Do you find you’re investing a lot of your product marketing resources in generating competitive battlecards, competitive intelligence alerts and sales playbooks only to find your sales reps just aren’t using them? I wish I could say this situation isn’t the norm but, sadly, it is all too often the case. What can be done to dramatically increase the usage and usefulness of competitive battlecards? Read on as we share best practices we’ve seen having created dozens of such sales tools that get high marks from our clients’ sales teams.

What is a competitive battlecard?

Simply put, it’s a one or two-pager reference document that sales reps will turn to when dealing with a specific competitor. It is NOT meant to be a substitute for training sessions, webinars, and sales kickoff meetings where you provide the necessary training on how to sell your product and deal with objections. Nor is the battlecard meant to be a script on how exactly to lead the conversation with the customer. Again, think pithy reference card rather than a lengthy sales playbook, sales guide, or call script.

What content should a battlecard contain?

We recommend you cover the following topics with blunt, hard hitting statements based on credible evidence:

  • An overview of your and your competitor’s product positioning
  • Why you win and why your competitors lose; basically strengths/weaknesses summary
  • Competitor’s top claims and your proposed counter
  • Setting competitive traps: questions to ask your prospect
  • Customer or industry analyst proof points supporting your claims
  • Comparison of your product pricing versus competitor’s “street pricing”
  • Top pain points that your solution uniquely addresses
  • Summary of competitive differentiators; why your solution/company? Note that this should not be limited to feature/functions but rather encompassing overall company strengths as well

Express your content in bullet points and not long prose. Reps will never read dense text so just give them the facts with zero marketing fluff.

Where should I get competitive intelligence?

This is probably a whole blog post onto itself but consider the following when assembling content for your competitive battlecard:

  • Some of your best nuggets will come from your own sales and SE team’s win/loss experience
  • Ask sales reps and SEs in your firm who may have been recently poached from your competitors
  • Talk with channel partner sale reps who have more exposure to your competitors than your sales team
  • Industry analyst reports
  • Competitors website – check for notable customers
  • Check out Glassdoor to see what employees are saying about the firm; inside sales reps tend to be pretty blunt about what’s not working
  • See LinkedIn profiles of executives and sales reps of competitor’s firm where you’ll often find surprising detail on quota performance, hot territories/verticals, and customer wins
  • Check industry forums where your customers may be posting comments about their experiences. For example, see customer reviews via G2 Crowd or TechValidate.

How should I distribute battlecards to the sales organization?

We recommend you centrally maintain an updated PDF in your salesforce automation platform where sales reps go for other sales enablement tools. That way you can ensure version control and that they are always using the latest revision of the battlecard. Storing the battlecard in the cloud also gives you usage metrics which will be critical for measuring the effectiveness of the asset.

How often should I update the battlecards?

At least quarterly but always within 24 hours of any significant competitive move that your sales reps will need to know so they’re not blindsided with the development. Send out alerts via your salesforce automation system and in chat rooms such as SFDC Chatter.

Should I give our channel partners the same battlecard?

In a word, no! Giving it to them will get into the hands of your competitor’s sales team the same day. Instead, we recommend a little more generalized version of competitive battlecard that cites your products advantages over other industry players without necessarily naming names. Don’t list street pricing nor share your best competitive traps and discovery questions.

What should the format or layout be?

Think in terms of a PowerPoint slide (landscape) with a box for each topic listed above. Think bullet points and not lengthy prose or cutesy graphics that add no value. Think one-pager back-to-back so reps can almost print them off and laminate them if they wanted (which they shouldn’t since you’ll want them to pull down the latest from your salesforce content management system).

We hope these tips prove to be very helpful for you. Please let us know what other practices you’ve found work exceedingly well with your sales force. And as always, please contact us if you’d like us to offer input on your draft competitive battlecard or even create one for you.