Your customer-facing teams are a source of invaluable primary intelligence. They are exposed to such intelligence regularly from direct interactions with your customers and prospects. This intelligence is one of the most honest assessments of your market dynamics, perception, and demand for your products and services, along with a host of other insights. Moreover, the insights that are captured by your sales reps, account managers, customer success partners, and distributors are contextualized to the unique combination of your internal strengths and business objectives. Such market intelligence, in most cases, cannot be developed by secondary research or acquired from other third-party sources - those are usually one step behind market changes.
Therefore, this primary intelligence is a prized asset for business leaders across organizations. It brings them closer to ground realities and gives information without any filters added by line managers or masks added by marketing and corporate communication professionals. This enables decision-makers to quickly refine their strategies to develop a competitive edge. As a result, their organization is always ready to capture new opportunities and react rapidly to threats because of market changes.
This blog discusses how to harness this primary intelligence to build a sustainable competitive edge for your organization.
Benefits of Primary Intelligence Collection
“Market Intelligent” organizations develop a sustainable competitive edge by collecting and distributing this primary intelligence. They get the following informational advantages that guide their strategic decisions:
Uncovering competitors’ Go-to-Market strategy
Unlike marketing, which is conspicuous, go-to-market strategy is obscure. It is a unique combination of actions and tactics that generates maximum sales for an organization. Intelligence on product positioning, messaging, and launch strategies is essential, but what is working for your competitors is invaluable intelligence. This intelligence can be generated by activating your primary intelligence channels. And this forms a crucial part of the organization’s overall business as well as its go-to-market strategy.
Sensing your and competitors’ product perceptions
Understanding accurate customer perceptions of B2B products is challenging because of the low number of users compared to B2C products. Therefore, traditional market research methods like surveys and media analytics are ineffective. It isn't easy to differentiate whether the feedback is anecdotal or an indicator of a more significant trend. Primary channels are the most effective source of information to understand the perception of your products and services – compared to other brands' utility, usability, quality, and other core parameters.
Pricing and packaging analysis
In the B2B sales process, the price and packaging (what's included and excluded) of your offering are not pre-decided. How your salesperson has positioned your offerings greatly affects the deal's outcome. Therefore, sales in a B2B domain is more of an art than a science. Not only that, a B2B buyer always has more information about your competitors' offerings than your salesperson. Because buyers are engaging simultaneously with multiple sellers, and you are just one of them. Sellers in "Market Intelligent" organizations are more aware of their competitors' pricing and packaging than their competitors are aware of yours. This could only be possible by activating your customer-facing primary intelligence channels.
Keeping the finger on the pulse of the market
Similar to the changes in life, markets move very slowly for a long time, and then it changes suddenly. Early signs of strategic market changes are visible in the primary channels. "Market Intelligent" organizations train their customer-facing teams to recognize these signals and empower them to bring this intelligence to the right decision-makers. Such intelligence on shifting market preferences and gauging the customers' reactions to new launches or existing products and services enable real-time strategy adjustments.
These are only a few benefits of activating primary intelligence from your customer-facing teams. These would be simple common sense to seasoned organization leaders. But the question is then, why is it not practiced in most organizations, and how to make it happen? To answer this, let's first review the current state of primary intelligence from internal sources.
The Current State of Primary Intelligence
Intentionally or not, primary intelligence is collected by your customer-facing teams. Needless to say that it is done effectively if it is collected intentionally. However, in most cases, the intelligence gathered dissipates as soon as it is collected or shared informally within a small network of co-workers.
Even if such intelligence is stored in a repository, it is not unified. Instead, it is usually distributed across multiple systems within the organization. This dramatically restricts its application and potential benefits because it is challenging to find, and its access is limited to a few stakeholders or teams.
Enhancing Primary Intelligence With the Contify M&CI Platform
An M&CI platform enhances primary intelligence collection by unifying intelligence and streamlining access and distribution.
Ease of collecting primary intelligence
Primary intelligence is usually collected on the go - during a sales call with the prospect, customer support call, or tradeshow interactions. An effective Market and competitive intelligence platform makes it easy for the customer-facing teams to add the intelligence directly to the common repository. In addition, the platform can accept intelligence from mobile devices as a Slack message or an email. The intelligence is also auto-tagged with contextual tags for easy retrieval.
Ease of access: Advanced search and filters
A smart collection of primary intelligence is only half of the equation. The value of intelligence is how it is applied in decision-making. Therefore, searching for and discovering intelligence at the right time should be easy. Modern M&CI platforms allow advanced search across the entire intelligence repository and filter down the results with the help of custom taxonomy. In addition, the intelligent use of AI technologies helps to add contextual tags to the intelligence. This allows users to discover relevant intelligence without the need to know the precise keywords.
Ease of access: Instant alerts
The instant alerts feature notifies users whenever a relevant piece of intelligence is added to the platform. Users can set the criteria for instant alerts that are relevant to them. This ensures that relevant noise-free intelligence is delivered to them in a timely manner.
Ease of access: Intelligence newsletter
Creating and distributing intelligence newsletters are invaluable features for any M&CI platform. Instead of manually curating and collecting information, users can quickly collate primary intelligence and distribute it across teams. When asked about her experience with the platform,
Melissa says, "Contify really helped us give visibility to every user on the platform. Earlier, if a senior leadership member sends something important to another person, everyone else in the organization misses out. But now, that information is more democratized. Everyone has access to that."
User access management
Some primary intelligence could be sensitive and should be accessible only to specific stakeholders or specific teams. The M&CI platform's user access management allows access control to intelligence limiting access to specific content to particular users.
Limitation of Primary Intelligence
Intelligence from primary sources is usually anecdotal. It isn't easy to know for certain that the individual piece of intelligence is unique to a specific situation. But this shouldn't undermine its immense value to decision-makers. Business leaders don't make decisions based on individual pieces of information. They triangulate the primary intelligence with secondary sources and also third-party providers (research vendors and information databases). And then process all the information from the perspective of their organization's unique combination of strengths, weaknesses, and long-term strategic objectives.
Ben Gilad, the co-founder of the Academy of Competitive Intelligence, says, "All opportunities and risks come from changing dynamics in an industry. Recognizing this change in market dynamics is at the core of competitive intelligence." Market intelligent companies develop early warning systems to spot opportunities and threats before they become obvious to everyone else. They understand the strategic importance of this system to create a competitive edge in their market landscape. A modern M&CI platform is at the center of such a system. For companies to benefit from primary intelligence, their customer-facing teams need a simple tool to capture and share this intelligence with the rest of the organization. This cannot be achieved by using tools like Sharepoint or Google Docs that are designed for storing and organizing documents - not intelligence. This can be achieved only by implementing tools that are specifically designed for capturing and distributing primary intelligence - to link primary intelligence to decision-makers.