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Introduction to CI for Product teams: Resources

Types of insights:

There are 11 types of insights that I regularly track. While there are many more than 11, I find grouping them together under these 11 make it easiest for me to compare and highlight changes. Each quarter, when I lead my teams through strategic reviews, we have a table with rows of features and 11 columns. This allows us to view the different stories that the information has to tell.

Surprisingly, there are often contradictions that help catch us before we make decisions that would not have helped.

    1. Direct feedback
    2. Customer success/Account manager teams sentiment
    3. In-platform analytics
    4. Support tickets
    5. Industry forums (subreddits, quora)
    6. Top of funnel asks
    7. Bottom of funnel asks
    8. Product portal (direct asks)
    9. Requirements of markets we want to enter
    10. Competitor trends and impacts
    11. Overall market landscape changes

Questions you can answer with quick CI:

There are 4 main categories of information you can learn quickly from CI: Company health, Strategy, Product Direction, and Customer Focus. Here are examples of some of the questions lying within each category:

From a health standpoint.

    • What is their revenue likely at?
    • Where are they investing?
    • Who are they courting as customers?
    • If they are B2B or even B2C what is their pricing and pricing strategy?

From a strategy standpoint.

    • Are they pushing for growth, stability? (ratio of staff)
    • Who are they hiring?
    • What topics are they talking about? 

From a product direction?

    • What changes have they made recently?
    • What expertise are they hiring for?
    • What are they hinting about in blog posts?
    • What are their recent webinars on?
    • What groups are they product teams part of or recently joined?

Customer focus

    • What are the commonalities of customers that they are bringing in? (size, industry, maturity)
    • What are the case studies on their sites for?
    • If they are looking for AMs, SMEs, etc. what expertise are they looking for?

Quick things you can do to get a basic CI baseline:

For B2B, Throw open Linkedin. Companies love to talk about what they do:

    • If you don’t want Linkedin to let people know their profile is being looked at, think about that part… partner’s account or some other solution.
    • Look at the sales team. Whose content are they liking/sharing? In the age of social selling, sales teams are following and liking the content of the leads in their pipeline. Those companies, A) who are they, but B) what are they. Map the commonalities.
    • Look at the sales and product teams. What groups and interests are they adding to their profile? What are they learning about or trying to find leads from?
    • What webinars/announcements are they sharing? Social selling is your friend! View the landing pages, etc present there.
    • Take a look at the company page. How many employees do they have? Employees listed on Linked * 100k (well-funded) to 200k (bootstrap) will give you a pretty accurate revenue estimation.
    • Look at all employees and the ratio. Sorry, this will take some counting. I’ll share a link to some benchmarks. As an example: the average company doing “inside sales” as their dominant channel will have a ratio of 33/10/46/11 (dev/product/sales and marketing/other) of their staff. Someone focused around channel would have stronger product and CSM ratio, with a much smaller marketing and sales piece of the ratio. Looking at the composition on Linkedin will give you a sense of their focus. High sales ratio or high dev ratio? Then they may be focusing on rapid growth or rapid build.

Let’s jump over to job postings.

    • What tech are they looking for?
    • Is a traditionally normal SaaS hiring data engineers and data scientists? What experience is being called out?
    • For sales, what expertise are they looking for? Experience selling into what companies?

Ok, now time for some google-fu

    • Google alerts are great, they also have a massive problem. They will find new pages adding to index, not changes to existing or pages that would usually not be there.
    • Site: competitior.com case study, .pdf, screenshot, pricing, rfp, kb, knowledge base, forums, portal.
    • Search broadly: “company name” rfp, bid, tender.

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