As a startup grows, there comes a time when it experiences inconsistency across its sales efforts—especially when it comes to sales messaging.
Imagine a group of salespeople selling to a prospect with varied pitches. Not only does it create a disconnected buying experience, but it also loses the prospect’s trust (and sales) and wrecks your business revenue.
Luckily, the right sales battle cards can turn your sales performance around.
What are Sales Battle Cards?
Sales battle cards are internal documents of information about a company’s product or service.
Typically less than ten pages long and usually created by marketers or the sales enablement team, these sales documents are every sales professional’s trusty sidekick.
Sales battle cards are widely used by sales professionals, from a sales development representative to an account executive.
They enable your entire sales efforts.
What is the Purpose of a Battlecard?
71% of businesses improved their win rates from using sales battle cards.
The purpose of your battle card is simple: To arm your sales team with actionable insights so they have ironclad proof to back up their sales pitch and get the sale—no matter what stage of the buying journey the prospect or customer is in.
Depending on the sales conversation with the prospect, your battle cards could revolve around the competitor, use case, or value proposition.
How Do You Make a Sales Battle Card?
1. Gather Your Go-To-Market Team
Everyone in your sales team needs to be on the same page about your competitive advantage.
Joe Aicher, director of sales at Breadcrumbs, says:
“As soon as you start encountering a few competitors, it’s vital for your go-to-market (GTM) teams to come together and build a set of sales battle cards.
GTM teams generally consist of customer-facing departments that are responsible for accelerating revenue.
Rally this cross-functional team to shape the content of your sales battle cards.
2. Consider Which Sales Battle Cards You Need
As you start creating your sales battle cards, remember this point by Akshaya Chandramouli, content marketing executive at Paperlite:
“Not all battle cards are the same and should be made contextual according to the situation.”
Here are a few common examples:
(i) Competitor Sales Battle Cards
Competitor battle cards compare a product in the sea of competition, along with information on how to counter objections from prospects (e.g., “[Competitor] has a feature that your product is missing. Why should I choose you?”).
(ii) Product Sales Battle Cards
Product battle cards display information about the prospect’s challenges and desires and why the product is ideal by highlighting its features and benefits.
(iii) USP or Value Prop Sales Battle Cards
Unique selling proposition (USP) or value proposition battle cards list several reasons the prospect should pick the product, focusing on its unique features.
(iv) Use Case Sales Battle Cards
Use case battle cards showcase how the product works in a specific scenario or industry (e.g., a use case battle card for an agency will look different than a B2B SaaS startup).
Marketers: Create these sales battle cards based on your meetings with the sales, customer success, and product teams.
If you’re in an incredibly niche market, you can get by with a few battle cards.
However, if your product belongs in a highly competitive industry (think SEO and CRM), you’ll need multiple sets. Don’t be alarmed if you realize you need to maintain dozens of sales battle cards.
47% of the businesses surveyed says they have more than 50!
3. Hit the Books
Matt Spiegel, founder and CEO of Lawmatics, prioritizes research regarding competitive landscapes and profiles and win or loss insights.
“Research, research, research.
This is the key to creating the best sales battle cards that your sales reps need to carry when pitching to clients or investors.
Through research, you can design your battle card with up-to-date information and market insights, which are definitely valuable in building trust with potential leads.”Matt Spiegel, founder and CEO of Lawmatics
Now that you’ve interviewed your GTM team, it’s time to chat with your customers.
Here are some questions:
1. What part of [Software] do you like the most? Why?
2. What part of [Software] do you not like? How can we improve them?
3. Will you recommend [Software] to your colleagues and friends? If yes, what features will you share?
Your customers’ responses to these questions will serve as a foundation for your battle cards, particularly those centered around product and value prop.
Pro Tip: Back up your insights with data.
Poor sales battle cards make claims after claims. Great sales battle cards back up claims with hard data. “Sales battle cards are only as effective as the data used in them,” shares Maya Levi, marketing manager at ReturnGO.
“Make it a point to do research and get sufficient data to build your sales strategies. After all, nothing beats a data-driven sales strategy.”
4. Create From Your Prospect’s Perspective
Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes.
Why should they pick your product over your (likely) more established competitors?
Kyle Buzzard, senior vice president of sales at Anura, shares a crucial reminder:
“It’s important that your sales team know that the cards are a resource and not a crutch. Don’t ever ‘feature dump’ the whole card.”
“Understand what’s important to your prospect and steer the conversation to your competitive advantages in the prospect’s main areas of concern,” reminds Kyle.
“Battle cards are internal and living documents. Your audience will tell you what topic areas are most important and where you may need to clean up your messaging.”
5. Be a Stickler For Consistency
Consistent presentation of your brand—from designing content to communicating with customers—matters. According to Lucidpress, it can increase revenue by 33%.
In other words, you want to be sure you’re extremely detail-oriented and consistent with your sales pitches.
Daivat Dholakia, the director of operations at Force by Mojio, makes an excellent point:
“Sales battle cards aren’t scripts, but every word should still count.”
Here’s what Daivat means.
You want the content on your sales battlecards to be something that your sales representatives can quote verbatim if necessary.
You also want to avoid unnecessarily long pitches about your product and avoid putting down your competitors.
The trick here is to be as concise and as objective as possible.
“One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen when building sales battle cards is not being honest about competitor strengths,” divulges Joe Aicher.
The director of sales at Breadcrumbs explains that it’s tempting to focus on competitor weaknesses and over-crowd your sales battle card.
“But inevitably, a prospect is going to bring up a competitor’s strength and throw you off your game, so you want to be prepared.”Joe Aicher, director of sales at Breadcrumbs
As a sales rep, you want to be seen as an expert in your field. “Being honest and acknowledging your weaknesses can actually help you gain credibility as someone who knows what they’re talking about,” reminds Joe.
“Great sales professionals know how to quickly overcome that weakness by downplaying its importance or pivoting to a more relevant value prop. Having a well-built battle card that can act as a quick reference for sales reps is essential for more effective conversations and higher conversions.”
Here’s an example by Daivat:
Let’s say your main competitor has a buggy app that frustrates a lot of customers.
Instead of having a go at them in your sales battle card:
“[Competitor]’s app is horrible.”
Give it a positive spin!
“Our rating on iTunes and Google Play is two stars higher. Check out what our users are saying about us here.”
“Being specific and using language that matters is key,” reiterates Daivat.
“It also means that if a customer talks to several different sales reps, they’ll receive similar messaging about your benefits relative to those of competitors. This will help you consistently create the terms by which they judge your product and reinforce the idea that you are the way to go.”
6. Make Them Accessible
According to SalesHacker, it’s often difficult for sales professionals to find their sales battle cards.
Akshaya Chandramouli agrees. In our interview, she emphasizes storage and discoverability:
“While teams are willing to invest hours in creating their sales battle cards, they tend to underestimate the visibility, therefore driving the sales teams towards frustration.”
Make sure your sales battle cards are stored in a central location (e.g., cloud storage providers like Dropbox or Google Drive) where everyone can access them.
Better yet, opt for a sales content management software that integrates with all your other data sources.
As you upload your sales battle cards online, categorize them accordingly. Add tags such as use case and industry, so that sales reps can access them with a few quick clicks.
More importantly, make sure it’s easy for the sales team to share their feedback in real-time. Since they’re the ones who interact with clients the most, they will have valuable insights into how the battle cards perform.
Pro Tip: Think about the layout and ease of use of your sales battle cards.
“It’s important to keep topics brief, so that the sales reps can skim them quickly while on a call,” adds Joe.
“They also have to be thoughtfully organized and standardized from card to card. Large sections with color-coded and bold headers help the rep quickly find the information they need without skimming too much.”
7. Update Your Sales Battle Cards!
Just like a blog post isn’t one and done, the same goes for your sales battle cards. Pay attention to the market movements and update them accordingly.
Tom Winter, co-founder and CRO of DevSkiller, weighs in:
“Nowadays trends are changing rapidly. Your reps should have access to a fresh battle card that’s frequently revised to match your active customers.”
“The biggest mistake is to keep the same stale battle cards for years—which some companies do! This renders them pretty much useless. I would recommend monthly updates and revisions. Weekly is even better.”
Pro Tip: Measure the impact of your sales battle cards and update them if needed.
In terms of KPIs, focus on competitive win rate, competitive retention rate, and competitive opportunity rate.
Create Your Sales Battle Cards to Improve Your Win Rate Today
Besides standardizing your sales messaging, sales battle cards also arm your sales team with priceless information they can access at any time.
With ironclad proof that backs up their sales pitches, they’ll never get caught off guard—even when faced with a tough customer.
Get on board with sales battle cards.
And brace yourself for the conversions.