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Today’s buyers are well-informed, and their research goes beyond comparing product features. They want to know what sets your offer apart and why they should invest in you. The sooner you get that information to them, the higher the chances of a sale.
But knowing exactly how your company differentiates itself in the market against specific competitors is a massive undertaking. This is where the power of battle cards comes into play.
These cards are a mini-refresher on your company’s USP, selling points, and differentiation strategy. In this article, we’ll explore what a battle card is and how it empowers sales reps to close more deals.
A battle card is a document that equips sales reps with all the essential information they need to outperform competitors. These cards serve as quick reference guides on how to win sales opportunities against the competition.
They’re a cheat sheet to win over customers as they provide concise data about your products or services and the competitive landscape.
This information helps your sales reps effectively address objections, highlight product strengths, and strategically position their offerings against competitors.
Battle cards provide a quick way to answer customer questions and confidently pitch offers. But there’s more to them than that. Here’s how they actually help your sales team:
Battle cards tune your sales team into the latest market rhythms. They equip your sales reps with up-to-date knowledge of what’s trending, what customers want, and what the competition is up to.
This knowledge helps them position your products or services smartly in the market, facing new challenges head-on.
Instead of thinking of an answer on the spot, your sales reps access tailored responses and strategies for any objection a customer brings up. This means your reps can reply swiftly without hesitation.
Your team won’t have to scramble to find information on websites, digital databases, or in piles of paperwork while talking to customers. With battle cards, all the essential data is in their hands, making them more responsive and agile in their conversations.
When you’re ill-prepared for a sales conversation or demo call, it shows. Buyers can sniff it out, negatively impacting how they perceive your brand and employees.
This is why you need to prepare your reps by giving them access to critical data about your competitors. It results in more confident sales reps who can field questions as and when they come. It also creates a good first impression on buyers and may sway the decision in your favor.
Battle cards give sales reps a strategic edge by providing them with focused and powerful key points. These cards highlight what’s special and strong about a product or service and give important information about competitors.
But also, these are accurate and reflect the current market trends and issues. This shows buyers that your team is prepared and understands their challenges.
Whether you have five reps or fifty, your messaging needs to be aligned to improve your sales outcomes. This matters a lot because it’s common for buyers to get handed off to different representatives, and if they’re saying different things, that confuses your buyers.
It makes them question your company’s USP and even sales strategy, resulting in low confidence when interacting with your team. With a battle card, that’s not the case anymore. Every rep knows what to say and how to say it due to airtight messaging guidelines.
There are several types of battle cards depending on its purpose:
Competitor battle cards prepare sales reps for encounters with rivals by showcasing their product’s advantages and countering competitors' claims.
What makes these cards so effective? They directly compare your product with the competitors, a strategy that can significantly sway sales discussions. The key here is to provide transparent and fair comparisons so that you’re manipulating the buyer to favor your offer.
Product battle cards focus entirely on your products or services. Depending on industry standards, they’re filled with information on what your product offers and doesn’t.
List each product’s features and accompanying benefits and tally which company offers and which doesn’t. This makes it easier to memorize how you stack up against competitors and provide accurate talking points during a sales conversation.
This type of battle card equips the sales team with concise answers to common objections they often face in sales discussions. It’s designed to help them smoothly navigate from a client’s ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ by addressing buyers' concerns or hesitations.
In the example below, you can see how Klue offers a reason for the objection, a script to address it, and additional resources to offer. This prevents any off-the-cuff discussion and solidifies your positioning too.
This battle card aims to give you a wide-ranging picture of the market or industry your business is part of. It includes information on the latest market trends, key players in the industry, or any recent regulation changes. Consider this as a mini bulletin on industry-wide trends to inform your reps.
Battle cards tailored for individual prospects are designed to cater to a single potential customer’s unique needs and interests. They zoom in on the characteristics of a particular prospect and include the following:
This card ensures the sales interaction is finely tuned to the prospect’s specific context and needs.
These cards help reps identify and capitalize on opportunities to sell additional or complementary products to existing customers. It outlines indicators and strategies for increasing the customer’s lifetime value (CLV) in a specific context.
Let’s delve into what makes a battle card truly effective:
Offers a snapshot of your competitors, including their:
Contrast that information with your own company’s data. Don’t just list features. Showcase how your product is unique and spotlight the advantages your offer holds over theirs.
USPs are the heart of your competitive advantage. You need to dig deep, identifying specific strengths and weaknesses compared to each major competitor. For example, if a competitor is more cost-effective, illustrate why your product’s added functionality justifies the higher price.
Jason Wise, an editor at EarthWeb, says, “Offering an accurate representation of your company’s capabilities is to focus on your USP. It sets you apart from your competitors and makes your company more attractive to customers.”
Ideally, it should also include snappy pitches and phrases for sales reps, reflecting what resonates best with clients.
By pinpointing your and your competitors’ weaknesses or limitations, you can tailor your pitch to showcase how your product or service effectively addresses these gaps.
For example, if you offer a specific feature and your competitor doesn’t, use that as a selling point in your pitches or demo calls. This increases the persuasive power of your discussion as it shows the buyer you know precisely what they want.
Some products cater to particular markets or persona types. So, adding this section to your battle card makes sure your reps are using it for the right conversation. You should information such as:
It lets your reps tailor the pitch and sales approach depending on who they’re speaking to. Use internal customer data and market research to craft these accurately.
Battlecards are incomplete without their “armor.” In this case, it’s the objections that sales reps will have to field during prospect conversations. These can range from concerns around pricing and product features to questions about the company’s success rates and product stability.
Look at customer data from previous sales calls or customer interviews and tally what questions buyers in specific markets or roles ask. Use that as a starting point to create a list of objections and potential answers.
While USPs have their own place, how you convey that USP also matters. For example, let’s say your USP is that you’re the only company that offers a scalable sales content management solution. You can either focus on how companies of any size can use it or how the solution is cost-effective compared to existing solutions since you only pay for what you use.
Base this information on customer data about why past customers have chosen you. You’ll have a better chance of winning the deal.
Social proof solidifies a buyer’s confidence in your offer. It showcases a real-life example of someone who was in their shoes and successfully overcame the same issues they were facing. You can increase your chances of closing the deal by illustrating similar challenges or potential benefits.
Make sure to choose testimonials or case studies of a similar target market, a similar problem, or a similar role. There needs to be a sense of familiarity to which the prospect can relate for the social proof to be effective.
Is there any best practice that sales leaders or peers have to offer? Include them in the battle card. It could be a miscellaneous note or a new strategy that seems to be working. Make it as practical as possible so that it’s easy to implement.
NOT: Use the HubSpot case study.
BUT: Use the HubSpot case study and mention the product stability pain point (with metrics) to improve buyer confidence.
Here are a few tried-and-tested tips to create a battle card:
Collect up-to-date and accurate information about your competitors, including their products, strategies, and pros and cons. Using old or incorrect info can harm your reputation and cost you a high-value deal.
Regularly review various sources such as:
Identify the unique features of your product that make it stand out against each competitor. Focus on strengths that could tip the scales in your favor.
“In my experience, I’ve found that spending time with different teams—from product development to sales—provides invaluable insights,” says David Rubie-Todd, co-founder and marketing head of Sticker It.
“For instance, our engineers might highlight a specific feature that sets our product apart, while the sales team could share real-life examples where our solution outperformed competitors. By integrating these insights into the battle card, we accurately represent our capabilities and provide a compelling narrative on why we are the preferred choice for our customers.”
When putting together a battle card, make it user-friendly and easy to scan. Use bullet points, clear headings, and short paragraphs to organize the content. Here are a couple of tips:
Elliott Brown from Cache Financials advises, “In a sales situation, a battle card has to be clear and to the point. If it’s overloaded with information or the crucial points are hard to find, it won’t be much help. While it’s good to have detailed information available elsewhere for the sales reps, packing too much into a battle card can hinder them from making a strong pitch.”
Focus your battle card on the challenges your sales reps frequently face, whether it’s understanding competitor offerings, handling objections, or effectively highlighting the strengths of your products.
Brown says, “In the process of creating battle cards, it’s easy to forget about the end-users—the sales reps. To make these cards genuinely effective, highlight key differentiators, concentrate on the most crucial information to avoid information overload, and include specific issues or pain points that the sales reps should address.”
Regularly gather input from your sales team about common obstacles they encounter. Use this feedback to tailor the battle card with practical tips and strategies that address these specific challenges.
In some cases, having a specific feature sets you apart, but in some cases, how that feature works is what matters. Clearly articulate that differentiation so your sales reps know how to carry the conversation forward.
Using real-life stories, like what customers have said or case studies, is a great way to prove your points. Third-party review sites are an excellent resource to tease these differentiators out.
And if your competitors do better than you in a specific aspect, have scripts to steer the conversation away or offer a counter argument. This way, your sales team can confidently respond if a customer asks about them.
You can’t hand over the cards and expect your reps to hit the ground running. Show them how to use it and coach them in sales conversations.
Walk them through the various sections of the card and tell them how to use it in different situations. Practice through role-play and simulated sales scenarios and provide feedback to help them refine their techniques.
It leaves no room for error or misinterpretation, resulting in successful sales outcomes.
The process involves revising competitor information, refining strategies, or incorporating new insights from recent customer interactions.
Designate an individual or a team to review and refresh these cards consistently. They should also gather and act on input from the sales team, ensuring the battle cards remain relevant and practical for actual sales scenarios.
Update them every alternative quarter or sooner, depending on the current market situation.
Battle cards empower sales reps with the right information about the company, offer, and prospects, preventing any slip-ups during sales calls.
As the market goes through continuous change and new competitors keep coming up, these cards effectively enable reps to stay on top of their game. It allows them to confidently approach sales scenarios, armed with knowledge and tactics tailored to win and rooted in real-world data.
If you’re looking to get started, use any of the featured battle card templates to curate one for your sales team.
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