Episode 210: Andy Conduit-Turner on Gathering Competitive Insights for Sales Success
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Shawnna Sumaoang: Hi, and welcome to the Sales Enablement PRO podcast. I am Shawnna Sumaoang. Sales enablement is a constantly evolving space and we’re here to help professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices so that they can be more effective in their jobs.
Today I’m excited to have Andy Conduit-Turner from Cartus join us. Andy, I would love for you to introduce yourself, your role, and your organization to our audience.
Andy Conduit-Turner: Thank you very much for having me. As you said, my name is Andy Conduit-Turner, I work for Cartus, a global relocation company supporting corporate clients moving their employees and their families around the world. I work as Director of Sales and Technology Enablement. It is a little bit of a hybrid role. We work very closely with the sales team as part of the sales organization but we’re also linked to marketing. We work with our operational teams as well, and also our technology partners internally. It’s a very exciting hybrid role. It’s nice that you get to touch a lot of areas around the business. I’ve been with Cartus for what will be approaching 11 years this year.
SS: Amazing. You caught my eye because on LinkedIn you mentioned that one of your core responsibilities is leveraging intelligence to drive sales success and you also recently got certified in competitive intelligence. In your experience, how does competitive intelligence play a role in sales success?
AC: It’s so important for us really to direct the focus of the team and make sure we’re doing everything as strategically and as intelligently as we possibly can. It helps us make really deliberate choices as to how we would approach every single opportunity. Now, in our industry, RFP opportunities, the opportunity to partner with an organization, they’re not particularly frequent, they come around 3-5 years and so that building of a relationship and understanding of how we can best serve that potential customer or retain the customer we already have really comes down to understanding not only what their needs are, but how the market is functioning, so engaging with competitive intel, understanding what our competition’s main values are, the areas that they are really focused on and also the areas where we are able to best outperform those competitors is incredibly important. It is so important that we are making sure we give every response, every RFP that we respond to, and every conversation our salesperson has with that particular prospect or existing client is really geared towards touching on the topics that they’re going to be interested in. This gives us the best opportunity to win. It really helps us be very deliberate in making those choices.
SS: Fantastic. Now how do you enable your teams with the intelligence and insights that they need to succeed against the competition?
AC: The reality is that there’s so much information that is out there filtering that down, directing people’s attention to what is important and what is going to be meaningful to them. Giving them some coaching and some tools to understand how they can leverage it and how they can make comment on it as well is really important. I’d say the biggest point is the filtering aspect and the communication of it as well. Creating the right forums where we can have those discussions, making sure it’s being shared broadly, which I think is where a lot of competitive intelligence drives sometimes fall down. The collection of that information is possibly the easiest part of it, but then finding it in a way that makes it digestible, accessible and making sure the conversations are happening around that competitive intelligence, I think that’s where we invest a lot of time to make sure we get that right because put very bluntly having a great deal of information just in a big old digital pile that you then can’t use kind of makes it fairly worthless.
SS: Now what are some of your best practices for gathering these insights for your team? As you said, there’s a lot of intel out there.
AC: You’re right. We have a couple of methods that we use. We engage a supplier, so we work with a partner that helps us gather and store that information and provides us with a platform that we can use to make it accessible in competitor-focused documents that are updated and have some great auto-updating features that automatically pull in really nice insights and we have analysts support on that as well that they can pull things like recent reviews or changes to their website or staffing changes or trends on where people are hiring or removing roles from the company. Those automated tools are really solid in giving us a low-effort, really up-to-date pool of that information. The other pieces that I mentioned previously are really about that conversational portion and making sure that we’re having discussions about it as well. So making sure we have a really regular cadence within our sales and operational teams where we can share the competitive insights, we can give our leadership folks the digest of the observations we’ve made and the approaches we’re making on these things and also making sure that they’re directed to the right members of our development teams to understand what clients are asking for and how the competition is responding to it so they can use that as they formulate our own response as well.
One of the best practices we like to have is building not only that communication but that really build up a good community approach and a really good culture of sharing and engaging with competitive intelligence. A lot of the information we gather outside of the automated tools is driven by the conversations our teams are having with their customers and the sales people are having out there with prospects as well. A lot of observations come from discussions in the field, so by building up that culture and encouraging people to share it freely when they have some really good insights or observations from out in the marketplace and then getting those observations into the engine where they can be kept and stored for future use as well, building up that culture is probably the best thing we can recommend from a best practice point of view.
SS: Absolutely. Now workplace environments and buyer needs, I think everyone can agree, have shifted significantly in the past few years. How do you go about keeping up with the trends in the market and also ensure your reps are able to keep pace with all of the changing intelligence and insights?
AC: So again, we can lean into that conversation piece, making sure that things that people are hearing are shared broadly amongst the team, but you’re right, the agility that’s required to make those changes is only becoming more and more important. I think the challenge is that the last few years, especially in the world of global mobility, have accelerated any form of change that a lot of businesses have had, such as how they’re supporting their employees with relocating, the work shift towards enabling more remote work as well. It’s a lot about listening to what people are saying, we can observe it from our world in understanding the questions that people are asking us in RFPs, and again that’s where my team who is responding to those RFPs has a role within the wider business. We can engage not only with our salespeople but all our development teams to make sure that they are kept on top of the questions that people are asking today.
The reality is that questions being asked in RFPs today are the clients you’re going to have on-boarded in six months or a year’s time. So understanding the questions that people care about and their decision factors right now helps them invest properly in developing solutions that are going to continue to serve these people in months and years to come. We really look at the questions that people are asking and the priorities that people say as well, both at the stage of RFPs, in debriefs, every time we get an opportunity to gather feedback much like with competitive intelligence, making sure we capture it, making sure we share it and making sure it’s our responsibility as people having these frontline communications with our business partners and with the people we potentially would work with and making sure those priorities in their future focus as well are shared to our development teams and our salespeople to make sure that they becoming aware of those things, educating themselves on them, and our company is evolving in ways that are meaningful to people.
SS: Absolutely. Now with technology enablement really being a core focus of your role, how are you leveraging technology to drive innovation in your sales enablement strategy?
AC: That comes kind of to tiers on my side. One is the element I already touched upon which is sharing with their own internal development teams the features that our potential customers want to see to make sure they are recognized and prioritized within our own strategy to build winning technology. The other side comes from just being open to being out and listening to and paying attention to what is in the marketplace. Looking at the technology from a sales enablement point of view, you guys will know better than me I would imagine, like how much technology and how many tools and resources from everything from training to you lead generation and technology to enhance your communication. There is so much out there available.
Part of it is investing a portion of my time into just meeting with organizations, meeting with people that are selling these technologies, taking in demonstrations, understanding how they measure up to their competitors as well as what unique points they have and what features they have. I invest a lot of my time in this. I try to make sure I dedicate at least 1-5 demos of some description a month so I can take in what technology are available and then we can find those ones that really strike a chord with me to then bring back to our sales leadership or bring back to our sales folks and say, hey, I’ve been out there assessing the marketplace and I think this would be a useful tool for this team and then get their input and their validation on things that we might be able to take forward. There are activities in prioritizing these things, of course, there are some tools that we find we have bigger gaps than others, but I’d say the major thing is really just being open to understanding what is in the marketplace and how everyone else is developing as well.
SS: What are some of your best practices for ensuring that reps are effectively equipped to get the most out of the tools in their tech stack?
AC: Really, it’s looking at what that engagement looks like. I think it would be very easy to invest heavily in lots of technologies or even simpler things like the resources that people are using. So what slide decks do you invest in building, and what marketing materials do you prioritize with the marketing team to build as well? It’s really about looking at what people are engaging with and making sure you’ve invested the time to get their feedback as well. Understand what things have had an impact, what things didn’t quite hit the mark for them, or what things, regardless of how impressive a tool or resource was, what their thoughts are in using them. If it’s inaccessible for them or they struggle to know how to weave it into a conversation or how they’re going to get someone to invest the time to really engage with something if it’s perhaps too complex, those are pieces of feedback we need to take very seriously and we need to take back to our development of these tools and materials to understand how they’re using them.
That feedback loop, not only from customers but making sure our sales team are given a good opportunity to share their feedback and the angles they want to take on these things, making sure we take the time to hear those and actually act on them is incredibly important for us to make sure we keep those conversations open.
SS: Absolutely, Andy, last question for you. How can effective use of technology help reps to be agile, especially as we were talking about a moment ago as things are changing so that they can ultimately really remain competitive in this market?
AC: I think technology for all its uses, certainly in our world, will never fully replace the human element of those communications and the relationship building that our salespeople and our account management teams invest so much of their time in doing. They are really making sure they are listening to people and developing solutions that are right for the person. Where technology helps us is making efficient use of that time. Using technology to do the things that are less demanding of human interaction and human innovation and imagination, but gathering that thing to make sure that we’ve gathered the contacts effectively that we can showcase things in a meaningful and quick way that we can do bulk volume gathering of information and using that to make sure we’ve got the information and the statistics that quantified information. That’s where technology really helps us in pumping out that quantified information and then finding great different ways for us to present it. By investing in ways that we can develop video messaging, audio messaging, and things like that, we can find ways to reach different audiences.
I think technology serves to enhance and maybe make our communications more efficient but definitely, for us it is a tool rather than a replacement. I think my sales team would not be too thrilled if I was talking about automating a lot of their communication for them. It’s definitely an efficiency tool rather than a replacement for that human interaction, that relationship building that they really, really focus a lot of investment in.
SS: Fantastic. Well Andy, thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it and I enjoyed the conversation.
AC: Thank you so much for having me.
SS: To our audience, thanks for listening. For more insights, tips, and expertise from sales enablement leaders, visit salesenablement.pro. If there is something you’d like to share or a topic you’d like to learn more about, please let us know we’d love to hear from you.