A Sales Team’s Guide to Competitive Intelligence

What if you could predict your competitor’s next move? What if you could know exactly when to call an old lead who had a competitor’s renewal coming up? Gathering competitive intelligence is becoming a crucial part of the B2B sales process, and a growing number of competitor intelligence software tools is popping up everywhere.

While competitive intelligence helps identify how your competitor is playing in the market, it isn’t only limited to your competitors’ behaviors. Understanding how your potential prospect is using your competitor’s product can reveal certain patterns in pain points and help drive home your messaging.

Modern competitive intelligence for sales focuses on empowering your team with competitive data to target smarter and engage in more informed conversations from the outset. We want you to have this power at your fingertips, so we’ve put together the ultimate sales team’s guide to competitive intelligence. Read on to learn

  • What competitive intelligence is for sales
  • Why sales teams need tactical competitive intelligence
  • How to gather competitive intelligence
  • How to distribute competitive intelligence data to the sales team
  • How to use competitive intelligence in the sales process

By the end of this guide, you should be able to identify some low-hanging fruit to help you start enhancing your approach to competitive intelligence.

What competitive intelligence is for sales

Crayon.co defines competitive intelligence as “information gathered about your competitors that can, in return, assist you in making better business decisions.” This intelligence gathering includes publicly available data such as product features listed on your competitor’s website, personal accounts from sales reps who have spoken with dissatisfied former customers and taken things a step further, and more comprehensive data from competitive intelligence software tools.

Some companies use the information they have on hand to compile battle cards. According to entrepreneur Rob Saric, “Battlecards are short, sales-ready documents that provide sales teams with an understanding of a specific competitor’s marketing strategy, key sales messages, product information, and tactical value propositions to use when selling against your competitors.” They come in handy when you’re trying to handle objections from your prospect.

How to gather competitive intelligence

You’ll start to learn new information about your competitors as time goes by. Keeping your battle cards up to date with that new information is one way to stay one step ahead. Here are some ways to collect the information you need for competitive intelligence.  

  • Align with the sales team on what customers are asking about – Don’t just assume the data your team needs is about competitors. Instead, listen to phone calls and ask your team what customers are asking about. Think about what your competitors can use against you, especially if they have a feature that’s not available with your product, but is highly valuable to customers.
  • Understand your real needs – Competitive intelligence is a vast field that can include anything from gathering insights into your competitor’s global growth strategy to understanding a certain feature set in depth. Understanding the data you need about competitors will determine the sources you use for competitive intelligence.
  • Document your competitive intelligence strategy – Are your sales reps hearing the same objections and competitor comparisons or are they starting to hear something new from customers? By understanding the end goal of your competitive intelligence, you can begin to determine whether you need a detailed 80-page deck about your competitors or a simple one-pager that lists a comparison of your competitors’ top feature sets.
  • Analyze your options – There are dozens, if not hundreds, of competitive intelligence software tools. Intricately itself is often used for competitive intelligence. But it’s critical to know what type of competitive intelligence data you need to find the right data source.  

How to distribute competitive intelligence data to the sales team

The most important part of competitive intelligence is making sure your team actually uses it! You can house your competitive intelligence data in easy-to-read formats, including

  • Competitive intelligence decks
  • One-pagers or battle cards
  • Infographics
  • Bullet points

The key to each of these pieces is that they all complement each other. They should be assembled to tell the same or similar information, but to be used in different situations. For example, a battle card is easier than a lengthy slide deck to access and use during a call with a prospect. However, if your sales rep knows who the incumbent is before presenting to a potential customer, a comparison slide might come in handy as a quick reference.

How to use competitive intelligence in the sales process

Regardless of whether you distribute your competitive intelligence in comprehensive decks, one-pagers, infographics or simple bulleted lists, the most important part is ensuring your team uses it throughout the sales process, during every stage of the buying cycle.

Using Competitive Intelligence During Each Step of the Buying Cycle

During Sourcing

You might hear that your competitor is preparing to be bought out and is cutting costs in places like the services department. Its customers might start shopping around in fear of unreliable service, so what do you do? Use competitive intelligence tools that can tell you who currently uses your competitor and start calling them.

During Prospecting

Once you’ve identified a target list, use messaging that might resonate with them in your email or voice communications. If you know your competitor low-balls price in the first year and then increases it afterward, educate your prospects to ask specific questions before signing your competitor’s contract. You’ll begin to build trust.

During Qualifying

If your competitor is stronger than you are in certain areas, make sure you know what those areas are and how to counter objections. For example, if your prospect is attracted to a certain feature your competitor offers, but you’ve heard from previous customers that the feature is unnecessary or never used, gently challenge them in a consultative way to think about the true value of the feature. The key is to make them realize it on their own so that they look like experts and look to you as a trusted resource.

During Demoing

As you begin to demonstrate how your product works, you might get some questions from other influencers in the decision-making process who’ve heard about your competitors. Solidify your case by being prepared to talk about your core competencies as detailed on a one-pager or battle card.

During Closing

Reassure your customers that they’re making the right decision in choosing you by reiterating the value you’ll provide them over your competitors.The goal here is to make a fan out of your customer so they’ll feel 100% confident signing your contract. Chances are, if your customer is extremely dissatisfied with your competitor, they might even be willing to serve as a reference in the future. Make sure to ask them after a successful deployment to provide a testimonial or even be interviewed for a case study.


Ready to get started on your competitive intelligence journey?

Find out how you can use competitive intelligence to enhance your sales process by talking to your team. From there, you should develop a comprehensive competitive intelligence document that dives into why you’re going on a competitive intelligence journey, what data you need, how you’ll collect and deliver that information and how you’ll measure the success of your competitive intelligence.


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