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3 Ways to Get Intel and Feedback for Your Competitive Intelligence Efforts

Baking a cake and crafting your competitive intelligence (CI) program surprisingly have a lot of overlap. If you’ve ever watched an episode of the Great British Baking Show, you’ll know there’s no one right way to bake a cake. 

The same can be said for CI, especially in regards to getting intel and feedback from the field. There are a variety of ways different sized businesses are going about getting this information. 

In this post, I’ll dive into the tactics used by leading competitive intelligence pros to hear about the methods they’re using, as well as the why. 

After all the time you’ve spent collecting, crafting, and executing on your CI strategy, isn’t the most critical part if it’s resonating with the consumers? 

Straight Forward: In-Person Conversations

One of the most straightforward ways to solicit feedback and get intel is to have 1-1 meetings with sales reps and other internal consumers of your CI resources. 

“Regular 1-1s with reps! When I ran CI in-house, I started doing these for key deals only. But I soon found that the conversations were so fruitful for both of us that I did them with almost every rep in the company once a month. I would offer tailored support on their active deals, and they would feed me the latest intel from the field + their experience using the positioning I had equipped them with. A powerful cycle.” —Alex McDonnell, Invision

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What is possible with a small number of reps, quickly becomes more challenging as an organization begins to grow. As the company grows and your team gets bigger, you can still get feedback by randomly selecting reps to talk to, or better yet, asking your top reps for their insight. Let’s take a look at two more tactics for gaining feedback that may be more valuable to larger organizations. 

Using Messenger Groups to Gather Feedback

If the thought and practicality (like not being co-located) of 1-1 conversations with internal consumers doesn’t jive with you, some CI pros told us about the different central digital locations they have set up to elicit feedback.

The first was setting up a messenger group like Slack or Salesforce Chatter. 

“At my company, we have a Slack channel for competitive intelligence. PMMs are the ones mostly posting, but our sales team, product owners, and services team members are in there as well. They can also post about things they're hearing/finding out on their end. Based on the engagement that we get on that channel from other team members, we have been able to better figure out what kinds of things they are most interested in hearing about.” — Rodney Rasmussen, Rain Focus 

Build a Group of CI Champions in Your Org

If you’re working in an organization that has a big sales (and possibly large product) team, building out a group of competitive intelligence champions in your org is a smart way to get the time, attention, and feedback you need to understand how your CI efforts are resonating

“I started by identifying CI Champions through highly engaged Sales reps. Once I had the core group nailed down, I set up monthly meetings to discuss CI related information they have gathered from their own / team members' conversations with customers, and to share back key insights I got from the Crayon platform. 

Our sales team is very large, so I have started a pilot group to test/develop the battlecards before looking to roll out more widely. I then get feedback on how it is progressing through the monthly CI Champion meetings.” —Mark Silvester, American Express 

The TL;DR on Best Practices for Intel & Feedback

Like most marketing, the truly best practice for gathering intel and feedback on your CI efforts depends on the unique circumstance of your business. For many, if you have a small enough team, having face to face meetings works great. Whereas if you’re on the large size for your organization, building a team of CI champions in your organization might be the best way to get the answers you need. 

If you read this post and thought, “there’s so much I could add to this topic!” then you should absolutely check out the Competitive Intelligence Collective. The CIC is a free community for competitive intelligence professionals to connect, learn, and discuss all things CI. 

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Alicia Thomas
Alicia Thomas, a Crayon alum, is the head of Brand & Community at Postscript, a provider of SMS marketing technology. She is a veteran of the marketing analytics space, and her award-winning work has been featured on sites like TechCrunch, Performance Marketer, and Shopify Plus.