What do a renewable energy project manager, a real estate development manager, a local authority sales representative in waste management, a career development manager and a regional director in telecom have in common?
All of them interact with a large number of territories at a very local level: that of the municipality or the EPCI. In fact, the size of the territory they have to cover exposes them to the risk of missing information crucial for the progress of their projects.
After more than 200 interviews conducted with these regional actors, here are the 5 most frequent mistakes that lead them to miss out on strategic information for their business.
Territorial teams are missing crucial information primarily because traditional monitoring methods are not adapted to their needs.
Today, the majority of companies that work with local authorities have a Media Monitoring department that prepares press reviews addressed to the entire organization. This monitoring focuses on brand reputation, major industry trends, the monitoring of competitors, the evolution of the regulatory framework and some major national projects. It includes content from various national, possibly regional press sources, the sectoral press and sometimes parliamentary sources.
Very useful to headquarters teams, these tools are less relevant for those in contact with the field, who admitted to us that they rarely read this type of content. They need the equivalent of their national surveillance but from a territorial point of view, hyper-local but also administrative press sources, to provide field teams with a detailed knowledge of the needs of local authorities.
This type of data provides field teams with better control of their environment: identification of new opportunities, anticipation of risks that may impact the activity or even improvement of the relationship with elected officials. Field teams do not need yet another press watch. They need territorial intelligence tools to make the best decisions based on the information available on a territory at any given time.
Strategic information for a regional sales manager is difficult to identify by a monitoring officer from outside the territory. And this is a new pitfall: when the company has a monitoring service, the intermediary responsible for dispatching information to the various entities in the group is rarely in contact with the field. It is impossible for a national person to understand all the local dynamics due to lack of time. It is therefore very difficult for him to apply the right filters.
Examples of key information:
This intermediation multiplies the risk of losing strategic information for field teams. Giving them effective tools to define for themselves the type of content they need and to access it directly is the best way to stop missing out on decisive information.
If this work of seeking strategic information is sometimes put on the back burner, it is because territorial teams simply do not have the time to devote to it. They are expected on the ground, in contact with elected officials, who are one of the best sources of information that exist.
Territorial teams are evaluated on their ability to create and lead a network of elected officials, to have early access to information on the needs of local authorities and In fine advance their projects or sign contracts. Field salespeople are not archivists, and none of the 200 people we spoke to told us that they wanted to spend less time in the field, quite the opposite!
Building exhaustive territorial surveillance “by hand” is an impossible mission: it would be like going to the sites of all the authorities in its departments every day to check if new documents have been published, to read them, not to mention to consult all the press titles that cover the territory...
The solution therefore necessarily involves technology, which makes it possible to condense tens of hours of manual research and reading into content that does not take more than 10 minutes of consultation. This involves automating the identification of the relevant documents but also the relevant passage within this document, because no one has time to go through a 50-page discussion.
Technology thus makes it possible to build personal assistants for understanding territories, to spend more time in the field, and much better informed.
Regional officials are aware of the importance of accessing relevant local information. Among the most frequently implemented solutions, there is the Google alert, which nevertheless has numerous shortcomings:
In general, if you want to give yourself every chance of presenting the best project to a local authority, you need to be able to quickly obtain information on topics as varied as the challenges of the territory, its elected officials, employment, taxation, administrative organization or even the political context. Businesses must therefore guarantee field teams unlimited access to information that can advance their cases.
The last reason to miss out on crucial local information is to receive it, but too late for it to be useful for business.
First, let's talk about tendering platforms. A large majority of our contacts are equipped with it and the same majority shares the observation that when alerted to the launch of a call for tenders, it is often too late to have a chance of winning it. The need is therefore to detect the strong signals of a draft call for tenders well before it is published.
These signals include, for example, the announcement of a contract signed between a community and a design office, which may be mentioned in a municipal council report. This information allows the territorial manager to contact the municipality to start discussing the project and highlight its competitive advantages.
As we said before, the local network is an essential source of information, but like any human solution, it is partial. Elected officials are in the best position to know what is happening on their territory, but they would spend their day on the telephone if they had to contact each regional manager in their network as soon as local news could affect them. They do it but not always with the right timing and not always. Moreover, elected officials have their own friendships and enmities, which alter the objectivity of the information they transmit to their network.
This source of information in the field is still strategic today, but it must be complementary to other sources of technical and objective information that free project leaders from the anxiety of missing out on decisive information.