How to create competitive sales battle cards using social proof

Battle cards are a staple of sales teams. These cheat sheets provide concise breakdowns of a competitor’s marketing strategy, key sales messages, product info, positioning, and unique value propositions to use when selling against competitors. Here’s an example battle card from CloudLinux:

Battle Card Template
Image via CloudLinux

With the right information, these documents can be huge helps for reps. The Forte Consultancy Group provides a solid outline for developing a battle card and provides a concise breakdown of all the topic areas that should be included:

  1. Marketplace Conditions – All the basic information a rep needs about a market or market segment in order to sell to it effectively.
  2. Target Customer Segments and Opportunities – Information about the ideal customer profile and the pain points they experience that lead them to purchasing your solution.
  3. Product Features and Promotions – A breakdown of product and feature specs as they compare to your offering as well as big discounts or promotional offers.
  4. Competitive Analysis – An honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of a competitor’s product in relation to the product your reps are selling.
  5. Customer Segment-specific Propositions – The unique selling proposition that speaks directly to your ideal customer profile and persuades them to purchase your offering. A lot of the time these are intangible – i.e. the “ultimate driving machine”
  6.  Possible Customer Issues with Product – A breakdown of all perceived issues (price, stability, support etc.) with your offering  that a prospect will ask about during the sales process along with advice on how to properly navigate and answer their questions.
  7. Golden Questions – These are the most important questions that your reps ask prospects. They are designed to help prospects self-identify as the ideal fit for your product and remove all other competitors. i.e. how important are advanced security features to prevent dat breaches, like 2 factor authentication?
  8. Sample Benefits and Success Stories – Solid testimonials from current customers. There should be testimonials for every use case and vertical that you are targeting.
  9. Additional Information – Any other tidbits of intel that help your reps win deals.

WHAT MAKES A SALES BATTLE CARD EFFECTIVE AND HOW CAN REPS USE THEM?

Battle Cards provide reps with a sales-ready response to critical and common prospect questions. A rep may be able to field questions about their specific offering, but positioning a product against a competitor’s can be tricky if they aren’t a heavy user themselves.

By providing your team with an effective and well-researched competitive battle card, you are giving them a framework to sell in a uniform manner that aligns with existing and proven marketing messages.

A framework for sales

The proper positioning comes from extensive research from competitor websites, interviewing experienced reps, loyal customers that abandoned competitors, channel partners, and any competitor marketing material you can get your hands on.

A key differentiator between a strong battle card and a not-so-good one is social proof. Social proof is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people conform to the actions or beliefs of others under the assumption that those actions or beliefs are the correct choice. One person stating something negative they’ve heard about a product is hearsay and it can easily be ignored, but twenty people… that’s a trend.  If you are going to back up your product as the correct choice for a prospect against an enterprise competitor, social proof can help seal the deal. Glassdoor.com can provide a gold mine of social proof and detailed competitive intelligence that can be used to turn a doubtful prospect into a committed buyer.

COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE PROVIDED BY GLASSDOOR:

Here’s a post form an employee of an infrastructure company that uses security as a selling point:

Infrastructure company glassdor review for battlecard post

This employee review was written by a Security Admin and it gives us a few pieces of competitive intel:

  • Security department is being outsourced to a third party.
  • Employees do not pay attention to customer support tickets.
  • Most tickets are mishandled, sometimes disastrously.
  • Raising prices while offering lower quality support.

Let’s say you get an email from a prospect telling you they are going with Competitor X.You know that your product is a better fit and that the prospect cares deeply about security since they have a ton at stake. Armed with this information from Glassdoor, you can call them up and say:

Seller: Hey, I read your last email. I know you’re thinking of going with Competitor X, but I wanted let you know that even if you don’t go with us, I think you would benefit from reconsidering your options and looking at another partner. You told me on our first call that you take security seriously. In the last year Competitor X has started outsourcing security to a third-party firm and laying off their internal security teams.

Prospect: I didn’t hear or read anything about that, how do you know about this?

Seller: All of it’s on their Glassdoor, it looks like the changes may have ruffled some feathers there. Let me send you a few links that will bring some other issues to light.

HACK TO FIND GLASSDOOR REVIEWS BY KEYWORD OR TOPIC

If you are looking for specific issues in a company to build up your battle card, do a site: search in Google using the following query:

site:www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-[Companyname] AND “keyword”

So if i wanted to look up Hooli, and search for product issues, I would search for:

site:www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Employee-Review-Hooli product issues

Reviews of Hooli on Glassdoor

WHAT INDUSTRIES OR COMPANIES DOES THIS TACTIC WORK BEST FOR?

This tactic works best when going up against single product companies, but it can work for many different industries.

Remember: Glassdoor can be filled with embellished stories from former employees, but there is often legitimate competitive intelligence buried in these reviews. We’ve blurred out the titles to focus on the relevant info:

Fast growing business operations software company:

  • The product is being worked on and updated frequently… but it feels rushed and incomplete.
  • Product roll outs and updates to customers are not communicated effectively.
  • Support does not have answers to commonly asked questions from customers.
 Presentation Software:

customer success does not respond

  • It’s a hard product to sell, and their team will sell to anyone who will listen.
  • Implementation is oversold and underdelivers.
  • Customer success doesn’t adequately onboard new clients or properly support existing ones.

product features not getting rolled out

  • Product development is slow and has been stagnating for years.
  • New features that no one asked for get rolled out, but rarely improved.
  • Features that customers ask for don’t get prioritized.
Point of Sale Software:

issues with enterprise roll outs

  • Product can work well for SMBs.
  • Company has issues with implementation on enterprise accounts.

mom and pop vs enterprise issues

  • Clients don’t tend to stick with the product long, and churn has been increasing
  • Company wants to focus on the Enterprise
  • Pricing changes regularly / company may not have found a sustainable pricing model yet.

A WORD OF WARNING

A strong sales battle card is designed to shift perspective, not tear down and trash talk. Companies overcome obstacles and challenges. They grow and adapt over time. If you are going to use this tactic for competitive intelligence, it’s crucial that you use recent reviews to minimize the risk of presenting outdated information to prospects.

Reviews from Glassdoor can give a ‘no holds barred’ look at a company from the trenches. However, when building your sales battle card, you need to be certain the issues you cite are trends on their Glassdoor and not just a few ex-employees with a grudge. If it’s one or two reviews that say “support had issues” — well, whose support team doesn’t hit the occasional snag? But if there are consistent patterns and recurring themes that appear to be systematic, you may be able to use that information.

Image Credits: Markus GrossalberRobert Clemens

Author: jhtscherck

John-Henry Scherck is the owner of Growth Plays, a B2B content strategy and SEO consultancy based in Los Angeles. He works with founders, marketers, and investors to plan, build and refine growth marketing initiatives using a common sense approach.

One thought on “How to create competitive sales battle cards using social proof”

  1. I was developing Sales Battle Cards many years back, however, the social aspect was at this time not given. That’s an excellent point to look into these aspects. I have seen many battle cards in the past, a lot of them miss the proper objection handling.

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