A sales battlecard can be a powerful sales enablement tool to improve predictable sales outcomes and growth in an organization. However, garnering adoption and proving value isn’t always easy. Great battlecards pulls together an empowering mix of market and competitive intelligence, competitor specific product positioning points and sales guidance. The goal being to enable sales professionals to out-position competitors in prospect communications. In the past, battlecards were simply a tool for sales professionals to refer to during phone conversations. Nowadays, however, they are used to equip sales professionals to effectively communicate across multiple channels.
This blog post will cover:
- Factors driving growth of sales battlecards
- What information should be in a battle card
- Battlecard limitations and weaknesses to overcome
- Who should build and support sales battlecards
- Using competitive dashboards to overcome the weaknesses and limitations of classic battlecards
Factors Driving the Growth of Sales Battlecards
Over the course of the past two years challenges presented by the pandemic have accelerated many aspects of digital transformation. This is especially true in sales where remote work changed when, where and how sales conversations were taking place. Increasingly, sales professionals are:
- Communicating with sales prospects across a wide range of both enterprise and personal communication channels
- Engaged in deals where the decisions are made by committee
- Playing a bigger role in prospect education through consultative selling
These factors have led many sales leaders to increasingly recognize the importance of sales enablement tools and resources. According to the 2021 State of Sales Enablement Report, there was a 35% increase in the number of organizationsreporting a dedicated sales enablement person, program, or function since 2019.
What information should be in a battle card?
There is no silver bullet sales battlecard template. Some organizations compete on product features, some on service, others on pricing or vertical focus. Depending on your go-to-market strategy, what information your sales team needs will differ. A sales battlecard should contain competitive marketing intelligence that enables sales representatives to best position your organization in prospect communications. That information may include:
- Competitor overview
- Competitor history with key accounts and key people
- Key points of differentiation between your organization and a competitor
- Product/service feature comparisons
- Product delivery, sales strategy and pricing model details
- Demographic differences in target customer base
- Competitor strengths and weaknesses
- Recent product, industry, legal announcements
- Depositioning questions, i.e., questions that when posed to a prospect will force them to recognize the advantages of your offering
- Win/Loss stories, quick recaps that detail why you won/lost a key account to a competitor
- Why we win, the most common value propositions that lead to positive outcomes
- Links to educational resources that can be shared
Populated with information sales representatives find useful and timely, sales battle cards can be profoundly impactful. However, populated with commonly held knowledge and outdated information, the opposite is also true, and quite possibly dangerous.
Battlecard Limitations and Weaknesses
Often, battlecards launch in an organization with a lot of positive feedback, then quickly fade away. From a sales professionals POV, battlecards fail to garner adoption due to lack of content value and content timeliness. However, a number of underlying reasons may be to blame for both. All too often, the process for maintaining battlecards is burdensome and slow moving. This is a problem because most businesses operate in dynamic markets where key influences change frequently. The most common limitations and weaknesses of sales battlecards include:
If a battlecard is not kept up to date, it becomes questionable in value and could also create a liability. A sales representative relying on outdated information to craft prospect communications may make statements about a competitor that are untrue. In today’s market, buyers are bombarded with sales communications. To keep up, sales professionals need battlecards that help them quickly reference key points and arguments.
Too generic, lacking depth
Battlecards that do not address a specific market segment will drive sales representatives to create their own primary reference resource. This is a common scenario that results in sales professionals missing updates to shared battlecards. A battlecard that only supplies a surface-level overview of a product or service likely isn’t supplying those facts and stories that make your value proposition stand out or adequately challenge a competitors.
Limited access to underlying resources
Sales professionals often rely on third-party information to augment sales communications. Research suggests that sales professionals spend nearly a third of their day organizing information and composing sales communications. Not linking to trusted external sources that inform internal points of view is a missed opportunity. It’s also true that many corporate legal teams look to highly restrict the public sharing of internal comments. When a point needs to be made or inferred, third-party resources make doing so less entangled.
Hard to navigate/consume
Some battlecards look like a cheat sheet developed by a college student that hasn’t paid attention all term. They lack visual hierarchy and organization making them hard to scan. The battlecard content itself may be fine, but the convoluted process of accessing it makes it difficult to retrieve quickly. Fifteen nested folders deep trudges, no one in a hurry!
Linear flow of information
Sales battlecards are often created and maintained by a single person, resulting in a linear flow of information. This person may have access to perspectives from across the company or processes to gather feedback, but collaboration is typically missing. Including input from others increases the likelihood of including winning perspectives and fosters shared ownership.
Not supportive of the sales workflow
If sales battlecards are not used consistently across the sales process, it can cause a disconnect and lead sales professionals to create their own resources. This often results in the shared resource losing visibility. For instance, early in the sales process, battlecards may cover product methodology, company background, and customer challenges. Later conversations may focus on specific feature comparison and customer support models
Who should build and support sales battle cards?
Gideon Gartner, founder of the market research and advisory company, Gartner often commented that analysts shouldn’t write about things that are not controversial. He also noted that if you asked different functional leaders in the same organization about their compete strategy, you would get a multitude of varying answers. Both observations really point to the answer to this question.
Sales professionals encounter a wide range of customer archetypes and need to understand market drivers from a variety of perspectives. A multitude of roles use market research and competitive intelligence to conceive and take a product to market. Synthesizing knowledge from various perspectives and using the resulting insights can greatly impact the success of a sales conversation. While all programs should have an owner and a defined workflow, not including the following would be a mistake.
CEOs are highly effective at selling vision. When you are trying to establish market position, finding customers that buy into vision is key. Periodically walk through your battlecards with the key stakeholders that drive your organization’s vision to bring that charismatic positioning forward.
Product managers often engage customers directly in focus groups, product reviews and market research panels to develop customer personas. Not all observations that inform product features make it into marketing resources. Including product managers in the development and maintenance of battlecards will help ensure minute observations that influence product strategy elements break through the broader market presentation of product features.
Product marketing manager
The product marketing manager is typically responsible for maintaining sales battlecards. A large chunk of a PMMs responsibility is conducting market research to understand the target market and competition. PMMs often collect curated content to inform product marketing. They must stay informed about how competitors position their advantages and value proposition, and develop counterarguments.
Competitive and market intelligence (C/MI) Team
Analysts that work in competitive and market intelligence are responsible for spotting trends and collecting supporting evidence. C/MI teams often have access to vast amounts of internal and external information that can enable them to effectively craft depositioning questions and stories.
Channel or market sales leader
Category and market sales leaders manage teams of sales representatives that are in direct contact with target customers daily. A skilled sales team leader can identify common challenges and develop effective positioning statements that lead to positive outcomes.
Sales & customer success representatives
All closed loop systems need periodic or real-time feedback about the outcome of a process. Inviting sales and customer success representatives to provide feedback on battlecard content based on their direct interactions with customers can help accelerate the maintenance of battlecards and ensure that they remain focused on effectively enabling sales.
Using competitive dashboards to overcome the weaknesses and limitations of classic battlecards
Every day new information hits the market. Funding announcements, messaging and positioning changes, pricing updates, product launches, are key examples. As a result, keeping battlecards updated by collecting competitive intelligence in real-time is no easy task. One of the easiest ways to overcome the barriers and the limitations of battlecards is to reposition them as collaborative competitive dashboards. This is what we do at Cronycle.
Competitive Dashboards built in Cronycle are interactive, allowing users to drill down into the information. Boards allow the aggregation of native market briefs, emergent market news, and competitor alerts all with linked underlying content. They also support the storage of curated content items, tagged to classic battlecard sections, all in one place. Learn more about how to search competitive battlecards.
Why Cronycle Boards are Better than Battlecards
Dashboards are common across most organizations because they are better at presenting timely information and driving action than reports. Cronycle leverages the board concept to address all the primary weaknesses of classic battlecards, including:
- Isolation from the process to collect market intelligence and create a research repository. Cronycle boards are chronologically ordered repositories that can be extensively searched and filtered. Using subscriber controls, Cronycle boards can be both the research working environment and the reporting environment. All content that is used to inform market insights and positioning can be stored, tagged and referenced, allowing for much greater depth, argument provenance tracking and sharing of influence content. Pair with Cronycle feeds to monitor and aggregate content from external information sources in near real-time.
- Collaboration across the go-to-market team. Cronycle supports multiple user types, allowing those that produce and share competitive intelligence to co-exist in one environment with those that have a vested role in information collaboration. Easily create a competitive dashboard that includes third-party content that is approved for external sharing, allows the sales team to comment and ask questions of the research team and enables users access to information that will update native insights in chronological order.
- Rapid aging. Reports and insights take time to produce, that’s why battlecards age so quickly. Cronycle boards can not only hold structured insights and classic battlecard components, but also more recently surfaced actionable insights and notes that will be used to update formal guidance soon, allowing for far more timely sharing of information.
- Lack of Depth. Most battlecards, be they old school paper reports or modern digital battlecards, are still limited in how much information they can contain. Cronycle boards, however, shatter those limits. Using tags, a Cronycle user could search competitive battlecards to surface depositioning questions specific to a competitor and prospect industry vertical as well as multitude of supporting content such as case studies, latest news stories and product documentation.
- Navigation. Enabling sales requires tying how you serve up sales enablement content to your sales process. At Cronycle we don’t believe you should be hamstrung in how you organize market and competitive intelligence, but we do believe it should be easy for users to navigate and find the content they need. Our platform enables you to create and organize multiple boards, use defined or ad hoc tags across boards, filter a board and search within or across all boards. It’s a degree of flexibility that lets us serve almost any sales process.
See if Cronycle can help you
Digital transformation was long underway prior to the pandemic, but remote work forced many of us in sales to adapt our sales strategies and now more than ever before, sales enablement is proving vital. At Cronycle, we strongly advocate for using sales battlecards because they can be a phenomenal resource. However, we have noticed to much fragmentation in how go-to-market research collected and used. If you are struggling with any aspect of developing or supporting a market and competitive intelligence or content focused sales enablement program and would like to see if Cronycle could help, please schedule a consultation call to see what we can do.