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Podcast Episode: Building a Competitive Intelligence Program That's Collaborative and Connected to What Your Users Really Need

Just in time to kickoff Q4 — a brand new episode of Into the Fray: The Competitive Intelligence Podcast has arrived! 

In our latest installment, podcast host, Erik Mansur (our VP of Product Marketing), sat down with Aaron Stillman, the VP of Product Marketing and Education at AB Tasty, to dive deep on the feedback loop required to implement a sustainable competitive intelligence program.

All good collaborative processes are built on the values of transparency and cross-functionality, and a competitive intelligence program is no different. So, when Erik wanted to learn more about what it takes to maintain and scale a collaborative CI program, he asked Aaron Stillman to break down how he runs his CI function over at AB Tasty.

Today’s blog post will feature highlights from Erik’s conversation with Aaron. Let’s dive in!

Creating a Feedback Loop: Building a competitive intelligence program that's collaborative and connected to what your users really need | Aaron Stillman, VP of Product Marketing and Education at AB Tasty

Erik started the conversation by asking Aaron to look at the big picture of establishing a collaborative competitive intelligence program. Every feedback loop begins with an inciting incident — more often than not, in the form of a discussion with a key stakeholder. But how does that conversation start? How does Aaron initially bring up the topic of CI with his cross-functional counterpart?

“We’re on a mission to achieve something. We are all trying to be our best selves and that requires having good, open, challenging conversations with one another.”

Aaron explained that his go-to approach is one of humility. When he starts the conversation, he’s honest about the humble position that he’s in. “When I start the conversation I say, listen. Everything is changing rapidly and regularly, and I’m not always going to have the most up to date and accurate information. The only way that I can help you succeed is if you look at what I’m doing and say ‘that's wrong, that’s not working,’” said Aaron.

The key here is to not take the feedback personally or take offense to any criticism. According to Aaron, this criticism is invaluable to maintaining an open competitive intelligence feedback loop. “I want you to criticize and give feedback because you're on the frontlines and I rely on your experience as a sales person or a customer facing person, and that breaks down all defense mechanisms and sets us up for the ‘help me help you’ relationship that we need to succeed.”

Enable Your Entire Organization with Competitive Intelligence

Aaron continued to explain that creating a healthy and honest feedback loop isn’t only essential for a thriving competitive intelligence program, but it also opened doors within the organization for his team to extend their CI efforts.

This is a broad approach to competitive intelligence that requires you to get in touch with the right people. When you’re reaching out to folks across the org chart, you are required to make a lot of connections quickly. Erik asked Aaron, how did he find the right people within the organization to have these conversations with?

As a friendly, curious coworker, Aaron enjoyed having the opportunity to meet as many people at his company as he could. Then, to find the right people to pull into his competitive intelligence feedback loop, he began listening to the pain points and initiatives that teams were working on to determine who was in the position of power on that team.

Then, instead of asking questions, Aaron took a more proactive approach. Based on the pain points he’d observed within their team, Aaron then went and created enablement materials to support their initiatives and brought it back while saying, “I don't know if this helps you or not, but I did this for you. Let’s talk about what I can do differently next time.” And just like that, he’s kicked off a CI feedback loop within his organization!

And that was just the start of Erik and Aaron’s conversation. For more insights into creating a competitive intelligence feedback loop — including the step by step process Aaron took to enabling his talent acquisition team with CI — tune in to the full episode above or right here!

Distributing Your Collaborative Competitive Intelligence

The path to creating a sustainable competitive intelligence program that benefits your entire organization is paved with open and honest conversations. But once you’ve created your CI program, how do you level-up in order to actively enable your organization with that competitive intel?

To begin empowering your organization with competitive insights like Aaron and his team at AB Tasty, download the Guide to Distributing Competitive Intelligence today!

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Madison Blask
Madison Blask is a Content Marketing Senior Specialist at Crayon, where she creates compelling content that converts. Prior to joining Crayon, Madison worked as a Senior Copywriter at CXD Studio, a proudly women-owned creative agency based in Boston, MA.