The hidden costs of sales support

On April 27th, 2009 @Seamus Walsh attended “Uncovering the hidden costs of sales support” – hosted by Forrester’s Chief Financial Officer, Mike Doyle and Scott Santucci, Sr. Analyst Sales Enablement – and wrote ‘How to justify content and inbound marketing investments’:

“[…] “random acts of sales support” […] are activities dispersed though out organizations that carry a variety of hidden costs that are tucked away in various budgets. For this study, they examined 25 vendor and user companies and took a closer look at these “random acts” and activities to “help sales sell” and came up with eye-popping results:

“Technology vendors are spending, on average, 19% of their selling, general and administration (SG&A) costs of $132,262 per quota-carrying salesperson in support-related activities”

With sales and marketing budgets being slashed, there are things you can do to “hold the (budget) line” in your company,  start by inventorying these activities and costs and utilizing sales enablement and marketing automation systems to make these cross functional activities more effective and efficient.

Action items […]:

Each of these recommendations can leverage online tools and best practices. A sure way to reduce those hidden costs is to maximizing the business benefits of the web.  There are many solutions that will increase top line revenue, customer loyalty and your customers and prospects buying experience.  The issue, I see is that many continue to focus on content quantity and not quality. With everyone, including your competition, placing a greater focus on leveraging their online channel, those who build a more intimate and personalized buying and account management process will win more business.”


Twitter the lead generation tool

Adam Green (@140dev) commented the following on this Techcrunch post on April 24th, 2009:

“There may be millions of people on Twitter, but if you know how to do the right Google search, you can pick out exactly the people you want to reach. It is an amazing lead generation tool. All you have to do is look for the right patterns in user bios. for example to find all the lawyers, you can search for:

(intext:”bio * legal” OR intext:”bio * lawyer”)

I’ve written up this complete procedure for creating Google Alerts based on these searches on my blog:

The great thing about doing this with Google Alerts is that you will be notified as soon as a new bio is created or edited with your keywords. This lets you follow people when they have a new account, which is when they are most likely to follow back.

So in time Twitter bios will be a directory for millions of professionals. It is so light weight that it may replace Facebook for people’s “home page” online. Best of all, it doesn’t insist on your current sexual preference and marital status. I’m sure a lot of professionals are not that interested in publicly announcing their preferences in hooking up.

The advertising implications of knowing the bios of millions of people and being able to deliver selective “follow lists” will be huge. Right now Twitter auto-follows celebrities when you create an account. I’d rather auto-follow potential customers.”

Adam Green’s (@140dev) blog post:

“Twitter search tools are everywhere now, and most of them are much faster than Google Alerts, but they focus on the text of a tweet. If you are looking for marketing contacts to follow, chasing every use of a keyword in tweets is casting a very wide net, and can waste a lot of time. For example, just because someone uses the word lawyer in a tweet doesn’t mean that they work in the legal profession. If you want to develop a quality list of contacts through Twitter, you are better off trying to find people who use your keywords in their username or bio.

That’s where Google Alerts comes in. If you build the right query, you’ll be notified every time a new Twitter account is created by someone who wants to tell the world they are closely associated with your keywords. The nice part of this approach is that you will discover new users as they create their accounts, which is when they are most likely to follow you back. We’ll work this procedure out step by step using legal contacts as an example. The information we are looking for is on a user’s Twitter profile page. If you look at the profile page for the user @legaltwitt you’ll see that the user name is in the title.

Example Twitter Bio

We can create a Google Alert for exactly the pattern of a profile page. This will keep us from getting alerts where the keyword just happens to be in a tweet:

intitle:”legal * on twitter”

This query can be expanded to match other keywords in usernames, such as lawyer:

(intitle:”legal * on twitter” OR intitle:”lawyer * on twitter”)

The next area of the page we want to match is the bio. There are two possibilities. The keywords can come right after the word bio. This is matched by:

(intext:”bio legal” OR intext:”bio lawyer”)

The other case is when there are words between bio and the target keyword, which can be found with this pattern:

(intext:”bio * legal” OR intext:”bio * lawyer”)

We can put all of these matches together in a single search:

(intitle:”legal * on twitter” OR intitle:”lawyer * on twitter” OR intext:”bio legal” OR intext:”bio lawyer” OR intext:”bio * legal” OR intext:”bio * lawyer”)


I just tried
(intext:”bio * sales enablement” OR intext:”bio * sales 2.0″) works great!

Video on finding Sales Enablement information – Why content management systems are silos

finding sales enablement information

“Stop the information overload, before it stops you. Innovative, web 3.0 knowledge management methods and technologies from BizSphere help you to regain control over your content and let’s you find the information you need, when you needed.

Finding what youre looking for can be a problem at times. Have you ever gone to the DVD store to find a particular movie by your favorite director, but spent way too much time looking for it? The DVDs in the store are all very nicely arranged, alphabetically, by genre. But what you need is a way of searching across the store for only the movies by your director — arranged just for you in one nice orderly rack. Searching across different categories can be tedious. Just like when youre looking for a certain document in your enterprise environment. Why is that? Because in folder-based content management systems, authors can upload the same physical file into one physical folder at a time. Folders become silos, content management systems become silo farms. Hard to search, and organized in arbitrary ways. According to IDC’s Sales Advisory Practice, sales reps typically spend more than five hours a week looking for information. If they could save just half that, theyd have more time to talk to customers. Think how much more revenue they could generate. Thats why we created BizSphere. Our innovative platform lets you look at content the way you want to. Instead of being organized in a one-dimensional folder structure, content is tagged multi-dimensionally. Sounds complicated? It isnt. Some people in the enterprise, the Information Architects, are defining a variety of tagging dimensions, so called taxonomies. All uploaded content lives within these taxonomies. The platform does not replace existing content management systems. Instead, its a layer on top of them to make your content accessible easily. Now you can browse and filter all content based on your current needs. Saving your time, your money, and your nerves.”

Nortel has been using this since 2006. It helps especially when you have a B2B sales force in many different countries. Marketing employees are empowered (after a quick training anyone can post content) to enable sales people with the right messaging. No more country specific intranet sites where you need to drill down from scratch with many mouse clicks whenever the kind of information or the product you are looking for changes. Here the tagging and the search engine, that always helps me within the first ten search results, save a lot of mouse clicks.

Video on creating content for the sales force

From BizSphere:

“Why re-creating content again and again? Why ending up with multiple versions of the same content across your enterprise? There’s a way to create a sustainable content base for your enterprise. BizSphere content re-use and single sourcing technologies allow you to plan and execute your content production in an organized way enabling content consumers to auto-generate the documents they need, when they need it – instantly and on-the-fly.”

This goes well beyond slides libraries! Basically brings it to the next level by breaking up slides into what they call ‘content nuggets’ and using web 3.0 concepts to auto-generate customized files out of a mind-bobbling number of possible combinations. Saves real dollars / time normally spent on designing PowerPoint or other doc types. No more outsourcing to graphics agencies. Just pick the template and hit “generate”. The result will be polished and include cross-selling opportunities and case studies from the chosen country…

document generation

document generation feature tour


‘Six issues that content and inbound marketing technology fails to address’ from Wednesday, April 15th, 2009:

“[…] Generic content does not work anymore, you need to address each stakeholder, if you are selling to a CIO, CFO, HR, you need specific content to address their business requirements.”

Sales 2.0 Technology – Real Opportunity or Sales SOS? March 21, 2009 by Darren Cunningham, Director of Product Marketing at LucidEra.

“[…] make my sales team more effective, not just efficient?

According to a recent IDC study (Don’t Understand Sales Enablement? You’re Not Alone!, 2009) 57% of customers feel that sales reps are not sufficiently prepared about the solution they offer, the country they are in and the industry the customer is working in. Therefore, by providing the seller with the latest and most specific content and experts within the organisation can help him prepare faster and better before his/her pitch.
Cross-Referencing the own offering portfolio (this product can be sold with this service, logistics say that this product is often shipped together with that product, etc) can enable upselling as well.”

Video on Connecting People for Sales Enablement and Conversation Enablement

From BizSphere:

“Moving Unified Communication beyond technology. This video explains how people in an enterprise can communicate effectively and process-oriented based on state-of-the-art unified communications technologies.”

This is the Sales Enablement application my company has been working with since 2006. I am using what the video describes on a daily basis. Ever tried to look up who within your company has a given role with regards to a given product in a given country… maybe in a given vertical? Finding these people in seconds and then starting a call with one click is web 3.0 mashed up with Unified Communications! Way cool. Basically this is Conversation Enablement.

Definition of Conversation Enablement

Building on Michael Gerard’s definition of Sales Enablement, Conversation Enablement can be defined as:

The delivery of the right knowledge(=information provided in context) in the right format
and the right questions to ask (“Conversations are about discovery”)
to the right person at the right time and in the right place
necessary to move a specific conversation forward.

Sales Shiny Object Syndrome

Sales 2.0 Technology – Real Opportunity or Sales SOS (Shiny Object Syndrome)? March 21, 2009 by Darren Cunningham, Director of Product Marketing at LucidEra.

Sales 2.0 is defined as “bringing together customer-focused methodologies and productivity-enhancing technologies that transform selling from an art to a science.” But with so many innovative new software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools and applications to consider, which ones will really add value and where do you start? One VP of Sales I spoke to after the Sales 2.0 show, referred to the conference as, “Disneyland for sales.” While this was meant as a compliment, it did get me thinking about Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS).

Karyn Greenstreet defines SOS this way:

    “It’s not quite ADD/ADHD. It’s more that a new idea captures your imagination and attention in such a way that you get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal.”

So where do you go with Sales 2.0 technology? How do you move from vendor and analyst buzzwords to real productivity benefits? And how do you avoid Sales SOS when it comes to your technology investments?

Greenstreet recommends that you always begin by asking some of these SOS questions:

* Is this right for my business?
* Do I have the time, resources, energy, and money to put into this to make it successful?
* Do I have too many open projects sitting on my desk that need to be finished before I begin something new?
* Do I have the ability to finish this new project, plus implement and maintain it?
* What has to drop off my radar in order for me to start something new?

More importantly for sales managers, the article raises additional questions. I think for successful implementation of Sales Enablement (SE: continuously delivering the most relevant information and contacts to your sales reps according to their pitches’ needs), you can respond positively to several of these questions:

* Will it make my sales team more effective, not just efficient?
According to a recent IDC study (Don’t Understand Sales Enablement? You’re Not Alone!, 2009) 57% of customers feel that sales reps are not sufficiently prepared about the solution they offer, the country they are in and the industry the customer is working in. Therefore, by providing the seller with the latest and most specific content and experts within the organisation can help him prepare faster and better before his/her pitch.
Cross-Referencing the own offering portfolio (this product can be sold with this service, logistics say that this product is often shipped together with that product, etc) can enable upselling as well.

* Will it help me focus my resources on the right opportunities?

In Organisations, these resources are often marketing budgets that can be spent to provide analysis, messaging and advice to sales. Here we still have lots of opportunities for improvement (In many fortune 500 companies, up to 90% of the marketing content is never used by sales). When good SE is applied, marketing investments can be reviewed and steered using metrics, rating, content requests from sales and company strategy.

Software helps to manage this task which is getting increasingly complex with globalization, large offering portfolios and industry specific solutions. But at the end, applying Sales 2.0 is a question of virtue: Long-term Ordnung and Commitment to provide the force in the field with up to date and relevant information and contacts to help them win their deals.

* Will it help us achieve our overall business objectives and improve results?

Interview with Umberto Milletti – CEO, InsideView

Interview with Umberto Milletti – CEO, InsideView on bringing together all the sources of traditional media and social media (what is being said about your company on the web etc…), analyzing it for relevance to the user and presenting it in one customized view within CRM or other applications. How to turn a cold call into a warm call. Uploaded April 5, 2009 by

From Wikipedia:

InsideView is a Software as a service company based in San Francisco, California, with a development office in Hyderabad, India.
InsideView’s platform aggregates information about companies, executives, and related events (news, blogs, SEC filings, job listings, social network data) for approximately 700,000 North American companies. This information comes from a variety of structured and unstructured content sources such as Reuters, Dun & Bradstreet, Zoominfo, Hoover’s, Jigsaw Data, SimplyHired, LinkedIn, and Facebook. InsideView also parses news and information from approximately 25,000 Web-based news publications and blogs.

It helps customers to generate sales leads, qualify those leads and use technology tools to help find big sales opportunities for customers.

InsideView’s core product, SalesView, is available as a stand-alone Web application as well as integrated with CRM vendors like, Oracle CRM On Demand, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SugarCRM, and Landslide Technologies.

InsideView was founded in 2005 by Umberto Milletti, a former executive and co-founder at DigitalThink, an early Web-based corporate training company.