Every team and employee within a business can benefit from relevant competitive insights. This may seem as obvious as saying that every team and employee can benefit from performance data – how else would the business know what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve? Competitive insights deliver a similar benefit – they provide data on what’s happening outside the business’s four walls to show how things are shifting, how other companies are growing or stalling, and providing critical input on how the business can improve.
Serving the many competitive intelligence (CI) stakeholders can be challenging for a small CI team or, even more so, someone who is taking on CI as just part of their role. But by identifying each stakeholder, involving them in the discussion of CI priorities, and producing deliverables that are relevant to each of them, you can have a massive impact on the business. Let’s dive into who each of these stakeholders is and a few of the common deliverables appreciated by them.
Top 3 Competitive Intelligence Stakeholders
The three most common use cases – and related stakeholders – uncovered in the 2019 State of Competitive Intelligence are: improving marketing performance, enabling sales, and informing product strategy. In other words, the top CI stakeholders are marketing, sales, and product teams. There are very clear benefits to each of those teams.
Benefits to Marketing:
Differentiate content and messaging to stand out in a crowded market
Inspire new marketing content and campaigns, learning from your competitors’ work
Build target lists of PR outlets, blogs, etc. based on competitors’ success
See where competitors’ marketing investment is going to get ahead of future campaigns
Benefits to Sales:
Better position your solution against alternatives to win competitive deals
Discover competitors’ unhappy customers who are good sales targets
Understand trends in the industry to build trust with prospects
Benefits to Product:
Get market feedback from customers and competitors’ customers on gaps in the market that you can fill
Learn how competitors have tackled solutions in the past to learn best practices and mistakes to avoid
See where competitors’ product development is headed to different your own solution
Tips for Working with Each Stakeholder
Identifying CI priorities and deliverables for each CI stakeholder should be a collaborative process. Working with each of these teams can help you get buy-in from the start and target your resources to top priorities of each team.
Talk to each team to learn what their top priorities and challenges are right now – What are the key product areas being developed, competitors causing the most trouble in the sales process, or marketing content themes getting center stage in coming months?
Identify the actual recipients of competitive insights and their preferred channels – should competitive insights be delivered to the whole team or to select members, and which channels do they prefer (email, Slack, Salesforce, etc.)?
Ask what’s on their CI wish list – A great way to get quick wins and build credibility with your CI efforts is to deliver on your stakeholders’ top requests. In order to do that, though, you need to gather those requests. Ask what success looks to them in terms of actionable insights relevant to their role, then pick a few of those wish list items to tackle early on.
Get feedback – On a regular basis, ask your stakeholders for feedback on the CI deliverables: are they getting the insights they hoped for? What resources have been most helpful? Any suggestions or new requests?
Common Deliverables for Each Stakeholder
In working with hundreds of enterprises to develop and scale their CI initiatives, we’ve found a few types of deliverables come up again and again. If you’re not sure where to start in delivering competitive insights in a helpful, actionable format, these are five good options to start.
Five Types of CI Deliverables
1. Always up-to-date resources: Where should someone go to get up-to-date information about a competitor or set of competitors? Up-to-date resources are great for reference as well as getting new hires ramped up quickly on this information.
Example: dynamic sales battlecards; live competitor profiles
2. Updates on key changes: Your competitors don’t stand still, and your teams need to know the key changes related to their areas. Newsletters and digests that are sent on a weekly or monthly basis are good avenues for getting this information out.
Example: monthly CI newsletters tailored for sales, product, and marketing
3. Urgent announcements: Some competitive moves can’t wait for the weekly or monthly newsletter. Key announcements, like acquisitions, large product launches, or global expansion, need to get out to the team immediately. Remember to add your own analysis of the update to put the announcement in context.
Example: email alerts to marketers about new campaigns; alerts to all leadership about major product announcements
4. Long term analyses: Some competitive trends can only be seen over a longer period of time. It’s helpful to zoom out and review a series of competitor moves and see where they’re headed next so that you can plan your next steps. On top of that, there are opportunities to dive into historical data to take stock of competitor activity in a specific area tied to a new investment within the business.
Example: product deep-dives in preparation for new product feature development; content analysis to fuel topics and channels for the next quarter
5. CI workspace: In order to make all of these insights and deliverables possible, the CI leader needs a workspace to capture, analyze, discuss, and share intelligence in real-time. A CI workspace is key for having discussions with other business leaders around competitor developments and determine the recommendations and actions that feed the above deliverables.
Example: competitive dashboard for collaboration and intel capture among the CI leader and other key members of the company
Without an understanding of who your stakeholders are, what they need, and how to tailor the deliverables to each of them, any CI program will fall flat. But these common deliverables and use cases are bound to get you off to a fast start having a wide-reaching impact on your organization.