12 Tips to Guarantee Your Success in Collecting Intelligence from Sales

Recently I gave a webinar for SCIP chapters in Mercyhurst and Ohio on how to capture competitive intelligence from Sales by using cooperative intelligence skills. I love serving Sales Reps since I can easily translate what I provide into an ROI benefit, namely more sales. Ongoing sales intelligence is the best tactical competitive intelligence, and it’s current.

1. First realize how Sales is motivated: they have a short-term outlook, want to look good, are often in competition with each other, and have a high need for recognition.

2.You need to Give to Sales before they will believe in you. And it better be what they need, not what your corporation wants Sales to have. Likewise if you don’t use what Sales provides, they will stop giving.

3. Gaining cooperation from Sales isn’t tough. It’s in their best interest to collect competitive intelligence to do their job, to win more deals. You just need to convince them that you’re a worthy client.

4. Find out what’s hard for them to get that they value. You have access to so much information. What about those industry analyst or financial analyst reports? How about competitor profiles you’ve developed? They’ll tell you what they need.

5. Make it easy for them to locate what you develop for them. It’s best if you can make it part of a software system that they already use like salesforce.com. Remind them where your nuggets of information reside periodically.

6. Think about ways you can help sales depending on where they are in the sales cycle. What do they already produce that you can build off of?

7. Start slow in Sales and find the right people to service. They can be low in the organization as long as they’ll publicize how great what you provided is. While Sales Reps spend a lot of time out of the office, it’s amazing how connected they can be. As you start producing the right deliverables for Sales, their bosses will find out, and you will be recognized.

8. Insert yourself into Sales events like teleconferences, conferences, webinars or blogs to maintain your visibility.

9. Be easy to find and responsive since many in corporations hide from Sales rather than service them.

10. I enjoy developing win loss analysis programs since I can cooperatively include Sales as I get positioned with their customers and prospects to learn how we can improve win rates, customer service, product features, implementation, tech support, customer testimonials, develop better products and so much more.

11. Involve Sales for Trade Show collection since they’re already at shows with their customers, so put them to work collecting competitive information since most have not a shy bone in their body. They know how to ask the right questions, so you don’t need to train them.

12. A final tip: don’t forget to ask Sales how you’re doing so you continue to deliver the right products to your sales force.

Serve Sales well and you will have job security even in a tough economy since they are the company’s revenue producers!

I have posted the Sales Intelligence presentation in Slideshare.

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7 Responses

  1. Hi Ellen – as a sales professional for over 20 years, I vote “YES”. That said, here is one additional tip. When picking someone to support or have a successful relationship in sales. Don’t always pick the top performers, and you might want to skip the bottom (they could be leaving soon). But it might make a good deal of sense to pick someone in the middle of the pack so that you can demonstrate a dramatic increase in sales revenue and real success. The company will want to try and replicate that effort and you will have a life long fan in the individual you helped.

    cheers,
    cg

  2. Hi Gray,

    That’s an interesting point to pick someone in the middle. I usually don’t pick based on where they are performance wise, although never the bottom. However, I pick those who are most engaged, not just decent in sales, but interested in marketing, product development and the competition. They seem to be the most cooperative, and accepting also of what I might be share.

    Thanks for your share. I really appreciate your perspective!

    Ellen

  3. Nice post and I think it’s a big mistake to ignore sales. They are on the front line and hear juicy news before anybody else does. On the other hand, as it’s juicy news they’ll only share it if you are willing to share too. So it’s really important to build a good relationship with sales and realise that they want a quid pro quo. You share with them and they’ll share with you. However as you are seen as “the enemy”, “a marketing time-waster” or whatever it’s important that you give first so as to build that relationship.

    Also when working with sales identify those people who like to share experiences. It’s not just the top or middle-sellers. It could be anybody. Make these sales people your key contacts as they are the ones most likely to hear news. As a way of identifying such people, look for the “expressive” personality style and possibly the “amiable” style, rather than “drivers” or “analysts”. (See: http://www.softed.com/resources/Docs/SSW0.4.pdf for a presentation on social styles).

  4. You always make such good points, Arthur. I agree, connect with those most likely to be sharing types. Knowing their personality type is useful to understand how they’re motivated or like to hear news.

    I would add that you often connect with people based on your personality. There is a certain amount of chemistry involved. Those I click with in Sales are those I end up connecting with every time. They are never bottom performers.

    Cheers!

  5. […] read 12 Tippers to Guarantee Your Success in Collecting Intelligence from Sales with an air of wonder. The article is written about how information professionals can […]

  6. This is a great list and applicable to other segments of the business. As you clearly outlined, give the user what they need, not what the company wants them to have. That’s the best path to getting buy-in and enhancing your value.

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