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👋 Hi, I’m James. Thanks for checking out Building Momentum: a newsletter to help startup founders and marketers accelerate SaaS growth through product marketing.


This is The Interview with Andrew McCotter-Bicknell, Head of Competitive Intelligence at ClickUp, and competitor intel expert.

Competitive intelligence is often something of an enigma for many product marketers, but not for lack of trying.

We know we need to do it, but what does ‘good’ really look like? How can we move away from competitor feature comparison lists, and instead focus on helping sales teams win ‘in the field’?

Luckily, Andrew’s here to help. Keep reading to learn how to have the biggest impact on CI as a product marketer, and what you can do today to help win more deals – and scroll to the bottom to find out about Andrew’s upcoming competitive playbook.

Tell us about yourself: what’s your elevator pitch? 

I help fast-growing companies crush their competitors. 

It seems like you caught the competitive intelligence bug as a product marketer – what made you want to specialize in CI? 

At first, it was just a matter of there being a gap in our Product Marketing function. Someone needed to own Competitive Intel. I wanted more responsibility and visibility, so I jumped at the opportunity.

It wasn’t long before I realized how desperately it was needed to inform the company strategy. Executives, sellers, marketers, product, recruiting… everyone responded positively as I went deeper and deeper with my CI program. “Why is this getting so much attention?” I wondered. 

After years of owning programs across two fast-growing companies (ZoomInfo & ClickUp), I now know the answer. There are exponentially more competitors today than there were even five years ago. And they’re all vying to take market share from category leaders.

It’s harder than ever to stand out to buyers—and in response, companies are starting to treat CI as a “need to have” instead of a “nice to have.” 

As a PMM, if you’re looking to own a high-impact function, I can’t recommend CI enough.

I saw your great battlecard framework on the Dave Gerhardt Marketing Group community. Tell us about the framework, what influenced the structure, and how has it evolved?

In the beginning of my CI journey, I imagined a fantasy world of sales and marketing teams chomping at the bit to read my newly published battlecards. They would carefully read each sentence, study the feature comparison charts that I spent hours compiling, pull them up for each call, and return to them frequently. 

Boy was I wrong.

After sitting down with a handful of sellers, they set me straight. 

“We won’t read all of this.” They said. “We want to pull up a battlecard on a call and be able to quickly dismiss a competitor in just a few sentences.”

Say no more.

I immediately created a new framework for battlecards that sellers could take immediate action on, without sounding like a robot. It looks like this:

  1. Quick Dismiss (3 – 5 sentences that shoo a competitor out of the conversation and bring the focus back to your solution)
  2. Landmines (questions that sow seeds of doubt in your prospect’s mind about your competitor)
  3. Everything else

“Everything else” means explosive product differentiators, customer-facing collateral, pricing, email templates… whatever your team could use when things need to get a bit more strategic. 

But the important thing is you keep the most actionable bits at the very top. That way, sellers get immediate use out of the asset when they need it.

If you’re a small team – or even a product marketing team of one – what should you do to have the biggest impact when it comes to CI?

Build in public, internally. 

“Build in public” involves sharing stories (wins/lessons), and being authentic and vulnerable. All with the intention of rallying a community around your cause.

Competitive Intel, as a full-blown program, is still in its early stages. Your colleagues don’t know:

  • what to expect from it
  • what it consists of
  • why they should care about it

“Build in public” solves this. The movement is popular among startup entrepreneurs, but it’s applicable to program owners too.

Here’s one way you can apply the “build in public” mentality:

  1. Ask your teams what competitive collateral they need.
  2. Publish a 90% finished version one week after they tell you (speed is important).
  3. Ask for their feedback.
  4. Implement their feedback and get the asset to 100%.
  5. High-five your teammates. Ask what’s next.

Boom. You just built in public, internally. And in the process you opened yourself up to colleagues, shared a win with them, and gained some visibility.

Keep showing value this way and you naturally get put into a position to receive more resources, or even a teammate, to further scale your program.

What’s one thing that all product marketers can do to improve the results they get from competitive intel?

With each piece of intel, ask yourself “so what?” 

Not all product updates, social posts, landing page, or pricing changes are created equal. In fact, there shouldn’t be any action taken on the majority of “intel” you receive. 

As the owner of the CI program, you act as a filter. You’re aware of all the big plays that your organization is focused on, and the trends occurring in the market. And because of that, you’re able to sort through competitor activity and pull out the updates that have the potential to actually impact your business. 

Every CI program owner should have a channel of communicating these changes to their org—a monthly newsletter, a Slack channel, a recurring meeting, etc.

Make sure each update passes the “so what?” test, and clearly explain it so that everyone can understand why it’s important for them to know. From there, your organization will start taking CI more seriously and begin to actually take action on the intel you provide them with.

How can competitive intelligence help build momentum within a business?

Don’t get me wrong—competitive win rates are a big KPI for CI teams. But what has the biggest impact on that? Confidence.

Competing is psychological. That’s why confidence 100% affects the outcome of a deal, and the momentum of your business. 

Every CI owner should be tracking their sales team’s confidence. Here’s how you can do that: 

  1. Every 6 months, create a free Google Forms survey
  2. Ask “how confident are you when you’re up against CompetitorX” (on a scale of 1 – 10).
  3. Ask “overall, how confident would you say you are when you’re up against the competition?” (on a scale of 1 – 10).
  4. Send it to your sales team. Tell them that filling it out will help YOU help THEM.
  5. Analyze results.

Any response below 6 / 10 could be easily improved with enablement.

Drive this with new collateral, one-on-ones, Slack channel support, certifications, etc.

After you’ve rolled out these resources, survey them again. When confidence goes up, that means more $$$ for your company. That’s momentum.

Thanks Andrew! What else are you working on?

In a couple months, I’ll publish The Competitive Playbook.

This toolkit will 1) help companies win more competitive deals and 2) help folks stand out within their org and get promoted. Sign up to get notified when it’s live at competitiveplaybook.com


Thanks for reading! Let me know what you thought – find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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