Sometimes, you’re miles ahead of your competitor on pricing, features, and customer service.
Other times, you’re not — and it’s better that both you and your prospects are aware of those shortcomings.
The last thing you want to do is mislead someone during the sales process about your product, service, or capabilities, only to anger your newly acquired customer with poorly set expectations. This experience increases churn rate, lowers customer lifetime value, and creates a stream of negative reviews and word of mouth criticism that could do detrimental damage to your business.
On top of that, sales reps need to be well-versed in all things pertaining to competitors — but when businesses have an average of 25 competitors, it’s tough to store all of that necessary information in their minds, especially since competitors and their products are always evolving.
The solution? Sales Battle Cards. According to Crayon,71% of businesses that use them say they’ve increased their win rates as a result.
What are Battle Cards in sales?
Battle cards are visual aids comparing your company’s product, service, features, and/or pricing to one or many competitors. Typically a one-pager, a battle card is a quick way to provide an overview of your competitors and to see how you stack up against them in crucial areas of performance and value.
Types of Sales Battle Cards
Sales battle cards can be utilized as a comparison to one of your competitors, or as a comparison to multiple competitors. Additionally, some battle cards may be predominantly utilized internally for sales rep reference, while others are beneficial as prospect-facing collateral as comparison sheets.
If you’re curious about which type of battle card you should create, remember: there’s no harm in over preparing, so we’ll be walking through how to create multiple types of battle cards.
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When presented to prospects, one-to-one battle cards are better further down the pipeline, when prospects have narrowed their options down and need to get into the nitty gritty about which solution is the one for them. They’re also great for sales reps at this time, as they provide more in-depth detail on why your company is better (or worse) than a competitor, and in which aspect specifically.
Multi-competitor battle cards are more often utilized in the researching phase where potential buyers need a lot of information distilled for them.
Rather than start from scratch, use battle card templates to fill out the details of your business alongside your competitors’. Not only does this save time whenever you make a battle card, it also creates a more consistent brand experience for each battle card you make for different competitors and present to your customers.
HubSpot’s Battle Card Templates — one for multi-competitor analysis, one for a profile of one competitor, and another for a side-by-side comparison between you and another company — should save you plenty of time as you build your battle cards.
2. Pick Your Categories
In which areas do you, your product, or your service excel? Conversely, in which ways do your competitors outperform you? You should strategically create a list of topics you want to include on your customer-facing battle cards, such as:
Cost to consumer
Value to consumer / ROI
Again, these battle cards should be persuasive, but honest. If there’s an area where your competitor is better than you, own it and put an explanation as to why if it’s a one-on-one battle card. Your prospects will appreciate the honesty and have properly set expectations. On the contrary, make sure you don’t put too many negatives on your battle cards. These are still sales collateral pieces, and while it’s important to be truthful, make sure your battle card doesn’t create more harm than good in the sales cycle.
When it comes to one-on-one battle cards, your categories can change for each competitor so they reflect the main areas of difference between you. For example, if you’re nearly the same on price with Competitor A, it may not be worth putting "price" on that battle card. However, if you’re a more affordable option compared to Competitor B, you may want to highlight "price" on your battle card with them.
Lastly, for competitor overview battle cards, feel free to put more details on here that will be helpful for sales reps, as these cards are more often used internally than externally. You may want to include some fast facts for quick reference by reps, such as their annual revenue, pricing model, and relevant case studies.
3. Choose Your Competitor(s)
Sales reps who have made it to the close phase — only to lose out again "the other option" again — know the names of your top competitors quite well.
Make a list of your competitors and determine how often they come up in certain stages of the buyer’s journey. From there, you can determine whether or not the competitor deserves its own dedicated battle card or if it should just be included in a multi-competitor comparison card.
If the competitor is an endgame threat, that’s where you’ll want to have a detailed, one-on-one battle card ready. If other competitors mostly come up in earlier conversations and don’t pose as much of a threat towards the end of the pipeline, it makes more sense to include them in a multi-competitor battle card (pictured below).
The last thing you want to do is present a battle card to prospects, only for them to call you out on incorrect information about your competitors.
That’s why we have three words of advice for you — do your research.
Battle cards should be a team effort across your organization — your sales team knows who your biggest competitors are, your marketing team knows about their brands, reviews, and online presence, and your customer success team knows why you’re losing existing clients to competition.
That said, consider reaching out to representatives to any and all of these areas of your business when building your battle cards:
Building these solo? No problem! Aside from conversations with co-workers who know about your competition, consider taking the following steps to help build your battle cards.
Scour your competitors’ website for objective facts and details.
Read online review sites for subjective input around topics like value and usability.
Search for mentions of your competition in the news or on social media.
Reach out to current accounts to see why they chose you over a competitor.
You’ll thank yourself for your research efforts when you have a library of detailed collateral on each of your key competitors. These cards will make your sales reps’ jobs easier and impress prospects with the preparedness, clarity, and organization that your company values.
With all of the information you’ve gathered, you can go ahead and start creating and finalizing your battle cards for use by your sales team.
5. Update Your Content Regularly
Times change. You add more products and features, and so do your competitors.
Building your battle cards should be seen as an ongoing project rather than a one-time task, so make a note to stay up-to-date on your competitors. Revisit the steps outlined in the section above on a regular cadence and update your battle cards as needed to avoid presenting false or outdated information on your competitors to your prospects.
An added benefit of refreshing these battle cards consistently is a more keen eye on your competitors. Keep a lookout for updates that are worth passing over to your product team — they may inform your plans or product roadmaps in the future.
Ready for Battle
At this point, you should be prepared to create sales battle cards for your top competitors by gathering prudent information and presenting it in a way that will help you win more deals.
Remember, to get started faster, consider using Battle Card Templates so you can stay consistent with your documentation and presentation for these imperative pieces of sales collateral.
Originally published May 26, 2020 12:30:00 PM, updated March 18 2021