Why Most Sales Enablement Initiatives Fail

The following is the post ‘Why Most Sales Enablement Initiatives Fail’ found at solutionsellingblog.com on September 22, 2009

“Sales Enablement / Sales Knowledge Management systems sound like a pretty good idea. Who can argue with the objective of “Getting just the right knowledge to just the right sales person at just the right time”?

The truth is that many of the new web content management, collaboration, and search technologies have made this objective more attainable. Unfortunately, most marketing and sales organizations do not agree on what “just the right knowledge actually is”.  As a result, the sales enablement movement seems destined to travel down the same path that the CRM industry did in its early years…the technology works fine but few people actually use it.

So, what actually is the right selling knowledge? When you’re selling simple commodity products, customers clearly understand what they want, and value is almost exclusively defined by price.  As such, the focus of sales enablement is on helping salespeople communicate features, benefits, and functional competitive advantage. Most marketing organizations do a good job with this because the taxonomy that supports the collection and sharing of product centric knowledge (i.e. the feature lists and competitive matrices) is simple to understand and implement.

However, complex products and services need to be sold in the context of solving specific customer problems, and this adds additional dimensions and complexities to the messaging and sales enablement knowledge model.  When you are really serious about supporting a solution centric sales model, the most important sales enablement objective should be to help salespeople clearly and concisely articulate value as well as product differentiation in the context of the customer’s specific problems.

I contend that this is best accomplished by rethinking the underlying taxonomy that you use for sales enablement so that in addition to the product centric knowledge mentioned above it also simplifies the capturing, sharing, and institutionalizing of three kinds of solution centric knowledge:

  1. Problem Knowledge, which helps Salespeople better understand and talk about the customer’s business problem.  This can only be done by documenting the underlying causes as well as the strategic and operational impact of the problems and those causes on the customer’s business.
  2. Capability & Problem Solving Knowledge, which helps sales people clearly communicate how their solutions actually solve the underlying causes of the customer’s problem, and more importantly, how those capabilities solve this underlying causes better than the competition.
  3. Value Knowledge, which helps salespeople clearly communicate Generic as well as Differentiated Value (see my blog on solution differentiation).

This solution centric knowledge represents the Value DNA of your organization and your best people intuitively understand and can communicate it. Unfortunately most sales and marketing folks struggle with solution centric communications, and few companies have ever reorganized their product information so that it supports this customer and problem centric perspective.

The challenge therefore is to come up with a taxonomy that simplifies the sharing of this solution centric knowledge in a fashion that everybody in marketing and sales can easily understand.

This is why a formal Problem-Solution Mapping process should be the strategic foundation for any solution centric marketing and sales enablement initiative. An effective P-S Map paints a clear concise picture of the critical customer problems your solutions solve, the key causes of those problems.  It also defines which of your capabilities and more importantly your defensible differentiators solve those underlying causes.

And, here’s the clincher. Once marketing validates that P-S Map with sales they will have clearly defined and agreed upon what just the right knowledge is, and they will have permanently eliminated the primary cause of the marketing and sales disconnect. The end result is that an effective P-S Map will become  the sanctioned taxonomy for capturing and sharing the three types of knowledge mentioned above so that marketing can finally start to deliver on the ultimate goal of getting just the right knowledge to just the right salesperson, at just the right time.

For more information on Problem-Solution Mapping please visit the Solution Marketing section of our web site spisales.com

See your sales asset development cost drop by an order of magnitude

In response to ‘Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?’ by Gerhard Gschwandtner (@gerhard20) Lee Levitt (former Director, Sales Advisory Practice; IDC) wrote the following comment on July 29, 2009:

“[…] Sales enablement is a recent phenomenon, at least from a branding standpoint. At IDC we’ve been researching and publishing sales enablement best practices since 2007, the same year that the phrase first started showing up in Google searches.

However, sales enablement as a business process has been around for a long time. As a field sales engineer at Texas Instruments, I implemented a sales enablement function on our internal network, using hardcopy terminals for information entry and retrieval. This was in 1985.

Social media at its best, given the constraints of the existing technology. Rapid sharing of tribal knowledge for those that had or needed it.

I’d suggest that Patterson’s Solution Selling Primer, written for the National Cash Register business, is an earlier example of sales enablement. Patterson’s Primer certainly meets the IDC definition for sales enablement, and Patterson absolutely reported results with it. In the 1880s.

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.”

The cost of running a sales enablement solution: Is there a need for editorial staff to help create and edit content?

In ‘Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?’ Gerhard Gschwandtner (@gerhard20) asked:

“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?”

The following job posting gives a bit of a hint what kind of tasks around a Sales Enablement Web Portal need to be performed manually:

Job Title: Sales Enablement Intern

Company: Initiate Systems

Job Location(s): Chicago, IL, US

Description:
Sales Enablement: Sales Enablement Web Portal– Maintain the sales portal by:
o Naming, dating, tagging and approving submitted assets on a daily basis
o Building or creating custom pages when needed
o Special projects

Sales Enablement: Sales Methodology (RADAR) Opportunity Sessions
o Scheduling monthly RADAR sessions for AEs
o Researching submitted RADAR opportunities to find additional materials

  • Hoovers
  • LinkedIn
  • Google
  • Spoke

Sales Enablement: Weekly Reports
o Sales Portal weekly reports

o RADAR monthly reports

As time permits:
Lead Generation: Lead Processing
o Research incoming leads verify in Salesforce.com and add if necessary

Lead Generation: Telesales Tagging
o Add campaigns in Salesforce.com
o Add tasks for AEs in Healthcare and Enterprise

Lead Generation: Assist with Tradeshows
o Assemble collateral

Lead Generation: Mailings
o Tag campaigns
o Mail merge letters

Having been working with the cutting edge Sales Enablement solution BizSphere at the large b2b company Nortel since 2007, I can comment on the extend to which the tasks above can be automated:

o The submission process (for assets or pieces of information like contact details) can be shortened.

  • Empower both – providers of official content (Product Marketing, MarComm, CI/MI, Training Department, Event Planning Team, etc.) and users who want to contribute (Sales, Customer Service, rest of work force, Channel Partners, etc.) – with an easy way to submit from within the context of the specific combination of geography, product/service/solution and type of information they are looking at. That takes care of the tagging. If they want to tag things further they should be allowed to.
  • Implement a Content Governance model that automates notifications regarding content that needs to be approved, that reached the end of its Life Cycle, or that is meant for a limited audience only.

document generation

  • For most companies cutting down the number of ways to submit content and even unifying the process so that one form allows to upload a single instance (Single Sourcing) and to publish it to multiple locations (facing the public, channel partners or only sales people) would be the wildest dream.
    BizSphere goes further than Single Sourcing of assets. It does Single Sourcing for the fragments (nuggets) your assets consist of. When you only have one instance of a photo, a logo, the number of employees you have or lets say a value proposition, then it will be updated in all your assets the moment you update this instance. Your assets are being auto-generated! The moment you click the ‘Generate’ button, hundreds of nuggets come together to form an asset that is customized for the context you chose. You want to pitch an offering to a customer in Spain? Then the auto-generation means that only the customer references from Spain are being pulled and put together in a polished way according to the chosen template. (See Do we really want people who earn $150 an hour creating PowerPoint presentations from scratch? and Do you want your sales people to spend their time customizing slide decks?)

o The task of building pages can be reduced to typing the name of a new offering (product/service/solution) and clicking ‘Publish’.

  • When you have established a context, your assets or their nuggets live in, then your sales portal’s pages can be dynamic and just list everything that is applicable for the given combination of geography, offering and type of information. A manually built page would be a silo that would be pretty much outdated the moment the intern from the job posting above has finished it. In BizSphere adding the name of a new offering automatically extends the number of possible combinations of geography, offering and type of information. For each of these combinations BizSphere lists what has a good standing with regards to its life cycle, therefore everything you see is fresh.

o Reports should be in real-time and not weekly.

  • Having a dash board overview of both your inventory of assets and their usage lets you track whether a certain region or offering has no assets available or whether they are not being looked at. You will see which type of assets your sales people love (Ratings might not tell you a lot but usage data will). This ability is crucial in becoming better and better in focusing your marketing efforts on what will actually help sales to close deals. “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, July 2009) Why pay someone to create reports every week when you and everybody else, who is interested, could have the kind of dash board BizSphere calls ‘Content Landscape’ as well as even more detailed usage metrics of the Sales Enablement solution; all of it in real-time and sliced and diced as you wish. For presentations to executives just create a deep link to how you sliced and diced the data and they will get to see the current – as opposed to last week’s – data.

BizSphere was the Sales Enablement solution Jeanne Hellman looks at in her case study of “implementing Sales Enablement in a complex, global company”.

Content Landscape

Analysts don’t analyze the economic realities of sales enablement solutions

In ‘Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?’ Gerhard Gschwandtner (@gerhard20) asked “What Exactly Are Sales Enablement Vendors Selling?”. Please make sure you see all the comments on the original post (from July 29, 2009) as a lot of the parties mentioned in the post responded. To address some of the gaps Gerhard identified in the text quoted below, Jeanne Hellman has written a case study of “implementing Sales Enablement in a complex, global company”. Contact her if you would like to get a copy.

“The noble purpose of Sales Enablement companies is to help sales organizations save time finding relevant information, create and organize sales content and create quick access to all experts across the enterprise.

It makes total sense. Salespeople can win more deals if they are better prepared. To back up this theory, IDC research shows that 33% of unsuccessful deals could have been won if the salesperson had been better informed or acted more client-oriented.

An even more important issue is the growing amount of time that salespeople spend searching for information to answer customer questions. What if a program could give salespeople exactly what they need to know so that they can transform information-chasing time into customer-chasing time? It all makes sense. I can picture the sales-enablement software programmers being obsessed with sales efficiency and sales effectiveness. But let’s take a look how the sales enablement vendors are selling their solution to you, the sales leader.

Vendor Pitches or Marketing Glitches?

Savo promises, “Never sell alone!” Does that hit a hot button for you? I don’t know many lonely salespeople. On another part of the SAVO site I read, “Clone top performers.” Excuse me! Why not promise, “Clone your Swiss bank account”?

Kadient’s Website isn’t shy about pitching the exact same theme on their home page: “What if all of your salespeople could sell like your top performers?” The promise continues, “With Kadient’s on-demand sales enablement application, you arm your sales team with the knowledge, messages and strategies they need to win at every stage of the customer’s buying cycle.” If they found the key to winning at every stage, how come Kadient isn’t a hugely successful company?

iCentera bills itself as a sales enablement company. Their pitch is a model of modesty: “Sales Enablement maximizes your sales organization’s ability to communicate through a central messaging vehicle.” The key benefit: “Close more business through more knowledgeable sales people.”

N-tara.com created a special sales enablement site with this teaser copy: “Ever feel like your salespeople don’t get it?” Here is the pitch: “N-tara’s sales enablement solutions equip your sales force with engaging, customer-ready content that is timely, relevant and in context to your customer’s needs.” The best part of their site is a “Guide to Enlightened Conversations”. It is engaging, interactive and it makes a lot of sense.

BizSphere is a European sales enablement vendor located in Wiesbaden, Germany, with offices in Toronto. The pitch: “Do you want your sellers to minimize preparation time and maximize quality time with your clients?” The key benefits: close more deals, increase average deal size, shorten your sales cycle. It is a clear and concise pitch.

Another vendor in the space is Salesforce.com which offers a competing solution to their AppExchange partners Kadient and SAVO.

Other vendors include Avitage.com (marketing automation and sales enablement) Streetsmarts.com (channel sales), Groupswim.com (team collaboration) and Salesforce.com

What Do The Industry Analysts Say About Sales Enablement?

Technology vendors often seek out the help of industry analysts, who lend a helping hand (for a small fee) with objective research that can help sales leaders choose among the competing solutions. When you go to the Websites of sales enablement vendors, you’ll see the same references to IDC and Forrester Research. On November 13th, 2008, Forrester conducted a teleconference entitled, Strategic Sales Enablement. For a $250 fee you could listen to their insights. The analysts defined sales enablement as

“a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle.”

If you want to decide for yourself if the paying attendees got their money’s worth, download the ppt at no charge (you need to sign in though).

Not to be outdone, IDC created a very insightful presentation in January of this year. Their definition of sales enablement:

“The delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place, to assist moving a specific sales opportunity forward.”

IDC is a bit more generous with their Sales Enablement wisdom. They posted their ppt on Slideshare.com. They scored more than 1,600 views to date.

Gartner defines sales enablement as

“[providing] the sales force with communications programs and tools to drive activity and enhanced productivity.”

On one side we have vendor hype, on the other side we have analyst reasoning. What does this add up to so far? The vendors write the music, the analysts sing the theme song: Here is the category, here are the vendors, here is who is cool, and here is who made it to the magic quadrant.

Here Is What’s Missing:

Analysts don’t tell you that reality is always a step or two ahead of their definitions.

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 enduser 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. [Post was written on 07/29/2009]

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.

Here is my biggest concern:
Sales enablement companies seem stuck in the “delay economy,” while Twitter is moving information management into the real-time economy.

How Future-Proof Is Sales Enablement?

“What sales incentives are best for salespeople age 20-30?” Someone in England, who said, “Technology, like iPods.”

Please read the comments and leave your own comment on the original post.

AMD blogs on Sales Enablement

David Kenyon, VP of WW Channel Marketing for AMD says “making channel & sales enablement a critical priority” & “just combined three disparate groups into one enablement team that is metric- and objective-driven, tasked with improving the content and training experience for […] sales teams and channel customers.”

At http://blogs.amd.com/channel/ David posted ‘Sales Enablement: Finding what you are looking for in sales and marketing content’:

[…] “Have you ever looked for something you knew that you needed, but couldn’t find it?” Of course we all have those experiences – some more than others, depending on your organization skills. What about when that happens to you electronically? What about those times when you are looking for content, training materials, or have a question that you know is answered in some obscure presentation that you’ve stored somewhere, but you just can’t find it?

In the channel partner community, I imagine that this happens even more often.  Today’s channel partners participate in multiple vendor programs, are barraged by content everyday from over-eager marketing product managers, and likely have terabytes of storage taken up with stale presentations that are never opened once they hit the spinning platters. Sales enablement of channel partners through well-placed and designed content, training and knowledge management, is not just a critical competitive advantage for manufacturers, it’s an experience as rare as a hole-in-one in my lackluster golf game.

How do you make it easy for partners to get information, training, and answers without them having to call tons of 800 numbers or salespeople, or search Web sites for what  seems like hours? It is a question that perplexes most companies, and I believe few actually address. At a recent channel conference I attended, a speaker asked the audience of 300 or so channels executives: “Who believes your intranet or company site is easier to navigate and find things than the global Internet?” Only two people raised their hands. The speaker then made the point that companies devote teams of IT individuals and professionals to design these properties to no productive avail, it seems.

The question then becomes:  how can a company enable its sales team via private portals and electronic communications to provide the easiest possible experience for its partners and customers? It’s a question we are facing at AMD alongside the other hundreds companies represented at that channel conference, and thousands of others around the world. In fact, we are making channel and sales enablement a critical priority.

We have just combined three disparate groups into one enablement team that is metric- and objective-driven, tasked with improving the content and training experience for our sales teams and channel customers. As we transition into a single, integrated sales enablement team, our online resources are front and center in our line of sight. Looking at successful models across industries, a few key attributes stand out: global integration; one interface to partners for all types of interaction; simplified and consistent timing and communications.  And, most importantly: simplify, simplify, simplify web interfaces to external audiences.

In short, it’s time to get serious about improving sales and channel enablement.  At AMD, we want to make this not just a good experience, but also an advantage to doing business with us.  We’d love your feedback as we work through the plans over the upcoming weeks and months. Just like you, we don’t have the time or the patience to spend hours looking for things that should take us seconds to find and activate. Who does? […]”

Connect your product or service to a market need, and create messages that clearly tell how you solve those needs for your buyers

Story telling

Mark Allen Roberts @markaroberts from nosmokeandmirrors.wordpress.com wrote an interesting post, which I broke down a bit to actually understand it better myself:

Mark Allen Roberts: “[…] A few nights ago I attended [local event in Phoenix]. As I mingled with entrepreneurs […] I heard a constant need;

I have an amazing product (service) but we need “more” sales…now!

I met with a number of entrepreneurs and their passion for creating something bigger than themselves seemed dampened by the immediate need for sales. I shared some “quick win” techniques that always work for me, but I went on to explain that what [you] really want is to […] connect your product or service to a market need, and create messages that clearly tell how you solve those needs for your buyers.”

Sales Velocity is Sales Acceleration, with Direction and creates Momentum.

[Connecting your product or service to a market need, and create messages that clearly tells them how you solve those needs for your buyers] is one common need every business has, particularly in 2009.

Sales Acceleration

“I have helped entrepreneurs and their teams grow businesses and what they often need first is sales acceleration. What I mean by this is a number of quick wins in new accounts or new products placed in existing accounts. A big part of sales acceleration is intentionally driving the sales you want to grow. When entrepreneurs mistakenly say they want “more” sales, by default they are saying “any sale will do”.

Not all sales are good sales if they strain your team to “slightly” change your product or service.

These “slight” changes slowly pull you from the core of your business and distract focus.

I have served a variety of industries and the best way to create intentional sales acceleration is always they same; talk to your customers and others in your market. In doing so you must determine “current truths” because your gut and intuition alone will not drive the growth you desire.

Direction

I think we have all seen the monthly sales charts that resemble a heart rate versus a market leading organization. Sales are up, and then off, up, plateau, then drop.

As an entrepreneur you need sustainable, repeatable sales or your personal heart rate will fluctuate as you try to plan cash flow.

[…] have specific targets that support your overall vision, road map and serve market needs.

Momentum

[…] The concept of momentum always fascinated me. How a body of mass moving with direction creates an energy of its own, and that energy can be transferred to other things that the mass bumps into.

Sales momentum occurs when your sales pick up in a positive, intentional direction with velocity.

[…] if you have one particle (sale) going to the right, the other to the left, they cancel each other out. Once you pay commission you have a net negative effect on your bottom line for the energy produced. If you sum the two momenta together, you get a total momentum of zero. ( this is what often occurs when sales teams are asked to …“hit your numbers and make it happen” …because that is what we “sales guys” are wired to do. However if not directionally focused and aligned with your road map the net result over time is zero added value to your bottom line (and often reduces the value of your business).[…] when you have a number of particles (sales) bouncing around in the right direction […] the net result is increased sales and the valuation of your business increases if done correctly. […]

As an entrepreneur and future market leader you do not want “more “sales you want “sales velocity”. When you realize sales velocity you experience sales acceleration with direction that builds a sustainable momentum over time.

Sustainable momentum provides predictable cash flows and helps you find willing investors for future expansion.

Please see the full post and leave comments here.

You might also want to have a look at the eBook ’50 Ugly Truths About Owning and Running Your Own Business, and why you should do it anyway’, Mark Allen Roberts wrote.

Todd Kasper’s takeways from the Sales 2.0 conference

2 in the cloud

The text below is Key Takeways from the Chicago Sales 2.0 Conference posted by Todd Kasper (CEO / Co-founder at Precallpro.com) on Thursday, September 17, 2009:

“In essence, Sales 2.0 combines customer-focused processes with Web 2.0 productivity technologies to enhance the art and science of selling while creating customer value.” Gerhard Gschwandtner

“[…] According to Gerhard Gschwandtner, Publisher of Selling Power, “Sales 2.0 is the chicken soup for the recessionary economy.” […]

#1: It’s a conversation economy

As information becomes easier for customers to get, the sales function’s role becomes less about providing information and more about having conversations with customers.  We all know that customers are changing the way that they prefer to buy, but sales organizations have not been as quick to change the way that they sell.

Customers (especially for complex sales) want to co-create with the sales professional solutions that meet their needs. This means that sales professionals need to ask more open-ended questions, do a better job of listening, and get the absolute most possible return out of each client interaction.

This also means that sales professionals need to have better leads, qualify opportunities earlier, and do a better job preparing for the time they actually get to spend with a customer. (An IDC study discussed at the conference revealed only 1 out of 6 sales professionals were “extremely prepared” for an initial meeting with a customer, and 57% were either NOT or only somewhat prepared!)

#2: Lack of Sales and Marketing cooperation on demand generation is inexcusable

The days of Sales and Marketing pointing the lead quality finger at each other need to be over. Companies need to begin to realize the efficiencies that come from sales and marketing alignment (especially in today’s economic environment).  Actually disqualifying leads is as important (if not more important) than qualifying them, due to the vast amount of time and resources that can be saved at later (and more time-intensive) stages of the sales cycle.

Kevin Hooper, VP, Technology Solutions Group at Hewlitt-Packard, spoke about giving the Marketing folks in his group at HP a share of the sales quota.  What ensued was an instant alignment of interests between Sales and Marketing. Isn’t this how it should be?  (For more on this, read Mike Damphousse’s Smashmouth Marketing interview with Mr. Hooper on sales and marketing alignment.)

One emerging trend to look for is the increasing use of predictive analytics to optimize sales and marketing resource allocation.  This technology allows the right lead to be placed in front of the right sales rep at the right time. IncentAlign is doing some very interesting work in this space, especially around lead scoring and optimized lead routing.

#3: Social media enables better conversations

The good news is that if we are evolving into a conversation economy, social media is a major engine that allows sellers to engage customers in conversations at a much earlier point in the sales cycle (or to conduct better due diligence at later stages!).

According to Kevin Popovic of Ideahaus, the beauty of social media is these conversations can now be started with the customer where he/she is right now, and on his/her terms.

Pull strategies are proving to be significantly more effective than push strategies, and for more, please see Kevin Popovic’s Social Networking in a Sales 2.0 World presentation.

Social media isn’t just for teenagers and college students – it is a power toolbox that allows sales organizations to have better interactions with customers throughout the sales cycle.  For more on the conference’s social media panel, read Gerhard Gschwandtner’s The Sales 2.0 Movement Accelerated in Chicago – Part II.”

 

Job opening – Knowledge and Operations Manager of Sales Enablement

Requisition Number: 8107
Posting Date: 10/Sep/09
Area of Interest: Sales
Job Title: Knowledge and Operations Manager of Sales Enablement
Company: AMD
City/Town: Austin
State/ Province/ Region: Texas
Country: United States


Job Description:

The Operations and Knowledge Manager of Sales Enablement will report into the Sales Enablement Program Manager. This person has responsibility for the overall vision, direction, and global structure for the knowledge management system and operations of the Sales Enablement engine at AMD: knowledge assets, governance processes, sales enablement standards and requirements, communications protocols and other aspects. This person will ensure that all sales enablement requirements for campaigns, product launches and other triggers are collected, prioritized and communicated to the teams responsible for the content development and delivery.

Key Responsibilities:
• Develop sales enablement plans for marketing campaigns, product launches and other key triggers that include content, delivery, sources and audiences
• Set the strategy; define and manage the plan for the overall knowledge management system for sales enablement: mind share, best practices, proven sales strategies, access to subject matter experts and other knowledge assets
• Define the vision, requirements and, in some cases manage and administer sales enablement delivery systems and the sales portal (content repository for sales enablement content)
• Define and drive communications strategies and protocols for all sales enablement activities
• Establish and enforce the standards for sales enablement content: sales collateral, talk tracts, product information updates, etc.
• Represent the team’s requirements for IT, corporate communications and other services

Position Qualifications:
• 10+ years of experience
• 3+ years of experience in sales and marketing roles
• Proven experience in influencing and managing across organizations
• Leadership experience; service organization leadership experience a plus
• Experience in corporate training, sales enablement or sales operations a plus
• Experience with knowledge management or sales training systems a plus

See full job ad and apply here.

Do we really want people who earn $150 an hour creating PowerPoint presentations from scratch?

Mike Damphousse’s interview with Lee Levitt (formerly IDC – Sales Advisory Service), from September 2009:

Lee: “[…] We have identified a number of ‘choke points’ in the selling process, mostly in the area of access to information and time spent on activities that (should) support the selling effort. Sales people spend way too much time searching for information, giving up and creating sales assets on their own (assets that typically exist elsewhere in the organization). Do we really want people who earn $150 an hour creating PowerPoint presentations from scratch or searching Hoovers for basic company information about their prospects? [Related post from this blog]

Sales 2.0 empowers sales people with simple, efficient access to information about customers and prospects already in context, usable from the start. Pulling this information together, analyzing it, cleaning it, ensuring that it is relevant — these activities should be done by a centralized group and then provided to the sales person or team at the right time — just before a call planning session.

Mike: Another critical activity right now is demand gen. We all know that b2b demand gen has shifted dramatically in this 2.0 world. Where do you see outbound marketing and inbound marketing impacting the top line in the next 12 months?

Lee: Marketing activities must seek to answer the questions posed by the prospect or customer: “Why are you sitting in my office now? What do you know about my business that has earned you the privilege of 30 minutes of my calendar? What experiences do you bring with you that are particularly relevant to the critical business issues faced by my company today?” All marketing activity must either directly or indirectly support the conversations that ensue from these questions. [All posts on Conversation Enablement on this blog]

Mike: We recently completed a study that showed that with b2b appointments, a third of C/VP execs delegated down, do you see the sales process becoming more of a buying process where the prospects are dictating how we sell?

Lee: I’d look at the issue the other way. Sales people have always been trained to sell up (Selling to VITO), and they’ve overshot their goal. A senior level executive will take a meeting with a rep who brings value to the table. If they aren’t prepared to have that value discussion, they’ll be pushed back down the organization, or as our research shows, thrown out. Reps must work their way up the organization, conducting research, building an understanding of the challenges of the organization, and matching their company’s capabilities with the needs of the organization. In this manner, they earn the right to talk with the senior executive.

Mike: What will you be talking about at the [Sales 2.0] conference? Can we have a sneak peak?

Lee: Sure. It’s all about pipeline hygiene — efficiency and effectiveness of “co-creating” value with the prospect or customer. Selling is dead. The best salespeople today don’t sell, they consult. They’re on the same side of the table as their prospect and they’re working together to create value. This takes deep understanding of the customer’s environment and challenges, and skills that many salespeople don’t have today. It also takes a different set of metrics to gauge the success of the engagement, metrics that most organizations don’t track.”