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How to Build Battlecards Salespeople Love 

July 30, 2020 by Mackensey Young

This is the transcript from our recent webinar “How to Build Battlecards Salespeople Love”. You can watch it on-demand here

Battlecards that salespeople love are battlecards that salespeople actually use

And that means better win rates, bigger average deal size, and shorter sales cycles.

Battlecards started as a single-sided piece of paper that salespeople could post in their cubicles and use as a cheat sheet when they came up against a competitor in a deal. Over time, there was more information to share, so they took over both sides of that piece of paper. Then they were laminated and designed to look fancy, and somewhere along the way… they turned into 100-slide powerpoint decks, that sit on network drives, and that no one ever looks at. 

So let’s think back to what a battlecard was intended to achieve. 

Battlecards are meant to contain short, easy to use tactics to help sales reps to sell against competitors, or more specifically to help them answer the question…

Battlecard comparison - how to Build Battlecards Salespeople Love - how do you compare to Question

How Does Your Sales Team Respond When Asked “How do you compare to your competitors?”

Likely you work in Product Marketing or Competitive Intelligence so this should be easy – but if I picked you out of the audience right now and asked you “How do you compare to your competitors?” or “How are you different from your biggest competitor?” – what would you say?

product marketing should be able to answer how we compare to our competitors when sales asks

You can’t see this, but most of you are looking at me like this ^

Because this is tough.

This is the question your salespeople are asked EVERY single day.

How we Tested Our Own Sales Reps Competitive Knowledge at Klue

salespeople doing a competitive comparison of their competition and how we compare to our competition

Two years ago at Klue, we wanted to get a sense of how our own team was answering this exact question. 

We actually had our sales team go through an exercise where we asked them to record themselves answering the question of how we were different from one of our competitors and to be honest, it was shocking how different everyone’s answers were. It wasn’t just that the answers ranged from totally incoherent rambles to more concise statements. They had vastly different ideas about who we were and how we should be positioned in the market. There was no consistency in the story of how we’re different from our competitor.

As a PMM or CI professional this proves how challenging it can be to ensure consistency in how you’re being positioned in the market. 

The Results: We Lacked Consistency in our own Competitive Talk-Track

While the answers varied widely, one salesperson rose above the rest. So what was so great about her response? 

First, she started with a broad, high-level statement about how our two companies took different approaches to solve the same problem.

Then, she supported that statement with two key points about where we were differentiated. Still – broad and not talking about specific features. 

Finally, she wrapped up and summarized again, reinforcing that high-level statement.

So – What’s Good About This Approach? 

She made it memorable by repeating a simple and concise point of view. 

And by staying high-level she made it easier to understand how we were different overall.

So how do we take what Erin said, and train our entire sales team to use the same, consistent message?

We use battlecards. 

The 5 Rules of Building Battlecards

Let’s get some of the obvious rules of how to build battlecards out of the way.

  1. Your competitive content NEEDS to be up to date. The worst thing that can happen is a prospect tells your rep your intel is 6 months out of date. If this happens they will never use your battlecards again. 
  2. Everything you provide needs to be digestible. Keep it clear and concise. You need to tell them exactly what to say. 
  3. You need to provide proof. This means showing them where the intel came from and how reliable it is. You can share rumors and innuendo… teams do that all the time… but differentiate the unsubstantiated claims from the ones that are validated by a third party.
  4. Put your marketing hats on and think like your audience. Write for your sales team, not for your boss. Often times salespeople need to be able to read your battlecard verbatim. So use a natural language.
  5. And lastly, make it easy to find. Put it where your salespeople are…. If they spend all day in Salesforce, put it there… If they’re using sales enablement tools – Seismic or Highspot – embed them into those tools. If they’re in the field, make it mobile-friendly.

Competitive Battlecards 101 is an in-depth guide to building sales battlecards with battlecard templates and sales battlecard examples

Use a Content Framework to Structure your Battlecards

Start thinking about how your content can be built to actually enable your sales reps at each step of the sales cycle. 

Klue's Super Theoretical Sales Battlecard Content Framework

Step 1: Identify the Competitors in the Deal

First, they need to identify if there are competitors in their deal. 

Sometimes a prospect will flat out tell them this, but other times they need to listen for clues. 

This is something they need to master – the earlier your reps can identify a competitor in a deal, the better opportunity they have to deposition and dismiss them out of it. 

Step 2: Dismiss the Competitors out of the Deal as Quickly as Possible

If the prospect is actively evaluating your competitor as the deal progresses you need a combination of offensive and defensive tactics to beat them. 

Step 3: Provide Offensive and Defensive Strategies to Navigate Competitor Battles

For your sales reps – the deeper they get into the deal, the more information they’ll need, but not all at once.

This is called breadcrumbing. The first step is to provide quick bites of intel as a first step, and then intentionally guide reps deeper and deeper to more information as they need it, not before. Leading your reps through your content in this way makes it easier for them to digest and is proven to be the most effective. 

Step 4: Provide The Ugly Details as a Last Resort

Some reps will want to jump to feature comparison and pricing information immediately – but if your reps are selling on features – they will always end up in a battle to the lowest price. Inevitably, competitors will catch up, or possibly surpass your offer. That results in discounts. Prevent this by focusing on high-level depositioning strategies when you are building out your competitive intelligence program. 

Top 8 Things to Include When Building a Battlecard

8 things to always include in your sales battlecards to improve your competitive intelligence and sales enablement

Using this content framework we’ve pulled together the top types of content you can use to build an effective battlecard on any competitor. We’ve also written a blog on these 8 essential battlecards.

These 8 Battlecards Provide the Answers to 5 Key Questions:

1] How do I spot this competitor in a deal? (How to Spot)
So what are the Unique terms, phrases, and language to listen for or questions they can expect to face

2] How do I differentiate from this competitor?
This goes back to the approach that Erin used earlier. What is the high-level summary, what are some supporting points, and how do you summarize that again in a way that is going to be memorable.
You can call this a Quick Dismiss or positioning statement.

3] How do I attack? 
4] How do I defend? 
There are a number of different tactics that you can use, but you need some combination of offensive and defensive strategies. In this case we’ve used the Questions to Ask and Landmines cards for offensive tactics, and Objection Handling for defense. 

5] How do they approach the market? (Approach to Market)
These should be facts. Insights about your competitor’s ideal customer can be used to learn about how they approach the sales process.

Lastly, Why we win/Why we lose cards should include high-level summary points that link out to full customer stories to prevent overloading information in the battlecard itself.

Real-Life Examples of How to Build Battlecards

How to Build an Objection Handling Battlecard

objection handling sales battlecard that covers how to handle objections from your competition

The main point of the objection handling card is to give salespeople a way to respond to the most common objections they can expect to hear when going up against that competitor. This card is different from the rest in that we’re going to give them talking points rather than the exact words to say.

The reason behind this is that there’s a specific process of handling an objection and it’s not just regurgitating a statement. 

Building Objection Handling content is undeniably difficult, but I want to share a tried-and-true 3-step method our team uses to that you can start using when you get back to your offices on Monday:

steps to build objection handling content to enable sales teams to handle objections from competitors

Step 1 – listen in on a sales call; write down the objection verbatim AND write down the rep’s response, 

Step 2 – after the call, sit down and identify the facts that support the rep’s response

Step 3 – assuming facts easily support the response, great, we have a winner. Create the objection handling card and refine the response with the reps and sales leaders. 

Alternate Step 3 – when the facts don’t support the response, go ask the sales manager for help coming up with a new way to handle the objection. As long as you’re not doing this during the quarter-end, they’re usually more than happy to help. Ultimately It’s only going to improve their win rates. 

How to Build a Landmines to Lay Battlecard

how to build battlecards that diffuse landmines your competition says about you to prospects

The landmines card is used to plant a seed of doubt into the mind of your prospect about choosing a competitor’s solution. 

This is done by asking specific questions or mentioning key points where you know their solution won’t match up with yours. 

In an ideal world, your salesperson can use these landmines to blow the competition out of the water, but more often than not, all you’re doing is making the other salesperson dance and expend energy instead of actively selling to the customer — while you do.

Key Takeaways on How To Build Battlecards for Salespeople 

Think like a Product Marketer Manager –

  • Get crystal clear on the target audience for the specific piece of content (reps or customers) and listen to their needs from you.
  • Leverage your relationships and use the “help me help you” mentality; don’t go it alone — I like to say use and abuse sales leadership, it’s their commission on the line.

Think like a Marketer – 

  • Treat your reps as customers and think about their customer journey.
  • Simple, concise, targeted messaging at every stage of their journey.
  • Intentionally how to build battlecards with content that gets them curious to click through and eventually peel back the layers.

Start Today – 

  • Don’t wait too long, don’t worry about collecting external facts to triangulate from — that’ll build automatically over time.
  • There are lots of internal tribal knowledge you can leverage right now, your job is to simplify them, make them digestible, and actionable.
  • Layer and breadcrumb in facts over time to build program credibility and confidence.

Additional Q & A on How to Build Battlecards

 

These are some of the additional questions we didn’t quite get to during the live webinar. Access the full on-demand recording here to see what other competitive intelligence professionals asked our experts. 

Looking for more information on how to build battlecards? Check out our Competitive Battlecards 101 template library.

Competitive Battlecards 101: Sales Battlecard templates and examples