Product marketers spend a lot of time creating competitive battle cards. The problem is that sellers don’t know where to find or how to use these battle cards. Reps also have no control over the competitive intelligence in a kill sheet, which is a problem.
During a recent event, I shared three challenges with marketing-created battle cards:
Challenge #1 – Most battle cards contain irrelevant information, such as social media handles and founding dates.
Challenge #2 – Each battlecard includes a feature comparison checklist, with green check marks for your product and red cross marks for the competition. From a sales perspective, these comparison tables are counterproductive – they are often outdated and have inaccurate information.
Challenge #3 – When sales reps need to meet with a customer in 15 minutes, they scramble for battle cards and talk tracks. They wing it if they find the information in a battlecard overwhelming. This is how you open the door to inconsistent messaging.
Why battle cards matter (a lot) for your sellers
#1 – Buyers appreciate competitive insights
An average seller gets happy ears and doesn’t ask difficult questions on a good day. They also avoid talking about competitors. Elite sellers invite this type of conversation:
People don’t make purchases in isolation. They use context, knowledge, and comparison to make their purchases.
By informing buyers about their competition, elite sellers gain respect. They provide valuable insights that can’t be found on any G2 comparison grid. They establish credibility by showing how much they know about their competition.
#2 – Trusted sellers gain access to critical information
Sellers who discuss the competition freely and fairly without buyers asking for it earn brownie points. They can then build on customer trust by asking a difficult follow-up question. That question can be about a customer’s budget or decision-making criteria.
Buyers will be compelled to return the favor by providing useful insights to their sellers. Answers to these questions help sellers improve their pitches.
#3 – Unusable battlecards = Inconsistent talk tracks
If your battlecard looks like a Terms & Conditions document, your sellers won’t use it.
In the absence of accurate competitive information, sellers conduct their own research. Top sellers may read G2 reviews, find competitor product demos, and create talking points for differentiation.
An average seller may glance at the competitor’s website to get some ideas.
Your reps will then create their own talk tracks. These talk tracks will be far from flawless or consistent. Because sellers have limited resources, some talking points might even be incorrect.
Building winning battlecards for sales starts with research
It can be challenging to make sure your sellers have access to the latest information. Here are a few ways you can get started:
- Study web and sales collateral. Pay attention to the messaging on your competitor’s website collateral, such as their banner ads, datasheets, and competitive comparison pages. To take this to the next level, find out what your competitors say in their sales decks. See how you can use messaging to attack the claims of your competitors. One of the greatest advantages your sellers can have is to use their competitors’ words against them.
- Leverage buyer interviews and calls. Interview buyers from both won and lost opportunities to learn why they chose you (or your competitor). Watch call recordings and build a repository of how prospects talk about your product or the competition. To ensure your information is always current, make this a continuous process rather than a one-time thing.
- Learn from power users of your competitor’s product. Call in a favor. Perhaps you know someone who uses your competitor’s product. Find out what they like about it. Learn about adoption, ease of use, pricing, and features. Most importantly, understand how power users use the product to create value in their organization.
- Listen to a demo from the competitor. Okay, call in another favor. Ask a curious friend to take the competitor’s product demo. If you can get your hands on the call recording, analyze the areas you can target and the aspects you need to improve on. Create talking points your reps can use to counter the messaging of your competitors.
- Analyze their G2 and Glassdoor reviews – the good, the bad, and the ugly. G2 is your best source for direct user feedback. However, you can’t just look at one-star reviews. It’s best to start with 3-star reviews – those typically cover both the pros and cons. Check out their 5-star reviews and listen to what their customer advocates say. Check out the negative customer reviews as well. Analyze the patterns and understand their strengths and weaknesses. Save sample statements for later use. On Glassdoor, you can also find out what competitors’ sellers are saying about the company, culture, and product.
- Watch out for conversations on forums and communities. You probably have joined the most relevant groups, communities, and forums for your product. Occasionally, your prospects will talk about their challenges with a competitor’s product. What buyers don’t say in G2 reviews can be found in these closed communities. This is where customers seek advice and make recommendations. Keep an eye out for these conversations. Record them and use them to back up your messaging. Slack communities also allow you to set up custom notifications for your competitors’ names so that you don’t miss out on engaging in live conversations.
Create Competitive Battlecards that Reflect Buying Motions
Building a good product battlecard template will require extensive research. However, great battle cards don’t summarize the entire research. They only show what is relevant to a seller.
Prepare your reps with the talk tracks they need to beat the competition. Your sellers don’t have the time to sift through all the research behind a battlecard.
For a quick overview, categorize the talk tracks by threat level. Content Camel might be a competitor of GTM Buddy, but the threat level would be much lower than that of Highspot.
Buying scenarios can also influence a talk track. Deals can be divided into two categories: Head to Head and Rip and Replace. Whether your rep speaks before or after your competitor matters in a head-to-head comparison. For a rip and replace opportunity, your rep needs to establish that the frustration with the current solution is greater than the cost of change.
Based on the specific buying scenario, what a seller needs may change dramatically. A world-class battlecard should reflect the buying process.
This is my battlecard template that will turn a mediocre seller into an elite seller when facing off against competition:
1. Threat Level Meter
Create a threat level meter for each competitor. Right off the bat, sellers need to know if a competitor is dangerous or an ankle-biter that can be swatted away.
2. Product Video
Most companies have these short, 1-2 minute product videos that give a high-level overview of their products. Add that video after the threat meter so sellers can understand a competitor’s product.
3. Required Reading
Most companies bid on competitive brand keywords. Make sure to link to the landing pages associated with these keywords:
1. [Our Company] versus [Competitor Name]
2. [Our Company] alternatives
3. [Competitor Name] alternatives
4. [Competitor Name] reviews
Regardless of whether these links favor you or your competitor, your sellers should have accurate information. Buyers are one Google search away from finding these links. Prepare your sellers to respond to these competitive claims.
4. Head to Head
When Presenting Before [Competitor Name]
Describe how to position your product and what landmines to lay before the competition. You should cover areas like:
- Ease of use
- Use cases
And so forth. Get your sellers to disrupt how buyers view your competitor’s products. Provide your sellers with questions they should ask buyers that you know your competitors would struggle to answer.
When Presenting After [Competitor Name]
In this scenario, your competition has already gotten a chance to present. Your buyer now has some context for their product.
A seller cannot blindly present their product without considering the strengths and weaknesses of the competitor’s demo.
Make sure that your reps know how to differentiate themselves from the competition. They will need to use a competitor’s words to highlight similarities and differences.
1. Rip and replace
This is a completely different type of sale. When replacing a current vendor, the pain of the current solution has to outweigh the pain of switching.
Provide sellers with the tough questions they need to ask to determine if the buyer is willing to switch. Include things like:
- Landmines to expect from the competitor
- Justifying the cost to switch
- Making the buyer aware of the work required to make a change
- Presenting case studies or customer testimonials of others who have switched
- Explain why delaying switching complicates things
2. Customer evidence & stories
Throughout the battlecard, sprinkle customer evidence. Put all the customer evidence you have against your competitor in one section of the battlecard. Things like:
- Case Studies
- Online Reviews
- Customer Quotes
Add frequently asked questions about this competitor that sellers have asked in the past on Slack, Teams, or in sales meetings. Provide a quick reference guide without going overboard. Tell them who to contact if they need more information.
4. Additional resources
In this section, sellers should find all the resources they need to beat a competitor. Include competitor-specific decks, logos, white papers, or call recordings here for sellers to review. Keep customer evidence in a separate section for ease of navigation.
Winning examples of using competitor talk tracks
Here are two examples of how I’ve attacked competitive messaging:
#1 – GTM BUDDY VS HIGHSPOT
Sales enablement tool GTM Buddy helps reps locate content within their flow of work. It differs from the competition because it puts the content right at the rep’s fingertips.
In my buyer interactions, I proactively mention the competition. Highspot promises “Find content fast” and delivers on that. Highspot is a major improvement over Google Drive, but they are still playing the same game – the rep must search for content.
I ask buyers, “What if your reps didn’t have to search for your content at all?” I explain to buyers how search-and-discover missions can be problematic. The buyer is bound to consider these pros and cons when they evaluate Highspot.
#2 – FULLSTORY VS SESSIONCAM
At FullStory, we worked in a highly competitive environment. I’d bring up one of our biggest competitors at the time, SessionCam.
90% of the time, the prospect had already heard of SessionCam. I would take the time to set up landmines when they’d speak with SessionCam.
I told them how SessionCam did a great job of capturing data. After that, I would share a small catch. SessionCam could only capture data from 1 million sessions. This number would be of concern to enterprise customers and they would raise it during their conversation with SessionCam.
Deliver Battlecards in Your Seller’s Flow of Work
Even the best battlecard won’t work if it gathers dust in your content library or wiki. Sellers don’t spend much time in content repositories or even know what to look for.
Reps need your battlecard the most when they are just a few hours away from taking a prospect call. Wouldn’t it be great if you could recommend a battlecard based on the discussions they are having with prospects?
With GTM Buddy, you can pinpoint the perfect time to surface battlecards in sellers’ emails and calendars. Learn more about it here.