How do you disseminate competitive positioning to your sales team?
It really depends on the current understanding of that competitive positioning within my sales team. I usually work with Sales Enablement or frontline Sales Managers to create a bill of materials that would help inform the team on competitive positioning.
Usually this includes but it varies on who I'm tryin to enable (Account executives, leadership, customer success, technical sales engineers, etc..)
- Competitive battlecards
- Why we win/why we lose messaging + customer stories
- Product differentiation deep dive (in partnership with a Sales/Solutions Engineer)
- A competitive training session hosted by the enablement team
The key with sharing information with the sales team is always around "how much do they need to know right now and what is actually actionable?" Think framing building collateral and education around those two dimensions is helpful in focusing on the right things in the short, medium and long term. As a PMM, you don't want to get in the business of being just a service organization, especially with competitive work. You want to be seen as a consultant/advisor helping the sales team focusing on real signals vs. the noise in the market.
For distribution, I usually leverage tools like Highspot, Slack and Loom.
I've seen this done a number of different ways. Typically we have dedicated time with the field to train them on the positioning. You can get buy-in from the head of sales and enablement (if you have one) to schedule a standalone session that you run to help train the field on the positioning.
If your company already has a standing enablement session (e.g., a monthly sales training time slot), you can use that time, or dedicate a portion of the agenda to this in a Sales All-Hands.
I've also seen internal email newsletters for sharing key updates or assets with the field. I'd encourage some kind of internal sales wiki where all of this information can live so that once you share the initial positioning, the team knows where they can go to access relevant documents when they need them. At my former company, we used go/links to make it easy to remember where to find the sales wiki and competitive intelligence info.
You'll want to create materials that you can package up and disseminate via a central hub like Highspot, Seismic, Showpad, Confluence etc. When you roll this out make sure you lead with "what's it in for them?" (faster deal cycles, higher ACV, etc)
It depends on who you're trying to enable (AEs, AMs, technical sales engineering) but typical effective competitive positioning materials include:
2. Swords and Shields (offensive/defensive plays) supported by customer stories and proof points
3. Product differentiation deep dive (but be careful not to turn this into a feature comparison as we don't want reps to feel like they need to get down into individual feature wars)
4. Enablement session that also highlights a handful of reps who have had success closing deals against key competitors
Also, make sure you instill a regular cadence around disseminating competitive positioning and intel. Creating a slack channel can also help crowdsource reps who are closing competitive deals and elevating their talk tracks and best practices to the rest of the team.
This requires a few different tactics depending on the size of your sales team. YMMV based on culture, sales leadership, enablement structure, but it's a good place to start.
One thing that's constant, though. Establish a one-stop shop for all competitive materials (Folder in sales portal, intranet page, doc, etc.) and relentlessly point people to it. Publicly, privately, etc. Wear out your Cmd-C/Cmd-V keys to paste this everywhere. Ultimately, you're building trust in your team that you know what's up, what's changing, and they should trust YOU before they trust the internet.
1. Small, focused teams (early stage startup, vertical overlay, etc.)
In the early days (say 1-10 closing reps), or when working with highly focused vertical or segment teams, it's critical to work directly with the reps. Set a twice-monthly meeting to answer questions, discuss intel, share new information, and ASK QUESTIONS. You'll be learning as much as they are, and the trust you'll build in this is key.
2. Medium-to-large, or fast-growing sales team
When you get above a few dozen reps, and up to a few hundred, your tactics need to change. That central location for intel becomes richer and more of a source of truth/system of record. Your challenge now becomes establishing the baseline for every new field employee (sales, cs, marketing) who comes through the door. Onboarding and sales boot camp is your most effective way of doing this.
Make sure you have a full, dedicated session on compete in the first week. If you don't have it, agitate unti you get it. And yes, this means you'll have to be the one delivering the session. Your last slide: Go here for more (point to your one-stop shop). And then make sure the enablement team includes critical compete info in the checkout/certification process at the end of rep ramp.
3. Large, established or channel-driven sales
Here's where it gets a little more complex and you'll need to partner with your enablement and channel enablement teams to make it effective. You're now in a distribution game. You likely have all the content you need - the challenge is getting it to people and reminding them where the content is. Find those sales newsletters, partner webinars, and more that drive awareness. Insert yourself into them and again, promote that link to the repository.
Also, highlight those competitive wins and get those winning AEs to call out the competitive tools they used. Nothing like a little word of mouth marketing.
Keep it simple and practical. We use a simple battle card format to pull together the most essential details you need at your fingertips to enable competitive conversations. We host it on Seismic so it is easy to search for keywords and find the battle cards. We also do specific training sessions for tier 1 and tier 2 competitors (described above). I’ve also used slack channels to create a conversation around competition and tackle fringe situations effectively with group input. Again, those people on the frontlines are often the best source of insights.
Put in a place that's easy for them to find, and be consistent. While that's oversimplified, it really comes down to that.
Sales will look for competitive positioning as they need it, so having the materials in a place they can easily access and consistently get updates is the central part of ensuring it's used.
There are of course a whole bunch of things we can layer on-top of this -- internal competitive newsletter, closed won/loss data sharing, and more. The internal newsletter can be a great way to provide regular updates and build that consistency of directing folks back to the same resources.
One last thing to mention -- in some highly competitive environments, focusing on a particular competitor (per month, or per quarter, or whichever frequency works for your org) can be helpful. You can hold a "deep dive" session on that competitor, especially if there's been a big refresh of intelligence or updates on that competitor it can be a good way to reset and disseminate key information.
There are two directions to answering this question:
- Frequency of delivery
Frequency is important because Sales is constantly bombarded with info. You have to get in front of them consistently with different materials like presentations, documents, customer-facing assets, etc. to really get them to latch onto competitive positioning.
And then there's the content piece. I try to think of competitive assets like a website and my sales team like its visitors. If you get too granular and use jargon-filled statements, they're gonna drop off and go somewhere else.
- Use words that they and your customers use.
- Read the sentences out loud—could you actually see someone saying the sentences out loud or do you sound like a robot?
- Use visuals to help describe complex concepts
If you nail these two, your Sales team will be unstoppable against competitors.
In the traditional B2B Tech world, my experience has been that you need several ways to disseminate your competitive positioning:
Sales battle cards for your field sales teams and channel partners easily reference;
Training sessions to go over key competitive differentiation and review your value prop;
Self-service short videos where you go over competitors and how you win;
Create a dedicated competitive channel in Slack or MS Teams where field teams can come for information and ask questions;
Regular enablement sessions where you give field teams a refresher on your competitive positioning;
Share via email, Slack/Teams, new competitive win stories highlighting customer quotes that reinforce your positioning.
Develop a Competitive Playbook: Create a comprehensive competitive playbook that outlines key information about each competitor, their offerings, strengths, weaknesses, and positioning. This playbook should serve as a go-to resource for your sales team, providing them with the necessary insights to understand the competitive landscape.
Conduct Competitive Training Sessions: Organize regular training sessions to educate your sales team on competitive positioning. These sessions should cover information from the competitive playbook and emphasize the unique value propositions, differentiators, and messaging that set your product apart.
Provide Battle Cards: Prepare concise battle cards or cheat sheets that highlight the key points of differentiation for each competitor. These cards should include common objections raised by customers and suggested responses or counterpoints to address them. T
Provide Regular Competitive Updates: Keep your sales team informed about changes in the competitive landscape. Share regular updates on competitor product releases, new features, pricing changes, or market trends that may impact the positioning of your product. This can be done through email newsletters, internal communications, or dedicated meetings.
Organize Competitor Battle Workshops: Conduct workshops or collaborative sessions where the sales team collectively strategizes on how to tackle specific competitors. Encourage the team to share their experiences, best practices, and success stories in dealing with different competitors. These workshops foster a sense of camaraderie and provide a platform for knowledge exchange among the sales team.
Gather Feedback from the Sales Team: Actively seek feedback from your sales team regarding their experiences in competitive situations. Listen to their challenges, understand their needs, and address any gaps in the competitive positioning materials or training.
I use a standard product marketing brief for launches that includes competitive positioning. I'll include a section for where we win along with key value props and differentiators. Another way I do this is via regular team enablement syncs, dedicated slack channels, and guru cards. The key is making sure the content is visible, searchable, and referenceable in centralized place that sales uses.