As part of Forrester’s research into sales enablement, I recently took a journey to “plumb the depths” of sales battle cards. Why?
Sales reps at technology companies tell Forrester that they must understand their competitors if so that they can outmaneuver them during the sales cycle; but, these same sales professionals tell Forrester that, despite the best efforts of product managers, competitive teams, and sales operations, current battle cards are not consistent, instrumental tools that help win more deals.
And thus, my journey into battle cards begins.
During my career, I’ve worked in competitive intelligence at two technology companies, so I already had some strong opinions about battle cards. I tried to set my own views aside, though, and adopted Forrester’s methods of developing a hypothesis and interviewing professionals in the industry.
My initial research looked at the “thing” called a battle card – the layout, structure, and content with the goal of building battle cards that helped sales reps address competitive issues during customer conversations. While testing some really good ideas that came out of the interviews, I could see that the improved battle cards still weren’t enough to meet our objective – routinely helping reps win more deals.
I turned my attention to the “process” of building battle cards – specifically, how sales enablement professionals identify the competitive issues that merit battle cards, how they work with product managers and marketing teams to create the content for battle cards, and how they deliver battle cards to sales reps. While testing some really good process ideas that came out of the interviews, I could see that even when the groups creating battle cards actively work with sales, their points of view and professional skills are so different, that they miss important details.
After discussion within Forrester, I turned my attention to creating industry standards for battle cards as a bridge the professional skills, point of view, and assumptions of corporate teams and selling professionals. Forrester’s battle card standards are complete and will be rolled out later this month, but join me for a teleconference to preview them on February 7, 2012, to:
1. Review highlights from Forrester’s Battle Card Standards Guide.
2. Outline Forrester’s methodology for transforming sales tools.
Going forward, Forrester will apply this methodology to other sales tools – customer references or ROI calculators, as examples – and sales assets – thought leadership, whitepapers, and case studies. In March, I’ll be conducting a deep-dive session to apply these frameworks to your battle cards and sales tools within your company. We’ll spend the day in a workshop setting, roll up our sleeves, and work to change the way you look at sales tools – reserve your spot now!