What salespeople really want to know is what other salespeople are using and doing to win deals

Well worded post by Jeff Ernst @jeffernst, from June 11, 2009:

Read and discuss the full blog post at thesalesenabler.com

“[…] what salespeople really want to know: What other salespeople are using and doing to win deals

No matter how much time marketers and product managers spend with salespeople and customers, they just don’t see enough of what happens at the moments of truth—the points in time at which the buyers are receiving and responding to the messages the sales team delivers. Look how fast the competitive landscape, the needs of the marketplace, and the product portfolios change.

A top-down approach will never keep up. So salespeople spend way too much time creating their own materials and rarely reach out to marketing unless they want that new product data sheet or more company-branded tchotchkes they can give to customers. So it shouldn’t be surprising that they ignore 90% of the “stuff” that the folks in corporate give them.

OLD RULE: The folks in corporate know best what the sales people need in the field.

NEW RULE: The most effective selling content, messages, and strategies are discovered from experience with buyers. […] this is the hardest mindset shift for marketers to make […] If you are a marketer, don’t feel bad, it’s not your fault. We’ve been classically trained to work this way. […]”

 

Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig

Gerhard GschwandtnerIn case you have not seen http://sellingpower.typepad.com/gg/2009/07/is-sales-enablement-just-lipstick-on-a-knowledge-management-pig.html It is a must read!

I will try to discuss some of the aspects here on this blog later.

Gerhard Gschwandtner @gerhard20 the author is spot on when he writes:

“[…] Analysts don’t analyze the economic realities of a Sales Enablement solution. There are no ROI studies nor objective research that compares the effectiveness of SAVO vs. Kadient vs. iCentera.

Analysts don’t create user studies that tell you more about the information infrastructure, the flaws with the search functions, the project abandon rate by vendor, the average user acceptance, the obsolescence factor of the data, the amount of information that’s missing just because nobody knows where all the useful data is located, the amount of time it takes to train (and retrain) salespeople, or the end-user satisfaction level with the graphical interface (some of the designs are an insult to the eye).

The vendors want you to believe that their Sales Enablement tools allow you to harness the collective intelligence of your sales organization. It sounds great, but who in the world can define and measure what that means? How do we know what best practices can positively influence sales productivity? Who decides what not to make available (due to security issues)? Most salespeople can’t write coherently, and most of the top salespeople can’t articulate what makes them successful. So how do we really capture sales intelligence?

What’s the real cost of running a Sales Enablement solution? Is there a need for editorial staff to help create and edit content, to set up template standards and apply them?

How much of a company’s “best practices” and sales intelligence is reusable? If I am a salesrep, getting ready for a presentation to Boeing in Seattle, and I download a presentation that one of my peers created for Airbus, how much data can I reuse, and how much do I have to create from scratch?

Sales Enablement companies are NOT too savvy when it comes to social media. Search for Kadient on Twitter – zero results. iCentera has 43 followers, SAVO has 391, @BizSphere is the leader with 441 followers

The point is this: Social media tools allow people to connect with lightning speed. If Jill in Jackson wants a ppt presentation on jackhammers, I can tweet and send her a link in seconds. […]”

Information Architecture?

In a Sales 2.0 world there is no doubt about the need for Sales Enablement applications to be social / web 2.0.

As indicated in the graphic below, I would hope that even Customer Service taps into and participates in the harnessed collective intelligence of Sales and Marketing by using the Sales Enablement application.

sales enablement app

Graphic from Dion Hinchcliffe but altered with regards to ‘Sales Enablement Application’ instead of ‘online community’.



For such a Sales Enablement application to play together with the rest of the intranet / Enterprise 2.0 and the customer facing website, information architectures need to be aligned.

Information architecture?

Information architecture is the organization of sites, the content management system(s), metadata, ontologies, taxonomies, etc … This has actually been the biggest problem for users of intranets as the following data shows (not too fresh anymore but I think it holds true still):

Pain points of Intranets

– 42% Problems with the information architecture
– 38% Search functionality is missing or unsatisfying
– 28% Information is missing or outdated
– 19% Graphical User Interface (GUI) is cluttered/crowded
– 11% Performance problems
– 9% Too little relevance to day-to-day job

Source: Translated from STIMMT Intranet Report 2003 topics.stimmt.ch/intranet/

cube


On May 15, 2009, @scottsantucci noted:


“Had a briefing from BizSphere. Very interesting thinking, particularly about the need for an information architecture.”


The need for an information architecture that cross-references content and contacts based on taxonomies (for example the taxonomy of sales regions) to establish context for sales people becomes clear when looking at old-fashioned sales portals like the ones many businesses expect their sales people to navigate still:

offerings


In case you are in Marketing / Sales Enablement at a business that sells to businesses all over the world, would it look anywhere close to the image above when all products and services, that your company needs to enable sales people and channel partners for, were shown in a taxonomy/hierarchy?

Do you have traditional intranet pages for each country or sales region that you have sales people or channel partners in?

If so, then you have thousands of silos to maintain and your users have hundreds of mouse clicks stealing their time! (Also see “Important characteristics of how typical sales reps at large organizations roll”.)

Or with the words of Bruce A. Brien from his blog post ‘Marketing Alignment is critical to Sales Enablement’ from July 16, 2009:

“It is one thing to create a massive library of assets with a navigation structure that only a marketing guru could navigate, it is quite another to enable your sales organization by delivering just the right assets at the right time in the buying process, related to the right industry and business issues being addressed. That’s right, your sales teams will not be able to nor will they want to navigate some intranet or “knowledge garden” as it was called at one company at which I worked. If this is what you have done, your assets will get stale and sales will claim that they can’t find anything they need. Marketing is not supporting them. Don’t waste money creating the asset if you can’t deliver it when and where it is needed.”

Displaying your content and the feedback from your sales people and channel partners in…

  1. a context (an information architecture)
  2. in Rich Internet Applications using web 2.0 technologies

… makes the scary amount of traditional intranet pages from the image above a thing of the past. These web 1.0 sales portals have to become tools that help sales people excel at selling. From my point of view they need to offer a highly customized experience for each user based on…

– what we know about their job,
– what we know about their language and location,
– what we know about their last visits to the tool,
– what they want and don’t want to see (they might have taken the time to adjust some settings),
– what marketing or corporate want them to see (news alert/announcement, promotion/campaign, etc…)
– what their peers have rated, tagged, contributed…
– and what they are allowed to see (channel partners aren’t allowed to see everything etc…).


BizSphere Sales Web is one Sales Enablement application that…

  1. starts with establishing a context as mentioned above
  2. and then encourages to break up all content into small nuggets,
  3. which get tagged according to the parts of the context they are applicable to.
  4. Finally, for sales people this allows to simply auto-generate a polished client-facing presentation or document that includes all the right nuggets (e.g. customer references from the right country and industry vertical etc…).

 

how the consumerization of enterprise IT is changing sales and marketing

Some observations on how the consumerization of enterprise IT is changing sales and marketing

Zack Urlocker @zurlocker from Sun Microsystems published “Marketing 2.0 hits enterprise IT” on www.infoworld.com, on July 10, 2009:

“Some observations on how the consumerization of enterprise IT is changing sales and marketing

[…] things have changed in the last 10 years. It used to be that marketing was all about the “big bang” launch: rent the billboard, hire a PR firm, call the analysts, buy a Super Bowl ad, ship the product (maybe), hire an enterprise sales team — then wait for the sales to roll in. And in some cases, the model worked pretty well. There were a lot of $1 billion enterprise software companies built on calling on CIOs and closing 1 or 2 million dollar deals per sales rep per year. Of course, those days are long gone. A lot of the traditional IT trade press are no longer in print, analyst firms have consolidated, trade shows have passed by the wayside. I would argue that very few of the old enterprise marketing techniques apply in the 21st century. Why? Because the Internet changed how people search for information. You don’t have to buy expensive analyst reports or go to a trade show. Just look on Google and see what people are saying. Download the software and try it out.

Open source software companies were able to disrupt the market by courting an underserved market and using a radical distribution model. But how well do those same techniques apply in more traditional IT firms? […] We achieved a 13-fold in run rate improvement in top-of-funnel leads in the first quarter […]

In the last quarter, we grew to that to more than 1 million raw leads or inquiries — enough to whet any sales VP’s appetite. We also achieved a 25-fold increase in volume of leads further down in the pipeline, what we call “pre-BANT” (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeframe) leads. While not every lead is going to result in a sale, it enables us to understand more about prospects and their interests. In fact, the volume of leads we’re now generating on a weekly basis enable us to develop pretty sophisticated models for predictive analysis and data mining. […] this becomes a significant asset for cross-sell and up-sell capabilities.

While a lot of these techniques have been pioneered in open source and consumer marketing, we’ve been able to apply to them to traditional IT hardware and software sales with results that are even better than I would have expected. […] I suspect we can grow another 10 times in both quantity and quality over the next year by refining scoring models, continuous A/B testing, applying new social media marketing techniques, […]

People in the Lifecycle Marketing team are developing new skills and pioneering best practices in a rapidly emerging field. That gives them capabilities they can continue to apply throughout their careers.”

Read and discuss the full post “Marketing 2.0 hits enterprise IT” on www.infoworld.com.

business case data for sales enablement solutions

This work in progress blog post collects data that Sales Enablement Solutions vendors use to make business cases.

This work in progress blog post collects data that Sales Enablement Solutions vendors use to make business cases.

The first one is from Lee Levitt (former Director, Sales Advisory Practice; IDC) in response to the question “Which percentage of what marketing teams make available ends up being used by sales?”:

November 22, 2010: “In researching this question two years ago at IDC, we found that between 50 and 90% of all marketing provided collateral goes unused. Sales people can’t find the right stuff, it’s too inwardly focused, it’s not tailored to client’s specific needs, sales people got a copy of something a buddy used that worked…

Good sales and marketing alignment can substantially reduce this vast wastage and help sales people to be more productive. It requires that sales and marketing executives together identify target markets, specific business issues, goals, etc., and jointly develop the plan to address the opportunity. The deliverables should then support that plan.”

Lee Levitt also wrote the following comment on July 29, 2009:

“[…] Companies are reporting results with sales enablement. American Express, for instance, indicated that Time-to-Revenue for new reps dropped from months to weeks after they implemented a leading SE environment. They reported this at an IDC Sales and Marketing summit in 2008.

For another large IDC client, we identified a 15% increase in sales productivity after the company implemented some basic sales enablement processes, a small subset of the possibilities in that multibillion dollar organization.

While it’s still early in the sales enablement game, virtually every midsize or larger company today does something in the area of sales enablement, typically based on internal processes and maybe some intranet or SharePoint support.

A very small handful of companies, maybe a thousand in total, have taken a focused approach at moving their sales enablement activities to what IDC refers to as the third generation of sales enablement.

In these early markets, innovators and early adopters don’t care about ROI. That’s for the late majority to worry about. They’re looking for competitive advantage…and they’re finding it. When companies seek to address specific business challenges (new rep support, competitive response, customer intelligence, campaign support, etc), they find substantial improvements in sales productivity and customer satisfaction.

We’ve only scratched the surface with sales enablement. We believe that the potential for sales productivity improvement is on the order of 30-50%, or more, particularly if employed with the other four levers of sales productivity and properly measured.

And the net savings to the organization may be substantial. The typical technology firm spends more $12,000 per rep per year in marketing collateral development, with the vast majority of that expense going to waste. Firms that take an outside-in approach in sales asset development will find this cost dropping by an order of magnitude.

There’s ROI for you – higher sales productivity and lower costs.”

This one is from Bruce A. Brien’s blog post “The core problem with sales enablement”, from July 9, 2009:

“[…] sample company does $10 million in annual revenue with a 40% close ratio and an average deal size of $100k on a 90 day sales cycle.

  • That means that the 5 sales reps are each closing 20 deals per year while working 50.  They are focused on 12-15 deals at a time.
  • If our sales enablement capabilities cause a 3% drop in our overall effectiveness, our sales people will only be working on 48 deals [each] and closing only 18 of them for an average price of just $97k. [18 * $97k * 5 sales people] The result is a revenue picture of $8.7 million or a drop of about 13%.
  • Assuming you have fixed costs in the 25% range and an operating profit of 15%, profits would drop by a whopping 47%.  The compounding effect can be devastating.  A 3% drop in sales effectiveness can easily result in the loss of half of your profits.
  • You could re-coup your lost revenues by hiring another sales rep at a cost of $150k and be faced with the same problem next year when your efficiencies drop further or you could address the core of the problem and shore up each part of your sales enablement platform for similar monies while building a solid foundation for future growth.”

Many Sales Enablement and Sales 2.0 start-ups are citing Forrester’s Scott Santucci’s ‘Uncovering The Hidden Costs Of Sales Support’ from April 13, 2009 to make a business case for their services:

“Technology vendors are spending, on average, 19% of their selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) costs or $135,262 per quota-carrying salesperson in support-related activities. Few are aware of this enormous amount because the costs are hidden — tucked away in many different budgets dispersed throughout the organization. Corralling these random acts of sales support presents a golden opportunity. By creating a strategic sales enablement program, marketers can drive significant cost savings in the short term, while improving their companies’ competitiveness to thrive in the new growth cycle.”

On July 7, 2009 Michael Gerard (VP, Research for IDC’s Executive Advisory Group) posted on his blog:

“[…] IDC research shows that over 40% of all marketing assets handed over to sales are not in use today (IDC’s Best Practices in Sales Enablement – Content and Marketing (to be published end of July)). This includes assets that have been developed for sales, channels, prospects and current customers. IDC estimates that at least 30% of companies’ marketing investment, including program and people spend, is dedicated to creating content and marketing assets. Clearly, marketers can leverage cost reduction opportunities if they take the time to improve their content management process and technologies.

– “Our content is all over the place…a more formalized content portal is being created to get our sales team the most relevant materials when they need them.”
– “…marketing is funding an improved marketing asset management system and we are hoping to achieve 3% – 5% reduction/reallocation of spend on annual asset development and improved production efficiencies.” (improvements in production efficiency, reduced program time-to-market, and reduced re-work).

In the next several weeks, IDC will be publishing a sales enablement report highlighting best practices in marketing content management from a lifecycle management, technology, and measurement perspective. Detailed company case studies will be also be included. […]”

In 2004 it was IDC’s ‘The Cost of Information Tasks to the Enterprise’:

Whitepaper IDC Hidden Costs 0405

In its February 2010 issue CRM magazine looked at Sales Enablement Tools:

“[…] THE NUMBERS

  • $135,262 is spent, on average, in support costs per year for each salesperson.
  • 7 hours per week is what the average salesperson spends looking for relevant information to prepare for sales calls.
  • 50 percent of the information is pushed through email.
  • 10 percent is “made available in a useful format.”

Source: Forrester Research & IDC Sales Advisory Service

I have not double checked the following numbers I found in the post ‘Sales people who research cost you big time!’:

“[…] So, what is the actual hourly value for a B2B salesperson? We’ve developed an excel calculator to help do the math. Let’s use a typical experienced B2B enterprise salesperson at a software company and apply these sample figures:

  • Annual compensation (at plan, or meeting quota): $200,000
  • Benefits Paid (20% of a 70K salary): $14,000
  • Annual Quota: $2 million
  • Include 2 weeks vacation and holidays

This salesperson’s true “hourly value” is $1,198!

For companies with higher quotas (I’ve seen annual quota’s as high as $14 million), this figure is even higher!

If you’d like to figure out your own salespeople’s hourly value, send me an email at silvia@industrygems.com and I will email you the calculator.

The next time you see your salespeople doing research, take interest. Using salespeople for anything other than selling, negatively affects your bottom-line. Find ways to remove those activities from their daily to-do list. It could be costing you over $1,000 an hour! Your sales people must focus on the thing they do best… selling!”

What happened? Sales 2.0 happened!

The advent of the internet changed how buyers gain information. Salespeople are no longer the keepers of the product knowledge keys. Buyers now demand; instant, accurate, authentic information at their finger tips 24/7. Not only must we provide this, but we must provide product information in the voice of the buyer so they quickly can find solutions to the problem(s) they are trying to solve. Fail to clearly state the problems you solve and the buyer clicks their way on to the next website. One of marketing’s key roles is now sales enablement.

I just read the post “Are You ‘Spinning’ the Wrong Marketing and Sales Formula and getting nowhere fast?” by Mark Allen Roberts @markaroberts, from July 12, 2009:

“[…] businesses lack or have the wrong formula for sales and marketing. […] They keep working harder, spinning faster and faster in sales adding more training but 40% still miss achieving their sales goals. They lack the correct formula to feed (marketing) their sales  in relation to their selling activities.

When I worked for Frito-Lay I was fresh out of college. I would say the formula back then was; 30% marketing and 70% sales and service. Marketing did research and generated brochures and sales would pick and choose the tools we thought would work. Frequently we would create our own tools borrowing what we liked from what marketing created. This model may have made the marketing team at Frito-Lay cringe, but it worked in the 1980’s. My Unit of route salesmen realized huge sales gains year over year […].

That formula; 30% marketing/70% “bare knuckle selling” worked in the 1980’s The problem today that is the 30% marketing/70% sales formula is dated and backwards.”

2 in the cloud

What happened? Sales 2.0 happened!

“The change that caused this formula to flip flop was the internet. The advent of the internet changed how buyers gain information. Salespeople are no longer the ”keepers of the product knowledge keys”. Buyers now demand; instant, accurate, authentic information at their finger tips 24/7. Not only must we provide this, but we must provide product information in the voice of the buyer so they quickly can find solutions to the problem(s) they are trying to solve. Fail to clearly state the problems you solve and the buyer “clicks” their way on to the next website. One of marketing’s key roles is now sales enablement.

Today the formula for most businesses should be 70% marketing and 30% sales and service.

Peter Ducker said: “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” To achieve this definition a considerable amount of time must be spent in understanding your market.

Buyers like to buy; they do not like being sold. […] Sales today have a responsibility to start conversations and lead buyers throughout their buying process until they are ready to buy. Salespeople must now “serve” their clients as opposed to “sell” them. I discussed the top concerns buyers had with salespeople in my post titled: WARNING: Buyer’s say what salespeople do wrong? PRICE is not on the list! Buyers today want salespeople to listen and understand their problems before presenting what’s in their bag.

[…] The smaller companies I have helped did not have marketing departments and we outsourced the development of sales tools to ad agencies. As companies grow they segment and define roles more clearly. I really do not care what you call the person that does it, but someone must understand your market and how your buyer’s buy.

How your buyers buy has changed since the 1980’s and market leaders have already made the sales and marketing flip flop to insure buyers move quickly through their process to a sale.

Stop “Spinning” the wrong sales and marketing formula, working out harder and harder only to miss your goals.

Find out how your buyers buy and create a winning formula for how your buyers buy today…

… or keep spinning with your heart rate racing while your competitors adjust their formulas to the market of today and leave you in their dust.

How about your company…

If you had to guess, what % is your companies’ energies are spent in the roles of sales and marketing?

Are you still “bare knuckle selling” or are you helping buyers find you, and supplying what they need to buy from you?

Do you know how your buyers buy?”

Read and discuss the full blog post by Mark Allen Roberts over on his blog http://nosmokeandmirrors.wordpress.com.

Job opening – Director Sales Enablement and Operations

Director Sales Enablement & Operations

Description

Intuits Small Business Group, a leading provider of small business accounting software applications and business management solutions, is looking for a Director of Sales Enablement Leader to join our Small Business Group (SBG) Sales team reporting to the VP of Telesales.

The Sales Enablement Director will play a crucial role leading Learning & Development and Operations teams focusing on growth by:

– Directing resource planning and maximizing sales consultant utilization across SBG

– Driving various productivity improvement efforts

– Designing and delivering the reporting necessary to run the business at all levels within the sales organization

– Providing expert program/project management resources to support the implementation of key initiatives

– Leading the transformation of the existing Learning & Development team to a more broadly based Performance Improvement team that accurately diagnoses root causes of performance gaps and appropriately applies any and all methods to close the gaps (i.e., adjusting goals and/or compensation, focusing management, changing the hiring profile, improving tools and process and applying learning & development)

– Participating as an active member of the SBG Telesales leadership team (i.e. work on the strategic plan, drive forecast and growth planning process, generate passion for the customer and drive the transformation)

Leadership Capabilities
• Aligning Performance for Success, Focus and guide others in accomplishing work objectives. Provides direction to senior managers in various groups
• Planning/ Organization, Establish courses of action for self and others to ensure that work is completed efficiently. Ability to frame and drive complex issues in a matrixed organization. Communicate progress and strategies to Telesales and Marketing Leadership. Establishes three year plan and one-year operational plan.
• Strategic Decision Making, Takes action that is consistent with available facts and constraints to develop applications with the respective partners. Key initiative leader responsible for driving significant change or innovation with understanding of short and longer term business growth goals.
• Gaining Commitment, Use appropriate interpersonal styles and techniques to gain acceptance of ideas or plans with in Telesales and across organizations.
• Building Strategic Working Relationships, Developing and using collaborative relationships to facilitate the accomplishment of work goals. Leads through influence beyond their own organization.
• Sales Ability, Using appropriate interpersonal styles and communication methods to gain acceptance
• Leading Change, allows for innovative concepts and promoting new ideas. Establishes a unique vision for the future and generates broad support. Continuously assesses and acts as the architect for their organization systems to create sustainable competitive success.
• Leading Talent and Strong Teams, Develops and drives strategy to hire, develop and mobilize talent. Ensures that their teams, and cross-organizational teams have clear understanding of goals and performance expectations.

Qualifications:
BA/BS degree required
10+ years leading direct reports and experience developing sales and support programs for direct and contact center based sales forces, or equivalent experience
Familiarity with Siebel, Brio, Business Objects, and Oracle preferred
Proficient in MS Office tools and applications
Detail oriented and ability to handle multiple tasks on a daily basis
Strong organizational and time management skills
Change Leadership and execution skills
Leadership and performance management
Teamwork and facilitation skills

Industry: Software
Discipline: Sales Mngmnt & Ops
Experience: 11 – 15 Years
Level: Director
Compensation: $100K
Company: Intuit

 

Posted July 10, 2009

Over 40 percent of all marketing assets handed over to sales are not in use

On July 7, 2009 Michael Gerard (VP, Research for IDC’s Executive Advisory Group) posted on his blog:

“[…] IDC research shows that over 40% of all marketing assets handed over to sales are not in use today (IDC’s Best Practices in Sales Enablement – Content and Marketing (to be published end of July)). This includes assets that have been developed for sales, channels, prospects and current customers. IDC estimates that at least 30% of companies’ marketing investment, including program and people spend, is dedicated to creating content and marketing assets. Clearly, marketers can leverage cost reduction opportunities if they take the time to improve their content management process and technologies.

– “Our content is all over the place…a more formalized content portal is being created to get our sales team the most relevant materials when they need them.”
– “…marketing is funding an improved marketing asset management system and we are hoping to achieve 3% – 5% reduction/reallocation of spend on annual asset development and improved production efficiencies.” (improvements in production efficiency, reduced program time-to-market, and reduced re-work).

In the next several weeks, IDC will be publishing a sales enablement report highlighting best practices in marketing content management from a lifecycle management, technology, and measurement perspective. Detailed company case studies will be also be included. […]”

blog post from Michael Gerard (VP, Research for IDC’s Executive Advisory Group); posted on July 7, 2009

Do you want your sales people to spend their time customizing slide decks?

Many Sales Enablement startups are citing Forrester’s Scott Santucci’s ‘Uncovering The Hidden Costs Of Sales Support’ from April 13, 2009 to make a business case for their services:

“Technology vendors are spending, on average, 19% of their selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) costs or $135,262 per quota-carrying salesperson in support-related activities. Few are aware of this enormous amount because the costs are hidden — tucked away in many different budgets dispersed throughout the organization. Corralling these random acts of sales support presents a golden opportunity. By creating a strategic sales enablement program, marketers can drive significant cost savings in the short term, while improving their companies’ competitiveness to thrive in the new growth cycle.”

On July 7, 2009 Michael Gerard (VP, Research for IDC’s Executive Advisory Group) posted on his blog:

“[…] IDC research shows that over 40% of all marketing assets handed over to sales are not in use today (IDC’s Best Practices in Sales Enablement – Content and Marketing (to be published end of July)). This includes assets that have been developed for sales, channels, prospects and current customers. IDC estimates that at least 30% of companies’ marketing investment, including program and people spend, is dedicated to creating content and marketing assets. Clearly, marketers can leverage cost reduction opportunities if they take the time to improve their content management process and technologies.

– “Our content is all over the place…a more formalized content portal is being created to get our sales team the most relevant materials when they need them.”
– “…marketing is funding an improved marketing asset management system and we are hoping to achieve 3% – 5% reduction/reallocation of spend on annual asset development and improved production efficiencies.” (improvements in production efficiency, reduced program time-to-market, and reduced re-work).

In the next several weeks, IDC will be publishing a sales enablement report highlighting best practices in marketing content management from a lifecycle management, technology, and measurement perspective. Detailed company case studies will be also be included. […]”

In 2004 it was IDC’s ‘The Cost of Information Tasks to the Enterprise’:

Whitepaper IDC Hidden Costs 0405


OK, we are in 2009 now and a lot of productivity enhancing apps are popping up on the iPhones, LinkedIns and CRM platforms of today. Information workers in marketing and sales departments have many tools available to them that will free up time when used wisely. When Google Wave becomes available in the fall, searching in conversations you had with your team or in the history of documents you collaborated on will become much more enjoyable. However, when it comes to gathering information for documents, creating images, creating documents/presentations, editing/reviewing, filing and organizing documents, we all still lose a lot of time that should be spent on bringing in additional revenue.

How often do you find yourself copying and pasting value propositions, customer references from different industries and product images from older documents into new versions that are targeted at a slightly different audience?

ABC: Always Be Customizing (Sales Decks, Value Props,…)

We need to be able to generate highly customized documents on the fly by selecting the offering, the audience, the industry vertical etc… and we do not want to spend time re-formatting anything. We just want to chose a template that is then applied to all the content.

document generation feature tour

document generation


 

Save yourself and your sales people a lot of time and nerves, better spent with the customer!

Go beyond slides libraries! Basically bring it to the next level by breaking up slides into ‘content nuggets’ and use 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…

Knowledge Management Capabilities of CRM Systems

On June 22nd, 2009 Christian Maurer @camaurer wrote this post (Links added by the author of this blog):
Christian Maurer

What are the Knowledge Management Capabilities of CRM Systems: A reality check?

To understand whether the answer to this question is of relevance when looking for ways how to improve productivity of a sales force, let us ask

Why is Knowledge Management important in Selling?
There are many formulas telling what is needed for having success in sales. While these formulas vary slightly, knowledge seems to be an essential component in all of them.  So it seems useful to look into the question how well CRM systems support salespeople in holding the needed knowledge readily available. To answer this question, we need to look at different aspects of knowledge

The 3 C’s of Knowledge
For a successful sales campaign, adequate knowledge is needed about:
1.    The customer’s/prospect’s situation
2.    The competitive landscape
3.    The supplier’s capabilities

How do CRM Systems Support These Domains?
Using the above framework, we can make the following observations.

1. Customer Knowledge
One of the primary purposes of CRM systems is to provide data structures allowing tracking every relevant interaction between the companies customer facing people with the customers/prospects, they look after. Thus a body of situational knowledge is created. Consultation of this knowledge is then particularly valuable in the maintenance of a customer relationship.

This body of knowledge is however not sufficient when building or expanding a customer relationship. In this case, the following additional elements are needed:
•    Background information about the prospect
•    The current situation the prospect  is in
•    Trigger events causing sales people to want to build the relationship to eventually close a deal.

While CRM systems might provide a structure to capture this information for ready reference, the original source is outside of such systems. What is captured is the knowledge salespeople have gained through research activities such as: General searches on the internet, reading general printed press or specific trade journals and increasingly through the use of specialized systems made available in a Sales 2.0 context.  CRM systems support the research activity through specialized systems by providing embedded links to such system. The research can be conducted without leaving the CRM systems context. Some of those specialized systems can also automatically push information into CRM data structures.

2. Competitive Knowledge
For building and consultation of competitive knowledge, CRM systems are used pretty similar to what is described above for customer knowledge. In large companies, there might though also be dedicated people researching the competitive landscape and making it available for ready reference in CRM systems, together with the knowledge built up by sales people themselves from information learned through customer interactions.

3. Capabilities Knowledge
Was one to ask salespeople where they get the information about their companies and product and services capabilities so they know what to say in a particular sales situation, they hardly would answer, that the CRM system is the primary source. Most CRM systems do though hold some capabilities knowledge usually referred to as company literature. The original design idea for this was to enable sales people to easily and efficiently answer fulfill information requests from their customers. There are though two factors that limit the usefulness of such company literature repositories. First, the internet has caused the number of such direct information requests from customers to drop drastically. Second, it is a well known fact that salespeople consider such literature not to be of much use in their campaigns anyway and make thus little to no use of it.

Capabilities knowledge is probably mostly stored in Sales Portals. These portals are often built from a product marketing perspective.  Salespeople are thus left on their own to match the complexity of the customer requirements and the complexity of their companies capabilities to propose a valuable solution to the customer. Furthermore, customers today do not tolerate salespeople being simple conveyers of canned marketing prepared standard value propositions anymore. Salespeople are expected to be able to add value to the interaction. The messaging has to be adapted to the individual customer and to the current context of a sales campaign.

Conclusion
While CRM systems are configured to guide salespeople in what needs to be done in a sales campaign through the implementation of sales processes, they provide no support for the sales people of what is best said to the customer in a particular phase of the process. Sales portals are also no help for this as capabilities knowledge is stored under a different view point there. It becomes thus pretty obvious that sales enablement systems guiding salespeople in what needs to be said in a particular phase of the sales process and allowing furthermore the tailoring of the messaging to the specific customer context can significantly improve the productivity of salespeople, while maintaining image integrity required from a marketing perspective.

About the Author:
Christian Maurer, The Sales Executive Resource, is an independent sales effectiveness consultant, trainer and coach. He has a proven track record of helping leaders of large, global B2B sales organizations to increase their productivity.
http://www.linkedin.com/in/camaurerconsulting
http://ultimatesalesexecresource.blogspot.com/