So an Account Executive, a CMO, a Product Marketer, and a Revenue Enablement Manager walk into a bar…
Okay, well actually they joined me on a podcast. But having these four teammates share a cocktail or two might be the perfect recipe to closing some of those competitive deals that slipped through your sales team’s fingers right at the finish line last quarter.
In this article, we’re going to share four pieces of competitive intelligence that your reps should be armed with by your product marketing and enablement teams to close more deals.
When Colby Kennedy, Product Marketing Manager at Reputation, creates competitive intel for sales to use, he always builds it to meet two key requirements.
“The best competitive intel remains as high level as possible and as applicable as possible,” says Colby.
One way that Colby manages to keep the content on his competitive battlecards both high-level and applicable is by condensing the information down to what matters most.
“You need to find the essence of what we’re trying to say, what we’re trying to deposition. What are sales reps actually going to look for and use?
“You need to be good at trimming the fat. It’s better to have too little information, but the information is applicable. Otherwise people are going to look at it and won’t even know where to begin. It’s like the Matrix is coming down in front of them.”
In order to do this, Colby starts by training sales on the ONE key differentiator that they should begin sales conversations with. This creates alignment across the team and helps newer reps structure their conversations, rather than getting lost in the ‘Matrix’ of information.
“Differentiators are obviously a big deal for you, your products and your competitors. Depending on the deal there’ll be a myriad of differentiators based on what products are up for sale, who we’re going against, and what market we’re competing in.
“But when I’m training reps on competitors, I just start with the most important one… This differentiator is where we’re starting the conversation. You need to make other differentiators exist in a place that the sales team can find themselves. But if you present every bit of information all at once, it will go in one ear, and out the other.”
One thing that Ryan Sexauer, Revenue Enablement Manager at Clari, noticed about the deals he was supporting was that they were often on the back foot.
“When you’re playing catch up in a really strong head-to-head deal, you’re probably two or three steps behind,” says Ryan.
However, as he partnered with product marketing to build out a strong competitive enablement program, they got a pulse on what competitors were doing ahead of time. Now that they were proactively aware of competitor’s strategies, they were able to provide a key benefit for sales: more usable insights.
“One of the main things we improved was providing a recommended deal approach by competitor,” says Maggie, Product Marketing Manager at Clari.
“So beyond just the general battlecard information around the traps we set versus the traps they set. We really wanted to have a very specific recommended approach to make the deal cycles even easier.”
This means taking things a step further so that sales can act on intel quickly.
For example, Maggie knew one of their features demoed well. But, she recognized that it resonated particularly well when executives were on the call, and in comparison to a certain competitor’s feature.
So, on their competitor’s battlecard it said: if competitor X is in a deal, emphasize [feature] during a demo call with an executive because X, Y, Z.
Simple, and actionable. That’s what sales need to get one step ahead.
In a recent episode of the ‘The Marchitect’ podcast, Gong’s CMO, Udi Ledergor, explained that the biggest obstacle for product marketers when creating competitive messaging for sales is making sure that it’s rooted in the day-to-day realities of the salespeople.
“If product marketing sit in their ivory tower, come up with new materials and then show up in front of the sales team like ‘Ta Da this is your new messaging!’, that’s not going to work,” says Udi. “You have to work with the salespeople that you expect to be using your messaging.”
One of the best ways to work with salespeople and provide them with the competitive edge they need? Learn from what they’re already doing.
Find those successful talks tracks, objections handled, and landmines laid, and then putting them in an easily accessible location for reps to access on the fly.
“Go through the sales calls and see what’s already working. You probably don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” says Udi.
To help salespeople find the insights they need, we suggest using Gong snippets within your battlecards.
Adding these snippets to your battlecards has a few benefits. It brings messaging to life with real talk tracks (using real, conversational language) used in the field rather than from the dreaded ‘ivory tower’, and enables your salespeople to consume information based on their learning style by using either the video or transcript.
This way your sales reps are more efficient. They can access the relevant information quickly — rather than digging through Slack threads or outdated slides — and they will be aligned around how they handle a competitor.
If you know Jacob Gebrewold, an Account Executive here at Klue, then you’ll know that he’s a storyteller. When Jacob speaks with a buyer — like all good stories — he needs to lay out the problem, tension, and a solution.
However, presenting a unique solution is the trickiest part.
“I can’t ‘focus on the value’ to a buyer without getting a clear understanding of what our differentiation is first and then building the story from there,” says Jacob.
“If the competitive content that I’m getting doesn’t help me tell the story of what it is that we’re doing to help the buyer solve their problem better than other options that they have available to them, then it’s not helping anybody.”
One piece of competitive intel that has helped Jacob get ahead in establishing differentiation in future deals is through direct feedback from the buyer after a current deal has closed.
“I like to ask a buyer, ‘why did you end up making us the vendor choice?’,” says Jacob. “I think it’s one of the most important questions in the whole sales cycle because they’re going to talk about the things that they were able to solve with you, that they weren’t able to solve with someone else.”
This knocks two birds with one stone. Sales now gets an even clearer understanding of their differentiation based on real customer feedback, and has social proof to validate this.
“That then becomes the customer story that you can bring back in your next evaluation.”
Your sales reps are busy. They’ve got pipeline to follow up with, quota to fill, and everything in between. The last thing they need is to be tripped up at the finish line of a competitive deal.
Make sure that they’re supported with what they need to be proactively ahead of the competition from the first introduction call to that sweet, sweet moment when a buyer signs on the dotted line.
P.S: To help your sellers, we’ve compiled a list of the top 8 things every salesperson must know about a competitor before jumping into a deal. Get your checklist today.
Chris Owen and Scot Kim explain the importance of executive support for your competitive enablement program, and what they did to earn it.
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