WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST FREQUENT COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE OVERSIGHT?
a) Tipping off competitors by placing too many calls?
b) Failing to verify findings?
c) Making little effort to prevent sensitive information from being leaked to competitors?
d) Spending too much time chasing for information instead of analyzing the data?
c) Making little effort to prevent sensitive information from being leaked to competitors.
As much as preventing leakage is a concern among organizations, it’s not consistently enforced. Let’s be honest do suppliers read every word of a NDA they sign, let alone follow the terms to the letter?
WHAT ARE FREQUENT sources of leakage?
1. Your Sales and Call Centre Reps
Assume that some will leak sensitive information about your company’s initiatives when pressed by your competitor “posing” as a customer.
Tip: Develop guidelines for your reps to follow on what information they cannot disclose to prospective / current customers.
2. Your Suppliers
No doubt, one supplier will inadvertently leak sensitive information about your company on their website, in business development presentations, or a personal resume.
Tip: Make sure this ”faux pas” is clearly spelled out in the NDA your suppliers sign (which means cut down on the legalese) and check your supplier’s website to make sure there is no sensitive information about your organization being disclosed.
3. Work Colleagues Who Speak at Conferences
Some love to talk about themselves and the great work they have done. Your competitor can easily take advantage of your colleague’s ego by asking, “How will your company benefit from your direction in next year’s marketing programs?”
Tip: Role play with colleagues who will be speakers before the conference to ensure they understand what they can say and what questions they must answer with this response: “I am sorry, but the answer to that question is confidential.”
True Event (only the names have been changed)
John H., the Sales Director for Jack Rabbit Snow Shoes, was invited to speak at a winter sports equipment conference. He was asked what strategies helped land Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) as a new account.
He replied proudly, “We invited MEC staff for a snowshoe outing day to try our product and educate them on the features and advantages. I came up with this idea!”
John did not know that the person who asked the question was an Atlas Snowshoes marketing manager. Within 3 months Atlas won the MEC account by not only offering similar onsite training, but also a mobile app for MEC employees for more information about their product.
4. Job Postings
Disclosing marketing or other organizational objectives in a job description. (Yes this happens, and more frequently than you think.)
Tip: Resist the temptation to disclose anything except what absolutely has to be said about the position.
Final Comment – most frequent competitive intelligence oversight
In conclusion we cannot put a lid on all potential leaks, we need to be more vigilant on the less than obvious sources. There is no room for complacency.
Check out my article, “Leakage – How a Competitor Can Readily Tap into Sensitive Information From Your Website”.
While technology has changed, leakage still remains the most frequent competitive intelligence oversight being incurred by companies and consultants alike.