Competitive comparisons and battlecards are two key components of an effective competitive intelligence (CI) program. While these two assets have overlapping characteristics, and some companies may use these terms interchangeably, they each serve a different purpose and audience and, as such, are quite different.
First, let’s level-set on what is a competitive comparison and what is a battlecard. A competitive comparison is a framework for putting two or more competitors (their companies, products, teams, etc.) side by side in order to see both similarities and differences. A battlecard, sometimes called a sales battlecard, competitive battlecard, or killsheet, is a tool for sales reps to get tips and guidelines on how to win a potential sale against a specific competitor.
You could consider a battlecard a type of competitive comparison, or you may have a battlecard that includes a competitive comparison within it. But, let’s dive into the three key dimensions that differentiate competitive comparisons from competitive sales battlecards.
One of the key differences between these two assets is right in my last description - battlecards are assets created for sales specifically. Competitive comparisons, on the other hand, can be leveraged for a variety of audiences: sales, product, marketing, executives, and so on.
Depending on the audience, the content and format of the competitive comparison can and should vary. Each audience desires different content, will have different context for the comparisons, and may have different preferences on the format. For example, some may prefer deep dive text, brief soundbites, or visual content. Knowing your audience is key for creating effective competitive comparisons and any deliverable to stakeholders.
Level of Detail
Battlecards are meant to be a quick access resource for a sales rep to use in a competitive deal. In order to effectively use the competitive intelligence on a battlecard, it’s important that the sales rep isn’t overwhelmed with a wide variety of detail, and doesn’t need to dig through all of the competitive analysis to figure out what to say. But there are plenty of situations where someone in your organization will want that deeper level of detail on a competitor. A product manager, for example, may want more of an understanding of a competitor’s feature functionality, down to the user experience or workflow. As a result, competitive comparisons can go into much more detail than a sales battlecard.
A product feature comparison matrix can help your product marketing team identify key gaps that may come up in sales calls, or help a product manager understand where there are gaps in functionality. A battlecard should not go into this level of detail, but rather highlight key product strengths as well as product gaps to avoid.
Analysis Tool vs. Best Practice Prescription
Finally, a key difference between competitive comparisons and sales battlecards is their purpose or function. Competitive comparisons are analysis tools - frameworks to understand the similarities and differences between solutions or companies. A messaging comparison matrix, for example, can help a product marketer evaluate where there are similarities and differences in each company’s messaging in order to craft differentiated content. Contrast that with a sales battlecard, which often has the end result of such messaging analysis - prescribing the sales rep with how to talk about your solutions and how to answer competitive questions.
Example: A SWOT analysis can be helpful for articulating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as it relates to a particular competitor’s position in the market. But this is too much information for a battlecard, which should focus on translating this into landmines to place and those to avoid. This will allow sales reps to capitalize on your SWOT analysis but make the prescribed soundbites easier to use.
Both competitive comparisons and sales battlecards play key roles in an effective competitive intelligence program. An impactful competitive intelligence program serves multiple audiences, but tailors the deliverables to the stakeholder and purpose.