When to begin asking for competitor information?
It makes sense to begin exploring them at the second stage. We will have no clue on which competitor would have done a good outreach or which competitor the buyer would search and find. However, the find is important when you would begin the first conversation.
Finding as much about the competitor as possible and positioning yourself as a unique vendor on the needs of the buyer will help you to get shortlisted by the buyer.
Having qualified your prospect and having unearthed the need, the next step is, if possible, identifying the competitor, or definitely the type of the competitor as a mandatory analysis.