Posted by Dean Davison on January 12, 2011
We recently interviewed dozens of sales enablement professionals within the tech vendor community. These interviews painted a less-than-ideal picture of how sales teams value and use competitive battle cards – that competitive battle cards are a relic from out-dated selling models.
Battle cards still focus on products – just as they did in the days when customers purchased one product over another based on a side-by-side comparison of their features. In those days, competitive intelligence teams created battle cards about competitors – their company financials, products, sales tactics, and weaknesses – literally for sales reps to keep in their pocket.
A sampling of battle cards that we collected from across the tech industry confirms that battle cards are fashioned from a product point of view and often created because they are among the checklist of items for product managers when creating sales content. Today, portfolio managers also use the term “battle card’ for almost anything prepared for sales teams. In addition to competitive battle cards, we uncovered materials labeled as battle cards that talked about:
- Industry overviews. How a vendor’s products can combine into a new solution to meet the needs of customers in an industry that the vendor does not currently service.
- Technology profiles. How the capabilities of a new or emerging technology will allow it to displace the products or solutions that customers currently use.
- Partnership advantages. How a partnership or alliance between vendors will create capabilities to solve new or more complex customer problems.
- Product capabilities. How product features line up with customer pain points, and the benefits that the product will create for technology buyers and business users.
With competitive battle cards still looking at the market from a product point of view and the term battle card being used for other messages to sales teams, is it any wonder that reps don’t know what to expect from battle cards or get frustrated when their needs for critical information go unmet?
What kind of competitive battle cards do you create for sales teams? What about other kinds of sales content? Are you still giving your sales reps the tools to push products, or are you helping them sell outcomes, solutions, or business benefits?
To help address the problem with battle cards and sales content in general, Forrester’s sales enablement team will meet in just a few weeks with hundreds of sales enablement professionals in San Francisco to discuss "New Buyers, New Demands: Accelerating Sales Performance." Among other topics, you can listen to cutting-edge examples of tech vendors who are already going down the road of creating sales content to support outcome selling. We hope to see you there!