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Keep Your Customers Close and Your Competitors Closer

The phrase “Keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.” is most often attributed to Michael Corleone in “The Godfather Part II” from 1974.  Other sources attribute it to a bad translation of Machiavelli’s political treatise “The Prince” from the 16th-century.  Still others ascribe it to Sun Tzu a Chinese general and military strategist in his work “The Art of War” from approximately 400 BC.  Even though the origin of the phrase has been credited to several different individuals over the span of several thousand years, there must be something to it.

Outbound prospecting requires reaching out to organizations and the people that work at them who match your company’s ideal customer profile.  They may not have heard of your company before, let alone know that you have a product or service that solves a problem they don’t even know that they have (see my article Add Value by Solving a Problem that Your Prospect Does Not Know They Have).  They might already be using your competitors’ products and services.  But you will not know that until you strike up a conversation with them.  Your competitors will know about your company and its products and services.  They often know more about your company than you will about them.  How do you turn the tables in your favor?

Battlecards to the Rescue

Battlecards provide you with a snapshot of your competitors, their products, and their services.  Battlecards offer you a road map for winning deals against competitors.  Battlecards become extremely valuable when you find yourself prospecting for customers in competitive markets with intense competition and situations where there are complex offerings.

When outbound prospecting, you may find the need to describe how your products and services are different, better, more advanced, better prices, etc., than your competitors.  Upon mastering your competitors’ offerings, you will know exactly how to “take them out” and end the competition before they even know that they were in competition with you.

Battlecards typically provide “at a glance” side-by-side comparisons between your company’s products, services, features, and pricing.  Battlecards can be a one-pager with columns filled of checks and X’s or more complex slip sheets that include descriptions of competitor offerings.  No matter whether you have one page that shows all competitors side-by-side or one page per competitor, keeping them up to date is essential.  Furthermore, the competitor landscape will change over time.  Competitors evolve and new competition emerges.

The details for your battlecards can be obtained simply by visiting your competitors’ websites, downloading their fact sheets, and scanning their white papers.  It is common that competitors will make a version of their own battlecards available for download off their websites.  This is significant in that they will highlight competitors which they believe to be inferior to their offerings.  Knowing which companies your competitors think they are in competition with is incredibly valuable.  You may find that your company is not one of them.  Disappointed?  Do not be.  Absence from their list may mean they are not aware of your offerings, or they do not want to compete with you.  In any event, do not take their battlecard at face value, it can be out of date or even misleading.  Trust but verify.

Third parties often offer independent assessments that show side-by-side product comparisons.  Notable is Gartner’s Magic Quadrant comparing vendors based on their standard criteria and methodology.  Magic Quadrants rely on proprietary qualitative data analysis utilizing assessment on companies’ ability to execute and completeness of vision.  More on the Gartner Magic Quadrant can be found here.

Third party analysis is sometimes available for download from a competitor behind gated contact collection forms that has been written by independent reviewers, industry observers, or analysts who follow companies in a particular industry sector.  If your company has been covered by one of these reviews, go beyond simple awareness that it exists because you may be asked directly or indirectly by prospects to amplify assertions made in these reviews.

The internet changed the playing field between sellers and buyers.  Buyers know far more about your competition than you do in part because they are talking directly to them, viewing demos, downloading white papers and other research materials.

In today’s marketplace, you need to be as informed as your buyers.  Various sources suggest that today’s buyers are significantly further along in the buyer journey because of the readily available information found online.  Prospects will be more knowledgeable than they give away and you must assume that they may already know the answers to the questions they are asking you.  Your answers matter so stretching the truth is easily fact checked against online sources.  The best answer to a question to which you do not know the answer is “That is a great question.  Let me check into that with one of our specialists and I will get back to you.”  It should be obvious but make sure to get back to the prospect with the answer.

In Conclusion

Battlecards are one of the best ways to highlight the best features and benefits of your products and services while minimizing any gaps or deficiencies.  When utilized as part of the prospecting conversation, battlecards offer both offensive and defensive intelligence when it comes to your competition.  Battlecards enable you to keep your customers close to you and your competitors closer.

About the Author

Stephen Howell is a multifaceted expert with a wealth of experience in technology, business management, and development. He is the innovative mind behind the cutting-edge AI powered Kognetiks Chatbot for WordPress plugin. Utilizing the robust capabilities of OpenAI's API, this conversational chatbot can dramatically enhance your website's user engagement. Visit Kognetiks Chatbot for WordPress to explore how to elevate your visitors' experience, and stay connected with his latest advancements and offerings in the WordPress community.

Stephen Howell
Stephen Howell is a multifaceted expert with a wealth of experience in technology, business management, and development. He is the innovative mind behind the cutting-edge AI powered Kognetiks Chatbot for WordPress plugin. Utilizing the robust capabilities of OpenAI's API, this conversational chatbot can dramatically enhance your website's user engagement. Visit Kognetiks Chatbot for WordPress to explore how to elevate your visitors' experience, and stay connected with his latest advancements and offerings in the WordPress community.
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