Quote – Talk Of Great People

A great thing is a great book, but greater than all is the talk of a great [people].

–Benjamin Disraeli

Poetry – TO A.V.S. WITH A BOOK

Books are the quiet monitors of mind,
They prompt its motions, shape its ways, they find
A road through mazes to the higher ground,
Whence to explore the sky-bound marches. Round
About us lie the open downs. Our days
Still ask a guide and goad. Wherefore always
We meditate wise thoughts and passionate lays;
Wherefore I send a book.

Books are the mind’s last symbol. They express
Its visions and its subtleties—a dress
Material for the immaterial things
That soar to immortality on wings
Of words, and live, by magic of the pen,
Where dead minds live, upon the lips of men
And deep in hearts that stir. Wherefore do I,
Drawing a little near, prophetically,
Send you a book.

Books are the heart’s memorial. They shall measure,
In after days, our undiscovered treasure,—
Thrilling self-knowledge, half-divined untold
Yearnings, and tongueless agonies, shall unfold
Or half unfold to half-illumined eyes.
The cypress shadows creeping gnomonwise
Still stretch their purple fingers down the hill
That hangs above Fiesole; and still
Your English fireside glows. Do you most dear—
Sometimes just guessed at, sometimes very near—
Yet always dear and fairest friend, do you
Recall the sunlight and the firelight too?
Recall the pregnant hours, the gay delights,
The pain, the tears maybe, the ravished heights,
The golden moments my cold lines commend,
The days, in memory or which I send
A book?

— Clive Bell

Quote – What gunpowder did for war, the printing-press has done for the mind

What gunpowder did for war, the printing-press has done for the mind; and the statesman is no longer clad in the steel of special education, but every reading [person] is his judge.

Wendell Phillips

Related References

A Quick Guide to Creating Competition Battle Cards

Why Use Competition Battle Cards?

During the B2B sales and marketing processes, if there’s one question that the buyer is sure to ask, it will be some variation of “how does your product stack up against X competition?” Maybe the prospect is interested in a certain feature, price, or benefit – regardless of the specifics, your reps need to speak intelligently about how your product or service compares.

The struggle is that in any B2B sales role, there’s a lot of information to remember. The ability to retain every nuance of their product or service is no large feat, let alone the details of every competition.

That’s where competition battle cards come in. They’re essentially a cheat sheet for your sales reps. When a prospect brings up the competition, the rep can open the battle card and have instant access to that company’s product information and disadvantages in a quick, digestible format.

Instead of the classic “I’ll get back to you on that one,” the rep can speak with authority on how your company’s strengths differentiate from your competitions.

How to Develop Your Battle Competition Cards

Step One: Pick the Competition

Maybe you’re in a crowded market, and you have 50 businesses that could be called true competitions. Do you really need 50 battle cards? Maybe, maybe not, but don’t get in over your head. Start with the top five competitions that come up most in conversation. Don’t forget the biggest competition of all – status quo. Use these to test out your battle cards, finesse the design/information, and only then expand to the full sphere of competition.

Step Two: Research

Put on your detective hat – it’s time to start digging into your competition’s dirt. Try to find out pricing, service fees, product descriptions, general business data, etc. Some of the information will be available on their website, but other good sources for information are any company webinars they offer, Glassdoor employee reviews, and customer reviews via G2 Crowd or TechValidate.

Step Three: Review

Once you’ve compiled the research, it’s time to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and best responses to those strengths and weaknesses. The battle card should include more than just the company’s pricing structure, for example – it should state clearly whether or not they’re cheaper or more expensive than your company, and if cheaper, a clear response for why your higher price is worth it for the prospect.

Competition Battle Card Best Practices to Remember

Don’t Stuff Battle Cards with Fluff

The sign of a good battle card is one that reps actually use, so the goal for anyone creating a battle card is to fill it with information that’s actually relevant. Especially when using a template, it’s easy to fill the page with random information that, while accurate, will not help the reps during sales calls. A lot of battle card templates include a spot for the competition’s address, for example. If you think it’s likely that the rep will need that information, then include it! If not, there’s no reason to waste that valuable real estate on irrelevant info.

Keep Battle Cards Clean

The design that is. You may be tempted to put every bit of strategic research you were able to find into the template, but keep in mind that a battle card crammed with text isn’t going to serve its purpose. The design should be minimal and very easily scannable so that reps can get the insight they need at a glance. Remember that the sales rep will likely be multitasking while they access this information – holding a conversation with the prospect while searching for that competitive golden nugget that will help him or her close the deal.

Best Practices for Leveraging Battle Cards

Establish Expectations

These battle cards are a resource for sales reps, but they’re also a way for your company to ensure a unified response to questions about competitions. It’s important that the sales team knows not only that the battle cards are available, but also that using them is expected.

Centralize Access and Track Usage of Battle Cards

If you want reps to use the battle cards, you must make them easily accessible. You may want to consider uploading all of the battle cards to a cloud-based sales content library that serves as a one-stop-shop for sales rep resources. One of the great things about centralized content libraries is that you can see how often the battle cards are being used (and by whom). It’s a great way to track the effectiveness of the efforts and see which competitions are coming up most in conversation.

Keep Battle Cards Updated

An outdated battle card is worse than having no battle card at all. If a rep confidently states a competitor’s prices are higher than they are (based on old data), and the prospect finds out differently, that prospect will no longer trust anything the rep says. Make it a standard process to review the battle cards on a regular basis.

Include Battle Cards in Training

Any new sales rep should have a solid understanding of the competition, so be sure to leverage the battle cards as a training tool as well as a sales tool.

Quote – There are three classes of authors

There are three classes of authors—those who write without thinking, those who think while writing, and those who think before writing.

— Arthur Schopenhauer

Quote – The ultimate rule (in writing)

The ultimate rule (in writing) is: Learn so far as possible to be intelligible and transparent—no notice taken of your style, but solely of what you express by it.

— Thomas Carlyle

Quote – what to put at the beginning

The last thing that we discover in writing a book is to know what to put at the beginning.

— Blaise Pascal