👃*sniff* Ahh! Don’t you just love the smell of freshly baked battlecards in the morning?
Well, your sales team certainly will. Because up-to-date battlecards, sprinkled with the finest competitor intel, make your salespeople’s lives so much easier.
So what separates the Michelin star from the microwaveable mush?
Often, it leaves out the obvious. The stuff sales prospects can find in a blink. Yup, we mean pricing info. But also, details that live on the homepage of your competitor’s website, or on their LinkedIn.
Don’t get us wrong. That’s perfectly good intel.
But battlecards require a specific formula. A recipe, if you will, to get right.
Read on to discover:
- What competitive battlecards are
- How to begin creating them
- The secret recipe for maximum battlecard efficacy
- The vital ingredients for really great battlecards
What are competitive battlecards? 🧐
Competitive battlecards are a sales enablement deliverable aimed at helping your sales executives overcome objections and ‘dismiss’ competitors.
While that might sound harsh, the *ahem* classy way to do this is to frame your competitor’s strengths as solving a different problem than the one your customer’s facing. This way, you avoid belittling your peers while increasing your win rate.
Your prospect thinks, “oh, maybe competitor X wouldn’t be such a good fit after all”. And now, you can frame yourself as their best solution. To that end, the battlecard is a key revenue enablement asset and should form a part of your wider market strategy.
How do you make a competitive battlecard?
So how do you go about making a competitive battlecard?
It all starts with competitive intelligence.
See, your sales battlecards should be strategically layered with just enough information to help your sales reps close deals. But not so much they become overwhelming.
And since competitive battlecards in particular include information about your competitors, you need to know enough about them to put yourself in a position to counter FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) sown by your competitors and to handle prospects’ objections.
There are a few things you need to know first:
1) Know your customer
First, understand your customer. Really understand them.
Get this information from your internal resources, including not just your customer-facing teams, like sales and customer support, but your marketing team as well.
Why these teams?
Your customer-facing teams are on the phone with existing and potential customers all day, every day. Meanwhile, marketing can share insights on the market segments and personas they’re targeting.
Use these resources to grab a list of the following:
- Key prospect objections.
- Recurring pain points.
- The product features your customers love.
Include anything else that might help you to understand the customer, their needs, desires, and frustrations.
Remember, without a deep understanding of the customer, you won’t know how to frame your messaging.
2) Know your product
This one might seem obvious, but understanding your product is key. 🔑
A little humility goes a long way here. Speak with your marketing and product teams to get a sense of the past, present, and future of your product. How does it solve customer pain points? What are its key differentiators and value propositions?
Understand how your product meets the needs of your customers and prospects. Learn what your prospects think of your brand and your products. Then, you’ll stand a chance at crafting unbeatable battlecards.
3) Know your competitors and their product
This is where you really start to add value.
Up until this point, you won’t have learned anything your veteran sales executives don’t already know. But, with what you’ve learned, you can begin to grasp what makes your product different from everything else out there.
To do this, you’ll need to begin gathering intelligence on your competitor’s product. With enough of it, you can really start to make your battlecards competitive.
The secret battlecard recipe 🥘
So you need information on your competitors to know your key differentiators.
How do you go about finding it? And what information do you need, exactly?
Well, there’s a four-step process you can follow to figure all that stuff out:
- Identify who your core competitors are.
- Identify why you’re losing out to them.
- Create a strategy for circumventing these losses.
- Distill that strategy into a brief battlecard.
Step one: prioritize your competitors 🏅
First, know that you don’t have to cover every competitor out there. No one can do everything, and there’s an opportunity cost for everything. So narrow it down to the three-to-five competitors you most narrowly lose out to, most of the time. Prioritizing these competitive deals ensures an ROI that higher-ups will appreciate come the end of the fiscal year.
Step two: identify why you’re losing 😳
Second, take a look at why you’re losing out. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data, interviews with experienced sales reps, customer feedback from surveys, all these things will help you figure out where you or your product is falling short. For example, is a competitor sowing the seeds of doubt by spreading FUD about your product?
Be thorough here.
While there are an infinite number of reasons you might lose a deal, you’ll find (with enough data), that there’s a very finite number of ways you typically do lose. Again, prioritization is your best friend, and it’s these losses you should focus your time and attention on.
Step three: strategize 🎲
Once you know who you’re losing out to, and how they’re beating you, you can start figuring out a way to turn the tables. That’s why the third step requires you strategize by taking a look at your existing features and differentiators. What do you have in your arsenal to use against them?
Step four: distill 🍸
Finally, you’ll feed that strategy back to your salespeople in a form that they can digest and put to work ASAP. This is where your battlecards come in.
What makes a good battlecard?
Gushing about all the awesome intel you have on your competitors is not the name of the game here. Instead, remember that your sales reps are in ‘performance mode’ while they’re on a call.
The human mind isn’t nearly as good at multitasking as we’d like to think. A sales rep who’s busy turning on the charm and remembering that key new feature from the product roadmap won’t have the cognitive wherewithal to digest a 1,000-word document on the fly.
That brings us to our first attribute of a great battlecard: the best battlecards are concise.
Ever heard of the acronym, beloved by C-suite execs everywhere, BLUF? It stands for “bottom line up front”, and is the time-starved leader’s way of asking the rest of us to get to the point. When you’ve a ton going on at once, detail is a luxury.
The same approach applies to your battlecards. Put the salient points right up top in as few characters as possible.
There’s a balance to strike, too, between a battlecard that looks great, and one that you can update in a flash.
Today, especially in SaaS, tech, and fast-moving startups, disruption is normal. The competitive landscape can shift in a second. So it’s crucial to be able to go in, make your changes, and push the fresh versions to sales with as fast a turnaround as possible.
This is also an opportunity to impress your prospects with your poise when they bring up competitor X’s great new feature. When your competitive intelligence program is strong, this information won’t come as a shock to your sales reps. Instead, it’ll be old news easily handled.
Brevity’s important. But that doesn’t mean creating a hundred short battlecards in place of a single long one is better.
Instead, create focused, relevant battlecards for specific, recurring sticking points in the sales cycle. This way, your battlecards will fit seamlessly into your organization’s sales strategy and it’ll be clear to stakeholders when to use which battlecard.
Your battlecards should also be very relevant to your competitive prospects.
When your market intelligence is solid and your product marketing team shares persona info, it’s easy to categorize which customer types frequently make which kinds of objections.
Including case studies and other information that ties everything back to the customer’s use cases can be helpful.
Again, since brevity is key, and since case studies are such great fodder for salespeople, you should only have to include the name of the organization involved to bring to mind all the associated info.
Good visual design is important for your battlecards too. Notice how we said ‘good’. Not ‘great’.
Asking your design team to pull off a miracle isn't a great use of their time. We already know we want these assets as malleable as possible. If your changes will mess with design details, making all the team’s hard work for nothing, the design doesn’t support your need. And that could dissuade you from making those all-important updates.
Instead, the best thing to do is to pull the copy you’ve got for your battlecards into a Google Drawing, Microsoft Publisher, or a similar tool.
The goal is to make the information scannable. And seeing your battlecard laid out like this will encourage you to build a simple, wireframe design that you can edit at will. Use headings, bullets, line breaks, and every other trick in the book to make the info you include as easy as possible for your reps to use.
Wanna learn from the best?
So you’ve learned (most) of all there is to know about battlecards.
For tips and tricks on objection handling from CI’s best and brightest, join the Competitive Intelligence Alliance Slack community. 👇