Creating useful battlecards is a multi-step process that includes a lot of research and work. And as important and useful as all that work is—once your battlecards are out there, they can quickly become outdated. Or worse, they can end up never going beyond the inbox of those you created them for.

If your sales team never actually uses the battlecards you created, or if the information in them becomes outdated by the time they do, what was all that work even for? Competitive battlecards can be extremely valuable, but they have to be current, accurate, and accessible to your sales reps at the moment they need them. Otherwise, they won’t do the job they’re meant to.

Competitive battlecards aren’t a one-time job

For a busy product marketer with a lot on their plate, checking something off the to-do list feels satisfying. But while it’s easy to want to leave a job well done in the past as you move onto the next thing, battlecards aren’t the kind of task where you can tick a box and be done.

The competitive landscape simply changes too fast. Battlecards created a year ago may completely fail to account for a new player in the industry that’s since become a key competitor, have pricing information that’s no longer accurate, or neglect to address features that are now a compelling part of a competitor’s product. Oversights like that make your sales team risk looking uninformed and under prepared, and increase the likelihood they’ll lose a sale.

Creating a successful battlecard process

Creating your battlecards is obviously an important step, but it’s only a first step. In order to ensure the battlecards you create are put to use, and stay valuable over time, you need to craft an ongoing process around battlecard creation and maintenance.

1. Create battlecards

If you don’t have battlecards yet, then the first step is to do all the work involved in creating your first batch. That will include thorough competitive research to fully understand who your main competitors are and gain a comprehensive understanding of where they each fit into the market and how their products compare to yours.

This should be a collaborative process that includes conversations with your sales and customer services teams. They can clarify which competitors come up the most often in their interactions with your audience, and fill you in on any feedback they hear that relates to other products.

In this step, start with a battlecard template to simplify the process of creating and updating  battlecards for each competitor moving forward. Make sure your templates focus on the information that’s most important for your sales representatives to learn, and that you keep everything short. Even though your own research and analysis should be comprehensive, your  sales team doesn’t have time to learn a huge quantity of information. Pull out the top summaries and key takeaways that will benefit them when dealing with prospects.

2.  Distribute your battlecards.

Creating truly useful battlecards is the obvious first step here, but this one is just as important. You need your sales team to actually review them and use the information they learned for all that work to pay off. And sending them as an email attachment may not be good enough for that. If they show up in a crowded inbox alongside dozens of other emails, your busy reps may scroll right past them without ever bothering to look.

Effective distribution has to happen in a channel your sales team regularly uses. Talk to them to figure out what tools they open regularly and where they’re most likely to stop and notice a helpful resource. Distribute your battlecards in a way that complements their workflow, and they’ll make using them a regular part of their process.

3.  Do a battlecard audit

Completing a regular audit of your battlecards must become a routine for you to stay on top of them. Choose an interval of time, such as every one or two months, and put it on your calendar. Each time an audit is due, review the information included in the battlecards you created and look for opportunities to improve what’s there.

4.  Solicit feedback

Start by going straight to the team you created the battlecards for. Ask your sales representatives if they’re using them. If not, why not? If so, have they found the information in them to be useful? Is it accurate, and displayed in a format that makes it easy for them to learn and absorb? Have they found key information to be missing that would have aided them in past sales calls?

5.  Do new research

Now complement their feedback with your own research. Fact check the information you have in each section of each battlecard to see if it still holds true. Are your competitor’s product features the same as they were? Has their pricing model changed? Have you identified any important shifts in the way they position their product, or the marketing strategies they’re employing?

6.  Update battlecards

Based on the feedback from your sales team and the new information you’ve learned, update your battlecards to make them more useful and ensure the information in them is up to date. When your sales team pulls up a battlecard before their next sales call, if the information it displays is current from within the last month or so, they’ll be able go into that pitch confident in everything they say.

7.  Repeat steps 2-6

This has to become a regular cycle for your organization to reap the benefits of an ongoing competitive battlecard process. Each time you complete your battlecard audit and update, you only get to rest for so long before doing it all again.

But once your templates and process are in place, each time you make your updates the work will be easier. You’ll know exactly what you’re looking for, how to find it, and the right format to drop it all into. And because you’re regularly checking in with your sales team, you’ll know how to get the battlecards to them in a format and channel that ensures the work you do actually produces results.

Why keeping battlecards current is crucial

Battlecards are one of the most valuable sales enablement tools a product marketing team can create. They’re a quick and easy way for the sales team to get up to speed on the competition before each interaction they have with a prospect. But if the information in them is wrong, you risk putting your sales team in a position where they lack the information and messaging they need to make a successful sale.

If they find inaccurate information in a battlecard once, the chances they’ll ever use them again goes down. But if the data they find is always accurate and useful, the work you’ve done will continue to pay off over months and years. Accurate battlecards empower your sales team to do their jobs better, and give them that much more reason to trust and value the work product marketing does for them.