Overhauling Battle Cards (And Transforming Other Sales Tools)

As part of Forrester’s research into sales enablement, I recently took a journey to “plumb the depths” of sales battle cards. Why?

Sales reps at technology companies tell Forrester that they must understand their competitors if so that they can outmaneuver them during the sales cycle; but, these same sales professionals tell Forrester that, despite the best efforts of product managers, competitive teams, and sales operations, current battle cards are not consistent, instrumental tools that help win more deals.

And thus, my journey into battle cards begins.

During my career, I’ve worked in competitive intelligence at two technology companies, so I already had some strong opinions about battle cards. I tried to set my own views aside, though, and adopted Forrester’s methods of developing a hypothesis and interviewing professionals in the industry.

My initial research looked at the “thing” called a battle card – the layout, structure, and content with the goal of building battle cards that helped sales reps address competitive issues during customer conversations. While testing some really good ideas that came out of the interviews, I could see that the improved battle cards still weren’t enough to meet our objective – routinely helping reps win more deals. 

I turned my attention to the “process” of building battle cards – specifically, how sales enablement professionals identify the competitive issues that merit battle cards, how they work with product managers and marketing teams to create the content for battle cards, and how they deliver battle cards to sales reps. While testing some really good process ideas that came out of the interviews, I could see that even when the groups creating battle cards actively work with sales, their points of view and professional skills are so different, that they miss important details.

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Pharmacy Customer Experience Flaws -- Why Communication Is Key In Healthcare

The other day I was at a major retailer’s pharmacy refilling a prescription. While I waited for my refill, a woman came in to refill her three prescriptions. She was clutching a $10 bill, and seemed to know exactly what she needed and what it would cost. The pharmacy tech found her scripts and informed her that she owed $17.35. The woman was shocked. She verified that the right scripts were in the bag and then asked what had happened. Two of the scripts, she said, were $4 each, and the other was usually $1.99. The pharmacist explained that one of the prescriptions had been taken off the $4 generic list.

The customer was both angry and scared. This was her essential heart medication, after all. Her frustration was understandable — the cost of one of her prescriptions had just nearly tripled, from $4 to $11.35. Likewise her fear. Prescription refill rules mean she can’t have a stockpile of pills at home to tide her over until she could find a more cost-effective option — not to mention that she might need to get a new prescription from her doctor or deal with the delay of transferring her script to another pharmacy. 

And, worse, no one had told her. She thought she had taken care of everything to manage her health — getting to the pharmacy, bringing her money, taking her pills faithfully as prescribed. She asked the pharmacist why no one had told her. He mumbled that they don’t do that.

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Is Facebook Worth It? You Bet

I was called a Facebook hater last week.  No ambiguity.  "You're such a hater!" this woman, who happened to be a social media marketer at a large retailer, told me. I will admit, I have reservations about Facebook’s role in commerce which has no doubt made her job more difficult, but I must defend myself.  I’m not a hater.  In fact, contrary to all the tweets and blogs questioning Facebook’s purported $100B valuation, I actually think the company is worth all of it and probably more. (To those same critics, if Facebook with $1B in profits is overvalued, what does that say about Groupon with about as much in losses?  But that’s a discussion for another day.)  Here are some considerations:

  • 44% of the world’s internet traffic visits Facebook daily.  As the CEO of an internet company months ago hypothetically and brilliantly asked me in response to the question of Facebook’s valuation, “What’s half the internet worth?”  Whatever the right number is, it’s a lot and when framed like that, it makes $100B seem very reasonable.
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Did Social Media Predict The Super Bowl? No.

Although most of my Cambridge-based colleagues don't want to bring it up, last night's Super Bowl was exactly the spectacle we've come to expect from the nation's most-watched event. We saw hundreds of new commercials (some good and many bad), a crazy half-time show (with a random tightrope walker), and one other thing . . . what was that? Oh, yeah, a football game.

In the weeks leading up to the game, I noticed a trend around the game itself. Dozens of blog posts and news articles claiming they could predict the Super Bowl winner using social media. Although most of these were fluff pieces to fill a slow news week and capitalize on the nation's renewed interest in the NFL, my research skepticism kicked into overdrive with some of them. Not to call anyone out directly, but with all of the PR teams sending me press releases about "predicting" the outcome, I just can't let this slide. So, can social media predict the outcome of the Super Bowl? No.

Each of these predictions came from collecting and analyzing social data. Some predictions came from simple metrics like the volume of mentions around one team against the other. A few of the predictions used the sentiment of mentions — such as a positive mention for the Patriots versus a negative mention for the Giants. And some predictions even used influence calculations to understand how different market segments discussed their favorite teams. In the end, this means that some of the predictions were right and some were wrong. But hey, it was a 50/50 shot anyway. Even with coin-flip odds, it seems that more than half were wrong . . . but that actually distracts from my argument, because even if they guessed right, they were wrong to do so.

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Pinterest is over-hyped

If you didn't hear about it last year I guarantee the platform Pinterest has cropped up on your radar in these past few weeks of 2012. But does that mean it should feature in your 2012 digital marketing planning?


Why it's too early to use Pinterest for interactive marketing

There’s no denying that Pinterest is fun, looks great, and a lot of people love playing with it. That is also true of kittens but no one’s rushing to include them in their 2012 marketing plans (except for maybe Karl Lagerfeld).

A couple of talking points circulating are getting way out of proportion:

  • Rapid growth: The Hitwise figures released before Christmas show undoubted growth as a social network, but it’s nothing compared to the current growth of Google+. Pinterest is also lauded for making a list of Top 10 Social Networks in November which, while impressive for the little upstart, can’t be that meaningful if marketers aren’t deploying tactics for established Top 10ers like Tagged and Yahoo! Answers
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Improve, Transform, Or Sustain: What’s Your Path To A Better Customer Experience?

If you’re reading this post, there’s probably at least one person in your company (you) who’s already working to improve your customer experience in some way.  That means your company’s CX efforts fall somewhere on the curve below.

Improve:  This is where most companies start their customer experience initiatives.  Typically, a small group implements a voice of the customer program, prioritizes customer feedback, and routes it to different parts of the organization so that they can make changes.  Some employees might adopt new customer-focused work practices, but these efforts remain ad-hoc or siloed.  The net result is incremental customer experience improvements.

Transform:  At a certain point, some companies decide that they want to leverage customer experience in order to create a jump in customer loyalty, accelerate growth, and differentiate themselves from competitors.  When that happens, incremental customer experience improvements are no longer sufficient.  The company begins to change just about every part of the business — including processes, policies, technologies, and incentives — to focus on the needs of customers.

Sustain: For companies that decide to take the path towards transformation, this is the end goal.  Once a company puts customers at the center of all business operations, employees need to figure out how to sustain the new ways of working so that they can continue to deliver a great customer experience indefinitely.

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Don't Believe The Hype: 5 Trends to Watch (and 5 to Ignore) for On-line Retail in 2012


Every year at Forrester we take a look ahead at the driving forces behind online retail and make some predictions about how we think things will evolve and we try and identify the key trends to watch or even act upon. This year we’ve done things a little differently.

Sucharita Mulpuru has taken a look at the “Key Trends in US Retail eBusiness” while I’ve concentrated on “European Retail: Key Trends to Watch in 2012”.

Broadly we find similar themes – multichannel, mobile and changing consumer behavior in light of the continually depressing economic condition. But there are some notable differences in Europe. I’ve said this before, but I will continue repeating it – the national, cultural, language and regulatory differences that persist across Europe make European eBusiness a complex beast. 2012 will bring us more in the way of EU strategy papers and directives as the European Commission begins to formulate what their “Single Digital Market” looks like in reality. While we are unlikely to see many changes immediately, the EC’s vision for the future will begin to crystallize. Add to that changes to the e-privacy and distance selling directives that must be acted upon, European eBusiness executives are going to have a busy time in 2012 just keeping abreast of legislation.

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Join Me And Your Fellow Sales Enablement HEROes In San Francisco!

We are putting together our final plans and the Sales Enablement Forum for 2012 is shaping up nicely. Here is a brief video update on the theme and our speakers and why I believe this is a can't miss opportunity for you and your team.

I hope to see you in March. Thanks, Brad

Join Me And Your Fellow Sales Enablement HEROes In San Francisco!

The plans for the Sales Enablement Forum are in full swing, so here is a quick video update on the theme, the speakers, and why I believe this is a can't miss opportunity to put you and your team on a fast track to delivering measurable results for your CEO.  


I hope to see you in March. Thanks, Brad

Citibank Moves Boldly Into The Tablet Banking Market

Hotcakes, you've got some competition: the phrase "selling like tablets" might soon enter the global lexicon. And it's not all hype — though there is a fair bit of that as well. Tablet users in the US are estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 51% from 2010 to 2015. That’s a fast-growing market for firms of all stripes.

As such, the tablet as a touchpoint is becoming a critical consideration for eBusiness & Channel strategists. This is especially true for executives at banks, as financial transactions benefit from the immediacy of the mobile channel, but users often struggle to make these transactions on smaller smartphone screens.

Enter tablet banking.

Forrester has previously identified best practices for tablet apps in financial services, but only in the past year have leading banks rolled out robust tablet banking efforts. One of the strongest tablet offerings we’ve seen is from Citibank.

In my new report, I outline the process Citibank went through in building its own tablet banking strategy, developing an iPad app, rolling it out to customers, and continually improving the service. We outline how Citi:

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