7 Timeless Competitive Intelligence Tips

I have worked in competitive intelligence for over 25 years and here are someĀ timeless key findings.

competitive intelligence tips

1. What Is Competitive intelligence Anyway?

Competitive Intelligence is NOT competitor spying. While competitorsĀ are definitely part of the external scanning and analysis process:Ā customers, suppliers, regulators, new technology and so many moreĀ sources are part of the competitive puzzle.

2. Company Insularity Is Not a Competitive Advantage.

Too many companies spend too much time being insular since it isĀ comfortable and are encouraged by executives who want to do it their way. Unfortunately many companies compensate their executives to be low risk takers since they get paid very well whether the company is doing well or not.

3. Donā€™t Forget: Your Employees Are Smart!

Yet, you donā€™t want to be too focused on the external environment soĀ as to disregard what your employees are telling you. You donā€™t want toĀ stifle their creativity by saying it wonā€™t work, since it didnā€™t before or at company X. You want to give employees adequate time to be creative and exploratory, and to make allowances for mistakes: not just in research and development.

4. Let Employees Create and Have Access to Customer, Sales & MarketĀ Intelligence.

Customers are a key source for product development, competitiveĀ intelligence and the future of your marketplace. Donā€™tĀ assume you know what your customers want: ask them. I notice that the the most successful companies are good at figuring out what will delight their customers–which goes far beyond “asking them”. This comes from letting the brains in the company be creative and develop neat products and services. Yet they need to have a tie to customers and other external sources to feed their creativity while internal marketing and sales people help them with practical things like pricing.

5. What Ever Happened to Good Old Fashioned Customer Service?

Many companies fixate on innovation at the cost of good customerĀ service around existing products and services. One key learning fromĀ many Win/Loss interviews with customers is that customer service andĀ company reputation are often the reasons customers buy and stay with you. Innovation and pricing are almost always lower in the decision-making totem pole. In a similar vein, some companies seem more eager to steal competitorā€™s customers than to retain their own. Costly move.

6. Many Companies Canā€™t Afford a Competitive Intelligence Process.

If your company doesnā€™t have the budget to sustain a competitiveĀ intelligence process, at least establish and maintain a list of internal and external experts who you can rely on when you have thoseĀ competitive intelligence quick turnaround projects. Realize the valueĀ of cross-functional input towards key decisions, as cross-discipline output will reduce blind spots in your strategy. Input fromĀ external resources, who have never worked at your company, alsoĀ reduces blind spots.

7. Be Actionable.

I have noticed that most companies actually have the intelligence theyĀ need about their marketplace to make smart decisions: they just arenā€™tĀ willing to make the changes. Being nimble and willing to makeĀ organizational, product or service changes is a competitive advantage. Don’t get bogged down in organizational practices and procedures that aren’t necessary.Ā Having management that is incented to make these changes is also aĀ competitive advantage!

Extra Tip: Learn Why Your Competitors Got the Business that You Didn’t.

Win/Loss Analysis book gives you a process to learn why you’re losing business and how to keep more of it!

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