How to Boost Battlecard Adoption So Sales Wins More Deals

Battlecards, despite being one of the most popular sales enablement tools, too often go unused by sales teams. But these are challenging days. It’s vital that we equip them to succeed.

How can we combat Sales’ lack of adoption? By running the Battlecard Adoption Playbook.

The Battlecard Adoption Playbook consists of five parts and is designed to ensure Sales leverages battlecards to win competitive deals in good times — and just win deals in uncertain times.

  1. Build battlecards with sales reps
  2. Create battlecards using best practices
  3. Integrate battlecards with the sales rep’s workflow
  4. Keep battlecards updated — always
  5. Measure impact and iterate based on results

Let’s dive in.

Why Don’t Salespeople Use Battlecards?

If you ever created any type of sales enablement materials, this might sound familiar: Sales requests a piece of content. You spend tons of time and energy creating said content. Said content is then rolled out to Sales.

Then crickets.

Nothing. Nada. The content sits there, collecting dust.

Why? The most common reasons battlecards are not used are that they’re…

  • Poorly made
  • Hard to find
  • Difficult to measure
  • Created with no sales input
  • Outdated
  • Not rolled out effectively (if at all)

Now that we know the problems we have to fix, let’s look at how The Battlecard Adoption Playbook can help you do that. Here are 5 actionable tips you can put to use now.

1. Build Battlecards WITH Sales Reps

Back in 2005, Frito-Lay came out with Cheetos lip balm. To the surprise of no one, it quickly flamed out and was pulled off shelves. Besides being an unholy abomination (something we as a society should all forget about), Cheetos lip balm is what happens when you don’t get feedback from your market/customers.

The exact same thing is true with battlecards.

Oftentimes, battlecards (and other enablement materials) are created in a vacuum. Sales enablement and marketing folks will create something THEY think is good, not necessarily what their sales reps need.

RELATED: Sales Enablement Content: How to Give Reps What They Truly Need [Infographic]

Here are a few things to do to get sales reps to partner in battlecard creation:

Get feedback

Ask sales reps for feedback on current battlecards. What’s working? What’s missing?

Gathering this initial feedback will help focus the scope of your battlecard right out of the gate.

Interview sales reps

Dig deep into how reps are currently handling competitive deals. What questions do prospects ask about the competition? What questions do reps struggle to answer?

After interviewing a few reps, take a look at the responses and start to surface key themes and pain points.

Listen to competitive calls

Rep interviews are great, but there’s nothing better than getting on a call and hearing it for yourself. Try getting on 3–4 competitive sales calls and then compare your notes with the interview results.

Like before, look for the common themes. You may even have new themes arise simply from listening to the calls, which would help you see things Sales want on their battlecards that you had never thought of.

Host sales trainings

Once the battlecards are ready for roll-out, host a deep-dive training with sales reps on how to use them. That will go a long way towards building their confidence on using them in deals.

Select 1–2 sales reps to co-present, and perhaps even do role-playing exercises. Showing alignment with sales will help build the credibility of the battlecards and, therefore, increase the likelihood of adoption.

Run a pilot

For enterprise companies, it’s not realistic to quickly roll out battlecards to an entire sales org. Consider running a test pilot with a specific sales team to get quick feedback and results.

TIP: try using a team comprised of more seasoned reps — they tend to be more confident and will be able to give you strong feedback quickly.

2. Create Battlecards Using Best Practices

As simple as it sounds, making your battlecards good in the first place will obviously help with sales adoption. Be sure to follow best practices when it comes to putting them together.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you should include in your battlecard:

  • Competitive overview
  • Competitor strengths & weaknesses
  • Key differentiators
  • Landmines
  • Warning signs
  • Pricing & packaging detail
  • Feature comparisons
  • Recent announcements

Some visual best practices are to keep the Battlecards:

  • Short & sweet: You want lots of images. Keep it short. Bullet points are your friend!
  • Digestible: Each component you include (strengths & weaknesses, landmines, etc.) should be clear, easy to read, and visually separate from the rest of the information.
  • Branded: A little internal branding can go a long way towards driving adoption and positive impressions among the sales team.

3. Integrate with Sales Rep Workflow

If you want to drive adoption of battlecards (or any enablement materials), it is incumbent upon YOU to make it easy for the sales reps to find.

“Hey, where can I find that battlecard?”

If you’re creating any type of sales enablement materials, this is something you hear all of the time.

You might think to yourself “I JUST sent it the other day!” but in this situation, the sales rep is not the problem — it’s you. Why? Because the battlecards are not seamlessly fitting into a sales reps day-to-day workflow.

Here are two ways to ensure they do:

Make battlecards accessible via CRM and/or sales enablement platform

The simplest way to get eyes on your battlecards is to keep them where sales reps spend most of their time — either a CRM (e.g., HubSpot, Salesforce, etc.) or sales enablement platform (Outreach, Highspot, Seismic, etc.). This will allow reps to access battlecards on the fly instead of hunting for that PDF or link you sent last week.

Enable reps to give intel from the field

Reps will be more likely to use battlecards if they are a part of the competitive intelligence process. Enable sales reps to send over intelligence any time they are in the field, or at a conference — it could make a massive difference in your battlecards.

4. Keep Battlecards Updated — Always

Here is the portion of the blog post where I deliver my hot take: An inaccurate battlecard is worse than having no battlecard at all.

Why? Because the moment a sales rep says something inaccurate about a competitor to a prospect — no matter how minor — they lose credibility.

At best, the sales rep will look uninformed, and at worst, they will look dishonest. Either way, the sales rep breaks that crucial trust with the prospect, and ultimately, the deal could be lost.

Once that happens, Sales will never use your battlecards again.

RELATED: Consultative Selling Techniques: 6 Ways to Earn Trust and Sell More

Keeping battlecards updated is time consuming — the market changes quickly.

Here are two ways you can keep your battlecards up to date.

Sync battlecards with market shifts

Things happen quickly — funding announcements, messaging and positioning changes, pricing updates, product launches, etc. Keep your battlecards updated by collecting competitive intelligence in real-time to make key updates.

Bonus points if you are able to integrate your battlecards with your CI (continuous integration) feed so that they update dynamically.

Enable (and incorporate!) sales rep feedback

If something isn’t correct, your reps need to tell you about it. Allowing reps to make comments directly on battlecards will help you make quick changes, and it lets them know you take their feedback seriously.

5. Measure and Iterate on Results

A common struggle with battlecards is that it is difficult to measure the impact they are having on the bottom line. If you can’t measure impact, you can’t iterate, and if you can’t iterate, you can’t make your battlecards effective. If you can’t make your battlecards effective, well… sales won’t adopt them!

Measure results

There are two ways to measure battlecard impact: view metrics and competitive win rate.

View metrics is self-explanatory. It’s the number of views a battlecard has — allowing you to measure usage.

Competitive win rate — the most important metric to measuring battlecard impact — is the percentage of time you win a deal against a competitor.

RELATED: 11 Data-Driven Sales Enablement Tips from Brand Leaders at Dreamforce 2019

Because it’s so important, let’s dig into competitive win rate.

As previously mentioned, competitive win rate is the percentage of time that you win a deal against a competitor.

Competitive win rate allows you to see how you are winning (or losing) to a competitor over time. When you’re able to tie this metric to your battlecards, you can then discern whether or not battlecards are having an impact on revenue.

How to tie competitive win rate to battlecards

Let’s get tactical. In order to tie competitive win rate to battlecards, you’ll need to set up your CRM properly so you can tie battlecard usage to competitive deals.

  • Get usage statistics on battlecards (views, total & unique)
  • Create fields in your CRM to identify competitors on the deal/opportunity level
  • Integrate battlecards into CRM

Tying battlecard usage to competitive deals allows you to measure the effect a battlecard is having on competitive win rate.


Iterate based on results

So you’ve tied battlecards to your CRM. It’s time to start iterating on your battlecards based on results.

A quick note: Take the length of your sales cycle into account when you’re looking at competitive win rate. If your sales cycle is 3 months long, you’ll want to wait at least that long (maybe even slightly longer) to get an accurate snapshot of competitive win rate.

Let’s look at an example.

Here you can see overall competitive win rate graphed overtime (purple), and then spliced by competitor. (In this example, our competitor is Intercom.)


In August, you can see that while there were more overall competitive wins, the competitive losses against Intercom actually increased.

So what does this mean?

Clearly, the sales team in this example is not selling effectively against Intercom, indicating that the battlecard could likely use some major updating.

The two major indicators that your battlecards need updating are:

  • Low view metrics: Sales either isn’t adopting the battlecards or isn’t finding them useful. Go back to beginning steps such as interviews and feedback to get to the root of the issue.
  • Low competitive win rate: The sales team is not positioned for success in selling against a competitor.

The quicker you iterate on results, the more likely your reps will adopt your battlecards with great success.

Wrapping Up

When creating battlecards, remember that adoption is half the battle (ha!). You can create the most beautiful battlecard, but if you don’t take the steps to ensure adoption — all your efforts will be for naught.

Keep the adoption playbook in mind:

  1. Build battlecards with sales reps.
  2. Create battlecards using best practices.
  3. Integrate battlecards with the sales rep’s workflow.
  4. Keep battlecards updated — always.
  5. Measure impact & iterate based on results.

Want to go even more in depth? Check out other battlecard resources from Crayon.

Lauren Kersanske is Senior Marketing Manager at Crayon, the market and competitive intelligence company. Prior to Crayon, she was the Senior Demand Generation Manager at Cybereason, where she built and led digital strategy across the team including campaigns, lead nurturing, conversion optimization, ABM, and more. Previously, she was the Marketing Director at Hexadite, a cybersecurity startup acquired by Microsoft for $100 million, and HubSpot, as Lead Nurturing Manager for North America. Lauren loves the (good) chaos of startup life and working with sales teams, and plans on doing it again and again.

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