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 solution? Sales Battle Cards. According to Crayon,71% of businesses that use them say they’ve increased their win rates as a result.
Sales battle cards ensure reps are well-versed in all things pertaining to competitors and help them set customer expectations. We'll explain what sales battle cards are and how they integrate into a winning sales strategy.
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.
The Importance of Battle Cards in Sales
Creating battle cards may feel like extra work, but they are worth the effort. Battle cards take the most useful information about your industry, competition, and key benefits of your products, and puts it all in one place. Battle cards also help sales reps:
1. Stay ahead of the competition.
Most sales reps are busy selling. They don’t have time to follow company updates every time the competition rolls out a new feature or campaign. Battle cards (when updated properly) will have any new features the competition has rolled out and how they stack up against your brand's offerings. That way reps won’t be blindsided on a call when a customer counters with a competitor's value proposition.
2. Prepare for customer challenges in advance.
Having a clear idea of customer challenges and how your product can remedy them before your call with a prospect will greatly help your sales efforts. Battle cards outline common customer pain points in addition to which products or services may be best in specific scenarios.
Having this information handy will help sales reps speak to their prospect’s unique needs with a solution that’s tailor-made for them.
3. Craft better pitches.
With all the information in one place, reps can focus on pitching rather than researching. It’s not only an excellent resource for learning about competitors but your brand’s offerings as well. All of the product knowledge they need to solve for the customer is on that card, which will assist them in crafting more effective pitches.
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.
Competitive Battle Cards
As we briefly mentioned above, competitive battle cards contain information on a brand’s industry competitors. This can include pricing, the solutions and services provided, and their customer profile. With this information in hand, sales reps will have vital information about their competitor that they can use in a sales pitch.
Prospects will have questions about how you stack up against other companies. Preparing competitive battle cards will ensure you're ready to objection handle and address any concerns prospects may have.
Product Battle Cards
Product battle cards are used to educate teams about the product they’re selling. They generally have everything sales reps can use in their pitches to prospects — customer pain points, how the product solves those pain points or adds value, and any exclusive features that would benefit the customer.
These cards may focus on one product you offer, or be a comparison of multiple products paired with use cases. Ultimately, product battle cards should assist in persuading prospects by emphasizing specific benefits your product offers and how it resolves customer challenges.
Marketing Battle Cards
Marketing battle cards examine a competitors' marketing strategy. In order for sales reps to succeed, it's important for them to know who the competition is selling to and how.
For example, if a competitor is positioning itself as the most cost-effective brand in the industry, that may have an effect on which customers you choose to market to. In this case, you may position your brand as higher quality to justify a higher price point and market to an audience willing to pay more for better service.
Marketing battle cards may also include information on competitor industry verticals, partners, and marketing channels.
Next, we'll explore battle card templates and how they can aid sales teams.
Sales Battle Card Templates
Creating a battle card from scratch can slow you down if you're not sure where to start. Fortunately, there are templates that can help you put these materials together relatively quickly without having to fuss about having the right format.
Although the template will have predetermined categories and headings, feel free to customize them to your team's needs. Templates are meant to be used as a guide and it's important to create a battle card that works for you. HubSpot's Battle Card Templates offer three customizable templates:
In-Depth Competitor Battle Card: Use this card for a deep dive into your competitors' strengths, weaknesses, and to illustrate your winning strategy. There's also space for case studies and customer references to help your sales reps win the sale.
Side-by-Side Competitor Comparison Battle Card: This card can be used for both internal and external purposes to compare each brand's solution and key features. They can also help reps explain why one solution or service may be a better fit.
Multi-Competitor Battle Card: Another option for internal and external use, this card (pictured above) allows you to compare your features and attributes to competitors in a simple chart.
Now that you're more familiar with how to use battle cards, it's time to get started making your own.
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 price as 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.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in May 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Originally published May 25, 2022 8:00:00 AM, updated May 25 2022