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Tech B2B Competitive Intelligence Guide

In this competitive intelligence guide you will find the why, what, and how for tech B2Bs based on real (but anonymous!) examples.

The goal is to give you a framework to build a performant and professional competitive intelligence in your tech B2B. If you need help, checkout the Viewyonder Competitive Intelligence service.

This guide is part of the Viewyonder ethos of sharing how we do things so you can see behind the curtain and even use this guide to do it yourself.

Really excited to share this guide with you. It's built from two decades of competitive intelligence. I've used CI in the field, built it in marketing, used it for sales enablement, given it to prospects, shared it with analysts, and had fun battles with competitors! I'd love to hear from you.

Steve Chambers- Founder

⚠️ WARNING: A tool on its own is not going to solve your competitive intelligence challenges. 

A tool will help, but it’s not the only answer. Neither is generative AI in its current form (hallucinations are just the tip of the iceberg). 

So please don’t skip this guide’s seemingly “soft skills”! 🤗

What lo-fi competitive intelligence looks like.

Low-fi competitive intelligence looks like this (many tech B2Bs look like this):

  • CI is often a group effort with no one held accountable.
  • Information overload and the “FYI trap” from email threads — classic!
  • Content control issues with outdated and irrelevant information.
No competitive intelligence is going to “stick” if it looks like this. People will either have low-expectations (“We don’t do competitive intelligence”) or be upset at the performance (“Our competitive intelligence is awful”). And they feel there’s no end in sight.. no cavalry coming.. and this unhappiness leaks into the company culture.

Best effort isn't good enough for serious executives

Lo-fi competitive intelligence is often well-meaning, a kind of team “best effort”.

Best effort isn’t effective enough for serious teams and executives.

Like all core initiatives, you need that executive buy-in. CI needs to be well-resourced. People need to be held accountable and responsible. Do you have a RACI chart?

But how do you get that?

  • Ask your sales teams to identify their needs (you’ll find that CI is a top need)
  • Show the value of CI in deal reviews and business reviews
  • Prove the value (e.g., win/loss) to show the impact of CI.

Think of a new CI initiative as a “minimum viable product” or “minimum loveable product” and give the execs a taste of what a proper CI function could be. Show them the art of the possible and back it up with data.

Why do we need competitive intelligence resources?

While it’s generally true that “all tech B2Bs need competitive intelligence”, we can do better than that. Here are times when you really need CI. Ask yourself:

  • Are you in a large and complex markets where differentiation is difficult?
  • Do we have varying levels of experience among the sales team (low quality/consistency)? Some old timers, some new folks? Level 100-400.
  • Let’s face it: are we the lesser-known brand?
  • Are we at risk of emerging competitors and disruptive technologies?

How do you staff competitive intelligence?

You know you need competitive intelligence, and do it to the best of your ability. Need someone who is intellectually and naturally curious, someone who’s strategically insightful, and able to engage the front line. No ivory castle called “Competitive Intelligence”.

You need to resource the role and you have a three options:

  • Make an existing staffer on the team accountable for CI and give them resources to do it.
  • Hire a new CI practitioner. Can you find, attract, afford, and retain them? Got the time?
  • Augment your team with external competitive intelligence services from someone like Viewyonder (but you always own it/are accountable).

Understanding your present mode of competitive intelligence.

The first thing your CI person will need to do is map your existing CI landscape and be totally truthful and transparent where you are today. 

This is the start of the gap analysis to work out where you are (, where you need to go (, and how to get there (CI.plan). Without a map, you’ll flounder and make no progress:

  • What are your CI Strengths: Do you have analyst reports, sales resource center, Slack channel, CI sessions at meetings, CI people who are engaged/available?
  • What are your CI Weaknesses: Lack of differentiation, decentralized CI, outdated messaging, late CI requests, lack of coherent strategy, dirty win/loss data, reactive approach.

Note there’s a group called Strategic Consortium of Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) that can help you with competitive intelligence.

Understanding what your stakeholders want from competitive intelligence.

When we speak with tech B2B stakeholders about competitive intelligence, this is what they commonly ask for:

  • Focus on true differentiation beyond features/functions.
  • Centralized, accessible location for CI content (not spread across a Google Drive, Teams, etc)
  • “Sugar-free” messaging on strengths and weaknesses. Biased CI is a self-inflicted wound.
  • Timely win/loss analysis and reviews – Sales are a goldmine here, but so are Customer Success.
  • Proactive approach to CI – got to have a plan, got to be measured, got to be delivered.

Now you know where you are and what people want, you can imagine the future of the CI function:

  • Identified key stakeholders and areas for CI involvement
  • Determined existing information flow and problems
  • Set expectations based on budget and resource constraints

What to do -- tactical, and strategic.

A key part of imaging “” is focusing on the outcomes and audiences. Dividing these into tactical vs. strategic is helpful:

  • Tactical: Regular, day-to-day, Sales enablement, centralized CI portal, timely communication.
  • Strategic: Long-term building a CI culture, proactive approach, win/loss analysis.

Get out there, engage, and don't be shy.

Your team mates might not know what competitive intelligence is, so you have some personal brand awareness to do. 

Pumping out content or making a CI tool available is not enough. You don’t want your CI function to be staffed with shy introverts: they must engage with Stakeholders:

  • Met with regional teams, run enablement webinars.
  • Work with sales advisory board and moderate meetings.
  • Conduct CI open office hours.

Measuring the impact of competitive intelligence.

How will you know that is working? You can measuring the impact/ROI with Win/Loss Data

  • Identify required win/loss data fields in CRM. If sales aren’t doing this now, they need to change.
  • Have CI best practices been established and used? Who’s using them, who isn’t? Is there a correlation with performance?
  • Is there a flow of CI activities and information, and are there any gaps? It’s never 100% perfect. 

Competitive intelligence tools

This is the bit that people — especially tech B2B techies — want to jump to: What competitive intelligence tool should be use?

30-60-90 day competitive intelligence plan.

Get your 30-60-90 day plan in place then measure and report progress:

  • Engaged with sales through boot camp, QBRs, and collaboration tools.
  • Branded CI with logos and templates – bring it to life, make it a thing.
  • Finalized solutions like your CI tool and scheduled projects.
  • Prioritize a CI portal, special projects, and win/loss analysis based on budget,
  • Intelligence Watch newsletter, news flashes, victory laps for wins and renewals.
  • Internal chat tools for best practices and collaboration.
  • Win/Loss 2.0 with refined data fields.
  • Tool build-out and special projects.

From lo-fi best-effort to permanent, performant competitive intelligence.

If you get the CI function right, it will become a long-term, indelible part of the company’s structure:

  • It’s a function not a project, and will survive organizational changes and restructuring.
  • New engagement opportunities with new leadership and sales team.
  • Growing internal audiences and partner/alliance program.
  • New go-to-market strategies with partners as you are seen as a thought-leader.

Get help with Viewyonder's Tech B2B Competitive Intelligence Service

With 20 years of experience and a passon for tech B2B competitive intelligence, we’d love to help you.

We can help just with research, or help you build out your CI function, or work on something completely bespoke.

Check out the Viewyonder Tech B2B Competitive Intelligence Service.

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