You finally—finally—got the prospect you’ve been pursuing for months to set up a sales meeting. It’s an achievement borne of lots of hard work, mostly in the form of fantastic marketing materials, and just the right amount of followup. Your best salesperson strides into the meeting (metaphorically anyways, if it’s happening on Zoom) feeling fully prepared to make their pitch.
But when they talk about how much better your product is than a top competitor (let’s call them Company X), the prospect pushes back. “You got that wrong,” they say. “Company X just released a new update that fixes that issue.”
Your best salesperson—who’s usually so on top of things, and prepared in every scenario—is left speechless and struggling to respond. How can they come back from such an obvious error? And without knowing any of the details of the new update, they can’t figure out a compelling argument on the spot, at least not one they know will be accurate.
It doesn’t have to be that way. A business that prioritizes sales enablement, and works to provide timely sales enablement materials can make sure your salespeople avoid such an awkward and frustrating scenario.
Why Up-to-Date Enablement Materials Matter
Outdated information can make even the most competent members of your sales team look bad. And their pride isn’t the only thing it hurts. It can lose you sales. Your team needs to know exactly what’s happening with your competitors and their products at all times in order to provide the most effective messaging to prospects. Fail at that, and you risk positioning yourself all wrong, and inadvertently playing right into your competitor’s strengths.
The process involved in creating and maintaining up-to-date enablement materials can also benefit the marketing team and the company as a whole. You have to know what’s happening in your industry in general, and with specific competitors in particular, in order to be capable of proactively addressing new trends and threats. The sooner you know about any changes in the market, the better equipped you’ll be to adapt and make the most of them.
And of course, having real-time knowledge about what’s happening in your industry makes you look a lot smarter than someone that doesn’t. In contrast, if your messaging or sales pitch is outdated, it makes you look sloppy and behind the times, which tarnishes your brand and can make prospects lose trust in you.
How to Achieve Real-Time Enablement Initiative
Can anyone truly know what a competitor is doing at all times? If your sales team were to spend all their time monitoring the competition’s websites, email marketing, and social feeds, they wouldn’t have much time for actually nurturing relationships and making sales calls. That’s clearly the more important part of their job.
And it’s not like the marketing team is awash in more free time than you know what to do with. How is it possible to not only stay on top of all trends and changes in the competitive landscape, but also turn that into enablement materials for your Go-to-Market team? The goal may be easier to manage than you think.
1. Invest in software that provides real-time monitoring.
Tasking a human being (or even a few) with monitoring all your competitors’ various feeds and channels every day would indeed be an outlandish ask. This is one of those needs that technology can manage a lot better than humans. A good competitive intelligence software that offers real-time monitoring can track all the relevant channels for your full list of competitors, and let your team know immediately when there’s a change you need to know about.
And some products even leverage technology like AI to automate the visualization and organization of the information it collects, so it’s easier for your team to then analyze what you’ve learned and apply your insights to the materials you create.
2. Create competitive battlecards based on current information.
Use what you learn in your initial competitive analysis to create competitive battlecards that put your intelligence into a form your sales team can easily use. Battlecards manage to distill the most important messaging a salesperson needs into a short format they can quickly and easily internalize before a sales call.
This should include primary talking points for each competitor. Think about the competition’s main strengths—the things a prospect is most likely to bring up—and craft a brief, but compelling argument in response to each.
3. Update competitive battlecards regularly.
This is a step a lot of companies have trouble with. Accomplishing a task once can be challenging enough, but staying on top of it? Doing it over and over again on a regular basis? That’s where a lot of projects that require ongoing work fail.
Don’t let that be your failing here. Make it a regular part of your process to revisit your battlecards periodically. Figure out the timeframe that makes the most sense for your team, put it on your calendar, and keep up with it. But in addition to your regular revisions, having real-time monitoring also means you’ll be notified of each new announcement and update a competitor makes. So in addition to your typical process, you’ll also want to proactively make updates to your battlecard right away any time you’re alerted to a notable change in a competitor’s product or marketing.
4. Make sure sales always has access to the current version.
And here’s a valid and realistic concern: what if your marketing team puts all this work into creating and maintaining up-to-date enablement materials? and your sales team downloads them once and sticks with the old version for the next year (or two or five). If they’re not actively thinking to look for updated versions, they could easily keep using outdated information without realizing it.
You need to also put thought into how best to distribute and provide the most up-to-date version of your battlecards to the sales team at all times. You may need to work this out with your sales team directly. Don’t assume emailing them the new version will be good enough, that only works if your sales team checks their email frequently and won’t be likely to skim right past your email while browsing a crowded inbox. Discuss with them the distribution method that will work best for their habits.
5. Create a feedback loop.
Your real-time competitive monitoring software can tell you a lot. But do you know who most often knows even more about what your prospects are saying directly about competitors? Your sales team themselves. Every time they come back from a sales call, they’ll have more information about what prospects are thinking. They can report back on specific features a competitor offers that prospects like, or how pricing differences play into their decisions.
Regularly ask your sales team for input based on what they hear directly from prospects and customers and provide them a simple method to share that intel. This way, you create an ongoing loop of improvement and put that information to good use to update the enablement materials. They provide feedback to you. You update your battlecards and provide them with a better version. Then they use the new battlecards, and provide new feedback based on how well sales calls that use that messaging go.
Up-to-Date Sales Enablement Wins the Day
Providing your sales team with up-to-date materials at all times will require an investment in software, work, and time. But that makes it less likely your competitors are already doing it. Having the most prepared salespeople is a good way to gain a competitive advantage and win more sales. That translates to higher profits, and better results for everyone.