319: Creating Competitive Sales Battlecards | Master Sales Series

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There is trial and error with Sales Battlecards, which are difficult to build. Constructed from mentors, coaches, and sales veterans to help new rep succeed.

This Master Sales Series we are talking about Sales Battlecards. What is a sales battlecard? It sounds like a buzzword, well it is a buzzword. In today’s sales process and sales enablement motions and we’re going to dig into what a sales battlecard is and how you might deploy it inside your organization to improve the story, a narrative that is being told to your customers, and make sure that your entire team is on the talk track that you want for your company.



George: It’s another edition of the Conquer Local Podcast, and we have this concept of a master sales training series, and this is along those lines. Today we’re going to talk about a little something that is near and dear to my heart and that is battlecards. What is that, George? Sounds like a buzzword. Well, it definitely is a buzzword in today’s sales process and sales enablement motions, and we’re going to dig into what a battlecard is and how you might deploy it inside your organization to improve the story, a narrative that is being told to your customers. And make sure that your entire team is on the talk track that you want for your company. Battlecards coming up next on the Conquer Local Podcast.

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George: Well, the concept of battlecards is not something new. There’s a number of sales leaders that are talking about this concept. What is it in a nutshell? The first time that I saw something like this deployed, it was around competitors. So you have a competitor and you want to know how you stack up, feature for feature, benefit for benefit and then you want to know what’s working in positioning you against the competitor, or how to deal with a certain objection. So we’ve got a competitor for company X, they’re out there trying to eat our lunch. We do some research around the things, maybe we even secret shop them. And we do some research over what they are defining as their value proposition and their talk track. And then we come up with a way to beat them. And a lot of times this happens in an ad hoc way.

George: So you’re on a call. I usually like to use a senior salesperson as my case subject on this where I’m like, okay, we’re going to listen to this call. Myron had a call against a competitor because Myron talks to a lot of customers and I think he’s got a pretty good take on where we are, and I think that he’s going to be ahead of the curve when it comes to stacking up against competitors. So we do that. But then we also listened to a new guy. So we’ve got a new guy or a new gal that started on the sales floor and we find out that they’ve had a call against the same competitor and we listened to their call. So this is how we’ve deployed it inside our organization. We’ve got veteran and we got rookie and then we build a battlecard to fill in the gaps in between. Because what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to take the things that the veteran knows works and give that intelligence to the rookie so that they can get there faster. There’s two ways to learn.


Trial and Error vs Mentors and Coaching – Training New Salespeople

George: There’s trial and error, super hard by the way, and takes a long time. Or we can have mentors and coaches and scripting to help the new rep get there quicker. Now, the thing with a battlecard is it’s never done. And that’s why this thing probably doesn’t look very pretty because we don’t need marketing to get a graphic designer and a writer to make the thing look gorgeous because we’re not going to go out and show it outside of the building. You basically just need it so that it’s down and dirty and quick so that you can get it back in the hands of the reps. And I like the idea of having an inside of some sort of a learning management system so that you can get it quick and it’s got to be owned by sales.

George: So the coach, the sales manager, the team lead, they are listening to a call or they’re on a four-legged call with a salesperson, and they find out a better way to sell against X. Then they put that into the battlecard and you want to come back to the battlecards on an ongoing basis to keep those things up to date if there’s new data, there’s new stats and figures. So it can’t be this static thing that’s one and done. Please don’t make it pretty, you don’t need it to be pretty. Down, dirty, quick, easy to change so that we can constantly be updating these very important pieces of collateral. Now it doesn’t just have to be when we’re trying to beat the piss out of somebody. It also can be when we’re trying to tell the story around our own solutions. Those are a battlecard too.

George: If you remember back earlier in this season, Jason Forrest was on teaching us all about sales is a battle and I really do believe that. I believe that it’s number one, a battle against yourself because you have to stay motivated and you’ve got to keep learning and you’ve got to do the hard stuff first. All the things that we’ve been talking about inside the Master Sales Series. Then you’ve got a battle against competitors. That’s easy, but then you also have a battle to set the expectation and deal with the objection of your prospect and this idea of objection handling. I remember years ago, we were out training a sales organization, and I was working with another trainer at the time. And we went into the room with all the salespeople and we’d trained them a couple of months earlier and we come back in for the followup and we said… [to] each one of them, “What objections have you been facing in the last 60 days? What objections have you been facing?”

George: And what I found was if they didn’t have any objections, they’re the greatest bloody salesperson on Earth and are crushing all of their objectives or they just weren’t selling this shit. So it comes back to if you’re doing your job as a salesperson and you’re putting the product or service or solution in front of your prospects, you’re going to get a bloody objection. It might even be that I don’t have any budget at this time or we’re not going to try that until Q3 or things like that. It’s having those battlecards at your disposal, the content of which is written by the people that are performing at a very high level. And it gives everybody a chance to learn on the fly at their own pace. This is the amazing thing that technology has brought us.

George: The way that we trained in the good old days, back in the horse and buggy days was we would get in a room, and we’d have all the salespeople there, and we would train them, right? You just beat on them for like an entire day. I sat through training like that for a little … And there were some people who were really good and there were some people who were God awful at it. And then the other thing that would happen is the instructor would always try to get feedback from the people in the crowd and they’d say, “Okay, is there anything that you didn’t understand?” There’s no way in hell I’m putting my hand up in front of 29 of my peers and look stupid by asking some bloody question that I think that everybody else got. So it really was an archaic form of training.

George: That’s why I love technology because we now have the ability to provide a YouTube video, provide a podcast, provide a screen-share, whatever it might be. So that as a salesperson I can come in or as a student I can come in and learn at my own pace. And I don’t care how long you’ve been doing this. I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. I still watch Ted Talks, I still watch podcasts. I still watch training all the time because this thing is never done. And it’s always sometimes the more basic things that we need to be reminded of. So we can create a whole bunch of training here in the Conquer Local community. And we try to make it as generic so that it applies to as many personas as possible. But what I mean by battlecards is it’s something you own inside your organization regardless how big or small it is, that is really hyper-local, locally focused.


Battlecards – From Focussing on Competitors to Establishing the Story

George: So if there’s some competitor that you have in your market, you can go into that battlecard and you can change your value proposition based upon you and what you are facing inside your organization. So I’m really talking to sales leaders, I’m talking to the team leads, the coaches, the managers, the VPs. This is your thing that you have to own. And I’ve been accused sometimes of being a micromanager. I’m trying to get better at that in 2020 but on this one, I want to own this. I want marketing to give me the really beautiful stuff. Give me all that beautiful stuff that’s spelt right and the pictures look great and all that sort of stuff. Let the sales manager have something that they control right at the street level. And once I might have a different thing than Brent has because we sell on different streets and there’s a different hyper-local thing that we’re dealing with in that market. Maybe it’s the economy, maybe it’s a different competitor or something like that.

George: But while battlecards were primarily designed to battle against a competitor. I think they’re also designed to be that short little piece of collateral that you could control as a sales manager that’s readily available to your sales team, that is constantly being changed and updated when you come up with a better way to fry the fish. Like if there’s a better thing that comes up, you could put that into the battlecard and keep that thing up to date. The thing that I would warn you about is if you do not have an artifact like this in your sales enablement process, what then ends up happening is you’ve got 15 different stories and it makes it hard as hell for the customer success team or support or service or whatever we’re calling them to go in and make that customer successful because there’s a different bloody story out there around every competitor, around every feature, around, every benefit… So you really need to get that stuff nailed down. So there’s this one common theme.

George: Now I’m not trying to take personalities away from people by saying scripting. All I’m saying is if somebody says, “Here’s how we compete against X,” we say the right things because, in the age of research, that’s what we’re in. The Roaring 20s we’re entering, it is the age, research is simple to do. The minute that you say something to a prospect and walk out the door, that prospect has gone online and they’re looking to see if you’re full of shit and they’re getting calls from the competitor and they’re looking to see what that person is saying. So we’ve got to be really careful. We’ve got to be really careful that we don’t lie. We come up with really good insights and that information is kept up to date so that the staff that we’re using on some certain benefit that our platform provides is the most up-to-date stat as it compares to either the market or as it compares to the competitor.

George: So I always like to try and bring this stuff home that, been there, done that, have the T-shirt and the trophy, and the war wounds. I’ve been there, done that over my career. Getting a congruent sales message, especially with what we have, which is a very robust platform in a space that changes all the time with a multitude of competitors and a different competitive landscape and different countries that you’re selling into and different languages and salespeople spread all over hell’s half-acre. It’s an enormous challenge. So that’s why I’m quite adamant around battlecards being something that’s owned internally by the sales organization because it is an artifact that is constantly changing. And I have done audits of our stories, and sometimes I need a box of Kleenex and a bottle of bourbon because it brings me to the point of desperation and probably sniffling and crying because I’m like, “How did this happen?”

George: So it’s something that the entire sales organization needs to be aligned around. Now I’m not saying you don’t need marketing. Of course, we need marketing. And of course, you need research and we need product management. We need all of those things. But this is really where the boots hit the ground, the street level view of where you’re going to maybe call an audible on what the overall value prop is because you came up with something better. It’s important that we communicate that battlecard stuff from the street back up into marketing and back up into product. In fact, your really good product marketers and your really good product managers will be sitting with the sales team wanting this information. So the fact that you’re putting it in some sort of a system where everybody can read it is something that has definitely benefited our organization.



George: I would like to tell you, and I mentioned it earlier in the episode, this is not a one and done. This is a constant thing that you need to be deploying efforts against. In fact, you may even get to the size where you just have somebody that owns all the battlecards to make sure that there’d be some sort of an ownership level so you can drive that accountability. But organizations that deploy this type of a sales tactic where they provide the information that they know that works against either a common objection, either the way to describe a diverse and complicated product set. Which I think if you’re selling any sort of digital product in today’s day and age, it can be very diverse and complex. And the ability to change it as you come up with something new are all vitally important to improving the performance of your organization.

George: And you will start to see a lift in the first 90 days if you start to move forward with battlecards, I pretty much bloody guarantee it. I guarantee it. 60% of the time works 90% of the time. So battlecards, our topic this week as we continue to make sales great again. I’m George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.