Competitive Intelligence Best Practices, Insights & Tips

We share competitive intelligence best practices, insights and tips in our Voice of the Buyer blog. By reading the following articles, you’ll learn the best methods/strategies for obtaining and analyzing competitive intelligence. Find out how competitive intelligence will help you strengthen your company’s position, what the competition is doing to win sales, and which industry-wide best practices truly apply.

In addition to these articles, download this eBook for nine best practices for nailing competitive intelligence.

Win Loss Analysis Definition

What is Win Loss Analysis?

At the most basic level, win loss analysis helps sales, marketing, and product leaders understand the reasons for their organizational wins and losses so that they can increase their win rates and capture more business in the future.

Win loss programs are important at all levels of the organization because it helps explain why buyers choose specific solutions and why they do not choose others.

At a higher level, win loss programs help transform organizations as they make fundamental changes to what are often systemic problems. When managers see patterns in buyer feedback that consistently show outstanding—or sub-par—performance, they can replicate best practices throughout their organizations and avoid root cause behaviors that hinder long-term success. In this way, win loss analysis is sometimes compared to Kaizen, the Japanese practice of continuous improvement.

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Effective Competitive Intelligence

Effective Competitive Intelligence: Why Timeliness is Key to Success

What is effective competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is effective when it:

  • Strengthens your company’s position
  • Answers how is your value proposition perceived
  • Tells you what is the competition is doing to win (or lose) sales
  • Defines which industry-wide best practices truly apply
  • Discovers new markets
  • Develops new products/services/solutions

One of the biggest obstacles Read more

What is sales intelligence

What is Sales Intelligence?

Sometimes, it is interesting to try to classify different areas of research and intelligence to see how certain specialties have originated, evolved and grown into their own species, so to speak. This study of sales intelligence can provide intelligence practitioners with the ability to see how their efforts might support or interrelate with other disciplines.
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Selling to Mainstream Market

Sales Insights: Who is Calling on Whom?

Geoffrey Moore has written several books on product life cycles and when different types of companies are likely to buy.

  • Early market buyers comprise about 15% of a buying population. These companies want to be on the cutting edge of technology and can endure product pitches, determine how they can use offerings and make quick decisions. They don’t need a long list of references, reassurance nor much help from sellers. They buy quickly. If offerings fail to meet expectations, they view it as a cost of doing business and are onto the next offering.
  • 85% are mainstream market buyers comprised of the early majority, late majority and laggards. They buy only after offerings have received market acceptance. They are cautious in wanting to avoid making mistakes so that “no decision” is a common outcome of their long buying cycles. Unlike early market buyers, product pitches will fall on deaf ears. This amounts to inept sellers calling on buyers that don’t understand how offerings can be used

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Analytics in Competitive Intelligence: Stated vs. Derived Importance

If your company uses market information to make decisions, you are almost certain to be familiar with the ‘Of these items, how important was or which of these would you consider to be first, second, and third most important?’ These questions result in a measurement of stated importance, or those things that are easily identified and verbalized as important.

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How to Win at a Higher Price Report

New B2B Industry Report Available, “How to Win at a Higher Price”

What are the chances you can win a B2B sales deal that’s priced higher than your competitors? As challenging as it may be, winning a competitive bid is not impossible.

How often do B2B buyers select the more expensive offering? In Primary Intelligence’s newest industry report, How to Win at a Higher Price, we examined nearly 900 B2B purchase decisions and competitive evaluations.

Our study discovered that 25% of wins sell at a higher price but selling at a higher price does pose a risk. Almost 50% of lost sales are priced higher than the competition.

That said, our research revealed that buyers will take into consideration the vendor’s product performance, company stability, customer support, and understanding of business needs and weigh the risk versus the value. If their evaluation shows high confidence in those areas, the higher priced vendor will win, but disadvantages in just one area may result in a lost sale. When vendors’ products show distinct similarities, buyers compare costs and frequently select the lower priced vendor.

Nonetheless, all is not lost. B2B sellers with the higher priced solution do close sales deals.

So how did a quarter of those wins in our study sell at a higher price?

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Changing Your Sales Outcomes Report

New Industry Report Available, “Changing Your Sales Outcomes”

Can you salvage a deal that’s on track for a loss? And if you can, what does it take to recover it? For this industry report, Changing Your Sales Outcomes, we analyzed buyer responses from nearly 1,000 highly competitive B2B sales opportunities collected over an 11-month period. Our study uncovered that over one-third of lost deals could have been won. If you’re working on a sale that seems like it might miss, stick to it: your buyers are probably willing to give you a chance to recover the sale—and a chunk of revenue with it.

The impact of recovering one in three lost deals is significant. The missed opportunities in our study represent over $1.5 billion in lost revenue that sellers could have won had they navigated the sale differently. For the average software vendor in our study, a 33% increase in revenue would have added an estimated $15 million annually to their bottom line. Even recovering a fraction of this would have been significant.

With so much revenue left on the table, what did sellers miss?

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Stop Measuring Customer Satisfaction

We recently worked with a company trying to fix their high customer attrition rate with annual customer satisfaction surveys. Their survey project was successful. Fixing the attrition rate was not.

But why?

The company measured satisfaction, and the numbers said customers were not satisfied. To raise the numbers, the company formulated and implemented action plans. Sounds like a solid plan, right?

The problem: the company was measuring how their customers felt, but not why they felt that way. They knew perception of their services was low, but couldn’t figure out why. Measuring satisfaction provides no predictive analytics that score the likelihood of renewal.

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Understanding B2B Competitive Intelligence

New eBook: Understanding Competitors in Dynamic, Fast-Changing Markets

Competitive intelligence is sometimes referred to as a game of chess, with each side trying to think as far ahead as possible about their opponents’ moves and countermoves. Sun Tzu is frequently invoked as a model for competitive intelligence students when observing, learning from, and out-maneuvering a competitive nemesis. Similarly, armies and generals are typically revered by those in the competitive intelligence community, their battle plans, flanking techniques, and other maneuvers analyzed and copied.

But what happens when the market you’re studying is moving quickly, with competitors frequently entering and exiting the playing field? Perhaps you’re not even sure if a firm is a competitor — could they also be considered a partner? Or at least part of a loose affiliation that could be helpful to your firm in the future?

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Our New Competitive Advantage Score: How we’re benchmarking your interviews against our repository of data

Over the years, Primary Intelligence has collected oodles of data across numerous industries. To give you a sense, we typically analyze thousands of deals annually, and we’ve been doing this a while. We love data. But one thing we love more than data is turning that data into something meaningful for you. This is why we’ve updated our Competitive Advantage Score.

Let me back up and recap. Read more

Buyer Objections

How to Better Handle Buyer Objections

In our workshops we don’t spend a great deal of time on objection handling. A high percentage of objections result from “spray and pray” approaches when sellers bombard prospects with features without first asking questions to uncover which are likely to be relevant.Sellers dominate calls when doing product pitches. Buyers sometimes raise objections to slow down speeding trains.

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Beat the Incumbent in Sales

Win Loss Analysis Best Practice Series: How to Beat an Incumbent in Sales

Sometimes when you compete for business, you’re up against the incumbent. You may think the incumbent has the upper hand because they can easily leverage their experience and relationships with the buyer into another sale.

Above everything else, the incumbent has the advantage of engaging with your prospect daily. They most likely have priceless knowledge about that prospect such as their business needs, solutions used, financial/budget issues, leadership changes, and the company road map.

There’s also the issue of inertia: staying the course is typically the path of least resistance, while changing vendors usually triggers planning, due diligence, and buy-in from a myriad of groups throughout the organization.

Convincing a prospect that you offer the best solution and should make the changeover to your product or service may appear to be a challenging task. Nonetheless, there are ways to win prospects over and beat the incumbent.

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New eBook: Understand 3 Buyer Perceptions to Increase Win Rates in Close Competitions

What perceptions do B2B buyers consider when choosing between you and your closest competitor? This is critical. Because understanding how buyers perceive your company and knowing which attributes are most important to them, will be the difference between winning or losing a tight race where features, functionality and price are similar. A buyer’s overall perception of you is tied to several main attributes like reputation, industry experience, company size, who your customers are and more. These all play a critical role in that buyer’s decision. Understanding which of these company attributes are most important to buyers can position you to increase your win rate and most importantly, help you beat that closest competitor. You know the one.

Our latest Industry Insights Report “B2B Vendor Success,” focuses on buyer perceptions and was developed directly from buyer feedback. The report outlines which attributes B2B buyers feel are the most important in making purchase decisions. This free eBook “Understand 3 Buyer Perceptions to Increase Win Rates in Close Competitions” summarizes the report and discusses the three most important buyer perceptions uncovered by the research and includes recommendations on how to leverage this knowledge to beat your competition.

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Casual meeting with backpack and iPad

When Competitive Price Discounting Becomes Your Company’s Biggest Weakness!

A few months ago a long-time client decided to “take a chance” on discovery meetings with their sales team and strategic leaders in other departments. At the time, the marketing and product development departments were using an internal competitive analysis to help shape their road maps. The sales departments also had many competitive intelligence forums and groups that completed debriefs and various methods of data gathering. This intelligence was then turned into competitive battle cards.

That said, I convinced them to let me take a deeper dive with the sales teams on the feedback we were receiving from their buyers. After their first set of interviews were completed, they learned the buyer feedback was completely contradictory to what their internal data was telling them.

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Intelligence is not just for spies

Intelligence – It’s not just for Spies

Gathering intelligence summons up images of intrigue – handsome men and beautiful women crisscrossing the globe on dangerous missions in search of foreign secrets that may be useful to their governments.

However, gathering intelligence isn’t just for government spies. Intelligence is also useful in business. While it’s illegal to steal other company’s trade secrets, it’s fair game Read more

Win More Deals

What are You Doing to Win More Deals?

What does your organization do to win more deals? What steps are you taking to effectively outflank the competition?

How do you feed the right type and right amount of intelligence to your sales leaders, product teams, marketers, and executives? Do you even know what type of information each group wants?

Win Loss Analysis helps companies determine why they’re winning and why they’re losing, breaking down different elements of competitive deals into manageable, bite-sized pieces that can be targeted to specific stakeholders based on direct buyer feedback.

Win Loss Analysis also captures intelligence about traditional and start-up competitors, outlining how these companies are effectively positioning their offerings to increase market share.

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The Interrogation

Why Your Buyer is Afraid to Leave Your Competitor

Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s the devil that we know versus the devil that we don’t?”

What do they actually mean by that? I’ve heard that phrase a lot when conducting Win Loss interviews with my clients. Basically, the buyer decided to stick with the company that they already knew, even though they have some significant customer service issues, rather than going with an unknown new company.

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The Secret Reason Keeping You From Improving Sales

There are a variety of reasons why a company chooses to not implement a formal Win Loss program. Most obvious reasons include lack of budget or simply not recognizing the value of a structured program. Or sometimes the timing is not right to evaluate and implement a program. And sometimes organizations have never done any Win Loss analysis and don’t know what they’re missing.

Primary Intelligence knows that without a process of extracting quantitative and qualitative intelligence directly from those who make the decisions to buy or not buy, and without a vehicle to organize that information and make it readily available and understandable, valuable knowledge is never obtained and needed change doesn’t happen.

But what’s the real reason?

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Is Your Impact a Plus or Minus?

There is nothing like sports when it comes to record keeping.

Michael Lewis made famous baseball’s obsession with measuring every detail in Money Ball. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight fame started his career with similarly obsessive baseball predictions.

By far my favorite sports stat is the plus/minus score in basketball. In simple terms, it measures the difference in game score when a player is on the court compared to when they are off. It’s a great way to incorporate everything that’s harder to measure about playing on a team, like influencing the intensity of play, setting up good plays before the assist or basket, and great defense.

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