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Intelligence for Business



Competition is the force that drives innovation, improvement and growth. Competitive Intelligence is the power that drives your company to conquer the competition and achieve the greatest victories. This forum provides a stream of information on maximizin



Updated: 2017-10-28T00:23:14.386-07:00

 



Why should I care about CI? I’m in Sales!

2008-02-13T14:20:35.920-08:00

Calls, pipelines, meetings, and more calls. This is what sales people do: make calls, make contacts, and build relationships. It seems simple, doesn’t it? So, when a marketing person comes in with charts and diagnostics, what happens? The eyes roll, the hands go back behind the head, and you can almost hear the brain turning off.

Why do you think salespeople don’t care about CI? What have you done to show them of their benefit? Salespeople work primarily in the business of relationships, and on the surface it doesn’t seem as if Competitive Intelligence matters. Therefore, they believe that what they need is to get themselves in front of the right people, and their sales abilities will finish the deal.

Therefore, when someone outside of sales approaches them with statistics and magic quadrants, they don’t see the correlation to their efforts at creating and maintaining their relationships with prospects.

Maybe a different tactic is needed. Maybe it’s time for the market research person to use a little salesmanship to promote CI to those who can use it most. Consider these questions before approaching the sales team:

  1. What information can I share that matters in a sales scenario?
  2. What can it tell them that impacts their ability to win more opportunities?
  3. What can I leave out that isn’t critical to their specific needs?
  4. How can I present this information in a way that gets their attention?
Whether we realize it or not, we are all salespeople. We need to position our product in a way that attracts the attention of those we wish to influence. Remember that when you try to sell to the biggest skeptic: your own sales force.



Slight Changes

2008-02-07T09:04:22.689-08:00

Hello, everyone. This is Mark Larson at Primary Intelligence wishing all of you a happy and productive day. I just wanted to update you on some changes that will be happening with the blog.

Chris Dalley has taken a new position here within our company and has passed the opportunity of managing this blog onto me. Chris is a more prolific writer than I, so I will be enlisting the help of my PI colleagues to continuously bring new and interesting content to these pages.

We hope to give you tidbits on the Competitive Intelligence community in general as well as exciting new developments we uncover while doing our own research.

A lot has changed in the intelligence and market research fields over the past 10 years in which we've been in business. Technology is playing a bigger role as companies want easier access to data as well as better targeted findings.

We hope to keep the information rolling that helps you in your understanding of what is available and what is on the horizon in regards to CI.

We also would love your comments as well. If you have an interesting viewpoint on a topic, or information that would be enlightening, send it to me and we'll look at posting it.

Contact me at mlarson@primary-intel.com or by phone at 801-838-9600 x5046.




Obstacles to an Effective Win Loss Program

2008-01-28T07:52:04.577-08:00

Win Loss research is a very strong part of a complete voice of the customer system. Not only does it provide a first view into the hoops that prospects go through to do business with you, it also uncovers many hidden issues such as:

Competitive intelligence on positioning in the marketplace
Initial perceptions of your company’s ability to meet the market’s needs
Why companies do business with you in the first place
Processes that need to be modified to make it easier for companies to do business with you.

However, Win Loss is not a simple research project to start; at least not compared with other research projects such as client satisfaction, market needs and the like. There are some obstacles that are unique to Win Loss that have to be addressed if this research tool is to provide you with all of its potential value:

• Sample issues
• Pushback from sales
• Confidentiality concerns
• Unrealistic expectations
• Poor communication

By far, the biggest problem is sample (In other words, finding the opportunities to study so that you can call and interview). Without these opportunities, it is impossible to reach out to your recent sales engagements and gather the necessary information.

Why are these so difficult to gather? Two reasons: 1) Sales won’t give them up and 2) Sales is too disorganized to give them up.

Either way, the problem can only be solved if sales is involved and acting as a wiling participant.

You’ll note that the second obstacle is also based on sales. If sales thinks that Win Loss is a witch hunt, or even suspects that they will be evaluated based on the information in the Win Loss program, the sales reps will make it very difficult for you to get their sales history information?

“How can this be?” you ask. “We use an enterprise-wide CRM/SFA tool. The information is in there and we should be able to pull it anytime.”

This would be a logical thing to say. But, it doesn’t hold true. An SFA system only holds what the sales reps put in there and if they don’t mark their opportunities as losses, you won’t have anything to research. You’d be surprised at how long a sales rep can work on a sales opportunity before reporting it as a loss if they think that such an action would be detrimental.

So, to solve the first two points above (sample issues and getting sales on board), you have to design your Win Loss program from the ground up as providing value to the sales reps without being a form of discovery or punishment.

If sales is on board, Win Loss runs 100% more effectively. If sales doesn’t know about the program, you will only have moderate success. If sales is against the program, you won’t get anything done at all.

And that would be a shame, considering the immense amount of sales and competitive intelligence that an effective Win Loss program can produce.

If you have any thoughts, questions or comments, let me know (cdalley@primary-intel.com, 801-838-9600 x5050)



Competitive Intelligence Webinar – Key to Setting Up a Win Loss Program

2008-01-25T15:44:22.044-08:00

Yesterday, Ralph Nielsen (Director of Research Operations) and I co-presented a webinar on how to set up a Win Loss program that works. We took the opportunity to talk about best practices, obstacles, unexpected value. If you are thinking about setting up an in-house effort or you work with a 3rd-party vendor for your Win Loss, we gave you a ton to consider.

Also, I have recently spent some time with our great clients talking about how they use Win Loss, to whom they distribute it and where it makes a difference in their companies. I turned the results of this work into a section in the webinar that I refer to as Seven Secrets of Making Your Win Loss Program More Effective. That’s kind of a long title, but it leaves little room for confusion.

If you would like to download the slides alone, you can find them HERE.

If you want to watch the entire webinar with audio and video, you can download that file right HERE.

(image)

Over the next few days, I’ll spend some time sharing the ideas from the webinar in the blog.

Also, we appreciate the many people that gave their time and attended. If you watch the presentation and have any questions or comment, let me know. Leave a comment on this blog, email me (cdalley@primary-intel.com) or give me a call (801.838.9600 x5050)



Competitive Intelligence Newsletter – Feedback Helps You Win Business

2008-01-23T08:49:31.252-08:00

In this issue, we explore how listening (both to the client’s needs and feedback on your sales performance) increases your sales success. And, if you listen closely enough, you might even find out what the competition is doing. That kind of bonus can get you some great recognition.

Subscribe today to our industry-leading newsletter by sending a request to info@primaryintelligence.com

Cover Story
Stop Talking! – How Listening Sells More
By Scott Bishop, Primary Intelligence
An account manager approaches you with a request from a current client. It seems the client has big plans for expansion, but they need a new system to help them accomplish their plans and, as their current vendor, they want your company to propose something to meet their needs. You immediately jump into preparing a proposal... (For more, click here)

BlogCentral
Where are the Innovators in Competitive Intelligence?
I sure do wish that the innovators in Competitive Intelligence were publishing more thoughts and creating more dialogue in the blog community. Of course, SCIP does their part to produce articles and thought leadership, but too few practitioners are participating in the blog world... (For more, click here)

The A-List Archive
Xcel Beats Larger Competitors for Metrofuser’s Business
Originally Published in April 2005.
Metrofuser wanted to replace its business operations software with a system that would be easier to adjust and customize to meet its specific needs and evaluated solutions from Best Software, Xcel Software, and Microsoft Business Solutions. Metrofuser was leaning toward buying the Microsoft Great Plains solution until Xcel stepped in... (For more, click here)



Podcast: Competitive Intelligence + Sales Team = Big Success

2008-01-18T09:15:49.223-08:00

Recently, Dave Stein (CEO of ES Research Group) interviewed our CEO, Ken Allred on the affects of sales intelligence: competitive intelligence that can be brought to bear on all aspects of the sales process. His goal was to understand how Primary Intelligence uses intelligence to increase sales close rates.

As Mr. Stein’s company focuses on the evaluation of sales training and enhancement companies. His reports detail the performance of key players like Miller Heiman, The Complex Sale, The TAS Group and dozens of others. His goal is to help companies that want to sell more find the right resources to meet their needs.

To this end, Mr. Stein took time to understand how the right kinds of intelligence can be leveraged to provide:

  • Competitive advantages
  • Increased visibility into your company’s performance
  • Identification of your competitors’ movements

  • The audio program is 25 minutes long and can be downloaded here.

    If your responsibilities include sales management, sales training, competitive intelligence or marketing, this podcast is well worth your time.

    And, if you feel like you’re not sure where you stand in relation to the competition, you’ll find usable insights and take-aways you can use today.



    Upcoming Webinar: Keys to a Win Loss Program that Works

    2008-01-16T08:54:49.026-08:00

    Your company knows that it needs feedback from the market to perform and a Win Loss program makes a lot of sense. Marketing can make adjustments. Sales can target their training. Product Development can build it closer to what the clients expect. Just one question:

    What is the most effective way to run a Win Loss campaign to develop all of this information?

    The opportunity to increase your sales and marketing success sits right at your doorstep. But, do you have everything you need to achieve the greatest potential? Can you make simple changes that will result in huge increases?

    Primary Intelligence invites you to a presentation that will show:
  • How sales and marketing can work together to build a world-class program
  • Common obstacles that derail Win Loss initiatives in the early phases
  • Tactics that increase interview response rates
  • Real-world stories from successful Win Loss practitioners showing their innovative uses of results


  • Register Here

    Keys to a Win Loss Program that WorksDate: Thursday, January 24, 2008
    Time:
    2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT
    1:00 PM – 2:00 CDT
    12:00 PM – 1:00 PM MDT
    11:00 AM – 12:00 PM PDT
    Duration: 1 Hour
    System Requirements:PC-based attendees: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, VistaMacintosh®-based requirements: Mac OS® X 10.3.9 (Panther®) or newer


    Those that will benefit include:
  • Marketing leaders
  • Market research managers
  • Market and Industry analysts
  • Product development managers
  • Sales leaders
  • Corporate leadership positions (CEO, CMO, CSO)

  • Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now



    New Primary Intelligence Corporate Website

    2008-01-15T08:29:41.696-08:00

    This week, I have to give big kudos to our design department, and especially to Mark Larson who had a vision for our company website and usability. While our previous site was very usable and conveyed our value well, it was very product oriented. Sometimes, visitors had to work too hard to figure out how we fit into their world.

    Now, the website has been broken down into three major categories:

    1. Who we help
    2. What we offer
    3. Who we are
    Under each of these, visitors will find a great deal of information that is focused right on their needs.

    1 – Who we help – Here, you will find information for C-Level Executives, Sales Managers, Marketing, Sales Professionals and Market Research professionals.

    2 – What we offer – Our intelligence services are easy to access and understand. Here, visitors will find information on our competitive intelligence and sales intelligence services such as Win Loss, Sales Confidence Index, Target Prospecting, Competitive Analysis and Client Retention

    3 – Who we are – Provides information about our company and thought leadership. Here, visitors can see our newsletters, blogs, articles, webinars and information about our company.

    The whole redesign was accomplished with the goal of helping business professionals find solutions more quickly. We hope you’ll give us a visit and let us know what you think. (http://www.primary-intel.com/)

    You can leave a comment to this blog entry or send me an email with your thoughts. (cdalley@primary-intel.com, 801-838-9600 x5050)



    Competitive Intelligence Newsletter – Can Sales People Sell through Change?

    2008-01-11T07:42:59.943-08:00

    This week, we examine the world of sales and the importance of monitoring their performance in the sea of change we call “their world.” Science has shown that many people (sales reps included) have difficulties accepting changes and variation that are common in business life. Primary Intelligence shows a way to head of problems before attitudinal issues hurt the pipeline.

    As always, if you would like to a no-cost semi-weekly subscription to the Primary Intelligence Competitive Intelligence Newsletter, send an email to info@primaryintelligence.com with your name and email address. You will receive the next issue.

    Cover Story
    You Moved My Cheese! How Can I Sell?
    By RoxAnne Loosle, Primary Intelligence
    A company's desire to reduce sales force turnover and to develop a confident sales force make tracking a company's sales force's attitudes very important. The vocal minority aren't always the best source on which to base sales initiatives or policies...(For more, click here)

    BlogCentral
    Competitive Intelligence Tip #1 for 2008 - Make Your CI Produce Revenue
    Information costs money? Intelligence makes money!” Essentially, any competitive information that a business manager acts on becomes intelligence...(For more, click here)

    The A-List Archive
    Bloomington Hospital & Healthcare Selects McKesson for Its Information Needs
    Originally Published in March 2005.
    Bloomington Hospital & Healthcare System's contracts for its health information systems were coming up for renewal, so the organization decided to reevaluate its options. It looked for a solution that could be integrated throughout the entire enterprise...(For more, click here)



    A Secret to Competitive Intelligence Success

    2008-01-09T09:21:35.324-08:00

    I suppose that the crux of the title of this post really comes down to how one defines success in their competitive intelligence efforts. Personally, I think CI has to be more than a library of information. You have to know to improve market share, beat the competition (both in the marketplace and in individual engagements) and discover new markets that are ripe for the picking.

    If you have a different definition of success, let me know (cdalley@primary-intel.com)

    In order to have a chance of achieving my brand of success, you have to have a company that a) embraces improvement and b) can use intelligence to make decisions.

    In other words, measure your real decision and difference makers within the company. Can they use information to make decisions? Are they willing to lean on intelligence or does everything come from experience and “the gut?”

    If either answer is “no,” you need not read much further. Go back to what you’re doing and hope that your management environment changes for the better soon.

    If you are in a company where difference makers value intelligence, you have the opportunity to drive change through your efforts. But, the secret is making sure that you are looking for the intelligence that has the best chance of showing your company where success is.

    This information may reside in your current customer base. It may come from information in the public domain. (If you make your living with information available in the public domain, you had better be very good at interpreting and analyzing. If everyone has access to the information, you are the differentiating factor). It really doesn’t matter to me where your information comes from as long as it help your company achieve success.

    But, do make sure you’re in a place where your work can be appreciated in the form of leading to business change.



    Free Competitive Intelligence? Try Some Win Loss, On the House

    2008-01-07T08:23:53.460-08:00

    To get your sales intelligence started right in 2008, Primary Intelligence is offering a free review of one of your recent sales opportunities. Whether you want to replicate a recent success or find out how “the big one got away,” Win Loss is the perfect feedback mechanism to discover the truth behind prospects and their decision-making process.

    You might also want to know what is keeping your mid-market from expanding or understand recent sales efforts in a new market. There are literally dozens of reasons why Win Loss feedback would make sense for your company.

    Let me know if you’re interested. I’ll hook you up with an account representative that will help show you whether our services are right for your company and your sales environment. You can reach me (Chris) at cdalley@primary-intel.com, 801-838-9600 x5050)

    And, you never know. You might find that the competitive intelligence we provide through Win Loss might be a whole lot more actionable than some of the “tried and true” secondary sources most people are used to using.

    If you are a current Primary Intelligence client, I’m afraid that this offer likely doesn’t apply. For that, you have my apologies. However, talk to your account representative. They’ll try to find a way to take care of you.



    A Fortune 100 Company that Understands Competitive Intelligence

    2008-01-10T09:37:24.002-08:00

    Last October, Mike Brose and I presented a webinar titled “The Sad Story of Competitive Intelligence that Didn’t Make a difference.” In short, we talked about how companies spend money on sales, market or competitive intelligence but fail to leverage that intelligence to make a difference. Then, we showed the recipe to gaining more value. The solution is simple: Involve people that can make a difference and show them how the intelligence drives better decisions. Cross-functional teams of executives and senior managers work best.

    (Download the webinar here)
    (Related blog postings can be found at: Webinar Wrap-Up: Effective Competitive Intelligence,
    How Can You Tell if Competitive Intelligence is Effective?)

    Recently, I talked with one of our Fortune 100 clients about their competitive intelligence systems, acceptance and use. Some of the conversation was focused directly on the sales intelligence we provide them. Talking about her organization, my contact stated:

  • The sales managers that understand how to use intelligence have teams that sell more
  • The marketing group uses our intelligence to measure their branding efforts and better understand the client.

  • Those are fairly common bits of feedback.

    But, the thing that made me smile was when she said that the legal department uses the intelligence and performance scores to modify T&C and other legal requirements that are in the sales process.

    When your legal team wants to know:

    A) How they score
    B) Where they stand in relation to specific competitors
    C) Specific information that they can use to make improvements

    … and then monitors their score over time…

    You know that you have an intelligence-focused organization.

    Just for fun, ask yourself the last time someone outside of marketing asked for intelligence that realistically has the ability to increase sales.

    This is just a small bit of the conversation and one example of many of companies using intelligence to beat the competition in the marketplace. If you want to talk about some other ideas, give me a call (Chris, 801-838-9600 x5050, cdalley@primary-intel.com)



    Where are the Innovators in Competitive Intelligence?

    2007-12-21T09:39:38.489-08:00

    So, I receive a daily alert on various competitive intelligence topics through Google’s Blog alert service. You probably track any number of topics (including the competition) by the same means (either in news, blog or regular search alerts). I like to track the “chatter” of the competitive intelligence community. I’ll also admit that I’m a little vain. I like to make sure that my blog entries make it into the top 5 each day. It took a while and a lot of consistent work to gain Google credibility, but we’re pretty visible now.Everyday for the past year, I have received an email with at least 5 competitive intelligence topics which were generated that day. Occasionally, a rare treat will present itself in the form of a bit of information that makes me think. Mostly, I see article after article (day after day) about how the internet makes competitive intelligence possible for companies. Specifically, you should look at your competitor’s website and grab all of the information you can.There is nothing wrong with this advice. Many competitive intelligence initiatives begin at that very spot. But, I’m a little bit surprised at how consistently some of the simplest techniques appear at the top of the searches each day.If it isn’t “Watch your competitor’s web page,” it’s “Do a patent search.” Again, good advice, but I’m still surprised at how many people seem to come up with that idea each day and profess the practice as the next big development in competitive intelligence.And, the whole web analytics field believes that they have reinvented the competitive intelligence field, simply by tracking Alexa traffic ratings. I’ll bet I see a couple of blog posts about that every week.I sure do wish that the innovators in Competitive Intelligence were publishing more thoughts and creating more dialogue in the blog community. Of course, SCIP does their part to produce articles and thought leadership, but too few practitioners are participating in the blog world.I will recommend a few of the blogs that I enjoy. Some of them are published more often than others, but they all come from very intelligent people who have a track record of sharing valuable insight.Jon Lowder (SCIP)Arthur Weiss (UK)Adrian Alvarez (Latin America)Dan McHugh (Seems to have disappeared in the fall, but his stuff was good)CI Podcast – August J. JacksonFuld EastSight ConsultingI know I’m missing a ton. Hopefully, you’ll help fill in the blanks with your comments. And, I have included some of our competitors. In fact, I am happy to include them. There are some smart people out there and their thoughts should be promoted above the din.These people are developing new ideas and sharing them with the CI community. These are the people that will move the industry forward. And, I sure do wish that their intelligence, creativity and insight would drown out some of the drivel that currently exists.Hopefully, my thoughts, expressed on behalf of Primary Intelligence, have provides some level of quality or inspiration. There are so many topics that need to be covered in competitive intelligence. Hopefully, we’ll hear more about key issues and less about the “new technique” of surfing your competitors’ websites. [...]



    A Really Cool Competitive Intelligence Presentation We Made Yesterday…

    2007-12-19T09:13:23.200-08:00

    Yesterday, RoxAnne Loosle (Pronounced Loose-LEE, in case you want to give her a call at 801-838-9600 x5052) presented competitive intelligence findings to one of our clients. In this case, we targeted our intelligence efforts at two specific competitors, gathering data and creating analysis based on recent sales interactions and opportunities (won and lost) by our client.

    Due to the confidential nature of our interactions with our clients, I can’t share specific information from the presentation. However, I will share some overall concepts that were brought to light in the presentation that would be considered “hidden gems.”

    Our client found that they were leading their competitor consistently in the following areas:


  • Industry experience (Company Driver)
  • Technology reputation (Company Driver)
  • Stability (Company Driver)
  • References (Sales Team Driver)
  • Product knowledge (Sales Team Driver)

  • Areas of weakness were identified as:


  • Ability to customize (Product Driver)
  • Purchase cost (Product Driver)
  • Service cost (Product Driver)

  • Understanding these performance comparisons is so very important to our clients and their ability to grow market share. Not only were we able to show where the strengths and weaknesses exist today, we also provided specific feedback on those specific points to show why the scores were lower (in comparison with the competitors) and how they could be most effectively brought online.

    In addition, we spent time showing our client:


  • The sales stage where they are eliminated as a vendor in the purchase process when they lose.
  • A comparison of their overall solution cost compared with the competition
  • Key marketing activities that influenced the sale


  • The intelligence we provided has direct relevance to the marketing, sales and product leaders. They left the call, graciously thanking us for the report and 20+ slides of data and recommendation.

    It’s fun to share our findings with clients. In some cases, our findings are eye-opening. In others, we affirm information or sentiments based on unrelated efforts. Either way, there is satisfaction in being part of strategic and tactical initiatives that build company momentum.

    If you want to chat about these kind of results, reach out. I enjoy a chance to hear from different people. (cdalley@primary-intel.com, 801-838-9600 x5050) And, if you want to talk to someone that knows what she’s doing, RoxAnne is always happy to talk about the work she can do.



    What the Mitchell Report and Competitive Intelligence Have in Common

    2007-12-14T10:34:13.850-08:00

    Major League Baseball received the fruits of a $30M, 409 page report on the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Most would agree that the past 10-20 years have been a sad time for the integrity of the game. Hopefully, the game will be cleaner, and better, for having been through this level of scrutiny. Personally, I’m sure that all of this activity means more to some than others. I don’t know how yet to feel about the information about a game that I like (but probably don’t love) and I’m not sure I’ll spend enough time thinking about it to form an opinion.But, I will say that the recommendations offered to major league baseball in the Mitchell Report have some applicability to Competitive Intelligence programs. The following recommendations come straight from the report and are detailed under “Recommendations on the Drug Program.”The program should be independentThe program should be transparentThere should be adequate year-round drug testingThe program should be flexible enough to employ best practices as they developThe program should continue to respect the legitimate rights of the playersThe program should have adequate fundingLet’s look at those recommendations in a competitive intelligence light:The program should be independent – This could be tough within a company. However, if the intelligence group is able to act with some degree of autonomy, there are increased chances that the information will be overtly biased. Consider using a 3rd-party to help balance the mix and insert objectivityThe program should be transparent – The best results are likely to come from a group that regularly informs others of their findings, actions and plans for the future. Do not run your competitive intelligence group like a mad scientist’s laboratory. Publish results. Present findings. Get the word out about your capabilities and future direction.There should be year-round [efforts] – One-and-done research efforts often provide a shot of information but don’t provide context to track results or changes in the marketplace over time. Create some consistency in your efforts and don’t sacrifice stable programs for “flavor of the day” projects.The program should be flexible enough to employ best practices as they develop – Learning, education, and willingness to improve will help competitive intelligence programs inch forward in progress.The program should continue to respect the legitimate rights of the players – Be above board with everyone inside your company and out. Do not sneak around. Do not look for the covert. Do not sacrifice integrity and ethics. You can find out almost everything you need to know without violating the law. If you have to dabble in the illegal to compete, you have bigger problems in your business than your competitive intelligence efforts can fix. Just say “no” to espionage.The program should have adequate funding – Amen. Someone inside of your department is going to have to sell the results of your efforts. Even if your findings are consistently recognized as good, you still have to battle for budget to make sure that funding doesn’t slowly diminish.Consider the soundness of these recommendations and act. If you follow these basic precepts, you’re likely to keep your organization moving smoothly with little need for earthshaking actions from ownership.Most importantly, and for the record Mr. Mitchell, this blog is 100% steroid free. [...]



    Competitive Intelligence Newsletter – Dave Stein Talks About Sales Intelligence

    2007-12-12T07:23:28.103-08:00

    This week, we took the opportunity to speak with Dave Stein about the role of competitive intelligence in the world of sales training and sales performance enhancement. His insights into his experience with business leaders that “get” the intelligence side may help jump start your next conversation about strategic planning and tactical improvement.

    As always, if you would like to a no-cost semi-weekly subscription to the Primary Intelligence Competitive Intelligence Newsletter, send an email to info@primaryintelligence.com with your name and email address. You will receive the next issue.

    Cover Story
    Competitive Intelligence Makes Sales More Effective – 5 Questions with Dave Stein
    By Chris Dalley, Primary Intelligence
    In today’s competitive marketplace, skills and bravado are not enough. Sales effectiveness leaders are continuing to espouse the need to understand how the competition sells, how they position themselves against you, what they offer in specific situations and where they are vulnerable...(For more, click here)

    BlogCentral
    Competitive Intelligence – Helping Sales Aim its Artillery
    Only 56% of sales managers claim competitive intelligence as one of their tools. A higher percentage of sales reps (68%) say that they use competitive intelligence to sell. All this seems to beg the question… why isn’t the sales department organizing competitive intelligence initiatives more often...(For more, click here)

    The A-List Archive
    Pinnacle Systems Chooses RightNow to Satisfy Customers
    Originally Published in May 2005.
    When Pinnacle Systems discovered that its Asia sales region was using a sophisticated sales automation system, the company decided to evaluate technologies to implement throughout its entire operation...(For more, click here)



    Competitive Intelligence Tip #3 for 2008 – Leverage Your Intel to Beat the Competition to the Battlefield

    2007-12-10T10:17:05.404-08:00

    In a marketing case study published by SCIP way back in 2001, the following description of the competitive environment illustrated the need to involve more sales and marketing people within the competitive intelligence efforts.“A truism: In the face of economic uncertainty, companies must be more aggressive in order to gain competitive advantage. A fact: Under pressure to deliver against difficult odds, sales and marketing groups increasingly are being embedded into company-wide CI operations. The result: A real difference in revenue generation, from winning a small sale, to taking advantage of a major market opportunity.”In a case study of Merck’s intelligence efforts, a description of the objectives included the following:“The project involved re-positioning a current Merck drug so that it claimed the competitive space a rival's product was aiming to occupy -- thus delaying the competitor's launch to the point where, because of patent expiration timetables, a major rollout no longer made financial sense.Summed up, this project involved using publicly available data to predetermine the competitor's plans for marketing and positioning a brand still in development. Once anticipated, a pre-emptive counterstrategy was conceived and employed by Merck, by repositioning a product already on the market. This forced the competitor to conduct new trials to reposition its brand, resulting in a significant delay in market entry, and allowing Merck's existing brand to enjoy sustained growth and increased market share.While the specifics may relate to pharmaceuticals, basic CI technique was at the heart of this success. Early warning of the competitor's intentions was gleaned by attending professional medical meetings and gathering public domain information such as efficacy and safety data, and clinical trial results -- providing clues on how a forthcoming development may be marketed.‘We found that the message around the competitor's product, which hadn't been introduced yet, was very strong. Not only strong, but in a market segment that no one else occupied," related Mr. Kalb. "Our own original data about a Merck product showed if our product was positioned in the same area where their product was most likely going to be positioned, we could block them. We could get into their space before they got there, and occupy it in a way that prevented them from claiming a unique selling proposition.’”Merck ended up running simulations of marketing messages, strategies, product marketing and attempted to anticipate where the competitor’s product would be of most value. As a result of these exercises, Merck was able to beat the competitor to its intended market, causing the competitor to delay its product launch 18-24 months due to repositioning efforts. Additionally, Merck was able to take advantage of being first to market and weakening all subsequent efforts of the competitor.Merck estimated a gain of $150-200 million over the competitor due to its competitive intelligence project, which was still bringing in gains. These gains may have eventually total out somewhere in the $300-400 million range.Not a bad bit of ROI for a hard working competitive intelligence team.Not every competitive intelligence initiative is such a big hit. In fact, some CI efforts do little more than monitor trends. But, if you are in a position to understand company strategy, future direction and aspirations, you need to step away from the day-to-day and examine how your current CI might lead to bigger insights. If you can improve your company’s overall performance by just 1-5% with intelligence, the ROI story can be ver[...]



    Competitive Intelligence Tip #2 for 2008 – Choose the Best Sources

    2007-12-07T09:04:58.578-08:00

    How different is the job of the competitive intelligence professional with the immediacy and availability of the internet. Of course, these are not new developments. You probably started leveraging the internet more than a decade ago to either develop your program or augment your data.We could use a lot of blogsphere space talking about some very obvious methods of monitoring the competition: Google and Yahoo Alerts, Yahoo Finance, libraries, press releases, blogs, customer forums and user groups, etc… All of these sources put the world of information in the palm of your hand. Really, you have to give people credit for the creativity they use in mining these sources of information. The level of inference and deduction available based on these bits of information can be unexpected.But, I would encourage CI professionals to continue to monitor the competition through human interaction, too. No. I do not mean that you should attempt to infiltrate the enemy. That is still called espionage and it still carries a large fine and jail sentence. Stay away from that. Or hire an ex-spook, I suppose. But, really. Don’t do that.I recommend that you continue to mine competitive intelligence from sources that are currently at your disposal.By this, I mean that you should:Look at your current voice of the customer programs and see where you might be able to insert a few questions about the competitionConsider a win/loss program to understand how you are performing TODAY against the competition.Examine the types of information regarding your competitors that your most trusted clients might know. (Believe me. Your best clients know your competitors very well)Search for new ways to ask the same questions to your marketplace to gather comparisons between you and your most troublesome competitors.This approach is likely to save time (you already know who your client and prospect base are), money (these types of interviews might even piggy-back on other voice of the customer programs at no actual cost to you), generate some of the best insight into the marketplace and provide intelligence that can be of use to sales, marketing, product and executive levels.Gathering competitive intelligence from your clients and prospects is not perfect. You can gain different levels of insight from web sources, analysts and other programs. However, in our experience, reaching out to people that live in the marketplace often provides most of the insight your sales, product and marketing team need to increase their competitive abilities.And, if you are able to sell, market or produce solutions that better meet the needs of your marketplace, you have a fantastic ROI story you can attribute to your competitive intelligence program.If you need a little help, don’t be afraid to contact me (cdalley@primary-intel.com, 801-838-9600 x5050) at Primary Intelligence. This is what we do every day. [...]



    From the world of Competitive Intelligence

    2007-12-05T14:38:03.571-08:00

    From the world of competitive intelligence articles, you may want to look at some of the following CI blog posts. Turns out, there are some pretty smart people out there in the competitive intelligence world.

    Handy CI Tools for Nonprofits and Small Companies
    At the Special Libraries Association conference in Denver, CO, last June, I heard the term “competitive intelligence” uttered more than “Who’s giving away the free cookies?” CI, as it’s called, is not exactly in James Bond’s arena, ...

    Compete Search Analytics: Competitive Intelligence Smackdown!
    Let that be a reminder to you to take all competitive intelligence data with a grain of salt, especially for small sample sizes. Full Segment List This is a complete list of the site categories and behavior segments available in the ...

    Deep Web Searching - A Forgotten Skill
    I urge you to take a look at the following resources:. Deep Web Research 2008 By Marcus Zillman; Invisible Web & Database Search Engines - Search Engine Watch; Discover and exploit the Invisible Web for competitive intelligence.

    Competitive Intelligence
    "Competitive intelligence (CI) is the process of monitoring the competitive environment. CI enables senior managers in companies of all sizes to make informed decisions about everything from marketing, R&D, and investing tactics to ...



    Competitive Intelligence Tip #1 - Make Your CI Produce Revenue

    2008-01-10T09:59:33.437-08:00

    In a post by Jan P. Herring titled “How Much is Your Competitive Intelligence Worth,” the distinction between information and intelligence is made in a way that speaks to me:“In the final analysis you can evaluate your company’s CI effort if you properly define what and how you intend to measure. In my experience, senior level users of BI/CI are not as interested in financial or quantitative measures of your CI products & services as they are in having intelligence that visibly affects their decision-making or business actions in a positive fashion. They do, however, expect to see some form of related action. Those actions that result in grater sales, profits, or other measures of business success are the most valued.An old friend and associate, Robert Steele, probably put it best, “Information costs money. Intelligence makes money!” Essentially, any competitive information that a business manager acts on becomes intelligence. And, intelligence used by a company that makes money is good intelligence!”He also discusses various ways that Competitive Intelligence can produce ROI, but more importantly, can be measured to validate the ROI:Time saving: Savings for both professional and support personnelCost savings: Elimination or reduction in expensesCost avoidance: Elimination of planned expensesRevenue increases: Increases in the number of sales or size of salesValue added: Benefits not easily related to specific dollar values, e.g., more effective strategies or better new products and services.In so many places, we have tried to espouse the same message. Competitive intelligence professionals need to be looking for the ROI in their initiatives. Or, too often, you will be known as the producer of information, not intelligence. And, really? What value is there in that?Links to other Primary Intelligence thoughts on CI/ROIWebinar: CI with ROIAnother Endorsement for Win Loss AnalysisCompetitive Intelligence – The Difference Between “Interesting” and “Effective”What are the top challenges with regards to Competitive Intelligence?Making Competitive Intelligence Effective with Cross-functional Teams (Part 2 of 4)Increasing ROI from Competitive Intelligence EffortsAnalytics in Competitive Intelligence: Stated Importance vs. Derived Importance [...]



    The Compartmentalization of Competitive Intelligence in a Company

    2007-11-30T11:12:44.951-08:00

    Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent some time on the phone talking with a number of our current and past clients. What a great experience this has been. I am reminded of the great people that have chosen to work with Primary Intelligence.The goal of these conversations has been to understand a little bit more about how companies use our intelligence. At Primary Intelligence, we have a strong value proposition and we’re pretty good at communication the message. To us, the true value of what we do is obvious. The list of people in a company that should benefit from our services is well defined. In other words, we’re a simple plug-in solution that solves a set of problems and provides an expected value.All of which is true to some extent. But, the real fun has been to find out all those little nuances of use, value and such that come into existence within each of our clients’ corporate environments and cultures. We have some very creative clients that are finding bigger and better ways to leverage their intelligence to create more value. We also have a few that are looking forward to a summary of my findings as a “thank you” for their willingness to spend time with me.Something that is coming out in many of my conversations, however, is the fact that intelligence often has a tendency to be compartmentalized. By this, I mean that there is a tendency for the intelligence to be consumed by a single person or group of people for strategic planning and tactical to-dos, but other departments are often left in the dark regarding the presence of win loss feedback.Some of the most interesting examples of this compartmentalization occur between sales and marketing. (Can’t we all just get along?) When sales intelligence is purchased by sales, sales operations or sales training, there is often a reluctance to share the data throughout the organization. The intelligence is used by the sales group to accomplish their designs, but marketing, product or corporate executives often do not receive information. Even more interesting is the reaction from the marketing side. In numerous cases, marketing has told me that they use the win loss data to answer questions about marketing and product. They even put pieces of our intelligence into presentations that are delivered to the executive boardroom. But, when asked about how the sales team uses the intelligence, a long silence happens and then they ask, “What would sales want with this information?”Personally, I would have thought sales would be eminently interested. But, from some points of view within a company, they can’t see what a sales leader or rep needs to be more successful.Caveats: We do have plenty of clients that share between sales, marketing, product and others. These phone calls are not a scientific measure. These conversations are as relevant as one-offs on any topic. Some companies use intelligence more effectively than others. Most sales and marketing groups work together to coordinate their intelligence needs. A win loss project doesn’t mean the same thing to every company in every industry.That said, it is my observation that our clients that create a processes to accept, digest, understand, distribute and act on sales intelligence tend to be leaders in their respective industries. I’m sure that many of these companies have an overall culture that is accustomed to using research, data and intelligence of many types. The fact that they can process our information is the result of a leade[...]



    Competitive Intelligence Newsletter – Before Battle, Know Your Competition

    2007-11-29T07:33:26.005-08:00

    This week, the cover story by Thayne Johnson provides an insightful look into competitive intelligence methods that show competitor movements in real time.. You’ll also find information on how Sales Intelligence matters to your success. Finally, a report from ES Research Group will help your sales leadership make sense of sales effectiveness enhancement companies.Cover StorySun Tzu Says Know Your CompetitionBy Thayne Johnson, Primary IntelligenceThe war of business may not be carried out with weapons of war, but battles over prospects, budgets and market share are fought every day. The casualties of war are growth, personal opportunity and in some cases, companies that fall by the wayside. Just like in an army, every member of a business has to take a part in the competitive nature of the business battleground...(For more, click here)Announcing the 2008 Sales Training Vendor GuideCorporations continue to spend a significant portion of their revenues on sales training. Unchanged from last year, enterprises spend between $4 billion and $7 billion per year training sales professionals. Of all the excellent sales training vendors out there, only a few are a fit for your organization. This ESR/InDepth™ Report is designed to help your organization increase the return on your sales training investment.ES Research Group has compiled their findings into a 200 page report. This 3rd party evaluation is a “must read” for companies seeking sales performance enhancement.For a free summary, CLICK HERE.BlogCentralWhat is Sales Intelligence and Why Does it Matter?If a business exists to make money (and really, what other purpose does the business entity have?) as efficiently as possible, and the role of sales is to create the revenue streams as effectively as possible, then isn’t sales intelligence...(For more, click here)The A-List ArchiveBrookhaven Memorial Hospital Selects Siemens. What Were the Key Value Factors?Originally Published in December 2004.Executives at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital wanted to enhance their medical information systems by upgrading and expanding their current technology. An evaluation of MEDITECH, Eclipsys, and Siemens resulted in the selection of a number of Siemens applications, including several from its Soarian product line. Although Siemens was the incumbent provider, this had very little to do with the decision...(For more, click here) [...]



    Competitive Intelligence Webinar Archive

    2008-01-10T09:39:33.523-08:00

    This year, we at Primary Intelligence have covered a number of topics in our webinar series. It has been our pleasure to show our clients and others understand a better way to stronger results from their competitive intelligence efforts.All of our webinars can be downloaded from our archive page. Help yourself.If you have any questions regarding any of these topics, let me know (cdalley@primary-intel.com, 801-838-9600 x5050). If you would like to receive invitations to future webinars, send me an email. And if you want to contribute a topic or work with us to co-host a webinar, let me know.The following webinars are available at the archive page:Three Benefits of Win LossIn the last five years, win loss analysis has gone from a little known niche project to a recognized best practice. In the most progressive companies, executives demand that sales, marketing, and product development listen to Win Loss feedback and work together to become more competitive.The opportunity to increase your sales and marketing success sits right at your doorstep. But, do you have everything you need to achieve the greatest potential? Can you make simple changes that will result in gargantuan increases?Cross-Functional Intelligence TeamsWhile information provides the fuel for strategic direction, how often does yesterday's "can't miss" intelligence initiative get lost in the shuffle of today's realities?Overall, too many sales, competitive, and market intelligence initiatives are judged ineffective due to the fact that the intelligence is never used to increase sales, gain a competitive advantage, or capitalize on a new market opportunity.Sales Confidence – Does Your Sales Team Have Heart?“The first sale has to occur in the sales rep’s heart.”This statement has always been true, but often it is difficult to get an accurate measurement of your sales team’s attitudes and their level of confidence in your company, your products, your competition, and their own abilities.Primary Intelligence would like to invite you to a Webinar explaining the Sales Confidence Index (SCI), a Web-based metric that can be used to analyze your sales team’s level of engagement and provide insight into the areas that will help you create and maintain a dedicated, confident, and effective sales force.Sales Intelligence in the Sales ForceCompanies who use Sales Intelligence typically report an increase in market share and competitive performance by 10% or more. Yet, less than half of sales managers and reps claim to use sales intelligence of any kind.Is your company taking the lead or are you falling behind your competitors in the use of this critical best practice?How can your company go beyond general sales information to Sales Intelligence? Primary Intelligence would like to invite you to a Webinar on how to produce intelligence that actually makes a difference to both your marketing and sales personnel. It was a dark and stormy customer satisfaction survey...Customer Satisfaction, Account Loyalty, Win-back, Win Loss, Client Retention and Defection. They all have one thing in common – Your customers are talking to you, giving you valuable clues about your business and your performance. And they know almost as much about your competition as they do about you.The question is: are your competitive intelligence initiatives more like Sherlock Holmes...or Inspector Clouseau?If your information about your competitive success or failure seems more like lucky bumblings tha[...]



    Using Win Loss to Win Back Business (After they have experienced the competition)

    2008-01-10T09:57:20.522-08:00

    During our most recent webinar (hosted on 10/25/2007 and available for download here), Ron Sathoff and I talked about three of the biggest benefits of Win Loss. One of those points was the ability to win back business that was previously lost to a competitor.

    At Primary Intelligence, we emphasize competitive intelligence that will help your sales, marketing and business development organizations create more revenue, strengthen competitive positioning and refine value propositions to be more effective than your competitors. Our goal is to provide your company with increased revenue through your sales and marketing efforts.

    How do we do this? Primarily, we use Win Loss studies to measure competitive performance during some of the most valuable times; namely, when your company, product and sales performance are being compared with your direct competitors. We also take the opportunity to ask about the key loyalty drivers based on their current experience with their new vendor.

    (image) Using these data, combined with additional client satisfaction questions based on their current experience, Primary Intelligence provides a win-back index that helps prioritize sales and account management efforts with your lost deals long before their current vendor starts to worry about retention.

    Imagine begin able to target your competitors’ defectors before the competitors can develop retention strategies.

    One of our current health insurance clients said that using this system, they were able to win back 7 of 30 losses within 12 months of the initial loss. What would a 23% win back rate do for your company’s top line revenue?

    If you have any questions, experiences or thoughts, let me know. I’d enjoy talking with you to understand how you achieve these same types of results. (cdalley@primary-intel.com, 801-838-9600 x5050)



    Using Win Loss to Produce Tactical Competitive Intelligence

    2008-01-10T09:56:26.975-08:00

    During our most recent webinar (hosted on 10/25/2007 and available for download here ), Ron Sathoff and I talked about three of the biggest benefits of Win Loss. One of those points was the level of actionable competitive intelligence that is available through debriefs of your recent sales prospects.At Primary Intelligence, we emphasize competitive intelligence that will help your sales, marketing and business development organizations create more revenue, strengthen competitive positioning and refine value propositions to be more effective than your competitors.How do we do this? Primarily, we use Win Loss studies to measure competitive performance during some of the most valuable times; namely, when your company, product and sales performance are being compared with your direct competitors.Some examples of this type of reporting and analysis include:Competitive landscape analysis:The chart above shows the frequency of encounters with specific competitors. In many cases, we’ll identify changing trends in the major players in different industries. We help show when the boutiques and upstarts are gaining traction. We’ll show the competitors that fight the hardest and those that fall by the wayside when you are in the opportunity. Of course, all of these findings can be filtered by vertical, company size, etc…Competitive Performance AnalysisTo increase your effectiveness and win more business, you have to know where you compare on key decision-making criteria versus you strongest competitors. Your prospects watched you perform and compared your capabilities with other companies in the deals. Over time, your strengths rise to the top while your weaknesses become very apparent.With this type of intelligence, you can pinpoint today’s strengths and tomorrow’s improvements. Make sure that you are able to address perceived areas of deficiencies before the competition can exploit them.Not only will this information help you sell more effectively, but you can keep tabs on the competition. Over time, you can watch where their strengths and weakness scores move. You can infer the areas that the competition has targeted for improvement and move to counter their gains.SWOT Tables, Illustrated with ExamplesFinally, let’s make the Strengths and Weaknesses section of the SWOT mean something. Direct quotes from your prospects explaining specific strengths and weaknesses put teeth into your recommendations. Sales people usually like this stuff the best because they can read a few sentences and use that information right away.Boy. Today’s post has really come across as a commercial… more so than usual. But, that’s the way things go some days.. even in Australia. (Gold stars for anyone that posts or replies to me with the source of the “even in Australia” comment.) [...]