Posted by Alan Nazarelli ● Mon, Nov 13, 2023 @ 03:18 PM

Maximizing Your Investments From Competitive Intelligence Research


Maximizing Investments

This week's topic addresses how companies who commission competitive intelligence studies can maximize their ROI from their investments. In-depth Competitive Intelligence has been one of the top three more frequently requested items in our services portfolio this year (the other two being Price Optimization and Market Segmentation Maps). It is difficult, expensive and time-consuming to obtain, and therefore getting the most out of their investments becomes important.

How can companies maximize their investment in this type of research? Here are some of the best practices we have learned from working with our clients:  

  1. Prioritize the agenda: Before the research study is kicked off, identify the most impacting data points in the research menu. The list of questions to be asked must be prioritized before the interview guide is created, so that more "real-estate" in the interviews may be devoted to these topics, especially when the competitive study involves interviewing time-pressured executive decision makers.
  2. Keep it lean: Throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the research agenda is something we see quite often-it’s a sign of a highly engaged client team. These are the teams we enjoy working with the most. However, we get the best results, especially with B2B decision makers when the research agenda is lean, and laser focused. We advise our clients to focus on no more than four to five key areas of investigation and no more than three to four subtopics in each, so we can imagine this 5x4 maximum capacity grid. If the grid contains more than 20 cells, we are headed for trouble. While this was an informal ask of our client previously, we have instituted this as a formal process as part of our project kick-offs this year.
  3. Articulate how the data will be used: Let your research vendor know upfront in the discovery and proposal stages how this research will be used, and which business groups internally are most likely to use the data obtained. You may wonder why this matters. After all, you are simply assigning the task to an external provider. But there are nuances to the art of interviewing competitor's customers. An experienced researcher in your field can benefit from knowing this beforehand as it provides guidance in conducting and getting the most out of the highly unstructured and open-ended conversations that your research provider will need to conduct to elicit the best competitive intelligence possible.
  4. Focus on the post-research delivery phase: What happens after the competitive research report has been completed and delivered is equally, if not more, important when it comes to maximizing the return from your investments. As I like to tell clients, it ain't over when its over! While the research provider's role is significantly less at this stage, not tapping into their skills and potential contribution further does you a disservice. And any long-term relationship-oriented provider will be interested in assisting and providing guidance to the post-research activities you need to undertake. Some post-project items that you can (and should) ask for:
    1. A more exclusive presentation event for your leadership teams. The ideal format is a 45-minute session with 5 minutes for introductions and context setting, 30 minutes for data sharing, and 10 minutes for Q&A and discussion. In addition, the presentation itself should be more than 10 slides, leading with a one-slide summary of top five takeaways, with the rest supporting the takeaways.
    2. A working session with the team charged with implementing the findings. These sessions are typically two hours long and ideally should take place after a couple of weeks incubation period after the formal research presentation and report delivery to allow the team to review and assimilate the data.
    3. And as always, I have saved the best for last! Your sales team is most likely the data will have most impact and yield the biggest return. Even ONE decent size deal closed can payback the entire cost of the research commissioned! A brief playbook style document works best for busy field sellers. We are also currently experimenting with other effective ways to disseminate competitive intelligence to field sellers, including short Q&A style podcasts to be posted on internal company shares and brief Vidyard videos. A client has recently asked if we could share as brief  “data packets” via a Slack channel, and this is also currently in experimentation. We expect to incorporate some of these as optional items in our service agreements in early 2024. If you are an existing client reading this, please reach out to me personally or comment here with other suggestions that might help your organization.

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Alans high res picture 12.19.22   Alan Nazarelli is Founder & CEO of Silicon Valley Research Group. Based in San Jose, CA with offices in Seattle and New York, the company works with the world’s most innovative brands to provide timely and actionable market intelligence and strategic guidance to enable them to make well-informed decisions to positively impact revenues and profits and to achieve their growth targets. Connect with Al on Linked in


Topics: Market Research Best Practice