Research Integrity and Ethically Sourcing Competitive Intelligence
We keep ourselves informed about market trends and opportunities through ethical research.
Monitoring developments in our markets to understand the competitive landscape helps us to continuously improve and to anticipate our customers’ needs. We do the right thing and always gather information about competitors ethically.
We gather competitive intelligence appropriately by:
QUESTION: I’m an OE sales director. I submitted a quote to an OE customer for AGM batteries for a new vehicle platform, as did several competitors. The OE buyer sent the quotes, one by one, to her cost controller for review. She accidentally included me on one of those emails, which had attachments with our competitor’s full quote, including lead purchasing costs, production costs and other confidential inputs. Can I use this information to resubmit our quote?
ANSWER: No. Our value of doing the right thing requires us to gather and use competitive intelligence lawfully and ethically. Here, taking advantage of the customer’s mistake would violate their trust. If it ever became public knowledge that we took advantage of a customer in this way, it could jeopardize our reputation for honesty and fair dealing. We could even lose the contract. Instead of using this information, you should let the customer know about the mistake and tell her you will delete the email and attachment. You should also notify the Law Department of the mistake to ensure appropriate documentation, and continue to focus on the strengths of your original quote. Remember, a good rule of thumb for deciding how to treat competitive intelligence is to think how we would feel if a competitor did the same to us.