Selling competitive intelligence internally

13 Apr 12 Selling competitive intelligence internally

CB043750CI teams cannot be efficient, effective and successful without a buy-in from their co-workers at all levels – senior, middle and junior.

CI teams face a dual challenge in terms of getting an internal buy-in within an organization. First, they need to show a good ROI to the senior management in order to justify their very existence. Unless senior management perceives their value in helping the company meet its business objectives, they will a) not be consulted b) not be respected c) not get support (and funding and resources) required for creating effective CI for the organization. But establishing the ROI of a CI team takes time, as the CI process as well as capabilities evolve over time. During this time, the CI function needs an internal champion or a sponsor who can encourage the organization to support the team.

Second, given that the organization itself is a rich source of information and insights, the CI team needs to be able to elicit it from the employees . Further, the CI team needs these inputs to flow to them, not once or twice, but on an ongoing basis. For example, the CI team may want to request regular inputs on customers and markets from the sales force.

What can the CI team do to ensure that they get the decision-makers to take notice of what they can offer to the organization? And what can they do to get all employees in the organization to contribute what they know?

Competitive intelligence practitioners who attended the SCIP India Chapter meeting held in Mumbai on 12th April 2012 discussed precisely these issues. The topic for the evening was “How to set up a competitive intelligence function in your organization”. The attendees included executives from companies such as Tata Communications, Oracle, Syntel, Cipla, Novartis, SKF and Galaxy Surfactants.

Here are some best practices that were highlighted during the discussion, for getting an internal buyin for CI at all levels in the organisation:

  • Go for quick wins to establish the value of your function with the key users of CI. A good way to do this to concentrate on one or two key pain points of the organization to start with and address only those. Teaming with the line functions when they are in a firefighting mode firmly establishes CI team as being on the same side as the business.
  • Make those who provide inputs for CI, co-authors of the final deliverable. In other words give them credit and visibility in the organization. Also, seek their feedback on the intelligence you have created irrespective of whether you actually decide to incorporate it or not.
  • Persuade the management to create reward or incentive schemes for the employees to consistently give inputs to the CI team
  • Build rapport on a personal level, with key employees who can provide valuable inputs to the CI team. Also build rapport with the users of intelligence in order to get clearer briefs and feedback on intelligence delivered.

Do you have any other best practices that have worked in your organization? Do share them with us…

Varsha Chitale
Varsha Chitale

Varsha led the competitive intelligence practice at ValueNotes. As part of her drive to educate India Inc. on the merits of competitive intelligence, she often conducted webinars and seminars on CI for senior executives of Indian companies.

4 Comments
  • Revisiting ROI on competitive intelligence – VTICIdN
    Posted at 15:14h, 08 March Reply

    […] Very few if any organisations have found reliable ways to measure the ROI on competitive intelligence activities. However, competitive intelligence teams do need to establish their value in helping the organisation meet its business objectives to justify their very existence. […]

  • Revisiting ROI on competitive intelligence
    Posted at 11:29h, 09 February Reply

    […] Very few if any organisations have found reliable ways to measure the ROI on competitive intelligence activities. However, competitive intelligence teams do need to establish their value in helping the organisation meet its business objectives to justify their very existence. […]

  • Seena Sharp
    Posted at 02:21h, 17 April Reply

    This is one of the segments I include when speaking to CI practitioners. One of the most useful suggestions is:

    * Deliver info that is NOT known but relevant to your industry. This usually will be surprising, weird, unconventional, and/or contradicts industry beliefs.

    Telling them what they already know is good for verifying beliefs, but it doesn’t make you special, and it doesn’t focus on what’s changing.

    Now, it might be necessary to gather info that’s mostly known, but in a changing world, there IS new info – on unknown customers, distribution channels, emerging or substitute competitors and more.

    Because this new info is unknown, it may be dismissed or ignored. People forget what isn’t familiar or comfortable. Accordingly, over the next few weeks or months, you will notice supporting evidence of this new info. Deliver this additional info and remind them that you first told them (last week, month, etc.)

    • Varsha
      Posted at 05:02h, 17 April Reply

      Great suggestion, Seena! Thank you.
      Delivering what the decision-makers don’t know or haven’t noticed is a great way to catch their attention.
      One needs to be mindful of the internal dynamics within the company, though. In one organisation where our CI delivered “surprising” insights, the decision-maker in question got a little defensive. I think the delivery of this “surprise” also needs to be carefully crafted, so as to not ruffle feathers! Sharing the credit of the surprise with the decision-maker by seeking his/her inputs on the implications of the findings may be a diplomatic way of getting around this hurdle.

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