I just saw the great blog post ‘Bringing the Right People to the Table’ by IDC’s Michael Gerard from November 4, 2009:
“In my prior blog [‘Survey Says: “Put Away the Generic Pitch!”‘] I spoke a lot about the need for sales to have deeper, two-way conversations with customers. As I have these discussions with sales operations and sales executives, there’s much discussion about sales enablement for “sales reps” and “sales teams”; however, the need for sales reps to better leverage their own immediate and extended team (i.e., sales, marketing and engineering) as part of the sales process receives little attention.
I included a chart in my last blog from some of our customer experience research indicating that one of the top messages buyers are telling us is that sales reps need to “bring the right people to the table”. This may be intuitive and standard practice for the “A” reps, however, how are we ensuring that we’re making this as easy as possible for the “A” reps and equipping our “B” reps with the knowledge and capabilities to accomplish this task? Are you expecting your front line sales individuals to know too much? And to what extent are you providing these reps with the knowledge and capabilities to best leverage expertise within your organization to approach clients with the best “team”?
Questions to ask yourself about your current state in this area include:
1. Are my sales reps sufficiently fluent in our customers’ language (and needs) and our companies’ products and solutions to have a deep conversation with customers?
2. Do sales reps know when to bring in the right people for customer engagements? (e.g., presales engineers, industry specialists, subject matter experts (SMEs))
3. How do sales reps access SMEs for questions? (e.g., SME access through your internal sales enablement application; leverage of internal social media capabilities to get questions answered)
4. What process do you have in place to help reps justify the need for more resources for an account and/or opportunity? (e.g., through the account planning and opportunity management process)
5. How do you ensure that sales reps always know where to go for information? (e.g., One sales exec. indicated at a recent Sales Leadership Board Meeting that “Our sales teams are not seeking information on a daily basis; therefore, they continuously forget it exists or where to get it.”)
It’s not always what you know, but who you know. And leveraging expertise across the organization can, in may cases, be the difference between winning or losing a deal.”
Michael’s post beautifully highlights the need to find a common language for conversations inside (only with a common vocabulary across all regions/divisions of your enterprise will you be able to leverage internal social media capabilities to get questions answered) and outside your enterprise.
Let me relate this to a slide show by BizSphere, which is getting a lot of attention on Twitter, on SlideShare and amongst Sales Enablement experts:
This slide looks complicated, but basically it just shows the different personas in your sales enablement ecosystem.
They all will have better conversations within your enterprise and with the customer when all the content they access and share uses a common vocabulary (that takes into account how your customers speak) and is tagged within the dimensions of an agreed upon information architecture:
- The persona of the information architect (A persona doesn’t have to be a full-time job. It is more like a hat you are wearing during a task.) analyses how sales people consume information and what vocabulary resonates with the customer.
- Then the dimensions of what BizSphere calls the ‘InfoSpace’ (= the context / the information architecture) are being built and adapted. One dimension could be customer needs.
- Your product marketing folks publish their content into the context and cannot not structure it by the agreed upon vocabulary.
- Your sales reps learn the common language they should speak with the customer in, always know where to go to for information and are encouraged to do so on a daily basis.
When the place to go to for information Michael mentions above, has such a context where everything is structured the same way, it is quite the contrary to the silos of information you find in most enterprises today.
“Great presentation! I think that this solution is head and shoulders ahead of some of your competitors I’ve written about recently in this post ‘Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?’“
Even SlideShare recognized its success:
“BizSphere Sales Enablement – 2009 Q4” is being tweeted more than any other document on SlideShare right now. So we’ve put it on the homepage of SlideShare.net (in the “Hot on Twitter” section).