I would use the following approach:
- Become thoroughly familiar with "your" company's products.
- Be able to articulate what makes your company's products unique and differentiated.
- Talk with customers. Find out their needs, problems. Identify opportunities for your company's products to help the customer.
- Then... look at what your competitor sells, that you can do on-line via the competitor's Web site: Example (for storage companies): Network Appliance http://www.netapp.com/, Veritas http://www.veritas.com/us/ or EMC http://www.emc.com/
- Hire a consultant who is knowledgeable in the area you are working in.
- "After" all the above, you can go to books; it's likely that they are already obsolete...
This was first published in March 2001