Every CEO knows how important it is to track competitors. By keeping tabs on your business rivals, you can stay informed about the latest business updates, quickly identify emerging threats, and immediately hear about new products.
But why should you limit this well-rounded understanding strictly to your competitors? In business, it’s important to understand all of your relationships; that means tracking not only your competitors, but also your customers, partners, prospects, vendors, and suppliers.
Businesses today are tightly interconnected, meaning that keeping track of all those variables is feasible. Critical processes that formerly occurred in-house are now managed through third parties.
For example, our company uses TriNet for human resources, Amplitude for analytics, Salesforce for our sales pipeline, Amazon Web Services for cloud storage, and other software providers for all business processes. As cloud technologies and outsourced services become more popular, vendors for marketing software and data hosting spring up to meet the need.
Internally, our company has taken the concept we use to monitor competitive relationships and has applied it to tracking those outsourced options we use via a business relationship graph. So, whether you want to stay in the loop with partners, hear the latest updates on prospects, keep up with customers, or get the lowdown on potential vendors, this organized breakdown can help your company — and others — bring all partnerships into focus.
Size Up Your Space
Consider all your company’s relationships that contribute to its overall health. How do you know you’re working with the best partners for the best value? How do you monitor whether those partners are healthy and growing or troubled and withering? How do you understand risk?
If your top supplier is facing a parts shortage, can you identify and source from a new vendor? If a large client acquires a company you’re trying to do business with, how can you quickly turn this information into a sale? If key prospects receive funding, how do you know when to reach out to them?
Until now, there weren’t any good solutions, because all these processes and updates were managed in a hodgepodge of systems: You’d search online, set up Google Alerts, and hear anecdotal feedback through the grapevine. There was no one place to organize, view, or manage all your various relationships.
At best, you’d have detailed information on a single relationship in a single system. For instance, you could dig deep into your relationship with prospects using a sales tool, but you’d need to switch systems after those prospects became customers. There’s just no place to see it all.
It’s like using a flashlight in the dark to search a room: Aiming the light beam in any direction illuminates only one area at a time. While you might get a feel for the room’s separate contents, you won’t understand how they’re related, which will leave you with an incomplete understanding of the space.
Bring It All to Light
Success comes when you understand the businesses you’re working with. That means understanding revenue trends, news, alerts, data, and feedback from other companies that have worked with those businesses. Enter the business relationship graph.
As a CEO, you should make sure that you’re getting the macro view of all the relationships your company’s various teams manage. Nothing should ever slip under your radar. Most businesses don’t have a way to keep track of their business relationships, which leads to costly, distracting mistakes that could be avoided if decision makers had access to broader news and insights.
Monitoring your business relationships provides detailed layouts of the companies you work with, opportunities for growth, potential alternative vendors or suppliers, and competitors’ recent comings and goings. Here are three tactics CEOs can use to easily incorporate this habit into their best practices:
- Get the whole view. A business insights platform enables you to follow updates related to all relevant business relationships. Rather than sifting through Google Alerts, fruitless web searches, and information-dense industry newsletters, you get a broader view of all the updates about the business relationships that matter to you, minus the noise.
This helps managers to identify new partners or suppliers to outperform existing ones and executives to benchmark their own performance against their competition.
- Get a shared view. In most companies, a person or small group interacts with individual customers, prospects, partners, and other valuable links in the chain. With an organizationwide business insights platform, everyone within the organization has access to the same information, making sure the entire workforce is plugged into the latest happenings. That way, every person is empowered to understand the inner workings of those external companies and respond accordingly.
Reach out to heads of departments to gauge the strengths and weaknesses employees see within their own departments and relationships with others. That ground-floor expertise can help executives bring the business’s relationships into focus so that you can get the most value from a business relationship graph.
- Get an edge on the competition. Tracking your business relationships inspires confidence and helps you make better, faster decisions. It’s the best organizational tool to categorize the companies you do business with and to get more information on those with whom you want to engage.
Additionally, your entire workforce will be able to understand, follow, and act on this data. This helps build a more informed staff that can seize on opportunities faster than competitors that aren’t managing their own graphs.
Right now, you may find it impossible to see the opportunities that lie in wait, but you don’t have to let opportunities pass you by in the dark.
Modern-day companies should take advantage of the broader view when it comes to managing their businesses. It’s time to put down the flashlight, with its narrow beam, and to illuminate your entire business landscape all at once.
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Latest posts by Jeremy Bellinghausen
- Why You Need to Keep Tabs on More Than Your Competition - April 21, 2017