Sales teams are always busy – and it can be difficult to carve out time for reps to share best practices with one another. We’ve found competitor and objection battle cards have a big impact on the success of sales teams in competitive deals. If done right, battle cards are a succinct 5-7 key areas that allow reps to shape prospects’ buying criteria around your company’s strengths and your competitor’s weaknesses.
Our company found itself in the #2 position in its vertical market - #1 was over 10x our size and #3 had a better software offering than we did. When our reps would hear #3 was in the mix with a prospect, they would tremble. Prior to our investment, the team had historically lost 6 of 10 deals to #3, and in the instances we won, oftentimes we were discounting our offering by ~40%.
Fortunately, we didn’t see #3 in all of our deals as its cofounders were product-oriented individuals who didn’t have the know-how or desire to really scale their sales and marketing efforts. To take advantage of their flat-footed approach, it was imperative to build a go-to-market strategy and train our team on how to reposition conversations with prospects on our areas of strengths to win more deals and avoid offering major discounts.
We developed “battle cards” with a clear list of the areas to re-focus prospects away from a shiny competitor demo. Through a series of 40+ conversations with prospects we had lost to #3, we developed 7 key areas to guide prospects to focus on in their evaluation process.
A simple example was around implementation – our calling efforts revealed that although #3 had better software and more effective demos, they chose to outsource their implementations. This ultimately led to much longer and, in some cases, failed implementations. Our sales team leveraged this knowledge to focus prospects on the fact that we were a large company that “owned” the prospects’ success versus #3 who outsourced their implementations. We backed this up with the fact that we had increased the size of our team by nearly 50% to 130 employees in the prior 18 months.
We did a deep dive on the competitor’s product and customer base. When we called the 40+ prospects we had lost to #3, we listened to what was going well, in addition to identifying where #3’s product or company had fallen short of expectations.
We identified the key trends in #3’s weaknesses and mapped these to the strengths of our offering and in some cases, our company’s attributes. We then built a simple one slide overview of the key areas along with a few leading questions and trained the reps from there. A key clarification point here – don’t drag your competitor through the mud, but rather, shape the buying criteria and process of the prospect to your strengths.
Over several months, we shifted from losing 6 of 10 deals to winning 9 of 10. The real icing on the cake though was when #3’s VP of Sales left to join us as a field sales rep.