In our fourth installment of the Crayon Customer Corner, we sat down with Zach Napolitano — Director of Product Marketing at Splash. As a first time CI practitioner, Zach took his role as a student of competitive intelligence very seriously, resulting in the implementation of not only a successful CI program, but an organization-wide culture of competitive intelligence.
Read on to learn how Zach used Crayon resources to hone his CI skills and kick-off a huge culture shift at Splash.
1. Let’s start by taking it back to the beginning of your competitive intelligence journey. How did you realize it was time for Splash to invest in a dedicated CI function?
Before Crayon, our competitive intelligence function was very limited. We had a couple battlecards but not very many people were using them. Since we didn’t have a centralized process or owner for CI, there was a lack of confidence across the team regarding the accuracy of the information being shared.
As our organization and marketing team matured, we identified several areas where we could expand into influencing the sales process.
Then, as our sales reps continually updated us about new competitors popping into the marketplace, it became clear to me that we had an information gap within our organization that needed to be closed as quickly as possible.
2. Once you realized you needed a dedicated CI function, the fun was only beginning. As a first time CI software buyer, it was up to you to generate executive buy-in. How did you get the rest of your company onboard the competitive intelligence train?
Competitive intelligence was completely new to my team. And, stepping into a new leadership role within product marketing, I didn’t know a lot about CI either.
As a marketer, we see our areas of focus evolving at breakneck speed. Often, the challenge isn’t getting buy-in on a specific solution, but more so getting buy-in on the need itself. Because I have a CMO who knows CI is an important business function, I didn’t need to sell her on the value of CI. Instead, I needed to prove I had done the research and Crayon was the best option with the best value for our team.
I wanted to onboard a competitive intel program, and after scoping the project and vetting providers, I identified Crayon as my preferred solution. When I presented my recommendation for Crayon to our CMO, I had immediate buy-in. I was definitely lucky in that respect.
3. Once Splash implemented Crayon, you dove headfirst into your role as a student of competitive intelligence. What resources did you find to be the most valuable while honing your CI knowledge?
One thing I appreciate about Crayon is the sheer volume of resources: templates, podcasts, and webinars about organizations at the beginning of their CI journey. Crayon doesn’t assume their users are experts. Instead, the content is geared toward organizations’ that are trying to get their CI programs off the ground.
I really dig the Competitive Intelligence Collective Slack community and was excited to be invited to that. I also love the Into the Fray podcast, Competitive Intelligence Live, and the Competitive Advantage Academy — which is a huge differentiator for Crayon. I used to work in customer education where I implemented an online learning portal. Seeing the amazing job that the Crayon team did in creating the Academy makes it clear they took it really seriously.
4. I’d love to hear a bit about your experience establishing a culture of competitive intelligence at Splash. What has that process looked like for you? Are there any best practices you can share?
There was no pushback, just a lot of excitement. The one tip that I have is truly partnering with multiple sales reps to ensure they know their voices are being heard and their needs considered, since CI is such an integral part of their work.
Whenever I create a new process or program, I bring it to a few reps individually and ask for their feedback. The added benefit is that these reps will likely become advocates and help their peers adopt the new program or process.
When it came to choosing which of our competitors to prioritize, I asked each rep to complete a survey with their recommendations. We also created a dedicated channel in Slack with a workflow that makes it really easy for sales reps to submit CI so that it doesn’t feel like homework for them.
When someone submits real-time competitive intel in Slack, I make a big deal of organizing it and creating key takeaways as quickly as possible, so everyone feels like their voice matters — because it does!
Even though we haven’t built out all our battlecards yet, as I come across interesting or relevant insights — like a video of a customer talking about competitor X or their desired price point — in my Crayon feed, I’ve been sharing those via the Slack integration. This provides the team with a look at what’s on the horizon and what they’ve been helping to create. It also reinforces the importance of their insights and CI in general.
The last thing I’d recommend is truly taking advantage of the fact that Crayon can be integrated into the systems and tools that we already use. Instead of adding stress with another new platform they need to learn, we’ve embedded the CI in Guru. They can also see it in Salesforce or right in Slack. They can use the tool wherever they live, increasing the likelihood of adoption by not adding another step to their process or separate platform to their tech stack.
Our intentional communication and positioning of Crayon resulted in a cultural shift in which our team realized that the best insights are from the conversations they are already having in the market. By sharing their conversations and insights, they start to recognize the power of their own voices as well as the exponential power of their collective intel.
5. From when you first began your journey as a student of competitive intelligence to now, what has been the most enlightening lesson you’ve learned about CI?
Speaking with Sam and the Crayon team really opened my eyes to understanding that competitive intelligence is more than just battlecards. Even if you don’t have a formal CI program, your team probably already has a lot of valuable information, and a lot of people that win against competitors, but the power of the information just hasn't been harnessed yet.
If you’re ready to compete like Splash, request a demo with Crayon today.
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