The social web today has an invaluable amount of information about our prospect and clients that we can use to our advantage during a sales cycle. As modern sales and marketing professionals we can go online at any point during the day to find out about the interests and events that shape our buyers’ journey. These triggers can help us position ourselves more effectively to win new business and time our communications more appropriately to increase engagement. With so much information now available to us it is a wonder how business ever got done 20 years ago!?

Well the same goes for our competitive landscape. Just like how we can go online to learn about our prospects and clients, we can also go online to learn about our competitors’ activity. We can see them connecting with potential clients, sharing content with their networks, winning deals, hiring and so on.

All of this information is incredibly insightful for us to have. It can help us differentiate ourselves for the competition, retain our customers longer, poach new clients and ultimately win more deals. The trick is knowing where to find it…

How do I tell if my competitor is connecting with my client/prospect?

This is actually easier than you think. All it takes is a little know-how and diligence. First off, make sure that you are connected by 1st degree to your prospects and clients on LinkedIn. Doing so has a ton of advantages including making it easier for you to monitor their networks.

Once you are connected to your client/prospect, take a look at their LinkedIn profile and follow these steps:

1. Look at the number of connections the person has in the lower right-hand corner of their profile window. If the number is blue it means that the person has left their connections open for you to browse through. Click on the blue number and it will take you to their connections section

2. In the upper right-hand corner of the connections section there is a small magnifying glass icon. Click it

3. In the search bar enter the names of your competitors companies and/or the keywords that relate to your solutions. Doing so will return you a list of their connections that have that company name and/or keyword mentioned on their profile i.e. a potential competitors

Unfortunately you will not be able to tell when the connection between your client/prospect and competitor was formed. The only way to get an idea of timing is to regularly check their network of connections. Hence the “diligence” part I mentioned above.

How do I monitor my competitors’ activity on LinkedIn without them knowing about it?

There are a couple ways that this can be done. First, on a company level, you can go to the company LinkedIn page of your competitor and click the “Follow” button in the upper right-hand corner of their page. This will populate your LinkedIn newsfeed with all of the updates your competitor is posting on LinkedIn. You will also be able to see who is liking, commenting and sharing their content. One or more of these people could be potential prospects for you.

Secondly, you can view the individual LinkedIn profiles of your competitors anonymously. This can be advantageous if you want to learn about your competitors’ particular area of focus (Industry, SMB vs. Enterprise, Product or Service Set, etc.) to determine which reps you might come up against during your sales cycle. You can also likely check out their “View Recent Activity” section as long as they have not chosen to hide it in their Privacy Settings.

By default, your LinkedIn profile will be set to visible when viewing other’s profiles so make sure to switch to anonymous first before performing competitive intelligence. To do this in LinkedIn:

1. Hover over your profile picture icon on the far right side of the LinkedIn menu bar and click “Manage” next to Privacy & Settings

2. You will likely be prompted to sign in again. Do so

3. Under Privacy Controls, click on the third option which is “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile”

4. In the pop-up window, click on the circle next to “You will be totally anonymous” and then click “Save Changes”

Now you can view your competitors’ profiles with anonymity. Just remember to switch back to having your name and headline visible after you’re done performing competitive intelligence. We wouldn’t want you to miss out on any visibility opportunities with prospects and clients!!

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How do I monitor my competitors’ activity on Twitter without them knowing about it?

Monitoring competitors on Twitter is SUPER easy because everything is public form. As you likely know if you’ve used Twitter before, using the “Follow” button will allow you to see all of the Tweets coming from an account in your home feed. Doing so will, however, notify the individual/company that you are now following them which is obviously not ideal for conducting competitive intelligence.

Instead, use the private Twitter Lists function to follow all of your competitors’ conversations without them knowing. To do this in Twitter:

1. Pull up the profile of a competitor (individual or company)

2. Click the small gear icon to the left of the Follow button

3. Click “Add or remove from lists”

4. Click “Create a list”

5. Give your list a name, select the Private option at the bottom and click “Save list”

6. Click the box beside your new list so that there is a checkmark in it

Repeat these same steps (minus the new list creation) for all of your competitors. You can add them all to one list or, better yet, you can create individual lists specific to each competitor company. Now when you navigate to the Lists section of your Twitter profile and click on the list name you will be able to see all of your competitors’ activity on Twitter without them knowing!!

How do I monitor news about my competitor?

Easy. Use Google Alerts. This is an amazing keyword generated tool that will allow you to create email notifications based on your competitors’ names appearing in press releases, blog posts, video description and so on. Never miss out from capitalizing on the events happening in your competitors’ companies again!!

Competitive intelligence has never been easier to conduct if you know where to find the info and, most importantly, how to acquire said info without your competitors’ being the wiser. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below or feel free to book a quick call together via the “Let’s talk Social Selling” button. Cheers 🙂

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Dave Howe

Author: Dave Howe

Dave is a gifted salesman with a passion for training. Having started from humble roots as a doorknocker in Australia, Dave quickly excelled over his decade long sales and marketing career to hold several VP and Director level positions. Prior to joining the Sales for Life team, Dave was involved with start-ups; building and training their sales teams from the ground up.

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