The role that competitive and market intelligence teams play in sales is clear; to arm sales teams to close deals. To this end, sales support materials are developed – crafted through meticulous collection and curation of intel – to develop outputs including the sales battlecard.

However, when it comes to the usability and impact of these materials, many miss the mark.

Take for example, this stat (which we spotted here, originally from Doug Karr on the Marketing Tech Blog ): “40% of marketing content goes unused by salespeople because they don’t know where to find it, or feel overwhelmed by the deluge.”

That’s not a very good indication that the content you’re making is being put to good use.

So, what’s the real crux of the issue and how does this relate to your battlecards? The problem isn’t that there’s not enough data. In fact, by the previous statistic you could argue 40% of it is superfluous. The real issue is that this content has not been designed to facilitate actual sales conversations. What battlecards too often get wrong is that they throw in data without including context or creating useful insights; failing to equip salespeople for solution-oriented conversations.

Sales Battlecards Are Often Created by Product Teams, About Products.
In tech, the market intelligence function (whether a standalone intelligence team, or via product marketing) typically works closely with product management. By virtue of working on teams concerned with everything “product”, a product-centric view is reinforced.

Sales battlecards, developed in response to incoming requests, often times focus heavily on product features, product competitors and product markets. While valid, this content doesn’t necessarily equip a salesperson for specific selling activities like booking a demo, nor does it make the connections between buckets of pricing, feature or market data to engage buyers in effective solutions conversations.

Battlecards Should Engage Customers in Solutions Conversations
As we’ve said before, battlecards should support salespeople in talking with their customers about solutions, not just features.

Customers want to be shown value in their meetings. They want salespeople to understand not just the problems they face in their role, but salespeople who understand their business, their culture and what it will take to realize an end result.

To put the consequences of failing at this into perspective for a moment, consider this (yes, yet another stat): Only 15% of salespeople provide value during introductory meetings, resulting in follow-up meetings only 7% of the time.

This is missing the mark on sales. Giving a good demo isn’t getting a follow-up meeting, understanding your customer’s business issue and articulating how to solve it is.

Engage in the Hard Part: Use Battlecards to Build Connective Tissue
Salespeople have limited time and limited capacity to intake new content. This is why it’s critical that your sales materials float up only critical insights. Rather than forcing salespeople to build the strategic bridges between your data sets, build the connective tissue for them by building battlecards that connect business solutions to business problems, supported by objective facts and rooted in customer understanding.

It’s easier to regurgitate facts or product features, and in many cases it’s all that’s expected. The hardest part, and arguably the only criteria of building a successful sales battlecard is that it’s successful in enabling sales conversations, and ultimately, in closing more deals.

For more insights on building sales battlecards download our free eBook – The Product Marketer’s Guide to Creating Battlecards That Win.