What is a Sales Battle Card?
Sales battle cards are documents that enable salespeople to have fruitful client conversations. Battle cards provide vital information to sales reps helping them to convince clients with a product's value proposition.
Battle cards include information about your product/service, competitive intelligence, pricing, unique selling points, possible counter questions from customers, and a lot more.
In a nutshell, sales battle cards provide information that helps sales reps win deals.
In medieval times, kings emerged victorious on a battlefield by wielding powerful swords, which were symbols of power, honor, and strength. King Arthur’s legendary magical sword, the ‘Excalibur,’ was known to blind his enemies.
Today's sales teams have a similar need for a ‘magical weapon’ like the 'Excalibur' to outsmart their competition.
Why Do Sales Teams Need Battle Cards?
(Alternatively, what can sales reps do with a battle card?)
Sales reps need all the support that they need to go out in the field and compete hard. Here are the reasons they need sales battle cards:
To Make an Effective Pitch
Sales battle cards help them deliver compelling pitches. They don’t have to scramble for information on websites, content repositories, SharePoint, folders, or inside their cabinets when speaking to a customer. With these battle cards primed right in front of them, the information that they need is right at their fingertips and makes them agile.
Furthermore, with businesses seeing multiple customer personas that come to their website/shopfront, battle cards help them prepare adequately ahead of a sales pitch.
How? Because each pitch can then be customized based on the buyer persona.
To Stay One Step Ahead of Competition
Sales reps are mostly on customer calls or traveling and might miss a chance to train themselves on their company’s new offerings, features, etc. The sales battle card helps them stay well-informed of what’s shaping the industry, competition, regulations, etc.
For example, let us assume your competitor has launched a new feature in his product that your product already has. In this case, you could include language in the battle card that tells how your product is already a frontrunner or how it helps customers reap immediate benefits.
To Brace Up for Situational Pitches
Use situations to help your sales teams navigate tough customer meetings. Explain what a sales rep could do in the below scenarios:
1. If they’re aware of an existing challenge that a customer is facing, then they can contextualize the pitch. For example, dipping employee productivity, decreasing sales in a particular geography, higher customer churn rates.
2. Your sales reps know what product the customer is using, and if the license is nearing expiry, then your battle card must have that information.
3. If you have launched a new feature that your customers have spoken about earlier, then your sales battle card must have that section.
4. If you know what features customers would like in your product, make sure you mention this information in the battle card.
5. If you are launching sales promotions or offering discounts on your product, make sure your battle card has that information.
To Track Competition (But Don’t Get Paranoid!)
Marketers track their competition all the time. Monitoring what your competitors are up to and including information about it in the battle card is essential (but don't flood it with excessive information!)
Keep a close eye on your competitor’s website, social media posts, geographical expansions, new client wins (if reported) campaigns, etc. Filter out the requisite information and include it in a battle card for sales reps to use it. But, at the same time don’t report it in the battle card to the point that you’re just following your competition and doing nothing else!
What are the Types of Battle Cards?
Based on the need, here are the different categories of battle cards, which we have listed below along with the best examples of battle card templates. Take a look at our collection of the best sales battle cards.
Product Battle Cards
Product battle cards feature all the information that your sales teams need about the product that they’re selling. For example, the Oracle Sales Cloud Battlecard lists the challenges that potential customers are facing, its value add, and the industries where it is applicable. This battle card has the initial mail script that sales could use. Product battle cards are meant to be educative material for sales reps so that they can absorb it and use it in their sales pitches.
The Product Comparison Battlecard by HeroPay compares the three popular Point of Sale systems: Square, PayPal, and Verifone on different parameters - fees that they charge, equipment that they provide, user experience, etc. They provide their assessment at the end of it that lets their sales staff understand how the three products stack against each other.
Marketers often adopt an infographic to depict the information. For example, PlanetOne’s infographic-based battle card on unified communications portrays what unified communications is, its importance, the suitable deployment model, etc. This battle card template is favored by sales personnel because it easily explains the whole scenario with a combination of images and text.
Competitor Battle Cards
Competitor battle cards host all information about the competitor that you're following. Klue’s Competitor Battlecard gives brief details on the competitor, their market value, annual run rate, solution overview, and the customer profile.
Competitor battle cards will enable sales teams to pick out vital information about their competitors and prepare their pitch accordingly.
"I think the biggest challenge when it comes to competitor battle cards is making facts actionable. For instance, you find out a competitor has a new feature and everyone gets nervous. While it’s important for reps to know about the feature in the back of their head, these battle cards should also be arming them with what they can say if a prospect/client asks about it."
Another example is their detailed competitor overview battle card, which is possibly one of the most comprehensive battle card templates that we have come across. This battle card template has eight distinct sections that help declutter the information contained in them.
The competitor battle card template helps sales folks be ready when faced with questions on how their product is better than the competition.
Comprehensive Battle Cards
Comprehensive battle cards cover a lot of details. Sales teams need not look elsewhere for information on the product that they are selling. For example, the Windows Server 2016 battle card is one of the most complete in its coverage. This comprehensive battle card includes what Small and Medium Businesses could do with a server, use cases, the right edition for SMBs, and a separate section on popular myths.
Question-Based Battle Cards
Question-based battle cards have information that a potential customer could ask the salesperson. These battle cards could be smaller in size in comparison to others because sales reps can use it to handle questions from customers.
Zebra’s question-based battle card has questions that a salesperson is likely to face while trying to sell their product. A sample question could be, “Why should I think about upgrading to a new operating system if my current product works fine?”
Answers to such questions help sales reps to have a good conversation going with customers.
Value Proposition-based Battle Cards
One of the best value proposition battle cards is OnRamp’s Data Centers battle card. It captures information on target customers, qualifying questions, value proposition, opportunity registration process, why customers need to choose OnRamp, etc. This battle card template lays out how customers can benefit from using their product.
Partnership Battle Cards
Partnership battle cards highlight the critical features of a company’s partnership. IntelePeer and Advantone’s partnership battle card highlights the key differentiators of the partnership, its sweet spot, challenges, and qualifying questions.
Use Case-Based Battle Cards
Use case-based battle cards have information on applicable use cases. We found the VSS’s use case battle card features two use cases of how the product could fit into the customer's enterprise along with the qualifying questions. The document even has network diagrams that teams might need during customer conversations.
How Do You create a competitive battle card?
From our analysis of battle cards, here are the steps that marketers need to follow to create a battle card:
Designing a Battle card Template That Works
While there are many templates available to generate battle cards, we recommend a customized battle card for your sales team. If they don’t find it useful, you will need to revisit it.
Make the design of the battle card template simple and easily scannable, so that they don't struggle to find the information they need.
Remember, sales folks don’t have a lot of time in their hands, so keep it brief. Moreover, even customer success teams use battle cards to answer queries – so an uncomplicated design will be ideal. Click here for a collection of the most uncomplicated looking battle card templates.
Creating battle cards needs a lot of research. It involves scanning the internet, poring over analyst reports, databases, listening to webinars, and reading blogs. Speak to your product managers, technology executives, and engineering teams to come up with a basic set of information that will ultimately find its way into the battle card.
Analyzing Your Competitors
Competitor analysis is a critical component of battle card preparation. You will need to look at their product features, existing customers, pricing, marketing strategy, social media messaging. Gather these details and present it in a concise form in the competitive battle card.
Customizing Battle Cards
Not all battle cards are the same but should be made contextual according to the situation. Battle cards will need to be customized based on the requirements. For example, competitor battle cards are undoubtedly different from product battle cards. Similarly, battle cards could be varying in their coverage (based on the requirements).
While a battle card should have requisite details, it should not be too long. Sales reps could be overwhelmed while searching for information in a long battle card.
Storing Battle Cards
Make sure these battle cards are storable and retrievable from a common database such as Box or Google Drive or OneDrive or Dropbox for ready access and use. Categorize them according to the purpose they serve and use tags, so they are easily searchable. These battle cards should be easily accessible and discoverable by salespeople.
Distributing Battle Cards
Distributing your battle card to sales folks is as important as creating them. They should be made aware of their existence. So, notify your sales teams every time you create a new battle card or update an old one, so they are aware of it.
Auditing/Updating Battle Cards
As a marketer, you don't want your sales staff to use the wrong battle card. It could result in incorrect information communicated to the client and jeopardize deals.
Imagine the embarrassment if your sales teams promise discounts on the product that no longer exists! When you create a marketing calendar for the year, remember to set aside time to audit and update battle cards.
- "A new challenge for battle cards in 2020 is whether you—as an organisation—have gained a competitive advantage during the pandemic or not. Is there something that allows for greater mobility or increased engagement as a differentiator? Today, there is an increased focus on stakeholders with the rise of buying committees requiring you to expand the scope and go beyond the typical personas in the ICP.
- With the rise of buying committees and RevOps/DevOps, the number of people impacted has grown. So, the importance of battle cards today has grown tremendously as we all become more collaborative to allow for a diversity of thought."
- Jen Ferguson, Founder and Growth Strategist at Sales 911
What are the Elements of a Sales Battle Card Template?
Distilling the information to include only the vital pieces in the sales battle card template is key to getting your sales teams to make compelling sales pitches. While there is a lot of information that an ideal sales battle card template could have, it should undoubtedly have the below elements:
Information About Your Company/Product/Service
Sales folks are ambassadors of their firms and are expected to know everything about their company such as history, management, business divisions, and geographical presence. Information about their product/service is also essential, although they aren’t expected to know technical details.
Much of these could already be on the company’s website, but it could still be handy to have it ready during a sales call. Create a sales battle card with the requisite product information so that it is easily usable by sales reps.
Profile of the Ideal Target Audience
The sales battle card should have the ideal facets of a perfect buyer persona. What are the traits of an ideal buyer, what is the problem he/she is looking to solve?
For example, a customer of a business intelligence firm could be a chief product officer responsible for meeting the product and business goals. Knowledge about his/her business priorities, budget, preferences, etc. is vital to speak the language that he/she is most familiar.
Unique Selling Points
What are the unique selling points of your product? In other words, why will a customer prefer your product over the other? Think about a distinctive aspect of your product that your competitors cannot easily emulate and ensure you put it down on the battlecard.
Use Cases Applicable to a Client
A battle card must have a separate section on how your product solves a client's business problem, i.e., use cases.
Clients would love to hear how you are thinking about them all the time. Use instances of how you are doing it for other clients in the same industry and include it in the sales battle card.
Benefits for Clients
The benefits of your product are what you are trying to sell. It forms a vital component of a sales battlecard. For example, if you're enabling customers to launch their products 30% faster, then that should be called out in a sales battle card. Client benefits could be qualitative as well – such as higher brand recall that cannot be measured – but should still find a place in the battlecard.
Sales reps should be aware of the trends shaping their industry. That includes: who are the incumbent players, newer entrants, government policies, regulations, etc. A brief overview of the industry trends on the sales battle card will prep up the sales folks to handle their customer conversations better.
What are the key factors that differentiate your solution versus the competition? Invariably, salespeople will have to deal with this question. Moreover, the customer is becoming smart, having already done his research by the time he buys a product.
For example, ROBO (Research Online Buy Offline) Economy had an interesting statistic to report. 82% of smartphone users refer their phones on purchases they were about to make in-store, and 45% read reviews before purchasing according to them.
In B2B scenarios, customers have a due diligence process before engaging with vendors. The sales battle card must call out at least three vital differentiating factors why your solution is better than the competitors.
Real-Life Success Stories
Nothing satiates customers more than hearing examples of how you solved a real-life problem for another customer. You don’t have to name the customer, but it is important to mention them on the battlecard briefly.
For example, let us assume you are selling an analytics-based product. A prospective customer might wish to know how your product could give him untapped insights and how your company has helped similar clients in the past. If you can back it up with customer credentials, then you have done well in closing the loop.
It is also important to remember to steer away from conversations where you know you may not be winning against the competition. For example, disputes or lack of a more extensive geographic presence – these could be areas that might not go down well clients. The battlecard must cover these pitfalls as well and tell sales reps not to engage their customers on these lines.
Answering Counter Questions
Customers often engage with salespeople after trying other products/services. In these cases, they’re hunting for the best product that matches their desired features, budget, etc. When faced with such counter questions about their products/services, they must be ready for it.
Who Creates Battle Cards?
Marketers, of course! It is because they have adequate knowledge of the product and company. But, it will be asking for too much if marketers were to do it all alone.
They would need inputs from numerous other teams within the company, such as product leads, customer support, engineering, business development, etc. At the same time, as users, sales teams are expected to provide feedback to marketing teams about their utility.
Battle Cards: Rounding It All Up
We often hear about how sales and marketing teams can achieve a lot when they work together. Competitive battle cards are vital pieces of marketing collateral that can make sales teams become fans of the content that the marketers produce. Marketers must ensure battle cards are well compiled, usable, updated, and easily accessible for salespeople.
Don’t forget that salespeople hardly have a few moments in hand to speak to customers, so don’t expect them to open a 50-page battle card document. Refining the information from a horde of scattered material across the company, products, competitors, etc. in a simple format is not easy, but the results are worth it.
"Battle cards do not need to be masterpieces. Even having something basic, but with actionable points seems like an easy yes!"
- Katherine McConnell, Revenue Generator & Catalyst
Think about how salespeople will use the battle cards – are they going to use it in its digital formats, or are they going to pin it up on their desks? That will give you answers about creating the ideal battle card.
Here Are A Few Related Blogs That Might Interest You:
- AN INTRODUCTION TO MARKETING COLLATERAL
- THE SECRET TO EFFECTIVE MARKETING COLLATERAL
- IS PHYSICAL MARKETING COLLATERAL DEAD?
- THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CREATING MARKETING COLLATERALS FOR CONSULTING COMPANIES