Everyone that works closely with sales has seen, or at least heard of, battlecards. You’ve probably stumbled along the way and made a few glaring mistakes that you caught. But what are the mistakes you haven’t caught?
Battlecards, as a concept, are created as an integral sales tool and are commonly underutilized in the sales process. Many times, they’re swept under the rug and disregarded because of time constraints, a lack of understanding, and other trends.
But why put such an important resource on the shelf? We’ve put together 7 key mistakes that are commonly made with battlecards, and how you can stop your team from repeating them.
What are Battlecards?
Battlecards are pieces of sales collateral that delineate a competitor’s stats and give clear guidelines on how to outmatch them in sales. They are typically designed by a product marketing team, in collaboration with sales and other key stakeholders of the business. Battlecards serve as a resource that gives sales teams a competitive advantage in sales calls with information like SWOT analyses, objection handling, and value propositions. They can come in the format of a powerpoint slide, informational cards, infographics, etc.
Battlecards are regularly underused, a concerning bit of information when 53% of businesses say their deals are highly competitive As you’ll see, it is a big mistake to forego battlecards. For the sales team, a good battlecard could put them in a position to triple their win rate against key competitors. Many sales teams are underutilizing this valuable tool simply because they aren’t being made user-friendly to them. If they can’t easily access relevant information on the fly, it just isn’t helpful.
There are many reasons battlecards could prove ineffective for your sales team, but here we focus on 7 key battlecard mistakes you’re likely making and how to stop them.
1. Not Knowing the Purpose
The key with battlecards, and really any sales collateral, is to know why it’s being created in the first place. What purpose or need is this piece serving? That is the question to ask when looking for your “why?”
In practice, battlecards are really created for one of two purposes: to train a new employee or to use them as a reference for sales calls. How you build the cards will vary, depending on your answer to this question.
Do This Instead
When creating new or reviving old battlecards, you need to know their purpose. No use wasting everyone’s time writing key points that won’t even be used. If it’s for your sales team: make sure it includes answers that build the brand. If it’s for training, make sure you’re using phrasing that enforces the brand and allows new trainees a smooth onboarding experience.
You should converse with the sales team regularly to gain a better understanding of what information they need during calls, and to make sure that data on competitors is up-to-date for those that are frequented in conversation with prospects.
2. Not Tiering Competitors
If you don’t prioritize those competitors that pose the largest threat, you’ll likely experience a battle for which you’re unprepared. Information provided on lower-tiered competitors should be different than the information you dive into for high-tiered competitors.
The goal is to keep your sales team educated and up to date. The higher-tiered the competitor, the more detail should be included on the battlecard, low-tiered competitors can have “bite-sized” battlecards.
Pro Tip: Make sure your battlecards outline the strengths and weaknesses of your brand and not limit them to “winning” methodologies.
Do This Instead
Spend a little more time on battlecards for those competitors you consider your biggest threats. You want to make sure and include the latest information, so update them frequently as well. The more informed your sales team is, the better they can close.
Creating a ranking system of competitors can be helpful. It’s important to review things like similarity in products & services, target companies for competitors, and growth rate to understand how to rank your competitors.
5 Sales Battlecard Templates to Help Your Sales Team Win More Deals
3. Sticking to the Facts
When was the last time you sat down to read a statistical journal, just for fun? We suspect the answer is a resounding, “never,” or some variation thereof. No one wants to read tons of technical data and they won’t, even if it is their job. If you stick to a dossier format, you will not produce a usable piece of collateral. If you write in story format, not only will retention and utilization improve, but also you’ll likely strike a chord that resonates better than facts alone can.
Do This Instead
To make sure your sales team is prepared for anything, you should “stack the deck” in their favor. Tactical content that includes short, inciteful facts about how to disqualify competitors or helps to answer the tough questions, is a heap more useful than citing how many employees or locations they have. Including success stories from other reps who have battled the competition before is more useful content to include.
4. Not Updating Regularly
You are literally wasting an asset if you put your sales team out in the fray with outdated information. Not only can they not do their job, but you could risk damaging your own company’s rep in the process. The last thing you need is broken trust right at the beginning of the sales cycle. Again, when your sales team is armed with the right information, you can’t go wrong.
Do This Instead
If you want the hard work you spent on your battlecards to be useful, make sure you are keeping them up to date with the latest intel. Review your battle cards quarterly to ensure your information is accurate and up to date. Battlecards are not static documents. They are meant to be breathing, living resources that can be referred to regularly.
5. Not Measuring Their Use or Impact
Battlecards are not easy sales collateral to monitor for effectiveness, but there are ways to measure their impact. The mistake would be to not measure. Any marketing tool, used in a marketing strategy, should be gauged for effectiveness, or how will you know what to tweak in your marketing strategy if you aren’t seeing results? Typically, if a campaign is underperforming, you look at the effectiveness of the components delivered, you can’t do this if you aren’t measuring.
Do This Instead
The most important metrics to monitor include usage and impact. Keep track of how many times a battlecard is viewed, and by which team member. This will let you know whether you have active adoption. For impact, pay attention to wins over losses by sales reps, rather than volume. Year over day numbers are helpful to provide a baseline but pay attention to the relationship between wins and usage of battlecards to get a clear picture of a battlecards effectiveness.
6. Putting in Too Much Information
One of the more obvious mistakes you could be making with your battlecards is cluttering them with too much information. Like we said earlier, no one wants to read a lot of facts. The more digestible the content, the more usable the battlecard.
Do This Instead
Remember this is a resource, or reference card, not a script. You need to make sure the information is succinct, and correct, and ultimately positions your company as a leader. For this, you should rely on a robust internal or external competitive intelligence research team. It is up to the sales team and product development team to use that information to develop winning battlecards.
7. Putting Them Out of Reach
Nothing can kill sales collateral quicker than putting it out of reach. In the case of battlecards, if your sales reps can’t access them, they will not use them. Let’s be honest, a printed, laminated card deck is great, and presentations on a flash drive are great too, but a salesperson doesn’t spend their time carrying around collateral, they spend their time selling. If you want your battlecards to be useful, put them where they will be found easily, like in your CRM.
Do This Instead
Today’s CRM systems already provide a wealth of client information at your fingertips, why not include even more? The bonus is, that your sales team already spends much of their time in the CRM looking up contacts, so having a battlecard at the ready would make their job that much easier. The easier their time collecting information, to quicker the sale potential.
Also, think of standardizing the sections across battlecards, this way Sales Reps can get the information they need quickly.
There are tremendous advantages to having succinct battlecards for your sales team, but you need to overcome some of the recent stereotypes to gain adoption from your sales team.
Key points to remember are:
- Know why you are creating the piece, so your content is tailored correctly
- Take more time with your fiercest competitors’ battlecards, to ensure you have the latest and best intel.
- Tell a story with your battlecard, to promote retention and use.
- Update your battlecards regularly, to ensure you’re keeping up with the latest trends in the market.
- Measure the usefulness of battlecards and revise any that are underperforming or are not easily adopted.
- Keep it simple; too much information loses the audience. And in this case, that audience is your sales team.
- Put your battlecards where they will be used. Ease of use improves strategy adoption.
Whether you are guilty of these mistakes or not, you can always use the benefit of a refreshed strategy. Battlecards can be an effective sales tool in your marketing arsenal if built and used properly.