One of the key places where competitive intelligence shows its practicality is through battlecards. By assembling key information such as value propositions, competitor pain points, and responses to likely customer objections in one place, battlecards give sales teams a competitive edge. Positioning sales to win demands that you avoid shortcuts to make sure these documents are thorough and accurate.
Why Making a Good Battlecard is a Challenge
Sometimes beloved and sometimes derided, the battlecard is perhaps the most canonical competitive-intelligence deliverable. Part of their unique identity and value is that battlecards are not strictly objective—rather than simply acknowledging a deficiency in your product, for example, a battlecard focuses on helping the sales team maneuver around that weakness.
A battlecard’s responses to customer objections must be able to take the edge off of strong arguments against real deficiencies in your product. Anticipating those objections and crafting responses to them ahead of time demands both art and science, not to mention getting inside the heads of your sales teams and their customers.
Common Shortcomings to Avoid
- A common weakness with battlecards is to create a one-size-fits-all deliverable intended to fit all circumstances. Most companies have multiple sales organizations; inside sales, for example, has different needs than outside sales. And a sales engineer may want deep-dive technical comparisons, whereas an account manager needs information about how the sales motion gets started, what the entry point is, and what customer roles to target with what messages.
- A related issue is that competitive intelligence organizations sometimes try to fit all battlecards into a common template, rather than tailoring them to individual needs. If a critical examination reveals that your battlecard is simply your positioning document regurgitated into a new form, you haven’t created any real value.
Send the Sales Field Well-Armed into Battle
Insight is the most important ingredient in a battlecard, and getting inside the heads of the sales team means participating in sales calls if possible, hanging out in competitor sales forums, and reading their case studies. Mine issues and pain points, know what competitors are saying about you, and before you ever start writing, be able to answer the question, “what are the top five customer concerns and complaints related to this class of product?”
Finally, a word about providing a battlecard to your strategic partners—assume that it will find its way out onto the web and become a public document. That means you need to create “partnerized” versions of your battlecards before sharing them, to protect the information from being used by your competitors against you.
By Sean Campbell
By Scott Swigart