Competitive Intelligence: Tactical or Strategic?

Those familiar with competitive intelligence often debate whether there is a difference between strategic or tactical CI. The discussion got me thinking about how CI by itself is not wholly strategic, nor tactical. In fact, it is a tool that is applied to either strategic or tactical goals.

In this sense, CI is like a hammer. CI can be used to hammer a nail. At the same time, you can use it to drive a tent stake, separate items that are nailed together, chip a rock, or power a chisel. The hammer did not change; however, the application did.

Whether CI is strategic or tactical has less to do with specific methods than with which group is using them, and to what end. For example, Win/Loss is a CI method that can be applied to both tactical and strategic goals.

As a tactical tool, Win/Loss helps close more deals and structure the sales process to align with buyers’ preferences. Tactically, Win/Loss findings are also used to build battle cards – mini-handbooks of talking points for salespeople. Even more tactically, sales can leverage Win/Loss findings to focus their approaches to win specific deals.

Furthermore, as a strategic tool, companies can use Win/Loss to better understand how their value propositions are perceived. Additionally, companies can learn how their market positions compare to competitors’. Used this way, companies can use Win/Loss findings to inform their long-term strategies related to product and service offerings. Finally, Win/Loss fits into strategy by identifying where the entire portfolio can be adjusted to better fit market needs. Ultimately, Win/Loss helps companies differentiate from competitors’ positions.

Win/Loss is certainly not the only tool with dual strategy and tactical applications. Some other examples of these CI tools include competitor monitoring, patent tracking, and mystery shopping. The applications of these dual-use tools depend on the project requirements more than on the actual tools.

Fletcher/CSI has over 30 years’ experience in applying CI tools to support tactical and strategic initiatives. We gather primary intelligence and leverage secondary data insights to offer clients first-rate support. Please contact us at [email protected] or 802-660-9636 if you would like to discuss how CI can meet your tactical and strategic goals

-Erik Glitman, CEO, Fletcher/CSI

Originally posted March 29, 2013; Updated January 8th, 2019