Are you investing much of your product marketing resources in generating competitive battlecards or sales playbooks only to find your sales reps aren’t using them? What can be done to increase the usage and improve the usefulness of competitive battlecards? This blog post will give you some tips and best practices to create effective competitive battlecards that get high marks from our clients’ sales teams.

What is a competitive battlecard?

A competitive battlecard is 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 sales training sessions, webinars, or sales kickoff meetings.

It’s also not a sales script on how to lead the conversation with the customer. The best competitive battlecards are pithy reference cards rather than a lengthy sales playbook, sales guide, or call script for sales reps.

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What content do the best competitive battlecards contain?

To create the best competitive battlecards, we recommend you cover the following topics:

  • An overview of your company’s and your competitor’s product positioning
  • Why you win and why your competitors lose
  • Competitor’s top claims and your proposed counter
  • Setting competitive traps: questions to ask your sales 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 or product uniquely addresses
  • Summary of competitive differentiators; why your solution/company?
  • Key facts and industry trends affecting your customers; sets context

The best, most effective competitive battlecards express content in bullet points and not long prose. Sales reps will never read dense text so just give them the facts with zero marketing fluff.

Where should I get competitive intelligence for the battlecards?

Consider the following tips when assembling and curating content for your competitive battlecards:

  • Some of your best sales tips and 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 and their products than your sales team
  • Industry analyst reports
  • Competitors' website – check for notable customers
  • Check out Glassdoor to see what inside sales reps are saying about the firm
  • See LinkedIn profiles of executives and sales reps of competitor 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, TechValidate [now part of SurveyMonkey], and TrustRadius
  • If it’s a publicly-traded company, check out their 10K SEC filing and see management commentary on company direction, priorities, and market focus
  • For more tips on info sources, check out our blog post on “5 Lesser-Known Yet Effective Sources of Information” by guest blogger, Alok Vasudeva

How should I distribute competitive battlecards to the sales organization?

We recommend you centrally maintain an updated competitive battlecard in your sales force automation platform where sales reps go daily for all other sales tools and information. That way you can ensure version control and that sales reps are always using the latest revision of the battlecard.

How often should I update competitive battlecards?

Competitive battlecards should be dynamic and not static. What does that mean? It means the product marketing team should be updating the web-based battlecard the same business day that a key competitor makes a move that your sales reps will need to know.

Send out alerts about battlecard updates to your sales team via your sales force automation system and in chat rooms such as SFDC Chatter. You can use tools like Crayon or Klue that automatically update battlecards with a continuous feed of competitive intelligence.

How do I measure the effectiveness of my battlecards?

Storing your competitive battlecard in your sales force automation system, specialized content management systems like Seismic, or competitive intel platforms like Klue or Crayon all give you usage metrics on how often reps are viewing the asset.

Cross-check usage with win ratio to see if there’s a correlation. Of course, correlation doesn’t always mean causation, but it will point out red flags like low battlecard usage on a product with a low win/loss ratio.

You would expect higher usage, especially for the lower win ratio products. And, finally, just ask reps. They’re not shy to tell you if the battlecard sucks or sings.

Should I give our channel partners the same battlecard?

Generally speaking, no. Giving your competitive battlecards to partners might get them into the hands of your competitor’s sales team.

Instead, we recommend a more generalized competitive battlecard that cites the advantages of your product over other industry players without necessarily naming names.

Don’t list street pricing nor share your best competitive traps and discovery questions on these modified battlecards.

What should the format or layout of an effective competitive battlecard be?

Here are some tips to create an effective competitive battlecard:

  • Scannable, easy-to-consume web page with boxes around key topics
  • If downloadable, then a PowerPoint slide (landscape) with callout boxes
  • Bullet points, not lengthy prose or cutesy graphics that add no value
  • One-pager back-to-back so sales reps can almost print them off

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.

Check out our proprietary Aventi Group Competitive Battlecard Benchmark Tool to see how yours stack up against industry best practices.

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.