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How to Build Sales Battlecards That Close More Deals

Build sales battlecards that your sales reps will actually use

The most important metric in competitive intelligence is utility. If it’s not used, it’s not worth it. So, how do you get sales reps to value the intel you spend so much time collecting, analyzing and organizing? You start thinking of every sales rep and accounts team member as a customer who requires targeted and personal content. Often, CI is presented as a one-size-fits-all PowerPoint deck that ignores the realities of B2B sales in 2016:

  • buyers are 60% of the way to a decision before they ever contact a sales rep
  • buyers have more options and more information
  • there are more stakeholders because most solution purchases impact multiple departments, and
  • there are hungry competitors coming from unexpected places to disrupt the As Is

That’s why you need to provide the right tools to support sales in this new combative and dynamic environment. In late-stage selling specifically, that tool is a competitive sales battlecard. The trouble with sales battlecards is that they are often out-of-date, out-of-touch and out-of-reach. If they’re not reliable, targeted and accessible, they won’t get used. They will be forgotten and ignored in favour of emails to you, increasingly urgent as a sales rep prepares for a pitch.

So, where to begin? Good question. Here are the characteristics of the winningest battlecards:

Build sales battlecards that are: Current

Sales reps need to know what the competition is doing Now. What’s their pitch? What are they saying about you? How are customers responding? Trends and outlooks do not matter when they’re face-to-face with a decision-maker, trying to close the deal.

Build sales battlecards that are: Reliable

Trust is not granted easily, especially when income and egos are on the line. If the information provided is outdated, inaccurate or inconsistent, it won’t be trusted. If there are multiple versions floating through emails and wikis, it won’t be trusted.

That means airtight. No maybes or might-ofs. Your sales reps must be 100 percent confident in the intel you give them. Their personal reputations and livelihoods are on the line, so don’t f*ck it up. If you do, they’ll never trust you again.

Version control is another obstacle you likely face regularly. It’s a Sisyphean task, managing countless iterations of the same document, ensuring everyone has the right data. Updates, revisions, tweaks. One overzealous sales rep at an organization we work with recently sent an un-proofed competitor deck out to the entire company—think global distribution. Not. Good. Maybe you’ve sunk significant time into a wiki, or Sharepoint or some other document management catch-all that gets stale as quickly as your trusty competitor deck. It all comes down to the same directive: provide the most current (real-time for bonus points!) intel available and make sure it’s easy to access…

Build sales battlecards that are: Accessible

…anytime, anywhere. Ideally, that means a real-time mobile link to a complete competitor profile and battlecard; realistically, it means one portal or point of access for all CI-related collateral. Update alerts should be pushed out when something changes, but the actual content should be stored in one place, date-stamped and reviewed on a monthly schedule.

Build sales battlecards that are: Targeted

Sales battlecards must be easy to access, both physically and mentally. If your battlecards are dense with every scrap of data you collect, they won’t get used. Be concise. Stick to Key Intelligence Topics and key positioning points. Sales battlecards are potent when they target specific competing products and avoid one-sided analyst speak. Integrate field intel from sales reps. Are you calculating your win rate properly? Excellent, include it.

Make it user-friendly. That means intuitive layout and quick bullets. Give them the Who, What, When, Why and How Much as it relates to customer needs and how you position against them.

Build sales battlecards that are: Secure

This is sensitive data, meant for internal use only. And yet. Things get shared in confidence, between friends and to win favour. Securing access to CI means that you can track who used what and when, which makes it easy to track when something ends up in the wrong hands. Practicing this level of classification will ensure that your carefully crafted sell-against points don’t make it into the hands of your competition. Many ‘confidential’ docs end up floating around, despite various safety measures. Here are just some of the ways your competitors are uncovering your intel.

To be effective, sales battlecards must be trusted and accessible. To be trusted it must be current, accurate, insightful and useful. If it’s trusted it will get used.

A sales battlecard is the most tactical, most literal product of competitive analysis. It is the roadmap to a perfect pitch.

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