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3 Sales Battlecard Mistakes You’re Making (And How to Fix Them)

Published: Aug 12, 2020

Investing in your sales battlecards is one of the best decisions you can make for your sales team. Battlecards enhance your sales process by providing a comprehensive, insight-driven snapshot of your competitors in an easily digestible format, along with pre-written responses that give your salespeople a head start when they’re pitching to potential customers.

But like any system, battlecards can be subject to design flaws and systemic issues that make them less effective. Addressing these problems can improve your battlecards, often without spending a dime, and, by extension, you’ll improve your sales team’s performance.

If you’re new to building sales battlecards, or if you’re not getting the results you want from your battlecard system, here are some common battlecard mistakes you might be making:

 

Mistake #1: Too much information

Battlecards serve to inform your sales team about the competition. To that end, staying up-to-date on competitive intelligence gathering is critical to supporting your battlecards. That means gathering information from a wide variety of sources on a near-constant basis. If your collection process isn’t thorough enough, you risk missing out on vital developments that could affect your sales approach or positioning. For this reason, many CI processes intentionally err on the side of over-informing CI stakeholders, including salespeople. In theory, this means that nothing important gets missed, since stakeholders are informed of any and every quasi-relevant piece of news in their industry space.

In practice however, this approach has drawbacks for your sales battlecard system. Information is good, but too much information can be detrimental to your battlecards’ usability. Think of a utility drawer: when you go to grab something, you want it to be well stocked with the tools and supplies you regularly use. At the same time, if it’s packed to the brim with miscellaneous items, it will be harder to locate what you need. In fact, if the drawer is consistently overflowing, you might start to avoid opening it whenever possible, even if you know it contains some useful things.

An overloaded battlecard is like junk drawer for data that your sales team will avoid having to dig through at all costs. Even when the updates provided by your CI process are good, they’re likely to be drowned out if they’re not filtered for relevancy and value to your sales team.

 

Fix:

-          Curate your competitor background information before it goes on the battlecard. Trim down the vast wealth of knowledge you’ve probably accumulated during the research process to the highlights. Your battlecards should tell your salespeople, at a glance, things like what the competitor produces, who they work for, and how they’re regarded by customers and industry professionals.

-          Tweak your battlecard template so that breaking news is displayed separately from standard background information. This option gives you the best of both worlds: up-to-the-minute information about your competitor’s movements that doesn’t overwhelm the more valuable strategic data that you carefully curated.

 

Mistake #2: Limited feedback and oversight

Like all business systems, sales battlecards are an investment. For companies that choose to outsource some or all of the process, they’re an ongoing financial investment. But even for companies that choose to handle the process internally, they require a serious time commitment. The background research needed to set up a battlecard deck can eat up dozens of man hours, and they need significant ongoing updates and maintenance to be effective.

It’s important to know what you’re getting in return for your investment, but many companies start building a battlecard deck without a plan for monitoring or improving the final product. Once their battlecards go live, these companies find themselves struggling to maintain their battlecards, let alone account for their investment in terms of sales.

 

Fix:

-          Assign ownership of the battlecard deck to a single employee or department. Whether that’s your sales team, research department, or an external consultant, there should be no question as who is responsible for creating and updating your battlecard deck. That includes updating the data they contain and the technology supporting them.

-          Implement a clear feedback mechanism that encourages users to submit their suggestions and complaints. Make sure the person or team receiving the feedback has a direct line of communication with your battlecard support team.

-          When possible, track employees’ usage to look for relationships between sales performance and battlecard use. Depending on how detailed your user data is, you may be able to discover usage trends, identify power users, and find ways to garner more interest from less frequent users.

 

Mistake #3: Not user friendly

Sales battlecards provide your team with a wealth of information. At their best, battlecards represent the happy union of competitive intelligence and sales enablement.

Sales battlecards are ultimately about convenience. The information they contain is usually available in other places, via other resources within your organization. But one of the major benefits of having battlecards is that they bring those sources of background information together and allow your sales team to build on the strategic insights they provide.

Disorganized or poorly formatted battlecards can handicap users, if not drive them away entirely. Likewise, settling for a system that’s primarily or exclusively accessible through a VPN or internal file system means you’re undercutting your ability to sell outside of the office before you even get started.

 

Fix:

-          Organize your battlecards into easily recognizable sections. Standardizing the way information is grouped across battlecards will make it easier for salespeople to quickly recall each section’s content.

-          Consider a flexible layout, rather than a pdf or word document. Giving users the ability to quickly adjust the way information is displayed will make your cards easier to use during fast-paced sales calls.

-          Find a system that allows salespeople to access your battlecard decks from different locations and devices. This is particularly important now that the COVID-19 crisis has pushed many salespeople out of the office, in some cases permanently. Accessibility is critical to making your battlecards a utility they can depend on.