The Basics of Battle Cards (and Why You Need Them)
Imagine you’re a personal chef, and you’ve been hired to create a multi-course dinner for a private party. You walk into the kitchen, and the only tool you have is a spoon — no knives, no pots, no pans.
If your sales team isn’t equipped with in-depth information about your potential customers, product, and each of your competitors, they’re going to experience a similar feeling. Only 10.5 percent of buyers want a completely unassisted purchasing experience, which is good news for sales teams. With the rest of the pack conducting their own research prior to making a purchasing decision, it’s imperative for these sales teams to have the right knowledge, and be able to sell in a way that appeals to info-hungry modern buyers.
That’s where battle cards come in — consider them your sales team’s kitchen utensils. Let’s take a look at what battle cards are, why they’re important, and how you can create effective versions that your sales team can use to prepare for (and during) a sales battle.
The What and Why
Essentially, battle cards are concise compilations of information about your product, the market, your customers, and your competition. They can show this important information as graphs/graphics, text, or even videos – the important part is the information that they provide to sales team members. Battle cards should be easy for your sales team to understand and refer to during the sale “battle.” If sales reps have stats, figures, and other specific, substantive information to point to while combating potential customers’ objections, it’s more likely that they’ll be able to close deals.
In addition to giving your sales team ammunition to go into conversations with potential customers, creating battle cards can also help your organization create consistent messaging when sales and marketing teams work together — and customers love consistency. Battle cards can also be used to get new employees up to speed faster, and help you identify shortcomings in your product or offerings.
To create effective battle cards, you need to gather information about your customer and every competitor — and not just the stuff posted on your competitors’ websites, or a three-sentence description of who you think your customer is.
Forte Consultancy Group developed nine sections for battle cards a few years back, and company executives and industry experts still point to them as one of the best frameworks for developing battle cards:
- Marketplace Conditions: This is all about what’s happening in your industry. Gather local information and data about market size and estimated demand, as well as information about the market as a whole. The more you know about the playing field you’re on, the better.
- Target Customers, Markets and Opportunities: This is all about buyer personas, customer pain points, and how your product(s) alleviate those pain points. Identify opportunities to cross or upsell. Know which market segments you’re not doing well with, and understand the buyer’s journey.
- Product Features: Get detailed and provide specifics about your product or service, and how it solves issues for your different potential customers. If you have product managers, consult with them and make sure you know the ins and outs of what your team is selling.
- Competitor Analysis: Yes, you’ll need info about what your competitors are producing, including their pricing, warranties, product features, etc. But battle cards aren’t just about comparing and showing the differences between your company and the competition. The information you gather about each competitor should be analyzed, so that your sales team knows where the holes are in your competitor’s offerings, and how to pitch your company as the better solution. You’ll need to do this for every competitor, and boil that research down into concise, convincing language that your sales team can use to address potential customers’ inquiries about competitors during “battle.”
- Customer and Segment Specific Propositions: Think about what your customers want to hear, and deliver it with concise, clear value propositions.
- Objection Management: This point is also called “potential customer issues with product.” Try to figure out why customers went with your competitors, what purchasing roadblocks they may have and how they may phrase them, or what negative things about your product are being spread by word of mouth.
- Golden Questions: These are the things you should ask potential clients to get them to identify their needs or hesitations. They help establish trust, so that potential clients feel that reps have their best interests at heart. They also help reps figure out the right solution for the individual.
- Success Stories/Benefits: Know what’s important to your potential customers (price, customer service, etc.), and back your relevant solution up with specifics like numbers or real-life success stories.
- Additional Information: What else should a sales rep know, and what other resources should they look to?
While these nine elements will definitely set you on your way to creating useful battle cards, no framework can be absolutely perfect for every organization. It’s important to also think about other things your sales team—and your company as a whole—needs to know. If something seems important, include it. Also, consider battle cards living documents. As your product changes, new competitors come on the scene and existing competitors change their products or offers, your battle cards will need to change as well. Set your sales team up for success by spending some time on battle card creation, and give them the tools they need to bring in new revenue.
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