Performing a competitive intelligence session is a crucial step in building and maintaining a successful business. It equips you with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions, develop effective strategies, and stay ahead of competitors.
Including a session on competitive intelligence insights is a valuable component of a sales kickoff event. Understanding your competitors and their offerings can provide your sales team with a strategic advantage. Here's how you can incorporate a competitive intelligence session into your agenda:
To learn how to leverage competitive intelligence sessions, check out our article on the subject.How To Leverage Competitive Intelligence
Which Contacts Should You Interview?
When selecting interviewees, focus on senior-level contacts who are directly involved in decision-making processes. Aim for 1:1 interviews, but 1:2 interviews can also provide valuable insights. However, in most cases, try to avoid procurement contacts as they may not have the necessary perspective.
We have found that scheduling this session on the first day of the engagement in the afternoon garners the best results. Most interviews are conducted within an hour. We prefer to block off an hour and a half to allow deep dives if needed.
Who Should Conduct The Interviews?
To ensure unbiased and effective interviews, consider the following criteria:
- Experienced interviewer: Choose an interviewer with expertise in qualitative research techniques.
- Strong listener: An effective listener can capture subtle details and ask follow-up questions.
- Objectivity: The interviewer should approach the interviews with an unbiased mindset.
- Unbiased, 3rd party firm: Consider hiring an external firm, like Satrix Solutions, to conduct the interviews for impartiality while eliminating confirmation bias when analyzing the feedback.
Preparing For Your Interview
To conduct effective interviews, proper preparation is essential:
- Review internal account notes: Familiarize yourself with relevant account history and interactions.
- Gain context: Check in with Sales or Customer Success to understand the current relationship and any recent developments.
- Refine interview questions: Review and tailor your questions to capture the most relevant insights.
- Tech setup: Ensure your technical setup, including audio and video equipment, is working properly.
- Opening script: Prepare a strong, concise opening script to establish rapport and create a comfortable environment.
Conducting The Interview
During the interview, follow these guidelines for a productive and insightful conversation:
- Start with pleasantries: Build rapport with the interviewee by being cordial, friendly, and engaging.
- Offer anonymity: Assure participants that their comments can remain anonymous if they prefer.
- Warm-up questions: Begin with high-level and relevant questions to ease into the conversation.
- Product and services questions: Delve into specific aspects before exploring people-related topics.
- Decision-making process: Inquire about the overall decision-making process, the involved stakeholders, and the reasons behind their choices.
- Probing on competitive intelligence: Find the right timing to ask questions about the competition and their perception of your company.
- Be flexible and conversational: Adapt the conversation based on the interviewee's responses and allow for organic exploration.
- Active listening: Pay close attention to the interviewee's responses, listening for opportunities to delve deeper and gather valuable insights.
Approach With A Gold Miner Mentality
Approaching IDIs with a "gold miner" mentality means actively seeking valuable insights and mining for hidden nuggets of information. Keep an open mind, be curious, and explore avenues that can uncover valuable competitive intelligence.
Questions To Consider
Here are some CI questions to consider during IDIs:
- Initial considerations: How were companies identified and shortlisted? What was the initial perception of our company?
- Vendor evaluation: What criteria were used to evaluate companies? Were scorecards or weightings employed?
- Competitor strengths: What features from other companies resonated with the interviewee? How did we compare on various factors?
- Competitive analysis: How does our company fare against the competition in terms of strengths, weaknesses, and value proposition?
- Vision and roadmap: Did any competitors' vision or roadmap stand out during the evaluation process?
Using this guide to conduct your next competitive intelligence session will help your sales team stay informed about market trends and competitive dynamics. It equips them with the knowledge and strategies needed to address customer objections, differentiate your product, and win deals in a competitive landscape.