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  • Writer's pictureEric Doherty

Mastering the Battlecard: Crafting the Ultimate Sales Asset

As a business consultant focussed on accelerating growth in technology companies it is important to arm your clients’ sales teams with the tools they need. I have completed this task numerous times and have developed a well proven formulae which will guide your sales enablement teams in producing this important collateral.

There used to be a saying that you should leave “land mines” scattered around your prospects premises that your competitor will detonate, battlecards are where you find the explosives to arm your mines.

The business battleground is teeming with competition, and every sales rep needs the right weaponry to outperform the adversaries. A battlecard is that weapon—an essential piece of sales collateral designed to give sales teams the edge against competitors. When created and employed accurately, battlecards can significantly improve a company's win rate. Here's how to craft one.

1. Understanding the Importance of a Battlecard

Before diving into its creation, it's imperative to understand what a battlecard is and why it’s so vital. At its core, a battlecard provides concise, relevant information about a competitor’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your product or service. This information empowers the sales team with targeted responses to common objections, positioning strategies, and selling points to keep the conversation in their favour.

2. Laying the Groundwork

Define Your Objectives - Begin by clearly defining the challenges you want to address with your battlecard. Is it a response to a new competitor entering the market? Or perhaps to highlight the benefits of a new product feature?

3. Embarking on Research

Sources of Research

There are multiple avenues to explore:

- Competitor Websites: A treasure trove of information, from product details to customer testimonials.

- Industry Reports: Offer insights into market trends, technological advancements, and forecasts. I once paid $2000US for on of these reports and it saves me tens of man hours in manual web research.

- Customer Reviews: Platforms like G2 Crowd or Capterra provide candid feedback on products and services.

- Analyst Insights: They can provide an external view on industry dynamics and competitor positioning.

Things to Look For

- Unique Selling Points (USPs): What makes your competitor stand out?

- Pain Points: Where do customers feel your competitor falls short?

- Pricing Models: How does your pricing stack against theirs?

- Features and Benefits: A side-by-side comparison can be very revealing.

4. Drafting the Battlecard

Once you've gathered enough intelligence, it's time to distil that information into an easily digestible format. Consider including:

- Overview: A brief on the competitor.

- Differentiators: What sets you apart from them?

- Objection Counters: Responses to common objections raised during sales conversations.

- Pricing Comparison: Highlighting cost benefits, if any.

- Product Comparisons: Detailing features, benefits, and shortcomings.

- Case Studies or Testimonials: Real-world evidence to back your claims.

Remember, the goal isn't to overload with information, but to provide quick, actionable insights.

5. Collaborating with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

A successful battlecard isn’t a solo Endeavor. It requires collaborative input from various SMEs:

- Salespeople: They’re on the frontline, interacting with prospects. They understand the objections raised, the competitor products mentioned, and the factors influencing the prospect's decisions.

- Research Analysts: Their deep dive into markets can provide invaluable insights into competitor strategies and potential future moves.

- Marketing Managers: They're privy to market positioning, branding strategies, and can offer guidance on crafting a compelling narrative.

- Product Managers: No one knows your product better. They can highlight unique features and benefits, offering a comparison from a technical standpoint.

- Pre-sales Engineers: They can offer a more technical perspective on product capabilities, especially when selling complex solutions.

The Collaboration Process

1. Initial Draft Review: Once the first draft is prepared, it should be circulated among the SMEs for a preliminary review.

2. Feedback Integration: Collate and integrate the feedback, refining the battlecard.

3. Roundtable Discussions: If it’s important enough Organise sessions or a MSTeams Meeting where SMEs can discuss and debate the content, ensuring alignment and clarity.

4. Final Review: Before finalising, ensure that all stakeholders sign off on the content.

6. Rolling Out the Battlecard

With the battlecard ready, it's not just about handing it over to the sales team. It's about training them on how to use it effectively:

- Training Sessions: Organise workshops where the sales team can familiarise themselves with the battlecard contents, understand the reasoning behind each section, and practice real-world scenarios using it.

- Feedback Loop: Encourage the sales team to provide regular feedback on the battlecard's effectiveness and areas of improvement.

- Stylize: Have your graphics team either insourced or outsources stylize the document in a common format for your company

- Post and distribute: the document to your sales portal or sales directory

7. Continual Updates

The business landscape is ever-evolving. Competitors will pivot, new players will enter, and market dynamics will shift. Hence, it's vital to ensure that your battlecard remains relevant. Regularly revisit and update it, ensuring it remains a powerful tool in your sales arsenal.

I spoke earlier about land mines, I once competed against an organisations who had 100 times the R&D and marketing spend of the company I represented, by studying the battlecard I knew my competitors’ weaknesses. I simply asked my prospect to ask a direct question of my competitor on a particular weakness. He informed me later that there was no way he could go with them because their proposed functionality would contravene their requirements. Without me knowing my competitor’s weakness and arming the prospect with pertinent questions I would have been dead in the water in the deal because there brand was a lot more powerful than mine.

We won the deal and I ended up being a trusted advisor to the organisation calling on them through the years as I progresses to other vendors.

In conclusion, crafting an effective battlecard requires meticulous research, collaborative efforts, and a keen understanding of both your product and the competitor's. However, when done right, it can be the decisive factor that tips the scales in your favour in the competitive world of sales.

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