on all pertinent competitor and market insights.
10] COVID-19 Messaging Support – You’ve seen it. The tone-deaf email sent by a salesperson that has been shared around as “what not to say”. We’re seeing CI teams build messaging guidance for sales teams on how to communicate during these times of uncertainty.
Retention is a key priority
CI experts seem to agree that customer retention is a key priority right now and expect pressure to be exerted on their customer support teams to retain customers and revenue. In some companies, we’re seeing this being elevated as a priority at the CRO-level. A common struggle is how to effectively champion the enablement of CS teams; these stakeholders may not have had a lot of exposure to the competitive intelligence efforts up to this point. While CS doesn’t yet seem to be the primary audience for enablement (Sales is still winning on this front), this is expected to be an area to watch which could become more important over the course of the year and into 2021.
Examples of Competitive Intelligence for Customer Support & retention:
11] Separate battlecards for CS tailored for renewal conversations – CS content will be similar to the Sales content but positioned slightly differently (account retention perspective instead of new Sale perspective).
12] Enabling CS teams with existing battlecard content – Not a perfect solution, but for teams with limited capacity, giving CS teams access to battlecard built for Sales, for now, is a good starting point.
13] CS leaders using CI tools to track key accounts and key prospects – Thinking beyond competitor tracking, some teams have collaborated with their CS leadership to track and centralize intel on important customers and deals.
Source: KATIE BERG, KLUE LABS VANCOUVER, APRIL 24, 2020.