Given my background in using Sales Enablement solutions inside large complex enterprises or helping enterprises with their Sales Enablement challenges, quick and light solutions for very small companies, with only a few products and a small sales force, have not been the focus of this blog.
However, I have always tried to cover even vendors that target small companies in my list of Sales Enablement market players.
That list had 59 companies on September 28, 2012.
In the responses to the following question on quora, Tobin Harris wrote a good one:
[...] you can get good mileage out of the iPad using apps like this:
Low cost sales enablement apps
- Prezzi mobile for presentations / slide shows
- DropBox [or Google Drive or box.com etc] for storing images, PDFs and videos
- iBooks for PDFs (without needing WiFi)
- Apple Notes or Evernote for capturing meetings notes
- Paper app for drawings and scribbles
CRM integration will become more important for sales teams. Who wants to double enter their meeting notes via the laptop?
The fact that the iPad is instant-on, lightweight and has good battery life makes it a very viable replacement for paper based sales aids [...]“
Of course, sharing many different Prezzi / presentation files, PDFs, forms, documents, images, and other media files across a sales team of more than one person will require a lot of discipline in order to achieve that everyone presents a consistent story / look&feel as well as only the most up-to-date version. As this becomes a problem, the more sophisticated Sales Enablement solutions, that sit on top of document management systems with “version control”, “tagging from controlled vocabulary”, and “user access rights management” or can integrate with all kinds of sources, come in.
FatStax Mobile Apps just published a document with 8 steps on implementing iPads for your sales force. Of those 8 steps I would like to share steps 3-6 below. You can download the full document here or follow their blog, where they discuss each step in more detailed blog posts. For me many of their recommendations make sense even for app developers who target enterprises or corporate employees who need to plan the rollout of a particular app on a number of different devices. I have added http://fatstax.com to my work in progress list of all Sales Enablement vendors.
Step 3: Legacy systems—know the users and the owners.
Build a cross-functional team.
Think about existing software systems and business processes that will integrate with the iPad. The owners of those systems—on the technical, operational and business sides of the organization—should get involved early in the process. Build a cross-functional team that connects internal stakeholders with external consultants and developers.
Get key people in IT, marketing, sales and other relevant areas involved early by creating a cross-functional team. It will show others that the idea has broad-based support. Finding allies now and keeping them throughout the iPad rollout will make it easier to navigate company policies, and it may inspire a broader mobile strategy for the organization. Involving stakeholders certainly will help with the development process and ensure a more relevant outcome.
The added expense of integration should come with higher returns, including better workflow efficiencies, more satisfied sales teams and the slick look and feel of a made-to-order solution.
Step 4: Set a realistic budget.
Engaging other departments may reveal additional ways to use iPads for sales, which also may reveal additional expenses. Use the input of others to create a realistic budget. Remember to look beyond the cost of purchasing an iPad for each person. In addition to purchasing the hardware, common iPad-related expenses that may get overlooked, include:
iPad cases Sales people need an easy-to-hold case that keeps the screen clean. Data plans Talk to current and competing data plan providers. Support What can the company absorb and what needs to be outsourced? What support can vendors provide? Provisioning Make the internal app accessible from the iTunes library or an enterprise-based “store.” Programmers Internal or external, programmers are expensive. Use them to custom-design apps or assist with integration. Security Invest in encryption and wipe functionality for when an iPad is lost. Distribution Account for the cost of shipping “loaded” iPads to team members. VPN Check to see if VPN access apps are included in current services. Integrators Decide if CRM and ERP integration is required for success. Apps Plan a budget that encompasses business and pleasure. Pilot program Identify a subset of the budget for a one- or two-phase pilot program.
Step 5: Find or make apps that work for sales.
Unless a company has the desire and budget to build its own mobile development and support team, the fastest, easiest and least expensive way to keep pace with changing hardware and software is to rely on external developers. Developers that specialize in designing all-inclusive apps for enterprises live and breathe everything related to the iPad. These specialized vendors have worked with other enterprises, giving them a great deal of exposure to user experience preferences. They may have additional advice and ideas on the best way to securely deploy iPads, as well as their product, their product to enterprise sales teams.
Whether working with internal developers or outside consultants, make sure the people designing or customizing apps for the sales team understand what sales people need. Their understanding can make all the difference in the ultimate sales force adoption of an app. For example, does the team understand the following?
- What do sales people in their company do on a daily basis?
- How do they interact with customers?
- What does the sales process look like?
- How can sales be improved and enhanced with new tools?
Learn, adapt and deploy.
No developer team will code the perfect app the first time. An app’s success will grow over time based on user experiences from the field. The iPad is so flexible that apps can, and should, evolve with feedback. Use caution when an over-zealous IT department or developers tell the sales team what it needs or how an app “should” work. For example, sales people may discover that “standard-sized” app buttons don’t work well during customer encounters. If they need big buttons, give them big buttons!
Step 6: Test assumptions in a pilot.
A great way to test assumptions, uncover missing budget items, and reveal enterprise software integration needs is to conduct an iPad pilot. Phase 1 of a pilot might include a small group of enthusiastic users. Consider tapping people who already own the iPad for personal use or who have been especially vocal about adding them to the sales team’s tool box.
Define pilot goals.
Clearly define goals for the pilot participants, and consider how much time it will take them to provide pilot feedback. If necessary, compensate participants for lost opportunities so they can attend weekly meetings or log experiences. Let participants discover what they need to make the iPad an effective part of the sales process and daily workflow.
Don’t pilot more than four apps at a time.
Sales people have the job of closing sales, so don’t plan for users to test more than three to four apps in a pilot. Starting simple with a mix of everyday apps and one custom app is much more manageable.
Sales people often look for app-based solutions to help:
- Manage e-mail
- Connect to the VPN
- Organize and access literature
- Navigate product catalogs
- Participate in training
- Update CRM systems
- Log expenses
- Track compensation
On April 24, 2012, BizSphere AG announced that it includes new dashboard and multimedia functions in its Sales Enablement Suite:
Higher efficiency through focus on knowledge transfer and a more individual, target group-oriented information supply
In the new release of its Sales Enablement Solution, BizSphere has incorporated an enhanced dashboard and an additional multimedia function. Whilst previously searching for information and finding knowledge were the priorities, the two new modules now enable a more individual supply of information and a more effective transfer of knowledge. The new release concentrates on the requirements of each individual user, providing further opportunities for a customised information supply and an instructive visual presentation of results.
The new dashboard function facilitates access to information relevant to the individual user, on the one hand assembling information selectively with their interests and activities in mind. The content supplied is defined by the user through bookmarks or subscription. On the other hand, the system monitors past user activities, supporting sustainability in the use of this information.
The new dashboard function improves content governance capabilities of the BizSphere Sales Web. There are clear responsibilities for all contents (resources), so that an owner of a specific subject area can constantly monitor his content responsibilities and the need for update or rework.
The new release focuses heavily on context-driven knowledge transfer. The structure of the BizSphere Sales Enablement Solution allows information to be cross-referenced, thus facilitating cross-selling and upselling potential to be displayed. Now, these relations can be specified more extensively. The user is able to determine, for instance, whether the cross- selling opportunity offered is actually relevant to the specific client situation.
The new multimedia function within the BizSphere Sales Web reduces the sales representatives’ preparation time for client meetings. Information packages can be prepared in such a way that users can easily understand and hence use the information provided on a certain topic. This graphical layout aims to provide the best possible knowledge transfer by using text and multimedia elements. Such an information package may, for instance, include information on a product or solution release or on a client reference. The information provided in such a package is structured consistently, so that each product release or customer reference has the same agenda which determines how the information is made available. Governance and social functions are also made available to the user in this new multimedia view.
of the former TribalKnowledge.tv / ThoughtActionGroup.com just commented the following on my work-in-progress list of players in the Sales Enablement market, which I just updated:
“I believe I commented on this some months ago, but the situation appears to be getting worse. The term “sales enablement” appears to have been largely hijacked by a variety of vendors, selling hardware, software, and services, as a means of jumping on the latest, sales-associated, money-making bandwagon.
Savo continues to attempt some level of balance with “professional services” and much to say about their version of sales enablement, but it all still comes across as product marketing and PR. BizSphere takes a more credible, solution-approach. [...]“
Yesterday, BizSphere AG uploaded new slides to slideshare. Note the second one, which as a comparison is a view on the ecosystem too:
Here is my recent blog post on the user interface of the BizSphere Sales Enablement solution suite.
After a lot of focus on their global clients and a number of new releases of the BizSphere Sales Enablement solution suite, BizSphere AG has now updated their website and allows a look at their UX design (user experience) / user interface.
In case you speak German, you can read/watch interviews with the BizSphere staff here.
Visit www.BizSphere.com for a number of new screen shots of the application.
My blog post Define a taxonomy of customer-pain-points and map your products & solutions against them got a response that asked for a taxonomy that works as a standard across all industries containing all possible pain-points that customers could have.
Here is my answer:
Each business or organization has to get to know their respective customers or audiences very deeply in order to list all possible issues that trouble them or could trouble them. This list has to be written from the point of view (!) of the customers or audiences and with their choice of words (!).
Then this list can be structured as a taxonomy and the vocabulary can be used to articulate all unique value propositions (USP) that the business or organization has to bring to the table.
Once the taxonomy exists, all unique value propositions, marketing content, sales content, human resources information about subject matter experts’ contact details / learning and development content / training content, and other content can be mapped against the taxonomy. This will reveal gaps and outdated versions.
The suggested approach to articulate a THE one taxonomy as the overall standard across all industries on the planet sounds very ambitious. I’m with Jorn Barger and Daniell Koller who write on quora that
“You can’t build a universal ontology using natural language. Its words are too vague.” [...] “You can’t build an universal ontology, but I would like to add that – for most of the use cases I have seen until now – THE one correct & complete ontology is not needed. [...] To my understanding it is much more important to be able to work on your own ontology subset and to link it with somehow more general documented wisdom. [...] My experience from this kind of standardization projects is that you might be able to manage the technical side of it, but the organizational and managerial aspect get very complicated once you target a singel taxonomy [...]“
As stated above, I think each business or organization has to go through the process of crafting this taxonomy for themselves and keeping it fresh (in times of mergers and acquisitions etc). The very process of crafting it in the voice of the customer or audience, will help the content and the conversations, the employees have, to resonate better with the customers/audiences. The customers need to be surprised by the extend to which the sellers speak their language and know about their pain before they actually expressed it.
When I worked at Nortel, we had the role of an information architect for Nortel. This role was in charge of keeping the taxonomy (of all products, services, and solutions) fresh and ideally making each taxon on the higher level sound like a need in the voice of the customer.
I agree that there is value in seeking standards and one common ontology, especially when we really reach the times of the semantic web / web 3.0. Then applications need to know which taxon is a treatment/intervention/mitigation for which other taxon etc…
The company BizSphere AG (which introduced the role of the information architect at Nortel and provided a semantic solution including software to edit the taxonomy) also developed the approach shown in this screen shot.
Full disclosure: I work with BizSphere AG. Here is a list of all other vendors I know of.
“The Sales Enablement Platform, sometimes called the sales knowledge management system, is taking its place alongside the CRM system as one of the must-have platforms of an advanced sales organisation. Any company planning to implement a Sales Enablement platform will have a long list of requirements, but the true significance of some factors is not always clear ahead of implementation. This article draws on experience of implementing and using Sales Enablement platforms to highlight 7 key requirements and explain their significance. It focuses on the needs of larger, more complex companies – the ones that have most to gain from a Sales Enablement platform.”
The 7 key requirements are:
1. One source
2. No double-posting
3. Dedicated cross-company system
4. Structured information space
5. Integrated community content
6. The means to attract attention
7. Effective inventory management
To see the link to the PDF with the full article, click here
Thanks to twitter I was just reminded of a great case study Jeanne Hellman wrote about the implementation of the BizSphere Sales Enablement Solution Suite at Nortel Networks in 2006 and the following years. It was published in 2010 by salesandmarketing.com
“Jeanne Hellman is a published subject matter expert on Sales Enablement strategies. [...] she has focused on the implementation and adoption of a Sales Enablement strategy in a global $11.2bn telecom equipment and professional services company. [...]“
For a complete copy of the implementation Case Study and her other articles and presentation slides, contact her through LinkedIn.
“[...] decided to implement a Sales Enablement strategy mid-2006 as part of a larger business transformation initiative to reduce SG&A [...] and to address long-standing complaints from the salesforce. It was a heavily matrixed, global organization with approximately 450 products, 30 solutions, and more than 90 different professional services, and every seller was expected to sell “everything on the truck.” Information was spread around 20-plus team sites and the corporate-sanctioned sales portal, which hosted more than 6000 documents distributed among 185 different document types, not to mention the separate competitive and business intelligence sites; installed base sites; and the mix of ordering, pricing, proposal generation, CRM, and tracking tools. In addition, there was no federated search (no common search platform).
[...] it took sellers hours to look for basic information (validating numerous studies from several industry analysts). Seller confidence in marketing was low and complaints were high, as was attested to by the yearly seller satisfaction surveys (or dissatisfaction surveys) that had been conducted.
[...] the Sales Enablement efforts contributed to the reduction of the SG&A. Looking back to the 13 Top Initiatives from the CSO Insights’ Survey, we decreased the SG&A by approximately $22m dollars just by “improving rep access to knowledge to sell effectively” and “more closely aligning sales and marketing.” These were measurable, impactful savings from improving the productivity of the selling resources and support staff and eliminating waste (unnecessary tasks and content duplication). [...] It’s ultimately up to your salesforce to find relevant content, digest it, interpret it, fill in any missing gaps, and then adapt it to match their customer needs. While the topic of the actual content is a different discussion that needs to take place, Sales Enablement can successfully help your teams convert your messaging from company spiel to customer value and deliver it more intuitively and efficiently.”
Full disclosure: I work with BizSphere AG. Here is a list of all other vendors I know of.