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 The company found itself in the #2 position in their 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 implementation. 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 first 18 months.
We did a deep dive on the competitor’s product and customer base. We called over 40 prospects we had lost to #3 and listened to what was going well with #3 as well as areas #3 as a company or its product 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.
Some example strategies were:
“Your competitor referred us to a few of their customers with pretty amazing success stories.”
Sales team response
“That’s great, but you might want to ask for more like 20 and pick the 3 to call yourself. In our experience, our competitors often cherry-pick their referrals.”
“Your implementation sounds really expensive and complicated. Your competitor can do it faster and for less.”
Sales team response
“We have customers today that used to use those guys. We’ve actually heard that they had some difficulties with integration. You should ask a few of the references how easy it was or how long it took.”
Over several months, we shifted from losing 6 of 10 deals to winning 9 of 10. The icing on the cake was when #3’s VP of Sales left to join us as a field sales rep.