Market intelligence: What it is and how to apply to sell more
How do you monitor the competition and follow what happens in the market?
If there is one universal truth in the business world it’s that any company has to understand the market in which their target audience resides if it wants to survive and stand out. Whether you’re a small startup or a large corporation, to grow you can not just look within yourself; you need to look outward.
Market intelligence is used to collect and analyze external information to guide strategic decisions, be it marketing and sales, or product and service.
It may be the case that you do not have a dedicated research and analytics team but your business likely uses some form of data. So the question is, how are you taking advantage of it? How does your sales team use this information to improve performance?
In this post, we will talk a little about market intelligence, how important it is to your business as a whole and how it can specifically help your sales function.
What is Market Intelligence?
When it comes to strategic planning, leaders know that it is best to utilize reliable information to make decisions. Despite this, many still do not have a structured process to collect and analyze marketing information.
Also known as Competitive Intelligence, reliance on this type of data has grown—especially as access to information has become easier and technology has facilitated data generation and analysis. However, this concept still causes a bit of confusion.
The most common mistake is to think that Market Intelligence comes down to the analysis of competitors. Although this really is one of the main focuses, there is much more. The goal is to understand what goes on outside the company in order to increase competitiveness. Collecting all this intelligence can help support decision making.
Market intelligence involves the business environment in which the company fits and everything that can impact performance and development. That includes product/service, customers, competitors, the market segment and the economy. Thus, it helps to:
- Know how the product/service is seen by customers and the market;
- Assess whether the price charged is consistent with the market;
- Identify product differentiators;
- Figure out how consumers perceive the brand;
- Have in depth knowledge of current and potential customers;
- Understand competitors including their strategies and growth;
- Understand the market segment including problems, trends, players and influencers.
For this, market intelligence uses tools such as benchmarking, SWOT analysis, mystery shopping, media monitoring, and, especially, data analysis. The intelligence generated through this helps to make the company more competitive. Qualified information and a well-conducted analysis allow you to:
With Market Intelligence, you can predict market changes, understand how they will affect your business, and act quickly so you do not fall behind.
For example, if you keep an eye on your competitor, you won’t be taken aback when he launches a new product or starts an expansion. As a result, you can prepare, strategize and pivot quickly. For this, monitoring and analysis have to be constant. The idea is to always be one step ahead.
Learning from others’ mistakes
One of the best ways to make good decisions and grow fast is to learn from others’ mistakes. If a competitor already took a path you’re now considering and the results weren’t good, why would you waste your time doing the same thing?
By doing benchmarking and good research, it is possible to know the history of other companies to find out what strategies work.
Some companies adopt the trends after they appear, copy strategies. Anyway, they catch the wave, follow the pattern and stay in the game. But what makes a company stand out? Shine in the middle of this dynamic?
Market intelligence is essential for this. For example, if you look closely at your audience and learn their behavior and wants, you can use that information to create a great experience.
What is missing in the market? What do customers need that is still not being offered? What are companies in other areas doing that could be applied to your strategy? What are your competitors doing? What trends can we take advantage of to boost your growth?
The market intelligence is able to identify the points that can be better explored by the company.
You can not create something new if you always do things the same way and look for answers in the same places. This is lethal to innovation.
Market intelligence allows you to know about trends and emerging technologies. The changes are fast, and tracking the market is a way to see things from other perspectives and innovate not only in terms of the product or service but also in terms of internal processes and company strategies.
Each of these points can (and should) be observed by all areas of the company. It is not only the C-level that benefit from the intelligence generated from the analysis. Marketing, sales, product, customer success, and human resources teams can make better decisions and improve performance through it.
In the next section, we’ll see how the sales team specifically can benefit.
How can market intelligence help the sales area?
The relationship between sales and market intelligence is very close. Information obtained through competitive and market research is valuable to managers and vendors. Here are a few ways that sales benefit from market intelligence:
“Sales Enablement” is a term that refers to the process of providing the business team with information, content, and tools to sell more efficiently.
One of the more traditional tasks of market intelligence is to provide salespeople with information about competitors, product features, customers, and anything else that can support the sales pitch.
General market and competition-specific data, trends, product comparisons, pricing, customer satisfaction, and even sales approach tactics are some of the information that can be made available to the salesperson to improve performance.
Market intelligence is able to anticipate what the competition will offer and thereby help understand the questions prospects may ask.
Another mission of market intelligence is to monitor what is happening and monitor the movements of competitors and potential customers. How can this be useful? It’s a way to identify sales triggers.
Prepare lists of potential customers
Market intelligence is often linked to business intelligence. Market research serves to identify potential customers and prepare contact lists for prospecting.
The market intelligence should help you pinpoint your ideal customer, the market segment, and regions that have great potential to generate prospect lists. This raises the quality of leads and ensures better results than buying lists. It is especially beneficial for companies that have a very restricted market and complex markets.
Business Model Analysis
Another way that market intelligence works for sales is by investigating business models. As we have seen, it is important for the company to know business models and strategies that are being applied in the market, to adapt or to innovate. Thus, you can find solutions to the sales process, discover new markets, test other channels and improve strategies to sell more.
There is no doubt that market intelligence is beneficial to the business in every way. After all, with quality information and good analytics, it’s much easier to make decisions—and get it right.
Observing what’s happening outside of your company is the way to improve processes, gain a competitive advantage and stand out. So, invest in knowing the terrain where you are treading!
By Felipe Arruda – Marketing Strategist