Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why should I care about CI? I’m in Sales!

Calls, pipelines, meetings, and more calls. This is what sales people do: make calls, make contacts, and build relationships. It seems simple, doesn’t it? So, when a marketing person comes in with charts and diagnostics, what happens? The eyes roll, the hands go back behind the head, and you can almost hear the brain turning off.

Why do you think salespeople don’t care about CI? What have you done to show them of their benefit? Salespeople work primarily in the business of relationships, and on the surface it doesn’t seem as if Competitive Intelligence matters. Therefore, they believe that what they need is to get themselves in front of the right people, and their sales abilities will finish the deal.

Therefore, when someone outside of sales approaches them with statistics and magic quadrants, they don’t see the correlation to their efforts at creating and maintaining their relationships with prospects.

Maybe a different tactic is needed. Maybe it’s time for the market research person to use a little salesmanship to promote CI to those who can use it most. Consider these questions before approaching the sales team:

  1. What information can I share that matters in a sales scenario?
  2. What can it tell them that impacts their ability to win more opportunities?
  3. What can I leave out that isn’t critical to their specific needs?
  4. How can I present this information in a way that gets their attention?
Whether we realize it or not, we are all salespeople. We need to position our product in a way that attracts the attention of those we wish to influence. Remember that when you try to sell to the biggest skeptic: your own sales force.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Slight Changes

Hello, everyone. This is Mark Larson at Primary Intelligence wishing all of you a happy and productive day. I just wanted to update you on some changes that will be happening with the blog.

Chris Dalley has taken a new position here within our company and has passed the opportunity of managing this blog onto me. Chris is a more prolific writer than I, so I will be enlisting the help of my PI colleagues to continuously bring new and interesting content to these pages.

We hope to give you tidbits on the Competitive Intelligence community in general as well as exciting new developments we uncover while doing our own research.

A lot has changed in the intelligence and market research fields over the past 10 years in which we've been in business. Technology is playing a bigger role as companies want easier access to data as well as better targeted findings.

We hope to keep the information rolling that helps you in your understanding of what is available and what is on the horizon in regards to CI.

We also would love your comments as well. If you have an interesting viewpoint on a topic, or information that would be enlightening, send it to me and we'll look at posting it.

Contact me at or by phone at 801-838-9600 x5046.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Obstacles to an Effective Win Loss Program

Win Loss research is a very strong part of a complete voice of the customer system. Not only does it provide a first view into the hoops that prospects go through to do business with you, it also uncovers many hidden issues such as:

Competitive intelligence on positioning in the marketplace
Initial perceptions of your company’s ability to meet the market’s needs
Why companies do business with you in the first place
Processes that need to be modified to make it easier for companies to do business with you.

However, Win Loss is not a simple research project to start; at least not compared with other research projects such as client satisfaction, market needs and the like. There are some obstacles that are unique to Win Loss that have to be addressed if this research tool is to provide you with all of its potential value:

• Sample issues
• Pushback from sales
• Confidentiality concerns
• Unrealistic expectations
• Poor communication

By far, the biggest problem is sample (In other words, finding the opportunities to study so that you can call and interview). Without these opportunities, it is impossible to reach out to your recent sales engagements and gather the necessary information.

Why are these so difficult to gather? Two reasons: 1) Sales won’t give them up and 2) Sales is too disorganized to give them up.

Either way, the problem can only be solved if sales is involved and acting as a wiling participant.

You’ll note that the second obstacle is also based on sales. If sales thinks that Win Loss is a witch hunt, or even suspects that they will be evaluated based on the information in the Win Loss program, the sales reps will make it very difficult for you to get their sales history information?

“How can this be?” you ask. “We use an enterprise-wide CRM/SFA tool. The information is in there and we should be able to pull it anytime.”

This would be a logical thing to say. But, it doesn’t hold true. An SFA system only holds what the sales reps put in there and if they don’t mark their opportunities as losses, you won’t have anything to research. You’d be surprised at how long a sales rep can work on a sales opportunity before reporting it as a loss if they think that such an action would be detrimental.

So, to solve the first two points above (sample issues and getting sales on board), you have to design your Win Loss program from the ground up as providing value to the sales reps without being a form of discovery or punishment.

If sales is on board, Win Loss runs 100% more effectively. If sales doesn’t know about the program, you will only have moderate success. If sales is against the program, you won’t get anything done at all.

And that would be a shame, considering the immense amount of sales and competitive intelligence that an effective Win Loss program can produce.

If you have any thoughts, questions or comments, let me know (, 801-838-9600 x5050)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Competitive Intelligence Webinar – Key to Setting Up a Win Loss Program

Yesterday, Ralph Nielsen (Director of Research Operations) and I co-presented a webinar on how to set up a Win Loss program that works. We took the opportunity to talk about best practices, obstacles, unexpected value. If you are thinking about setting up an in-house effort or you work with a 3rd-party vendor for your Win Loss, we gave you a ton to consider.

Also, I have recently spent some time with our great clients talking about how they use Win Loss, to whom they distribute it and where it makes a difference in their companies. I turned the results of this work into a section in the webinar that I refer to as Seven Secrets of Making Your Win Loss Program More Effective. That’s kind of a long title, but it leaves little room for confusion.

If you would like to download the slides alone, you can find them HERE.

If you want to watch the entire webinar with audio and video, you can download that file right HERE.

Over the next few days, I’ll spend some time sharing the ideas from the webinar in the blog.

Also, we appreciate the many people that gave their time and attended. If you watch the presentation and have any questions or comment, let me know. Leave a comment on this blog, email me ( or give me a call (801.838.9600 x5050)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Competitive Intelligence Newsletter – Feedback Helps You Win Business

In this issue, we explore how listening (both to the client’s needs and feedback on your sales performance) increases your sales success. And, if you listen closely enough, you might even find out what the competition is doing. That kind of bonus can get you some great recognition.

Subscribe today to our industry-leading newsletter by sending a request to

Cover Story
Stop Talking! – How Listening Sells More
By Scott Bishop, Primary Intelligence
An account manager approaches you with a request from a current client. It seems the client has big plans for expansion, but they need a new system to help them accomplish their plans and, as their current vendor, they want your company to propose something to meet their needs. You immediately jump into preparing a proposal... (For more, click here)

Where are the Innovators in Competitive Intelligence?
I sure do wish that the innovators in Competitive Intelligence were publishing more thoughts and creating more dialogue in the blog community. Of course, SCIP does their part to produce articles and thought leadership, but too few practitioners are participating in the blog world... (For more, click here)

The A-List Archive
Xcel Beats Larger Competitors for Metrofuser’s Business
Originally Published in April 2005.
Metrofuser wanted to replace its business operations software with a system that would be easier to adjust and customize to meet its specific needs and evaluated solutions from Best Software, Xcel Software, and Microsoft Business Solutions. Metrofuser was leaning toward buying the Microsoft Great Plains solution until Xcel stepped in... (For more, click here)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Podcast: Competitive Intelligence + Sales Team = Big Success

Recently, Dave Stein (CEO of ES Research Group) interviewed our CEO, Ken Allred on the affects of sales intelligence: competitive intelligence that can be brought to bear on all aspects of the sales process. His goal was to understand how Primary Intelligence uses intelligence to increase sales close rates.

As Mr. Stein’s company focuses on the evaluation of sales training and enhancement companies. His reports detail the performance of key players like Miller Heiman, The Complex Sale, The TAS Group and dozens of others. His goal is to help companies that want to sell more find the right resources to meet their needs.

To this end, Mr. Stein took time to understand how the right kinds of intelligence can be leveraged to provide:

  • Competitive advantages
  • Increased visibility into your company’s performance
  • Identification of your competitors’ movements

  • The audio program is 25 minutes long and can be downloaded here.

    If your responsibilities include sales management, sales training, competitive intelligence or marketing, this podcast is well worth your time.

    And, if you feel like you’re not sure where you stand in relation to the competition, you’ll find usable insights and take-aways you can use today.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    Upcoming Webinar: Keys to a Win Loss Program that Works

    Your company knows that it needs feedback from the market to perform and a Win Loss program makes a lot of sense. Marketing can make adjustments. Sales can target their training. Product Development can build it closer to what the clients expect. Just one question:

    What is the most effective way to run a Win Loss campaign to develop all of this information?

    The opportunity to increase your sales and marketing success sits right at your doorstep. But, do you have everything you need to achieve the greatest potential? Can you make simple changes that will result in huge increases?

    Primary Intelligence invites you to a presentation that will show:

  • How sales and marketing can work together to build a world-class program
  • Common obstacles that derail Win Loss initiatives in the early phases
  • Tactics that increase interview response rates
  • Real-world stories from successful Win Loss practitioners showing their innovative uses of results

  • Register Here

    Keys to a Win Loss Program that WorksDate: Thursday, January 24, 2008
    2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT
    1:00 PM – 2:00 CDT
    12:00 PM – 1:00 PM MDT
    11:00 AM – 12:00 PM PDT
    Duration: 1 Hour
    System Requirements:PC-based attendees: Windows® 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, VistaMacintosh®-based requirements: Mac OS® X 10.3.9 (Panther®) or newer

    Those that will benefit include:
  • Marketing leaders
  • Market research managers
  • Market and Industry analysts
  • Product development managers
  • Sales leaders
  • Corporate leadership positions (CEO, CMO, CSO)

  • Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now