Much has been said and written about how this challenging COVID-19 era requires us to examine many aspects of our business activities and make adjustments, indicating how companies need to react to profound economic changes caused by COVID-19. However, we think that there are massive opportunities in this as well.
The crisis has accelerated the alignment of Sales and Marketing functions in businesses, especially in B2B organizations, where the sales and marketing teams are now working much more closely.
An interesting example is Accounts Intelligence: An exercise aimed to reveal under-the-radar information of competitors' current activity in potential customers.
When trying to prepare an analysis on what’s going on between a competitor and your potential customer, can you really rely on intelligence provided by your sales team? In some cases, your sales team members will have strong knowledge of the relationship, but most of them lose touch with clients after an account has been lost or even before a major RFP deadline. Even more importantly, is their intelligence unbiased? Our experience shows that the clear answer is: No.
The reason for this is that, once your clients know that an external firm was commissioned (in what is called in the industry “win-loss analysis”), the information they provide is so generic and biased, that sometimes it is close to being useless. The more important issue here is that you might get information on why your company is losing a deal (from your salespeople or your customer), but not on why your competitors are winning.
You need the true views of your customers towards your company. Account Intelligence is doing exactly that, and in the COVID era, we think, is a good opportunity to try out this service and eventually win new key accounts.
Account Intelligence methodology is a prospect pre-decision exercise to gain a deeper and more actionable understanding of your competitors' current status and deployment activity at customers. It also offers a proactive approach to understanding where you stand with a customer account – before, during, or after an RFP process.
Account Intelligence methodology is a prospect pre-decision exercise to gain a deeper and more actionable understanding of competitors' current status of your competitor’s activity and deployment at customers.
The aim should be to retrieve real answers to your set of detailed questions as to where you stand relative to competitors from key stakeholders at client organizations. Approaching these stakeholders to get answers to your questions is not easy, but completely doable.
The key is to ask your questions in the right way, at the right level of detail to the right executive. So, instead of asking a generic question such as:
“What are the strengths and weaknesses of Vendor X in the analytics space?”
“What are your expectations on IT Infrastructure requirements for your big data deployment?”
You also are wanting to ask more specific questions, such as:
“What selection criteria for the data warehouse are important to you when selecting analytics vendors?”
“How do you rate various vendors on their Map, Transform, and Cleanse approaches to building their data model?”
Asking such detailed questions gives you insight into what your prospects think about specific elements of your product or offer.
For use cases where you need “under-the-radar” information on how your company’s product is viewed either before an RFP is even issued or after you have lost the deal, the key is to talk to a range of individuals within a client account, including ex-executives and mid/low-level IT management teams – not just procurement or key decision-makers but also other stakeholders that provide important input into the process.
And here is the good news: Executives are much more available to engage with during the COVID-19 and the Post-COVID era. Our statistics show that since April 2020 the response rate that we are seeing is much higher than usual. People are working from home, and generally, the downtime created a slower day routine, so the fact is: Executives are much more responsive.
Our statistics shows that since April 2020 the response rate that we are seeing is much higher than usual. Executives are much more responsive.
By interviewing the right executives, you might find out that your competitor has an incumbent relationship with your prospect, perhaps the IT architecture in your client account is biased toward implementations from your competitor, perhaps a key stakeholder within the client account is biased toward a specific vendor, etc.
The information that you can gather at various levels within your client organizations and from ex-executives who have worked there can help you draw an unbiased and detailed picture of what is going on in an account that goes beyond sales anecdotes or simple Win-Loss analysis.
In all cases, we have found that proactive and continuous Account Intelligence provides more detailed and specific information that your bid teams can use to win.
Every year, we answer thousands of client questions impacting every aspect of our clients' operations. For additional information about what you can ask in Accounts Intelligence, click here.