Sales people are known for having a short-attention span -- they are always focused on the needs of their in-progress deals. Many won't put in the time to learn all about the competition until they absolutely need to.
So, you need a way to get them up-to-speed on the competition as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you'll constantly be handling calls from them and Sales might ineffectively position your product versus the competition.
One solution: prepare brief profiles of your most important competitors that tell Sales Reps exactly what they need to know. These are often called "Competitive Battle Cards"
Battle Cards are brief and a Sales Rep should be able to digest it in less than 5 minutes. The format varies according to needs and business models. When my firm prepares battle cards for our clients, following is an outline we often follow and adapt as necessary.
Outline of a Battle Card
A. Who is COMPETITOR_NAME?
- Paragraph which describes competitor’s origins and relevant history (when founded, where located, relevants acquisitions/mergers)
- Their overall market positioning statement
- Comparison of financial metrics, headcount, revenue, earnings, customer count, etc. * Narrative regarding the customer base and target market
B. What are the COMPETITOR_NAME’s Products and Services?
- Visual representation of their product and service stack, and the breadth of their offerings
- Summary of what each product or service really offers and does
- A Product Line Comparison in table format which aligns their offering to your company’s where the products and services are comparable. This helps readers make “apples-to-apples” comparisons between products and services and use the correct language when referring to competitive offerings. It also makes it very easy to compare your products or service stack to your competitor’s.
C. Feature Comparison Grid
- Table comparison aligning the features of your product or service with your competion’s. This could result in multiple grids, depending on the complexity of the competitor’s product line.
D. Top Knocks Against COMPETITOR_NAME
- A list of things that sales representatives can use against the competitor, with a brief summary supporting the details of each one. Here is a sample:
Competition’s products are notoriously hard to use. Analyst firm XXX has noted that Product X has a clunky user interface and our testers were unable to figure out how to do XXX without technical support or reference materials.
E. Competitive Resources List
- Links to competitors' demos, websites, product documentation, etc.
F. How COMPETITOR_NAME Sells
- Summary about competitor’s number and location of direct representatives, indirect channels, and channel partners, etc. If the information is available, break down sales for each channel.
- Explain who the competitor likes to call in by industry, company size, organizational function and what level of the organization they are likely to interact with.
- Describe which points the competition claims are most important to resolve for their prospects or customers and what sorts of problems they tend to dismiss.
- Summarize the competition’s sales tactics. For instance, do they offer a proof of concept or generous trial periods? Are they known for discrediting the competition, employing third-party sourcing, providing misinformation, or dazzling their prospects with slick marketing materials?
- Research and report any findings that indicate the competition is in your account. You can determine this through the usage of terms they use or questions they may have planted.
G. Recommended Sales Strategy
- From your base of understanding as a Product Manager and your learning about how the prospect or customer works, try to help sales staff by suggesting a sales strategy. For instance, penetrating another part of the organization with a need that will be answered through the use of your product or arranging a visit of key staff to your development lab.
H. RFP Questions
- Suggest questions that a sales representative for your company, who has an opportunity to influence the sorts of questions that the prospect or customer might ask in an RFP, which will “trap” the competition and highlight their weaknesses in a neutral way.
I. Challenge Questions
- A sample list of questions that prospects could ask of your competition which you know will be difficult for a specific competitor to answer satisfactorily and raise doubt in the customer’s mind. These are more direct questions than those included in the RFP. Whether or not the customer includes them in the RFP, the doubt has been raised as soon as the sales representative suggests them. These might include inquiries about acquisition vulnerability, technical support, benchmarks that prove the competition’s ability to handle traffic, and case studies about customer support.
J. Questions for Existing Customers of COMPETITOR_NAME
- Help the sales representatives know what to ask your competitor’s customers. Examples include thing related to service reliability and followed up by asking how the customer handles that, along with the best and worst case scenarios about the impact on their business.