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A playbook designed exclusively for Executives at rapidly expanding B2B SME organisations. This guide is your key to mastering Market Intelligence from the ground up.

In Chapter 3, we explore the critical steps to building an effective Market Intelligence function. Learn to gather crucial data, engage stakeholders, distill powerful insights, and leverage Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) to gauge your impact. Don’t miss out on transforming data into your strategic advantage.

THE B2B MARKET INTELLIGENCE PLAYBOOK

 

Building a B2B Market Intelligence Function

Summary

  • This guide is designed as a primer for executives in smaller or fast-growing organisations interested in better informing their MI approach. So far in this Playbook we have defined A Business Case for Market Intelligence and worked through a Framework for Market Intelligence. This section focuses on taking the budget and the process and beginning to deliver insights.
  • The first section focuses on the more strategic parts of the process, a high-level process overview, how much resource you need and whether that resource should be an internal team, or outsourced to partners.
  • The second section focuses more on the operations of delivering B2B Market Intelligence, with a step by step guide to running the process, some challenges you may encounter and how to overcome them.

Starting Your B2B Market Intelligence Function

What the Data Says

In this section we explore how to build a Market Intelligence function from scratch. Naturally, this requires combinations of skills, resources and tools. Much like other areas, Market Intelligence is being transformed by AI. Research by Harvard University in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group found that consultants using AI tools were

  • More productive – completing 12.2% more tasks on average
  • Faster – completing tasks 25.1% more quickly
  • Produced 40% higher quality results (compared to the control group)

We believe that every Market Intelligence team would benefit from trustworthy, scalable AI solutions. The AMPLYFI Platform is designed from the ground up to save Market Intelligence Teams hundreds of hours of work, make expert tasks easy and create trustworthy, usable analysis with the latest AI. If you are in the market for tools, please, check us out!

“Research is formalized curiosity, it is poking and prying with a purpose.” - Zora Neale Hurston

The B2B Market Intelligence Process

All Market intelligence tends to follow similar patterns:

  1. Set Your Target Area– decide what/who you are studying and why
  2. Collect Market Data – gather the information you need for analysis
  3. Create Market Analysis –  find patterns, trends and nuggets of information
  4. Curate Market Insights – apply the analysis to the use case
  5. Share with Stakeholders – make the insights digestible against decisions
  6. Measure the Impact – apply the insights and learn
The B2B Market Intelligence Process

The tools, processes and approaches used to go from “raw” information to valuable impact can vary a lot. This guide outlines some of the avenues that you can take, with each of these topics covered in detail later in this playbook.

AMPLYFI Tip: Your Market Intelligence is likely to be unique as your organisation. That doesn’t mean that standard processes and tools won’t work, it means that you will need to assess the value based on your situation. If you haven’t done so already, read part 1 & 2 of this playbook to define your Business Case & explore a Framework for B2B Market Intelligence.

Resourcing Your Market Intelligence Process

Depending on how strong your business case is (covered in the first section of this playbook), you will probably find yourself needing to start small and scale, or if you are in a rush to have impact, over-invest to catch up. Think of Market Intelligence in three stages of development (these roughly correlate to business maturity) Start, Establish and Scale:

MATURITY ORG SCALE OBJECTIVE OUR ADVICE
Start

5-10 Person / £5-25k MI Budget

Cover the Basics

Make the most of free tools & focus on Competitors

Spend your budget on primary research around customer needs

Establish 10-50 Person / £25k-100k  MI Budget Prove the Business Case

Build on Bootstrap

Expand on Bootstrap with pro tools to increase quality/decrease effort

Begin to look into/for Market Trends

Scale 50+ Person / £100k+ MI Budget Spread the Value

Build on Scale-Up

Consider hiring an MI Manager / Outsourcing to Experts

Establish more systematic MI Processes

Resourcing Your Market Intelligence Process

AMPLYFI Tip: It’s hard to over-emphasise how much prioritisation is key to success for the two earlier development stages of Market Intelligence teams. Almost all MI Teams we speak to are overwhelmed with content, requests and backlogs of tasks. Picking which things get done and which do not will define both your impact and the future funding case.

Building or Outsourcing a Market Intelligence Team?

In a lot of organisations the instinct is to hire people to solve a problem. This is not always the most pragmatic approach when trying to solve new problems and quickly demonstrate value. Equally, outsourcing can be a costly and confusing endeavour when you want to build your internal knowledge. Here are some factors to consider as a rough guide around this decision.

Build a Team Outsourcing
When
  • When you want to embed knowledge
  • When you want consistency & dedicated resource 
  • When you plan to scale the team over time
  • When you need results faster
  • When you need flexible capacity/capability
  • When you want to focus on other areas of your business
Needs
  • Specialist Knowledge e.g. about a technology that is core to your solution
  • Repeating Technical Skills
  • Cross-functional working & communication
  • Specialist expert knowledge e.g. about a technology that is new to you
  • Specialist technical skills e.g. data analysis
  • Support to establish strategy/processes
  • Setup of tools
Pros
  • Investing in your core capabilities
  • Dedicated resources
  • Retained knowledge & skills
  • Faster to deploy and deliver the first project
  • Will bring a range of skills and tools
  • Flexible in cost and application
Cons
  • Large up-front costs – recruitment, training, equipment
  • Will require further investment – software licences, HR
  • Will be a single resource – you may need others
  • “Marked up” costs per hour
  • Share priorities across various customers
  • Not retained knowledge

As outlined above, the fundamental decision here comes down to “speed to deliver value”. If you are committed to invest for the long term, building a team is a great route. However, you may choose to start your Market Intelligence journey with Outsourcing, as it is quicker to demonstrate the value. Doing both in parallel in some form will likely be the strongest solution.

Building or Outsourcing a Market Intelligence Team

Assuming you decide to take the “build a team” route longer term, you are likely looking for a Market Intelligence Manager / Analyst. These first hires can be hard to fill as they will likely require a broad combination of skills, including stakeholder management, leadership (often without authority) and the potential to negotiate and manage supplier contracts. A simple job description, to get you started:

Sample Market Intelligence Manager Job Description

In this role, you will be responsible for leading the development and implementation of a comprehensive market intelligence strategy for our B2B organization. You will work closely with sales, marketing, and product development teams to provide actionable insights that drive strategic & operational decision-making.

Responsibilities:

  • Conduct market research and analysis to identify market trends, opportunities, and threats.
  • Track and analyze competitor activity, including their products, pricing, and marketing strategies.
  • Support Revenue generating teams to define Ideal Customer Profiles and identify & understand specific target customers
  • Develop and maintain a market intelligence knowledge base with relevant data and insights
  • Create clear and concise reports and presentations to communicate findings to key stakeholders.
  • Stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices in market intelligence.
  • Identify and implement new market research tools and methodologies to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Collaborate with sales, marketing, and product development teams to ensure market intelligence is integrated into their strategies.

AMPLYFI Tip: Don’t ignore tools as part of the solutions mix, especially those that enable cost savings by delaying outsourcing, or allowing lower cost resources to complete higher value tasks/high cost resources to avoid lower cost tasks.

The Market Intelligence Process in Detail

1. Set Your Target Area

Mapping the business functions – Revenue, Solutions, Risk –  and types of market intelligence – Sector, Competitor, Customer – from the previous sections of this playbook, provides a simple way to begin delivering valuable insights. Some functions/types of intelligence can overlap, as summarised below:

Sector Competitor Customer
Revenue   

Understand events and trends shaping the sector opps & threats

Develop better strategies to win customers Prioritise the best customers
Solutions Learn from competitors features/challenges Understand customer needs better
Risk Identify Risks Earlier

 

You can write more specific things into this grid, based on your own needs. For example, you may choose to initially support the New Biz Development team (Revenue), with insights into Disruptive Technologies affecting customers (Sector), so they can craft better outbound messaging and increase cold email response rates. As this process begins to work, you can choose to do more with the same team – as you have proven value to the stakeholders – or do more with Sector Intelligence in other teams – as you have reduced the effort to deliver insights.

AMPLYFI Tip: It is always good to keep in mind two concepts whilst prioritising:

  • Value – where is the business case strongest & fastest?
  • Effort – where can you deliver Market Intelligence with least effort/skills

Doing this relationally rather than absolutely is also key, e.g. X is harder/easier than Y, rather than X is 20 days effort, Y is 15 days effort.

2. Collect Data

Curate or create the information you need for your analysis. Information comes in lots of forms, but we try to think of it on a Boston Matrix:

  • Structured <<< >>> Unstructured
    • Structured data is organised in labelled tables and can be analysed easily with a computer e.g. Excel, Databases, Tables
    • Unstructured Content is unorganised and requires interpretation by humans or AI e.g. Documents, Images, Videos, Podcasts
  • Primary <<< >>> Secondary
    • Primary Research is gathered by you, usually private & proprietary and specific to your needs
    • Secondary Research is shared by someone else, may be sold across your market, and less likely to be specific to your needs
Collect Data

Here are some examples, with pros and cons for each type.

Type Examples Pros Cons
Primary Structured Surveys, IoT,

ERP, CRM, Analytics, Sales Data…etc.

Proprietary & scalable Often low volume/insight to begin with – worth setting up, but best paired with unstructured for the “why”
Primary Unstructured Interviews, CRM Notes, Digital Messages, Emails, Meeting Notes, Support Tickets…etc. Rich, proprietary insights on topics you specifically care about Expensive to gather & process – best used in specific scenarios to explore deeper reasons
Secondary Structured Socio-Demographic, Category Data, Credit Ratings, Polling…etc. Tends to be cheap & voluminous, thus useful for large market trends Tends to be lagging data that misses the context, but best paired with unstructured for the “why”
Secondary Unstructured News, Academic Papers, Patents, Social Media Posts, Customer Reviews, Annual Reports, Earnings Calls…etc. Tends to be cheap & voluminous but also specific and detailed, making it applicable to all areas of Market Intelligence Prone to noise & hard to analyse at scale – AI Unlocks this problem

 

Our view is that secondary, unstructured data is underutilised, it is also unlocked by AI. It offers a cheap, flexible solution for many market intelligence needs as it can track both large and small changes at early and late stages of development. It also answers “the why” of many structured data changes. For example, a customer’s share price spikes (structured) because they announced a new partnership (unstructured). That’s the area we focus on as AMPLYFI.

AMPLYFI Tip: A simple strategy is to combine different types from two ends of the spectrum to validate each other, for example:

  • Unstructured Primary Internal – conduct interviews with customers
  • Structured Secondary External – buy in market data to support your ideas

Or 

  • Structured Primary Internal – use product analytics data to understand most/least used features
  • Unstructured Secondary External – analyse competitor reviews key features/issues

3. Create Market Analysis

Find the valuable parts or combinations of the information. This can be more easily said than done, with “analysis paralysis” – where more information results in fewer decisions – a real challenge. It is best to limit your analysis to a set amount of time. Focus on looking for:

Analyses Description Example
Elements Topics, People, Places or Organisations in the information Mentions of startups associated with a topic
Events New/changing/notable information A funding round for an organisation
Impact Where one event correlates with creation/change in another  Launch of regulations causing companies to exit a market
Sentiment Positive or negative associations A modifier of other analyses
Patterns X information is repeatedly correlated with Y information Price increases reducing demand
Trends Increasing/decreasing over time (a common form of pattern) More startups launching in a country

 

As you develop your process, you will likely refine these categories and even develop proprietary language to describe them. The analysis process is designed to create insights, which we cover in the next section.

Create Market Analysis

AMPLYFI Tip: Events are usually easier to find than trends, and trends easier to find than patterns. Traditionally it has taken lots of skilled time with complex data analysis tools to cover all three areas. However, AI-Powered tools (like AMPLYFI) are massively reducing the effort and skill required to do so.

4. Curate Market Insights

 We define an Insight as:

A Market Intelligence Insight is a novel piece of information that informs a decision.

The first time you conduct research & analysis on an area it is likely that you will be overwhelmed with new information. When everything is new, lots of things will be interesting (but not necessarily useful). Curating Market Insights is the opportunity to rationalise this information back to what is useful and ensure that you have the breadth and depth required to move on. Think of this in two steps:

  1. Clustering Insights – to broaden them and connect them with other elements
  2. Enriching Insights – deepening them so they have all the information required to inform the decision they relate to

When you record an insight, keep it as simple as possible to begin with, just a sentence or snippet, with the link to the source information.

Curate Market Insights

Clustering Insights

As you generate novel pieces of information you will want to collect them. Try to cluster your insights as you go, against the Target Areas you are focused on. Insights can be in multiple clusters, for example:

Company X are investing in Technology Y

Can be clustered against Company X, the Sector they are in, companies who are investing, or Technology Y. It is for you to decide if there is relevance in each of these clusters, but don’t worry about doing it correctly the first time around.

This will help to focus on what matters. In section 2 of this Playbook – A Framework for Market Intelligence – we covered off some standard, repeating items that Market Intelligence can deliver e.g. Competitor Battle Cards, Ideal Customer Profiles – these are just templates for collecting insights for specific uses. It is natural that you develop your own unique templates and tools over time, but Post-it notes, Digital Whiteboards, Slide Decks, Wikis are all relevant generic tools at the start. Tools like AMPLYFI allow for AI or manual “tagging” of insights as they are found, allowing you to keep well organised as you progress.

Enriching Insights

Once you have a rich enough set to work with for your Target Area, it is time to go one level deeper and enrich them so the insights are actionable for your stakeholders. Actionable insights usually have two parts:

  • WHAT – something has happened/is happening/or you think will happen
  • WHY – the reason for the WHAT, if it’s possible to define

A simple example of this is share price:

[WHAT] Company X’s share price increased by 10% last year. [WHY] Analysts view their technology strategy as market leading.

WHAT, is sometimes easy to record in structured data sets, as it tends to be measurable. WHY is much more challenging to discern at scale, or in large data sets, often consuming large amounts of analysis time. This is where AI has driven a huge amount of new capability, particularly for smaller organisations.

AMPLYFI Tip: You can find templates for all the standard and repeating Market Intelligence tasks in Section 2 of this Playbook. For the non-standard Ad-Hoc requests it is best to run a simple task list. Remember to challenge the value of these tasks, or you may find yourself responding only to urgent things and dropping important ones.

5. Sharing Market Intelligence With Stakeholders

Sharing Market Intelligence With Stakeholders

At this stage, it is important to re-engage stakeholders in your Revenue, Solution and Risk functions to ensure you are appropriately supporting their Strategic/Operational needs. Misalignment or miscommunication are the most common reasons that insights are not applied. Market Insights will also be requested “ad hoc” – being able to manage and respond to these kinds of requests is a key part of the process. In our experience stakeholders tend to request Market Intelligence in several distinct formats:

  • Standard Reports – consistently structured documents, that serve a specific use case, for example Competitor Battlecards
  • Briefs – often ad-hoc, requiring a fast turnaround with minimal depth, usually summaries of a “new thing”
  • Deep Dives – looking for trends and change over a longer period of time – this can function as a good starting point for monitoring
  • Monitoring – looking for emerging changes on a regular basis, shared to different stakeholders with different frequency and depth, e.g. monthly C-suite reports, daily alerts for the sales team
  • Dashboards – self serve information, usually looking at similar data to monitoring, but combining from various sources and focusing usually on structured analysis
  • Knowledge Centres – collections of all of the above formats, that can be searched and read as needed by users

As part of your engagement with different teams, it is important to understand that selecting the right insights, but delivering the wrong cadence can lead to lower value outcomes. For example, providing Quick Answers to detail oriented teams, may not impress them. Whereas providing deep dive reports to time poor teams, may mean the content is not consumed.

AMPLYFI Tip: Strategic decision-makers prefer summaries over raw information and are often more time-poor than operational teams. Therefore, Strategic MI Solutions often benefit from being consultative, such as regular analyst briefings or insight emails.

6. Creating an Ideal Customer Profile

A common model to drive value from teams is to adopt Objectives and Key Results that align with areas Market Intelligence can impact. These objectives can apply to your Market Intelligence team alone, for example:

  • Objective 1: Enhance decision-making with actionable market insights
      • Key Result 1.1: Increase the use of market intelligence reports by operational teams by 20% within the quarter (number of clicks)
      • Key Result 1.2: Deliver at least 3 intelligence alerts that directly influence operational decisions (team feedback)
  • Objective 2: Improve efficiency and accessibility of market intelligence
    • Key Result 2.1: Reduce the average time to complete a market research request by 15% (time tracking).
    • Key Result 2.2: Launch an internal knowledge base for market intelligence resources with 20 WAU (analytics)

But to value Market Intelligence effectively, you will want to quantify its impact with other teams. This will require working with these teams to understand where and how better Insights would serve them. This is more complex, but embedding collaboration early, will enable: 

Example Metrics

FUNCTION OBJECTIVE KEY RESULTS
Revenue Increased Inbound Leads

Faster/Better Sales Funnel Progression

Lower Customer Churn/Improved Upsell Rates

  • Improve Engagement Rates from Prospects
  • Improve Win Rates Against Competitors
  • Reduce Cost of Customer Acquisition
  • Improve Key Account Health (Upsell/Churn)
Solutions Faster solution/service/feature development

Measurable impact of new solution/service/features

Stronger USP/IP around new solution/service/features

  • Identify & Track more Technologies/Solutions/Innovators
  • React Earlier to Competitor Changes
  • Reduce the cost for Buy/Build evaluation
Risk Earlier/More Accurate Management of Risks

Higher/Faster Returns on Investment

Lower/Fewer Partner Driven Disruptions 

  • Identify better/wider investment opportunities
  • Reduce the cost of Due Diligence/Origination
  • React Earlier to Customer/Sector Risk
  • React earlier/better to regulatory change

AMPLYFI Tip: If you are struggling for ideas of OKRs, using an AI chatbot tool can help you generate ideas. Try the prompt:

“You are an expert Market Intelligence Leader, define a set of OKRs for a Market Intelligence team at a small company [add a clearer description of your org if possible] trying to improve [insert your focus areas].”

Remember to generate a few varied responses, apply them to your situation and rewrite them in your own terms.

Conclusion

Pulling it All Together

So now you understand how to build your function, the processes, resources and approaches you can take from Starting Out, to Scaling Up. To summarise the steps in the process:

  • Set Your Target Area
      1. Engage Revenue, Solutions, Risk teams to understand where MI can impact
      2. Look through the lens of Sector, Competitor, Customer Intelligence to find shared needs and reduced effort
      3. Prioritise based on Value and Effort
  • Collect Data
      1. Map the Primary, Secondary, Structured & Unstructured information that are relevant to your needs
      2. Gather the information
  • Create Market Analysis
      1. Look for relevant Elements, Events, Impact, Sentiment, Patterns and Trends
      2. Record the insights (novel information that could impact a decision) as you go
  • Curate Market Insights
      1. Cluster your long list of insights and focus on the most impactful
      2. Enrich insights to ensure you answer both the WHAT and the WHY
  • Share with Stakeholders 
      1. Engage with stakeholders to understand how they would like to 
      2. Create Reports, Briefs, Deep Dives, Monitoring, Dashboards, Knowledge Centres based on your insights and share them
  • Measure the Impact
    1. Set OKRs for MI to ensure that you are driving improvement in processes
    2. Measure OKRs for other teams so that you can prove your impact and grow the strength of your business case

Actions Checklist

To make it simpler to action the advice here, we have created a simple checklist and framework that you can download to develop your business case. It forms the first section of our B2B Market Intelligence Playbook.

Suggested Action

1

Review your Market Intelligence business case and company maturity to define your budget/resourcing needs

2

Engage stakeholders and shortlist of Target Market Intelligence Areas

3

Define the kinds of information and analysis you need to conduct so you can decide on the required resources

4

Develop an operational plan – doing it yourself, outsourcing, or building a team – based on your resource, needs and speed to value

5

Set OKRs for your Market Intelligence – so you can benchmark and improve your operations

6

Align with OKRs for your target area – so your impact is measurable

7

Set your first Market Intelligence Target Area (and build a roadmap of new ones as your capabilities increase/resource is available)

8

Map, gather/acquire the Market Intelligence Information you need into a single place

9

Look for relevant Elements, Events, Impact, Sentiment, Patterns and Trends recording the insights simply as you go

10

Cluster and Enrich insights to ensure they are aligned and able to impact the Target Area and Decisions

11

Engage your stakeholders to ensure you are presenting insights in the right format to impact their needs

12

Measure the impact of your Market Intelligence on other teams OKRs and benchmark your own OKRs

13

Reflect and Repeat!