The allure of battlecards is like a siren’s song. This tool will give you everything you need about your competitors and markets and how to beat them to the next deal. It is enticing yet potentially misleading. But are they truly the strategic answer they’re made out to be, or just a buzzword-laden mirage? So bang up-to-date or outdated battle cards? Are they the answer?

More Hype Than Help
After reading Crayon’s interesting formula for battle card success, I decided to write this article. They state that quality, accessibility, and enthusiasm lead to adoption. It sounds deceptively simple. Yet, the essence of a battlecard’s usefulness is often lost in translation. And getting to the point, I think Crayon are missing the point. Certainly, in the article they just published.

Extract from a Crayon marketing article
The core issue with battle cards? Relevance and timeliness. Most battle cards we see are swamped with information that is either outdated or irrelevant to the sales team’s immediate needs. It’s like handing a soldier a map to a battlefield when the war ended yesterday. Now, we could be wrong, of course. But ask a salesperson on the frontline about battle cards, and you may get a response like this:

Do you have a battle card?

Yeah, somewhere. Let me have a look.

Hummmm…Here it is

It’s no good. It’s six months out of date.

Oh, and the content is of no use to me.

Buzzword Trap: Battlecards As A Software Report Card
Let’s face it: battle cards have gained traction not for their strategic merit. They can be useful, but also it’s because they fit neatly into tech’s buzzword bingo. They are often the go-to output for competitive intelligence software for a reason. Battle cards offer a tangible end product to justify the investment. The essence of insight is lost when the focus shifts from providing actionable intelligence to filling in forms. Worse still when the person filling the template is reading from a screen and not analysing the info themselves. Or they have zero idea about how sales happen or what sales need.

Read More: Competitive Intelligence Project Delays and Why We Can’t Afford to Wait

Outdated And Overstuffed
One of the biggest pitfalls of battle cards is their tendency to become outdated. Outdated as soon as they are processed, written, approved and published. In some major brands, that could be a six-week process. We are not joking. Yesterday’s intelligence is as useful as last year’s calendar in the fast-paced market. Also, when looking at a screen with the latest secondary news about a competitor, the user can’t be thinking about where the new information goes into the battle card. Or worse use generative AI to build a comment into it. They should be thinking, so what, what does that mean, what’s missing and what can we do about it? And I’m sure many are.

Furthermore, cramming data into these cards causes overload. This renders them more confusing than clarifying. Yes, a salesperson should ask questions about the contents of the battle card. But they don’t care. They are focused on their next deal. No time or interest in working with something that provides little value. It’s like trying to read a novel when you need a summary.

When Battlecards Work
Despite these shortcomings, it’s unfair to dismiss battle cards completely. When crafted with an understanding of what sales teams need, they can be powerful tools. There’s a chance if they are succinct, relevant, and contain current information. It’s about striking the right balance between comprehensive data and digestible insights. And to be fair to Klue (our preferred partner) and the like, their platforms are excellent, and there isn’t an excuse for outdated battle cards. The tools are there for timely battle cards.

But in reality, not everyone has time to work on the platform 24 hours a day. And, of course, the most valuable information comes from talking to your competitors. And not even AI can do that yet. No, really, it can’t, never will, and you probably wouldn’t want it to. And we do a lovely line of people-powered, tech-supported battle cards. But there are better ways of doing it.

Beyond The Battlecard Box
So, what’s the alternative to the battle card? The answer lies in agility and customisation. Imagine dynamic, digital dashboards tailored to the specific context of each sales encounter. Updated in real-time. Or targeted briefs focused on specific competitors or market segments, offering the latest insights at a glance. But if the salesperson goes to this resource and it’s full of crap or is out of date, then you have lost them.

Read More: Analysing your competitors’ pricing strategies in eight points

Outdated Battle Cards Are Frighteningly All Some Experience Competitive Intelligence But Why?
Time to Rethink Battlecards. The battle card story is a cautionary tale about the perils of buzzword-driven strategies. It’s high time we moved beyond the allure of jargon. We need to focus on what matters. Oh yeah, that’s providing relevant, timely, and actionable intelligence. Let’s not get lost in creating documents for the sake of it. Instead, let’s craft tools that empower your decision-makers in the ever-evolving business battlefield.