All related (43)
Grant Shirk
Head of Product Marketing, Cisco Meraki, Cisco | Formerly Tellme Networks, Microsoft, Box, Vera, Scout RFP, and Sisu Data, to name a few.April 13

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. 

Jessica Scrimale
Senior Director of Product - Datafox and AI Applications, OracleAugust 17

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. 

Jeffrey Vocell
Head of Product Marketing, Narvar | Formerly Iterable, HubSpot, IBMAugust 4

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.

Vikas Bhagat
Director, Head of Product Marketing, WebflowJuly 13

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. 

Ambika Aggarwal
Director of Product Marketing, Culture AmpSeptember 21

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:

1. Battlecards

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. 

Harsha Kalapala
Vice President, Product Marketing, AlertMedia | Formerly TrustRadius, Levelset, WalmartJuly 7

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.

James Winter
VP of Marketing, Spekit
INTERNAL TRAINING MATERIALS/DECK Education should always be a big part of launching the product. The first thing you need to accomplish is getting the sales team to actually care about whatever it is that you're launching. Try not to make this overly academic, make sure you're getting the point across as to what the opportunity is for the sales person to make money.    BETA/EARLY ADOPTER CASE STUDIES I always try to avoid launching products without a couple of well produced case studies from early adopters/beta users.    LEAVE BEHIND MATERIALS Could be a deck, a one pager, somethin...
Daniel Kuperman
Head of Product Marketing, ITSM, Atlassian
This is done in conjunction with your sales enablement team, if you have one. Ideally you will look at the key priorities for sales enablement which you gathered directly from the sales team either via surveys (if you have a big team) or informally during a feedback session (great for smaller orgs). Part of the prioritization process involves looking at: 1. What are the most requested enablement topics or needs 2. Which of those will have the highest impact in a seller's ability to meet their quota 3. How much effort is required to deliver it From there you plot along the timeline ...