Making competitive enablement your expertise
You’ve met with your stakeholders
You’ve prioritized your competitors.
You’ve built out a content framework, a battlecard template, an executive dashboard.
You’ve laid the foundation, and you’re ready to rock and roll.
The real work of your competitive enablement program begins.
In this article, I walk through how you can become the competitive enablement expert at your organization, including:
- What is curation and why is it important
- Whether or not curation can be outsourced
- How successful programs curate intel
What is curation?
The first step is to collect competitive intelligence on your competitors. Luckily, there is plenty of technology out there that will scour the web for intelligence, filter it, and categorize it automatically for you.
Many platforms will also help you crowdsource intel from various stakeholders within your organization, via CRM data, email, Slack / Teams, and so on, to help you build a collaborative competitive culture.
But there is a final step to the intel collection process. You need to curate the relevant intel and add your unique perspective so it can be distributed to the right stakeholders in an actionable manner.
Curation is the last mile in the intel collection process.
And curation needs to be done by you.
Why is curating intel important?
You know your business. And it’s not just industry-knowledge that you have. You know your buyer personas, your segments, your own solution’s strengths and weaknesses. You know what competitive intel will be important or interesting to your organization, and what intel will not.
Put another way, intelligence needs to be filtered in two ways to be valuable and actionable for your business:
- objectively: poor quality sources, duplicate articles about the same event, determining what’s a product release vs what’s a pricing change, and so on. This is objective, fact-based filtering.
- subjectively: specific around products within a portfolio, competitors you consider major threats vs anklebiters, customer reviews that give real insightful feedback about the competition that you didn’t know before, etc. These are subjective and specific to your unique expertise.
Combining objective facts with your organization’s unique characteristics is not only what makes intel actionable, but also what makes your role so powerful. It’s by doing this curation work that makes you the expert and puts your finger squarely on the pulse of the market.
Can curation be outsourced?
At this stage in building a program, many teams are tempted to leverage an analyst service to outsource the work of curation. In practice, there are a lot of risks to this approach for your competitive program, your business, and ultimately your reputation.
At best, an analyst is filtering out the news that is objectively poor quality. Duplicates, junk, irrelevant website changes, and so on. They can even help you categorize news into buckets. But it’s important to consider whether a third-party analyst would know what’s subjectively important for your business.
Furthermore, curating competitive intelligence is what makes you the expert within your organization. Those quick reps every day is what builds your competitive enablement muscle and builds your reputation as the go-to person for competitive insights.
Clara Smyth @ Slack (and many others) often shares that having her eyes and ears on the very edges of the business is what elevates her role and is why executives at Slack go to her for competitive insights.
Curation is not only necessary, but incredibly valuable to CE experts. We asked hundreds of successful competitive enablement programs how they go about curating intel for their business. Independent of industry, company size, and even region, we learned that many programs triage intelligence in similar ways.
How to curate competitive intel like the pros
Intel is being generated every single day, both from the outside world, and from your inside teams. And so the first step that successful program owners take is they check their intel every single day.
It doesn’t need to take long. Most program owners report that they spend about 5-10 minutes per morning quickly reviewing the intelligence that appeared in the last day or two. This is a workflow we call triaging.
In those 5-10 minutes, you sort intelligence into the following buckets:
Important – This is the intel that is actionable, and urgent. A competitor gets acquired. They release a new product. This is the kind of intel that you reschedule items in your calendar for – because it’s that critical.
Interesting – This is the intel that is actionable, but not urgent. Your sales team loses a deal to a competitor. A new customer review is posted online. A competitor’s CEO does a reveal-all interview. You want to look deeper into these items, and it may produce something insightful, but it doesn’t require you to drop everything at this moment.
Archived – This is the intel that doesn’t require action right now, but may be useful in the future. A competitor is attending an event, they’re hiring for a new position, you hear a rumour from the sales team about a lacking functionality… you don’t need to action on this right away, but you certainly want to save it to build your repository of intelligence over time.
Now that your intel is sorted, you can go about the rest of your day. Maybe you have a time block later that afternoon to do some deeper analysis. That’s when you’ll dive deeper into your Important and Interesting items to do a more in-depth analysis, add context and meaning, and even distribute news-worthy items to the rest of your team via Slack / Teams, your email digest, a piece of content like a battlecard, and so on.
Again — it’s worth considering how much of the above (if any) an external analyst could do for you effectively.
This is the work that makes you the competitive expert for your organization.
Author: Brandon Bedford