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Customer Corner: How AB Tasty Used Market and Competitive Intelligence to Improve Employee Onboarding

Creating a culture of CI can feel like training for a marathon. It requires serious dedication and repetition (So. Much. Running). And for most, running 26.2 miles doesn’t happen on the first day. You’ve got to start somewhere with those first few miles. When it comes to competitive intelligence, starting somewhere often translates to new hire orientation.

For this Customer Corner, we sat down with Margaret Hoffecker, Product Marketing Manager at AB Tasty (and five-time marathoner!), to discuss how she introduces new employees to market and competitive intelligence during onboarding. 

1. Was CI already part of new hire onboarding when you first joined or was that something you introduced at AB Tasty?

It was not originally part of our new hire orientation. Competitive intelligence in general felt like a bit of a black box where sellers knew about our competitors and how to deal with them but that knowledge wasn’t effectively shared across the company. 

Prior to my joining, there was no one with a role 100 percent dedicated to CI, so the struggle was real. Team members had worked hard to create resources for sales to access CI, including a Slack channel dedicated to competition as well as a giant PowerPoint deck that served as our battlecards. As great as those resources were, there was no way to measure if anyone was actually using them. Prior to my joining, AB Tasty signed up to Crayon, and while a ton of progress had been made, part of my remit was around change management. For example, I was tasked with getting more employees to use our CI Slack channel and Crayon battlecards. Our onboarding was one area I could tackle early on to ensure new hires had those behaviors in place from the get go.

Though a market intelligence onboarding was already in place when I started, it was only for sales folks, meaning a lot of new joiners weren’t exposed to it. When I joined, I immediately saw a gap in our orientation process. There was a missed opportunity to share information on our market and competitive landscape with all new hires, beyond just the sales team. 

2. Since you were introducing something new to AB Tasty’s onboarding, did you need to get buy-in order to be included? 

I really didn’t have any pushback when I discussed the importance of presenting CI to new hires. Quite the opposite, the team loved the idea of expanding market and competitive intelligence not just to sellers, but to everyone joining AB Tasty.

When employees are first joining, there’s so much learning that needs to happen, especially around the market lingo. It’s critical to have the lay of the land and I wanted to help new employees get a fast start by providing a thorough background on our market and our top competitors.  

3. Can you discuss some of the specifics and tactics around new hire onboarding — how often are you training new hires? How long is the training? What do you present to them?

For AB Tasty, onboarding happens once a month and it’s on a global scale. No matter where you are and what department you’re in, you’ll participate in onboarding — live or virtual. 

The CI presentation I give is 45 minutes long, an hour max because anything longer and you’ll experience eyes glazing over. I empathize that everyone is consuming a lot of information in those first few days. 

For the actual presentation, I’m providing both market and competitive intelligence. My job is to present the big picture so that everyone has a sense of who AB Tasty is and where we fit in the larger market. For new hires, I need to clearly frame this “where we fit” narrative across several product lines and geographies.  

I dedicate one to two slides for each of our top competitors across product lines. This breaks down to who the competitor is, what markets we see them in, what our biggest challenges are for this particular competitor, and relevant wins against this competitor. I’ll go through a few battlecards at a high level so that they can see these for the first time. 

I also discuss the importance of field intel — why it matters and that everyone can and should provide intel, not just the sales team! From here I mention the specifics on how to send me intel and all the channels I’ll check — Crayon, email, Slack. 

4. How is Crayon incorporated into new hire onboarding?

During my presentation, I dive into the Crayon platform. Everyone at AB Tasty has access to Crayon so this is where I can stress the importance of everyone participating in CI. Everyone sees all the battlecards and what Crayon offers right from the beginning. 

At AB Tasty, Crayon is used beyond the sales team. Our customer success team uses the battlecards to have a better understanding of the competition so they can handily advise existing customers when renewal time comes up. Our HR department uses the boards function within Crayon to track information about tech companies that candidates who applied to AB Tasty are also applying to. This gives them a knowledge bank about those companies’ offers, perks, differentiators, and similarities compared with AB Tasty, allowing them to get a sense of where they may potentially be losing a candidate in the hiring process and ideate around attracting new talent.  

5. Since onboarding is information overload for new employees, do you have any tips for creating a CI training that’s memorable for everyone?

One tip is to get employees to take an action while you have them together and in the moment. I have everyone join the competitor Slack channel during my session and I also have new employees log into Crayon while we’re all in the room. With single sign-on enabled, they can easily get in and from here I want to be sure they can navigate around. 

I’ve found that if you don’t have everyone participate in the moment, people will forget and move on quickly.

6. How do you keep the enthusiasm going for CI in general, beyond onboarding?

One area where I’ve really doubled down is our competitive intel Slack channel and trying to keep it as engaging as possible. If someone comes to me directly with a CI question or comment, I’ll ask them to post it into the Slack channel so that we’re keeping the activity high. 

Any time I make an update to a competitive asset, like my battlecards, I’m announcing that update to the channel so that everyone knows and will ideally go check out the update. It’s making sure I carve out time every week to incorporate new intel and then immediately share it to the Slack channel.

The channel is night and day from what it used to be and so much of that is just working at it to keep the updates consistent and relevant. 

Interested to learn how other Crayon customers are exceeding expectations and creating winning compete programs? Check out some additional Customer Corner success stories.

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Sheila Lahar
Sheila Lahar is the VP of Content Marketing here at Crayon, responsible for making sure that everything we publish is unique, compelling, and valuable. Prior to joining Crayon, she built successful content marketing programs at a number of B2B SaaS companies, including Flatfile, Datto, and Eloqua.