Networking:Using Internal Sources
of Competitive Intelligence
(The starting point for smart CI and marketing professionals)
Getting Information from Internal Sources
Some of the best sources of competitive intelligence come from internal sources. Salespeople and customer service reps are valuable sources of information since they do come into contact with either customers or competitors on a daily basis.
Keeping in mind the natural biases and agendas of frontline staff, CI professional or marketing executive can still derive valuable intelligence from frontline staff if the data can be sourced, dated, corroborated, and demonstrates a consistent pattern of behaviour on the part of competitors and their interactions with customers.
Frontline staff can be seen as an early warning system of competitor activities that are adverse to your company’s success.
All departments within a company contain competitive intelligence to some degree, intelligence that is often not shared with other departments – most often because other people in the company do not ask to see if it exists.
As with information gathered from frontline staff, information provided by other departments need to be sourced, dated, corroborated, and demonstrates a consistent pattern of behaviour on the part of competitors and their interactions with customers.
Getting Information from Competitors
In previous articles, this writer demonstrated that competitors are indeed an excellent source of intelligence – especially with regard to how they view:
- your company’s place in the competitive environment,
- your company’s perceived strengths and vulnerabilities,
- how they address your perceived weaknesses in their sales presentations, and
- how customers are reacting to competitor efforts to attack perceived weaknesses.
Their agenda is simple: to take business away from your company.
As CI professional or marketing professional, it is your job to determine whether their perceptions of your company’s vulnerabilities are valid and whether these vulnerabilities are real and detrimental to your company.