Build sales battle systems, not battle cards.

“What should we put on our battle cards?”

That’s a question I commonly hear from CI professionals. My advice: forget the battle cards.

Sure, battle cards are a great thing to have if you want to help a few of your salespeople in some deals. If you work at a large company with multiple competitors, they are also a great thing to make if you get paid by the hour since you likely will spend a lot of time customizing them for each salesperson that undoubtedly will complain that the battle card isn’t “just right” for his or her situation.

In most circumstances, battle cards don’t provide a good return for the effort that goes into creating them. Here are the problems I see with creating battle cards:

  1. Battle cards cannot be created to suit each particular deal. They end up being either too specific in scope or too general. A specific battle card is great for one or two deals, but you will always be customizing it for each sales person’s needs. A generic one will be useless to your sales teams or will put them at a disadvantage in a competitive situation.
  2. Version control is challenging. Like any document, once you create a battle card and publish it on a website or on a Sharepoint site, your sales teams typically will download it and store it on their personal device. They may not frequently check for updates, or they will modify it for their own uses and the rest of your salespeople will miss out on shared intelligence.
  3. Battle cards do not scale well, particularly in highly competitive industries. If your company has as few as 10 competitors, each with as few as 3 products that can compete in multiple industries, you are creating a lot of battle cards. Now go and manage and maintain them.
  4. There is no built-in feedback mechanism on battle cards. A salesperson cannot easily attach feedback or new information to a battle card. Sure, they can e-mail the person who created the card, but that e-mail is difficult to track to ensure that the battle card is updated and shared with the rest of the sale field.

What you need instead is a battle system.

A battle system is something that allows sales teams to get customized information based on the particular competitors or products that they are facing in each different deal they are handling. It allows them to see what information has been useful to other salespeople and to have attached discussions, feedback, and expansion points on the data. It allows them to be sure that they are getting the latest information, from a single easy-to-find location. Perhaps it even delivers all their competitive information right inside Salesforce.com. It also allows the content creators to track usage of their content and to know which pieces of it are working and which are not. A battle system replaces a battle card which typically is limited to the information that fits on a single slide, and provides a set of complete competitive data that can be viewed on a single screen—competitive profiles, product and service overviews, sales strategy, pricing, and dynamic product comparisons–all linked to other resources and ways to get help.

This is one of the reasons why we developed the Compelligence System. In our experience working with sales teams and competitive teams, we saw lots of hours spent on customizing battle cards, competitive playbooks, product comparisons, and other content. It’s an inefficient way to work, so we built something better: a battle system that enables companies to compete more effectively and to win deals faster.

So next time you are making or reading a battle card, a how-to-sell document, a product comparison, or something like that—ask your self if there’s a better way to do your job, a more effective way to make it work, or a smoother way to scale your solution. Then feel free to contact us and let us show you a better way!