Maybe you’re working for a software company that suddenly faces a free cloud-based solution (funded by advertising). Or perhaps you’re in a clothing retail chain whose market share is under attack from an offshore company using webcams to offer virtual fitting rooms and cut-to-order clothing. If you are employed by a brick-and-mortar retailer of DVD rentals, music, or books, you’ve already been disrupted and have either found a safe niche to hide in or are in the process of liquidating your stock.
Disruption cannot be avoided. Today, rapid changes in technology, customer preferences, competitive capabilities, market dynamics, even government regulations, make continual adaptation a requirement to avoid disruption, which can result in market share and even business loss. Can you help your company prepare for disruption? Even more valuable: Can you help your company be the one that has the insights to disrupt its competitors?!
For market insights professionals, the constant threat of disruption creates a new mandate: Provide the insights that help stakeholders understand where, what, how, how much, and why changes need to be made. So:
How well can you hear the voice of the customer?
How well do you understand competitive capabilities?
Have you worked through potential change scenarios with stakeholders?
Do you have the ability to spot early signs of change?
Do you have a plan for what you’ll do when change happens?
For those of you following Forrester’s project to create industry standards for battle cards, I want to give you a glimpse into the group’s progress and remind you about Forrester’s public webinar on September 7, where I’ll touch on battle card standards in more depth.
Each member of the standards group has success stories with their battle cards, but each member also struggles to change battle cards from being “random acts of sales support” to providing consistent, reliable support that helps sales reps win more deals. The purpose of our standards initiative is to do just that – identify and repeat how battle cards help sales reps win competitive deals.
Last week, the standards group reviewed the first draft of specifications for battle cards. Getting these definitions correct is important because all the downstream work we will do depends on these specifications. Our working document defines for battle cards the:
Purpose. Battle cards help sales reps anticipate and respond to competitive obstacles in the later stages of competitive deals.
Scope. Battle cards build on a point-counterpoint structure by identifying the competitor’s claims and equipping sales reps with responses.
Intersections. Battle cards must be consistent with competitive positions established in market overviews, pitch decks, and “marketectures,” RFP responses, and other sales tools.
Design point. Battle cards fuel customer conversations by addressing competitive issues through the lens of solving the customer’s problem, focusing topics that are core to the customers purchase decision.