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Why Your Battlecards Aren’t Working

Your competitors impact nearly every aspect of your business. They impact how your product team shapes its development roadmap. They shape how your marketing team runs campaigns. They even influence how your executive leadership team discusses long term company strategy with your board. 

Sales is different. While competitors impart varying degrees of influence on the aforementioned teams, salespeople can have their entire livelihoods uprooted by one particularly disruptive competitor. This is why competitive battlecards have become so popular. There’s just one problem with these supposed competitive silver bullets: Most of them are lousy. 

Despite the best intentions of your product marketing or sales enablement teams, most battlecards accumulate more dust than they do views by sales. I worked in sales in another life, and battlecards are the butt of many jokes among salespeople who love to ridicule their uselessness. This is particularly unfortunate because battlecards have the potential to be the most tactical, measurable, effective tool you can produce for your sales teams. When approached the right way, they can increase your competitive win rate by 54%. Or by 59%. They can even triple your win rate to 95% against key competitors.

I mention all three of those stories not to drive traffic to our case studies page, but to highlight that when done right, the effectiveness of battlecards is the rule, not the exception. So how does one make battlecards the “right” way? There are a lot of factors that contribute to their effectiveness (or lack thereof), but there are three particularly important areas to focus on.

Get started with our Guide to Competitive BattlecardsOnly Include Killer Topics

Deciding what to include is one of the toughest parts of battlecard creation. The next step is to distill the vast quantity of raw intel you've gathered from internal and external sources and transform them into concise, meaningful talking points. Ultimately, the topics worth including vary considerably from one organization to another. 

General competitor overview information (location, employees, etc.) can be helpful but is often information your sales team already knows. More tactical information is typically the best. 

Kill points are lists of short statements that will help disqualify competitors early on in deals. They provide quick ways to put a competitor in a box that makes it hard for them to establish credibility with a buyer.

Landmines are topics or questions that customers might ask that put your company at a competitive disadvantage. Excellent battlecards will list top landmines to watch out for, along with ways to redirect the conversation to your company’s strengths. The other side of this coin is setting landmines for your competitors. In a battlecard, this can be as simple as a couple questions the salesperson can ask their prospect that help the prospect understand and uncover weaknesses of a competitor. 

Finally, success stories from reps who have beaten the competitor in question are excellent topics, but keep them brief. Even better are stories of companies who your sales team has successfully poached from the competitor in question.

Keep the Intel Fresh

One of the most common issues salespeople have with battlecards is outdated information. If a sales rep uses your battlecard on a call and gets called out by a prospect for spouting inaccurate/outdated information, trust is not only broken with the prospect, but so is the trust sales had in you. If a deal suffers because of an inaccurate battlecard, you can bet that sales will never use any content—battlecard or otherwise— from you again. 

Integrating your battlecards with an ongoing competitive intelligence program will help keep battlecards updated and in sync with market and competitor movements. Make sure to socialize intel updates with sales to continuously build trust and ensure that they keep leveraging battlecards in competitive deals.

On your end, setting a number of Google alerts can mitigate a portion of the manual time suck required to keep up-to-date on the competition, though they can also overwhelm with unhelpful noise and will only pick up on a fraction of everything going on in the market. Everything else requires either manual monitoring or the use of competitive intelligence monitoring software.

Be sure to also leverage the sales team in keeping intel fresh. Wherever your battlecards live, make sure individual salespeople can call out incorrect intel, add anything valuable they learn in the field, and otherwise interact with the battlecards.

Measure Battlecard Impact

Even if your battlecards are dynamite, lacking a way to measure their success (or lack thereof) is critical. After all, the best battlecards go through multiple iterations before they become powerhouse boosters of win rate. If your organization isn’t already measuring competitive win rate, now is a good time to befriend your sales/marketing operations team.

The first step is adding opportunity fields in your CRM that allow sales reps to identify which competitor is present in a deal. Then, add a “loss reason” field as well to ensure you can zero in on deals that were lost to a competitor and not to other reasons like lack of urgency. Once you’ve established a competitive win rate benchmark, you’ll be ready to roll out your battlecards and watch your win rate (hopefully) increase.

Once you have the proper measurement mechanisms in place and your battlecards have been deployed for a few months, start measuring their success. Measuring competitive win rate over time using your fancy new CRM fields is great, but measuring the direct impact on revenue is better. Tap your middle school algebra skills and calculate the impact of that win rate increase on overall revenue. For example, if your organization generates $10m of pipeline every quarter and 40% of your deals are competitive, increasing your win rate in competitive deals from 30% to 40% would constitute a $400,000 increase in revenue every quarter.

Properly effective battlecards can be a lot of work, and the process to create them contains more steps than one might think. That’s why we created the Guide to Competitive Battlecards, which covers these battlecard tips and more. Give it a read and consider yourself one step closer to creating battlecards that make a meaningful impact on your sales numbers!

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Ben Cope
Ben Cope, a Crayon alum, is currently Senior Manager of Growth Marketing at Recorded Future, the world's largest provider of intelligence for enterprise security. Previously, Ben spent three years working in both marketing and sales roles at Salsify. When he isn't cobbling together marketing campaigns, you'll find him attempting to cook something overly elaborate or bopping around music venues in Boston.