Using 'Battle Cards' & "CliffNotes' together for success

Introducing a blog post series about ‘Battle Cards’ - What? Why? How? And best practices and what is the future of it?


We had a chance of talking to Ben Harris, who is the Sales Enablement Director at CloudBees



Quick intro about you, your company & sales organization


My name is Ben Harris, I am the Enablement Director for CloudBees, the leading provider of continuous delivery software services. We have a couple of hundred people in the field organization, which includes sales, inside sales, professional services, customer success, and more. Anyone customer facing is part of that organization, and we are responsible for ensuring they are ready to help our customers be successful. Our goal is customer success, and we accomplish that by ensuring our Field organization is successful.




How does your sales team & enablement process work?


I joined CloudBees a little over a year ago. In that time we have built and rolled out our own sales process and worked to develop a standard mechanism for sharing best practices. One of the best parts of Enablement here is the ability to get involved directly in opportunities via sales coaching. We have a process for Enablement that begins with the day a new person is hired and provides both self-paced training as well as live touchpoints and culminates in a live sales class that combines learning and practice.


For ongoing education, we have a program we have labeled LevelUp which releases new content on a regular basis and allows people to learn new sales techniques, product information, or industry knowledge on a regular basis. This is tracked in an open way so people always know where they and their teams stand. Ongoing education includes regular enablement at quarterly business reviews (QBRs) and also at SKO.


Finally, we are also involved in Leadership Enablement to ensure we are aligned with leadership goals and that leaders are fully up to speed on everything we do. There are multiple communication channels we use to ensure reps have access to help at all times, including an internal Slack channel our team monitors constantly.




Sales Battlecards - How do you like to define them and why are they important?


We take a slightly different approach regarding battlecards than I have taken in the past. We use the term Battlecards to describe the point our team would actually be in a battle, meaning a competitive situation. In the past, I have called any short document we create a ‘Battlecard’. In this new approach, our goal is to avoid battles by showing ourselves earlier in the sales cycle as unique. Therefore, for those other short documents that help reps understand and be able to speak to our products, skills, or industry, we refer to them as CliffNotes. I'll discuss both Battlecards and CliffNotes here.


As a definition, they are similar for both but with different goals; Battlecards are important to have knowledge of what our competition is saying about us and to call out our unique differentiators vs. the competition.


‘CliffNotes’ are important because reps can't remember everything, and having a short cheat sheet that they can review prior to a call helps them to remember key points as well as know the primary buyer personas to speak with and to focus on the common challenges those people face.


Ultimately anything we create has to be vetted and agreed upon by the Field organization, and we have a network of people we reach out to internally to ensure what we create is relevant and useful for the teams. Our goal is to keep documents short, 2 powerpoint slides, so that they can print them back to back on one page or easily view them on mobile devices.





What challenges (expected or unexpected) does your team face related to Battle Cards?


It is always difficult to distill everything down to the bare essentials, making things short and digestible by the field. People have differing opinions on what is essential and we have to ensure the right people are helping build and format these.





Where do you think Battle Cards work well for the sales teams and where do they not work well?


Battlecards and CliffNotes are crucial for any Enablement team to build. If they aren't being used or not working well, that generally means that the teams aren't finding value in them. That is valuable feedback! It helps you to understand where you need to make adjustments to help the teams. You can't assume that one format will fit for everything you create. Perhaps on one product, you need to focus more on the differentiators because they are more complex, and on another, you want to focus on the buyer personas more deeply because they are unique. Start with a common template, but be flexible or they won't work well.





What have your learnings been on how to make the content of the battle cards correct, updated and useful?


I've found that the key to making sure the content is good, always, is to share ownership of these documents with other people and other teams. Enablement can be the driver of this, but having product marketing and representation and feedback from the sales teams is crucial. Product Marketing especially is a great partner in building and maintaining this content as they are responsible for driving sales of the product they are responsible for. I have found them to be crucial in this, and if you don't work with them you are missing a crucial step.





What do you think would be the next evolution of battle cards? Where would you want it to go?


For us, the next evolution we are working on is ensuring they are live and are fed to sales exactly when they need them. Instead of them having to go hunt the documents down themselves; when a rep puts into the CRM that they have a meeting about a specific product or with a specific buyer persona, relevant content will be right there available for them whether they are on their laptop or any mobile device. It isn't about changing the content, but about providing the content in ways that make it easy for the teams to access it at any time, anywhere.


Benjamin Harris

Ben Harris is the Sales Enablement Director at CloudBees. CloudBees (www.cloudbees.com) is the hub of enterprise Jenkins and DevOps, providing companies with smarter solutions for accelerating software development and delivery.