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Many of us in competitive intelligence are our own worst enemy since we are steeped in competitive intelligence DNA and language, and don’t understand how the c-suite operates.
Treat getting in with the c-suite like battle: “If you know the enemy and you yourself you need not fear the results of a 100 battles.” Sun Tzu, 500BC
Mind your Ps and Qs
Over deliver, but don’t overwhelm. Start with how your insight ties into the business results the executive cares about. Use their language, which is the language of business and know enough about the executive to understand his/her quirks. Their Admin will know these. Scott would schedule 5 minutes with an executive before his talk to make sure he was touching on what the executive cared about. They will find 5 minutes for you: it’s in their best interest, right?
Scott also applies his 7Ps from his military training to knowing how executives operate:
Recognize the differences
Most executives live to work. They are under tremendous pressure and you don’t want to add to it.
Pick and maintain a voice, which is consistent and in alignment with the business goals
Scott suggests three practices when communicating with executives:
Show them the tip of the iceberg from your analysis. Use appropriate language, not CI, and tie your deliverable to business results that you know the executive is focused on. But be prepared with all the supporting data for questions.
Scott’s motto here:
Be a Salesperson
Build a competitive intelligence brand in your company with a logo and a name to your group that everyone can easily identify with. While many in competitive intelligence have this stealth mode for what we do, we need to be more outgoing in order to be seen and heard. Scott had a catchy name for his CI group at Prudential, PruView.
If you aren’t good at selling, find champions who are. Ideally they should have some skin in the game, that is rely on you for good work. Ideally these champions should be senior, vocal, CI smart and committed.
I recall when I was at Bell Atlantic, now part of Verizon, I gained a VP of Sales as my champion. I didn’t realize he was testing me when he sent me on what I thought was a wild goose chase to lead a competitor response analysis in a highly political RFP that our sales folks had already answered. What would be the value of this, I thought as I drove to their site with very little notice.
The sales team thought if we didn’t win, AT&T would. There were two other competitors: Rolm (now part of Siemens) and Nortel. They didn’t think either of them had a good chance to win the business. I thought that Rolm had the best chance to win as this was a university, and Rolm was owned by IBM, who manufactured PCs at this time. They could sweeten the deal through discounted PCs, which were very expensive then. Rolm won the business for the reason I had suspected, and the Sales VP became my champion.
Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it.
As many of you know, I am writing, Win, Lose or Draw, a book on how to set up a world class win loss program.
In this book I am sharing some best practices to capture customer intelligence through win loss interviews:
What are your best practices in there two areas:
#1 Do you compensate the customers and prospects you interview?
If you compensate, has this improved your success at getting people to agree to be interviewed?
If you compensate, what do you think is a competitive rate per interview?
Which industries are you expected to compensate, such as doctors?
Where had you better not compensate, such as government employees?
#2 How do you feel about recording interviews?
If you record interviews, do you transcribe them?
What software do you use?
Do you use the transcripts for data mining?
I have mixed emotions and experience in both of these areas. I tend to get a pretty good interviewing rate without compensation, but I haven’t queried doctors. I always have a good value proposition, and have an organized process which is more apt to lead to YES for the interview.
Win loss is a good use of a customer’s or prospect’s time, since it gives them an opportunity to tell you what they do and don’t like about doing business with you and the competition—after the pressure of the decision to buy has been made. Yet I am realistic in that people’s schedules are so filled these days that I am competing for their time, so sweetening the deal with a monetary reward will encourage them to find the time.
I feel kind of like a spy when I record conversations. Call me old fashioned. I have such an established shorthand for note taking that I don’t miss much, and have no problem asking them to clarify or I repeat what I thought I heard them say to slow them down a bit. I don’t mind getting back with a question after the interview since I always have their email. I always provide interview summaries, which can be data mined. My clients are more apt to read the summaries since they are a quick read compared to transcripts.
While Win Loss is a relationship business, like all business processes, it continues to evolve. With the advent of big data, some companies include win loss transcripts in their big data to more scientifically uncover trends, for example.
If you’re uncomfortable sharing your best practices on social media or my blog, please email me at ellen at thebisource.com or send me a private message on LinkedIn or Twitter. Thanks so much. I am closing in on my rough draft for the book. It feels good to get this far.
Filed under: competition, conversation, Cooperative Intelligence, customer intelligence, Denver, Ellen Naylor, interview, sales people, win loss analysis | Tagged: competition, conversation, customer intelligence, interviews, loss analysis, win loss analysis, win loss interview | Comments Off
Here are some insightful articles related to competitive intelligence and customer intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence: Cult or Competitive Advantage This is a great rebuttal to Adam Grant’s recent article, “Emotional Intelligence is Overrated.” There is a lot more scientific proof that a high EQ is a teachable skill, and that people respond well to those who have empathy. Competitive intelligence is a people business, and those who can motivate people to share have a leg up. Having a high EQ and empathy motivates most people to share. As Dr. Kenneth M. Nowack concluded in his article on this subject, “It’s not how smart you really are that matters in terms of work and life success, but how you are smart.”
How to Build a Culture of Givers: 4 Tips Authored by Laura Montini, this article reports on Prof Adam Grant’s recommendations, the same one who somewhat slammed emotional intelligence above. You can see this perspective here, “What you want is a disagreeable giver–one who will tell it like it is without regard for your feelings, but only because he or she has the best intentions for your organization at heart.” As a proponent of emotional intelligence, I think it’s better if they do have some regard for your feelings.
In competitive intelligence, we expect our sources to share with us. I enjoy Prof Grant’s Reciprocity Ring as a crowdsourcing way to get people to ask and provide answers in an open forum within the company. Everyone in the ring is required to ask for something. “When the whole room is making requests, it’s not uncomfortable,” Grant said.
When everyone’s requests are out in the open, individuals in the group decide which ones they’re best equipped to handle based on their expertise. “And make no mistake. Everyone will give,” Grant says.
“The takers actually start giving because everybody’s contributions are visible and they worry that if they don’t volunteer to help anyone, they’re going to get caught. The end result? Employees will get on board with the idea of building a culture of givers. That’s because they’ll see that if they give more, everyone can get more of what they want.”
This is a visible and cooperative way to engage your fellow employees to ask for and give tips to strengthen your company’s competitive position. How do you engage your employees to share?
Employers Want Critical Thinkers, But Do They Know What It Means? This article spoke to me as a competitive intelligence professional since many in our profession spend too much time monitoring the competitive market and place too much weight on digital information. Critical thinking takes time and reflection, which corporations don’t give in the rush, rush, rush culture of most. Critical thinking is an essential skill for competitive intelligence professionals, and many of us are too reactive due to the influx of data that is streaming our way. What do you think?
10 Great Questions Product Managers Should Ask Customers, shares some great questions that can also be used in win loss interviews. After all product managers need to know how and why customers use your products, and how they could work better for them. Customer intelligence is such a key piece of competitive intelligence. My 3 favorite questions that Jim Semick suggests are:
What are your favorite questions?