One of my posts on the question “where Sales Enablement lives within an organization” got a comment requesting further clarification of the following graphic:
The comment was asking where to find sales people in the graphic and what the role of sales playbooks is. I have to admit that it is difficult to read, but the sales people are actually represented within the green area as indicated by the words Sales Force. (This is not a reference to salesforceDOTcom.)
This speaks to the point that sales people and the legacy sales portals, that are supposed to enable them, sit in between a highly matrixed organization on the one side and just as complex an organization on the client’s side. These legacy sales portals are one-dimensional (they fail to show content & contact details of subject experts in the context of the highly matrixed organization and in context to which pain point on the client side is addressed) and there are often several portals as there are so many silos of information.
Each sales playbook is a great tool for a small subset of the sales force (as shown in the graphic), but comes out of one of the silos, fed by only some of the Product/Portfolio Marketing teams or one regional team. When all content (e.g. customer references from different regions or specific value propositions per industry vertical…) lives in a multi-dimensional business context like it is made possible in BizSphere (which is a Sales Enablement Solution Suite that was designed to cut across all silos. Full disclosure: I work with them.), a completely customized sales playbook for any given sales situation can be auto-generated.
In contrast to legacy sales portals, BizSphere takes at least three dimensions into account. These could be:
- Where is the seller going to a meeting? (Sales regions, countries…)
- What does the seller want to sell (Portfolio of products, services and solutions.)
- What does the seller need in order to be successful in the meeting? (Content types like white paper, case study, ROI-Calculator, contact details of a subject matter expert, etc…)
You might also want to define a taxonomy of customer pain points and map your products against them or add other dimensions that your company thinks in. BizSphere then lets you filter down by media type, language of the content, and/or the sales step you are in with the opportunity you are working.
- Imagine the 1st orange arrow in the graphic above to be a customer reference from a Canadian client for a specific security solution.
- Imagine the 2nd orange arrow to be the contact details of the sales engineer in South Africa who is the expert for a given service.
- The 3rd orange arrow could be an ROI-calculator for the same service but it is really specific to the mining industry and therefore relevant in Western Australia.
Can you get lost in BizSphere? No way, because nothing is easier than answering: What do I want to sell, where do I want to sell it and what would help me to close the deal? Once you set your context in these three dimensions you will have filtered down from thousands of marketing assets / pieces of collateral to only the relevant ones.
- Sales Enablement,
- Marketing Asset Management
- Sales Knowledge Management,
- Sales Content Management, etc…
- Enterprise 2.0 players,
- consulting firms,
- and design agencies…
…with a focus on improving the intranet of b2b enterprises for all employees touching accounts.
So far two vendors merged into one, many changed owners, at least three went out of business, and new ones keep on popping up. The current count is 60 vendors (last updated May 27, 2013). Please find the constantly updated list here.
In the February 2010 issue CRM Magazine singled out the relevant vendors in the Sales Enablement software market.
Not all written in July/August 2010 but discovered/read by me during that time frame:
‘Am I the only one not on board with aligning Sales & Marketing?’ by Maureen Blandford
‘When it comes to Social Media, CEOs and CMOs should lead from the front’ by HARISH KOTADIA, PH.D. (NOVEMBER 9, 2009)
As you can see in my work in progress list of Sales Enablement vendors, there are a lot of players.
destinationcrm.com wrote an article on that as well. Their shortlist is the following:
THE VENDOR SHORTLIST
BizSphere (www.BizSphere.com) — BizSphere Sales Enablement consists of four separate applications involving both sales and marketing: Sales Web, Document Generation, Content Landscape, and Editors.
iCentera (www.icentera.com/solutions-sales.asp) — iCentera Enterprise Edition 6.0 offers wiki-page builders, customizable portals, custom tabs, a company newsroom, and dynamic email.
Kadient (www.kadient.com/products.aspx) — Kadient Dynamic Sales Content, Sales Playbooks, and Sales Performance Analytics can be accessed directly from within sales force automation systems via productized integration with Salesforce.com and Oracle CRM On Demand.
Savo Group (www.savogroup.com/sales/effectiveness) — Savo Sales Asset Manager provides an organizational structure to enable sales pros to rank content, based on business rules, to recommend content for each particular selling situation.
When you are in the process of compiling a short-list of vendors let me know. No matter whether you are looking for SaaS or on premises solutions to arm your B2B sales force, I would love to give you a demo of BizSphere (I work with them).
I just wrote the blog post ‘How the metrics of a Sales Enablement application help you to save sales people even more time’ for enableYourSales.com/blog:
Today, I had a look at the usage metrics and statistics report gathered at a large enterprise that recently launched our Sales Enablement application to replace more than 35 intranet portals. What I love about the report is that it not only tracks which content sales people view, download, rate (with up to 5 stars) or comment on (We actually also display all of the above in the frontend to show sales people where the good stuff is.), but it also tracks what they were not able to find. An anonymous list of all search queries that were punched in comes with the number of actual results that were displayed. That way the owners of the Sales Enablement application at our customers can take a look at all search queries that led to zero results and specifically address what must be a huge frustration for sales people who are trying to prepare a customer meeting.
Constant loop of quantitative and qualitative feedback lets you improve the experience
Knowing which way people search, what they are looking for, and to analyze whether the content does actually exist or still needs to be created is very insightful. Not only does it direct the content planning process (to invest marketing dollars only for content that will actually be used), but it also helps to focus on the important topics when optimizing your texts and their tags for the indexing by the search. What I mean by this is that a search term that led to zero results can be added – visible or invisible - to the content that would had been the perfect match. An example from one of our early customers – Nortel – would be frequent searches for “CS1k” with the expectation to find content for the product “CS1000″. It is just fair enough that people search the way they speak and analyzing the metrics and statistics helps you to improve their search experience.
Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration
Besides the quantitative things to look at, you also have the qualitative feedback in form of comments under each piece of content. When people start to…
- comment on a white paper why it did not resonate with customers in a specific industry vertical,
- add competitive insight from the field on an internal presentation,
- applaud or criticize the authors
- and help each other with lots of comments etc…
…then each piece of content has its own blog.
A word, that is not an official term but keeps on showing up in these comments or in the log files mentioned above, can be added as an alias of a product/service/solution, region/country or resource/document type.
The real Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration starts to happen when your Sales Enablement application allows your employees or even your channel partners to share their own documents or links which they found helpful. When everything can be accessed from one place and is marked as ‘peer contribution’ or as ‘content approved by marketing’, then there might be a chance to ensure that everyone is always using the latest version and does not waste time emailing people for it.
The report – this ‘one place’ should show in real-time – tells you who contributed the content that gets a lot of love and the collaboration around it might reveal insights of the kind only employees touching the customer accounts gather and the marketing department usually finds out about late.
On April 6, 2010, Stefan Broda from EnableYourSales.com/blog posted: “Alan Willis of Solutions for Sales (www.SolutionsForSales.com @salesready) wrote a detailed and insightful post entiteld ‘Sales Enablement Platforms – needs and benefits’. Solution for Sales is one of our trusted partners in the UK and one of the pioneers of the term ‘Sales Enablement‘. While at SVA-BizSphere AG, we provide technology and methodology to clients so that their sales force is able to access the most relevant information to their current sales situation, Solution for Sales creates this information for its clients. Their interactive sales kits have become an industry standard. Especially through this synergy, we are looking forward to a mutually productive partnership with Solution for Sales.
Thanks to Solution for Sales for allowing us to re-post their article on our blog. It describes the sales enablement theme from a business perspective and greatly compliments the articles on our page:
Sales Enablement Platforms – needs and benefits
Salespeople volunteer for a tough job. The complexity of what they sell and the sophistication of the people they sell to increase year by year. In this environment every sales interaction and conversation is important, which is why the best salespeople spend so much time preparing for their conversations with customers and creating the materials they will use.
But salespeople are often not well served by the resources they are given to prepare for these conversations. The problem resides at two levels: the quality of sales materials is often poor and it is hard to find the right resources, even if they do exist. The concept of the sales enablement platform – a knowledge management tool for sales – has arisen as a solution to the second of these problems. This article outlines the requirements for an effective sales enablement platform and analyses the benefits.
What customers want
Customers have grown out of having products sold to them; they have even tired of solutions selling. Now they want to buy on the basis of business outcomes. The communications company doesn’t want an improved customer loyalty system; it wants customers that stay longer and spend more. The manufacturer no longer wants an improved supply chain solution; it wants lower supply costs and on time delivery. And they want to look at all the options for achieving their desired outcome.
One consequence is that customers expect salespeople to explain how they can deliver outcomes. They are looking for salespeople to share a point of view, not just ask questions. Customers want to work with salespeople who bring business knowledge from a wide range of different situations; salespeople who can contribute new business ideas.
What salespeople need
The sales cycle can be viewed as a series of interactions or conversations with the customer. Each sales interaction has a specific set of objectives: it must change a viewpoint, unearth information, resolve a concern, solve a problem or provide needed information. Knowing this, and understanding the customer’s expectations, it is apparent that the salesperson, when preparing for a sales conversation, needs to be able to marshal a wide range of information and structure it according to the context and objectives of each different situation. Salespeople need better information systems to help them do this, and the sales enablement platform has evolved to address this need.
What’s the problem?
Typically, current tools do not meet the information needs of salespeople – see below “What salespeople say they need”. These shortfalls are damaging because salespeople rely on sales resources to fuel the engine of sales conversations – no fuel, no progress.
What salespeople say they need
- One source – I don’t want to have to search through multiple, unconnected information silos, arranged arbitrarily e.g. according to product set, department, country
- The big picture – I need the high level view so I can spot related offerings and cross and up sell opportunities
- Concise and complete – I want just the resources that are relevant now, not loads of extraneous stuff. But it must be all the resources, from all departments
- Arranged for me – I don’t want to have to be an expert on the portfolio to get to the resources I need
- In my language – it must respond to the words I use
- Responding to the sales context – e.g. the stage of sale, technical vs business
- Linking me to people who can help – I want to connect to salespeople who have been here before me, and to the expert behind the resource
- Listening to me – I’d like the opportunity to comment and share information. I’d like to be updated on topics that I choose
The impact – sales efficiency
Much has been written about the impact of these problems on salesforce productivity. For example, IDC research says that on average each week a salesperson spends:
- 6.4 hours creating presentations
- 5.8 hours searching for client-related information
- 2.3 hours searching for marketing collateral
Clearly, if these processes could be speeded up sales would be more efficient. For example, for a salesforce of 500, saving one hour each week is worth over €500k each year in simple efficiency savings. That means getting more sales out of the same size salesforce or accommodating salesperson wastage without loss of sales.
Significant as this is, Solutions for Sales believes that it is the potential improvement in sales effectiveness delivered by the sales enablement platform that offers the most significant gains.
The impact – sales effectiveness
We have argued that customers expect a higher quality of interaction with their sales contacts. They want business advice; they want a balanced view; they want to focus on their desired business outcome not the salesperson’s desired sales outcome. To meet these customer expectations salespeople need to tap into a wide range of resources and quickly find all that is available to make the next sales interaction successful.
This is something salespeople are not doing well according to statistics from IDC, which show that:
- 33% of all unsuccessful deals could have been won if the seller had been better informed and had acted more client-oriented
- 57% of customers feel that salespeople are poorly prepared or not prepared at all at initial meetings
- More than 50% of customers expect salespeople to be better informed about client-specific requirements and goals
If accessing sales resources is difficult or laborious, it is our experience that the salesperson’s patience runs out long before all relevant resources have been discovered. The result is sales meetings that fall into the 57% that customers judge to be poorly prepared and sales opportunities that end up in the 33% that would have been won if the salesperson had been better informed.
The most significant benefit of a good sales enablement platform is that it improves the quality of the sales conversation, which results in more wins. When it comes to quantifying this benefit there are so many other factors at play that it is hard to provide objective figures. Readers must judge for themselves, but if it is accepted that salespeople who are better prepared for sales meetings can achieve a 1% higher win rate, then for a company with sales of €250 million the result would be an extra €1.5 – €2.5 million of sales each year. And there’s another important benefit: the salesperson that demonstrates the ability to talk outcomes with their customer gains visibility of more sales opportunities.
Marketing has needs too
Sales enablement platforms are not just for sales. Marketing has a whole range of requirements in this area. See below:
What CMOs say they need
- Drive Sales – I need to have better ways of steering Sales in the direction the company wants to go
- Satisfy Sales – I want to provide the sales resources that salespeople need. I am sick of hearing them say that Marketing is no help
- Economise on Marketing resource – I would like to know which resources are valued by sales so I can save money by stopping doing what’s not wanted
- Improve visibility – I want to see who’s using what, which resources are getting old, and what the coverage is of sales resources across the portfolio
- Develop a broader view – I’d like people to have a better understanding of the breadth of our capability and the positive synergies across our portfolio
- Exploit all our resources – I want everyone to be able to contribute to selling, including organisations like professional services and delivery
- Encourage interaction – I need to get salespeople sharing their experience and marketing people contributing their knowledge directly to sales
- Structured, uniform and global – I’m worried that the ad-hoc social networking and web tools that are springing up will just create confusion. Worse, if they aren’t maintained they will mislead
Producing the best sales resources
People all round the company have information that can help sales. Of course the main producers are Products, Marketing and Sales themselves, but there are others. In some companies Professional Services and Consulting divisions have information on the services they offer, their expertise and their processes, methods and tools. They may produce opinion pieces and white papers. This is valuable material in a complex sales process. Delivery and Operations can provide performance statistics and quality measures that are useful sales ammunition, and customers want to know about the design, implementation and support services available to them.
Products, Marketing, Sales, Professional Services, Consulting, Delivery and Operations will all have their own ways of producing and storing information – this is what created the silos in the first place. The good news is that these don’t have to change. The sales enablement platform spans all these sources, presenting sales materials from all departments as an integrated whole. As well as giving 360° visibility, the sales enablement platform helps producers by providing:
- Structure: defining the types of resource salespeople need; formats; desired content
- User feedback: comments from salespeople on how resources can be improved and what new resources are needed
- User rating: rating and usage statistics allow producers to judge how well they are doing and allow managers to identify the best producers and the most popular types of resource
- Inventory control: to highlight when resources need updating or are approaching end-of-life, and show where more resources are needed
The result is a continuous improvement cycle that leads towards better quality sales resources which are more useful to salespeople.
Sales enablement in context
The selling process can be viewed as a series of conversations between salesperson and customer, so the job of sales enablement is to make those conversations more interesting and ultimately more rewarding for both parties.
When preparing for a sales call, the salesperson needs sales resources that are appropriate to the specific conversation being planned. Successful companies make sure that high quality sales resources exist, and they make it easy for salespeople to find the right resources for the job at hand. The sales enablement platform solves the second of these problems. It gives sellers access to the right sales resources and information – the fuel that powers the engine of sales. Moreover, it helps improve the quality of sales resources by creating channels for feedback and engagement so that content producers get a better understanding of what’s needed.
The sales enablement platform is a strategic tool that CMOs can use to define the portfolio structure, drive sales behaviour and optimise product marketing resource. It cuts through organisational silos and allows every department to play its part in supporting sales. It fosters business networking amongst salespeople and with other departments that have a major impact on sales, such as Marketing, Operations and Professional Services. It improves the quality of sales resources by facilitating feedback and engagement between users and producers. For all these activities it provides a structure that is uniform, maintainable and scalable.
For the Sales VP, the sales enablement platform facilitates better execution in the everyday work of the salesforce, leading to lower sales costs and a higher win rate. The result is a solid business case for investment, which explains why the sales enablement platform is taking its place alongside CRM and marketing automation as a must-have business tool.
This article was written by Alan Willis of Solutions for Sales. For more information email or call +44 (0)1702 586742.”
Only 53% of B2B marketers have sufficient content to support multiple messages. 47% store and categorize content in multiple locations
On March 30, 2010, Amy Bills, Director of Field Marketing, Bulldog Solutions published ‘Even High-Performing Marketers Struggle with Content, Alignment’:
“Continued struggles in sales and marketing alignment [...]
These are the key findings from the Executive Benchmark Assessment (EBA), a survey created by Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, and demand generation agency Bulldog Solutions to measure the efficacy of BtoB marketers and provide benchmark data.
The EBA surveyed 250 BtoB marketers between June 2009 and January 2010 [...]
Many organizations have heard the call and attempted to move toward better communication, including and SLAs between sales and marketing that spell out key agreements such as how a high-quality lead is defined. Nonetheless:
- Less than one-quarter of BtoB marketers say they’re generating enough demand to satisfy their sales teams.
- Less than half (46%) have developed buyer personas to guide communications and sales readiness for their prospects.
- Slightly below two-thirds, 64%, have defined the stages of the pipeline in order to ensure marketing and sales agree on common definitions.
- Only 36% leverage marketing automation or manual processes for message testing.
The custom communications enabled by marketing automation have put significant requirements on organizations to create compelling content. If technology is the engine, content is the fuel. Indeed, the pressing need for content across a range of buying stages and personas was the third greatest challenge identified by the survey group to leveraging marketing automation, behind only people/skillsets and appropriate process. Other findings:
- Slightly more than half, 53%, of marketers said they have sufficient content to support multiple messages.
- Only 23% store public-facing content in a publically available library or content center. For the rest, content is in multiple locations or an internal set of folders.
See the original post here.