Battlecards are an incredibly useful tool to help your team win more deals. A Battlecard is a short, one page competitive overview of a specific competitor that breaks down strengths and weaknesses in an easily digestible format. The purpose of a battlecard is NOT to give an in-depth research report on every single piece of feature-functionality, but rather to provide talking points and cues that can be used on the fly during a call or meeting.

When I create battlecards, I literally design them on a 5x7 notecard. This forces me to keep the content brief and make sure I’m not being long-winded. The WORST thing you can do when creating a battlecard is make it too lengthy. When executed correctly, battlecards can be a powerful content piece to help improve lead conversion and close more bottom of funnel deals.

Using battlecards in the sales process

Battlecards are most useful in at the very top of the funnel and the very bottom of the funnel. At the top of the funnel, battlecards can be useful for Sales Development Reps (SDRs), during first-calls with leads. Often times they are going into a call blind, so they need to be able to react on-the-fly with information that entices the prospect enough to set another meeting with a sales rep. Usually this just needs to be one or two well placed comments that open the prospect’s eyes to what is possible with your company, or how they might be missing out with their current solution.

Battlecards are useful at the bottom of the funnel when you have a clear idea of which other competitors are in the mix. When the field is wide open, it’s difficult to determine how you should position your company for success. However, when the prospect has narrowed the field to 2 or 3 companies, battlecards become extremely useful.

Battlecards are such a powerful tool because they enable the sales rep to position the company in such a way that automatically makes your company the clear choice. You can do this by hinting at specific weaknesses, and by asking trap setting questions that seed doubt in the prospects mind about whether or not a competitor can in fact deliver on their promises.

Before you begin

Before you rush off build your first battlecard, make sure you have a strategy in place. Battlecards can be time consuming to create correctly, so make sure you are tackling the RIGHT competitors before you start. A great way to prioritize is to talk with your sales reps to see which competitors they come up against most frequently. Another great tool is to conduct a win-loss analysis with your current customers.

A win-loss analysis is a deep dive into why a particular company chose (or did not) choose your company. During these interviews you can discuss which other solutions were in the mix to get a better idea of which competitors were being considered and why. This can also be a great way to collect in-depth competitive intelligence.

After conducting your research, try to reduce the competitive field to 5 top competitors. They should be the biggest immediate threat to lead conversion. Companies who you have recently, or consistently lose to. Your competitive set also lives by the 80/20 rule - you lose 80% of your deals to 20% (or less) of your competition, so focus on the most important ones first! You can always come back later and create more battlecards!

The elements of an effective battlecard

As I mentioned before, a battlecard needs to be short. To help structure the content and make battlecard creation scalable and repeatable, we use 5 categories: Weaknesses and how to attack, Strengths and how to defend, Trap setting questions (by persona), Key wins and losses, and the Elevator Pitch. Each of these categories plays a specific role ann, when used correctly, can help the sales reps tell a story during a sales call. Below, we break down why each section is important.

Weaknesses and how to attack

This is arguably the most important section on the battlecard, and should take up the most real estate. In this section you dive deep into a competitor's product, service offering, client base, documentation, reviews...anything you can get your hands on to figure out where they fall short. The goal is to find 6-8 key areas where your competitor is failing.

A great place to search for weaknesses is on review sites like G2Crowd (for software) or TrustPilot. Depending on your industry, you can also check on industry blogs and forums. If you start to see a pattern emerge in the negative feedback (3 or 4 people saying the same thing), mark it down as a weakness. Another great place to search is documentation. This is definitely a lot more time consuming but it can provide some very detailed and granular information about your competitor that you can use to beat them. Once you have your 6-8 weaknesses, the next step is to figure out the best way to position your company to exploit it. Here’s an example:

Company X’s client experience team does not respond quickly to support tickets leaving customers to fend for themselves. Our company responds to all incoming tickets within one hour and also has a support chat feature that is available 24 hours.

Strengths and how to defend

This is the exact opposite of the previous category. This is where your competitor excels. What are they really good at or known for? Zappos for example is known for their exemplary customer service. Figuring out strengths is usually a bit easier than weaknesses because companies tend to shout about them. Check their website first (the blog is usually particularly helpful to see upcoming releases or recent updates), then check press releases, review sites, and industry blogs. Once you have 6-8 strengths, figure out the best way to defend against it in a conversation. Here’s an example:

Company X promises each of their clients a dedicated account manager that will be on call 24/7. When discussing services, make sure to highlight our company’s rave reviews on G2Crowd and offer to connect the prospect with a few references.

Trap setting questions (by persona)

Behind weaknesses, trap setting questions are the second most important section on the battlecard. Trap setting questions are carefully scripted to seed doubt in the mind of the prospect in relation to a competitor. These questions should be created only after the strengths and weaknesses are done so you know where you can poke holes and put your competition on defense. If executed correctly trap setting questions can position you as a consultative expert and be devastating to a competitor. Here’s an example:

If you know that your competition does not offer set up services ask something like: What resources do you have on staff to migrate your platform and onboard your team?

This will get the prospect thinking about migration and onboarding. If all goes according to plan, on their next call with the competitor they will ask about it and force the competitor to play defense.

Trap setting questions are most effective when organized by persona. You are going to ask an executive a very different set of questions than a practitioner. A manager or practitioner is going to have no idea if the company is staffed for a migration. Effective questions for them would be in reference to day to day operations or support.

Key wins and losses

Key wins and losses are pretty self-explanatory. Talk to your sales team about when they have won and lost against a particular competitor. Get the full story and figure out why you won or lost. What was the deciding factor? Why was the competitor in the mix in the first place? What worked well or fell flat? This is about fixing mistakes and making things that worked repeatable.

Elevator Pitch

The elevator pitch should be the last thing you write. This is a 2-3 sentence that sums up all of the research you have done on the competitor. Make sure it is colloquial and not full of jargon. Imagine an SDR or sales rep delivering it at a conference or on a call. It should be brief but potent and position your company as the only clear choice. This DOES NOT need to be an exhaustive list. Just pick out the one or two biggest weaknesses and sum it up with your company pitch.

Here’s how to lay it out

This is just a suggestion but here’s how I lay out my battlecards. Notice that the strengths and weaknesses sections take up the vast majority of the real estate and the elevator pitch is short.

There’s no time to waste

Hopefully this post has been a helpful guide to creating your first battlecard. When executed correctly, they can be the difference between winning and losing a deal. They can also help to significantly increase your sales performance and lead conversion.