Constant loop of quantitative and qualitative feedback in a Sales Enablement portal

My blog post ‘How the metrics of a Sales Enablement application help you to save sales people even more time’:

Today, I had a look at the usage metrics and statistics report gathered at a large enterprise that recently launched the BizSphere Sales Enablement application to replace more than 35 intranet portals. What I love about the report is that it not only tracks which content sales people view, download, rate (with up to 5 stars) or comment on (We actually also display all of the above in the front-end to show sales people where the good stuff is.), but it also tracks what they were not able to find. An anonymous list of all search queries that were punched in comes with the number of actual results that were displayed. That way the owners of the Sales Enablement application at our customers can take a look at all search queries that led to zero results and specifically address what must be a huge frustration for sales people who are trying to prepare a customer meeting.

Constant loop of quantitative and qualitative feedback lets you improve the experience

Knowing which way people search, what they are looking for, and to analyze whether the content does actually exist or still needs to be created is very insightful. Not only does it direct the content planning process (to invest marketing dollars only for content that will actually be used), but it also helps to focus on the important topics when optimizing your texts and their tags for indexing by the search. What I mean by this is that a search term that led to zero results can be added – visible or invisible – to the content that would had been the perfect match. An example from one of our early customers – Nortel – would be frequent searches for CS1k with the expectation to find content for the product CS1000. It is just fair enough that people search the way they speak and analyzing the metrics and statistics helps you to improve their search experience.

Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration

Besides the quantitative things to look at, you also have the qualitative feedback in form of comments under each piece of content. When people start to…

  • comment on a white paper why it did not resonate with customers in a specific industry vertical,
  • add competitive insight from the field on an internal presentation,
  • applaud or criticize the authors
  • and help each other with lots of comments etc…

…then each piece of content has its own blog.

A word, that is not an official term but keeps on showing up in these comments or in the log files mentioned above, can be added as an alias of a product/service/solution, region/country or resource/document type.

The real Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration starts to happen when your Sales Enablement application allows your employees or even your channel partners to share their own documents or links which they found helpful. When everything can be accessed from one place and is marked as ‘peer contribution’ or as ‘content approved by marketing’, then there might be a chance to ensure that everyone is always using the latest version and does not waste time emailing people for it.

The report – this ‘one place’ should show in real-time – tells you who contributed the content that gets a lot of love and the collaboration around it might reveal insights of the kind only employees touching the customer accounts gather and the marketing department usually finds out about late.

Enterprise 2.0 from a Sales Enablement point of view

Social Media Marketing for B2B – A podcast interview

I just listened to this podcast interview with Paul Dunay from Avaya on social media marketing for B2B (SMB) by Chris Herbert, from June 4, 2010:

Producers: Chris Herbert, B2B Specialist & Founder of Mi6 and Donna Papacosta
Industries: Cross industry with emphasis on hi-tech
Audience: Senior Leaders, Marketing/Sales managers and professionals

Welcome to our second episode of “The B2B Specialists” podcast series. A series dedicated to having and sharing interesting conversations with professionals in our field.

Here’s the link to listen to the podcast with Paul Dunay, Donna and myself.

In this Podcast Episode

What’s new in B2B marketing for 2010? We dive right in to a conversation with Paul Dunay, Global Managing Director of Services and Social Media marketing for Avaya. (see below for more details about Paul). We talk about how social media is being used in B2B marketing and sales both at Avaya and in general.

Show Notes

00:49 We welcome Paul Dunay who tells us a little bit about his career, publishing endeavors and educational background.
02:35 Paul talks about what’s new in B2B marketing. The conversation includes:Linkedin and SEO; Facebook advertising; Mobile marketing “grows up” and the role a corporate web site plays vs “offsite content”.
05:10 We talk about how some companies are neglecting their web sites. Sites need to be current and a content production schedule should be in place. Paul’s advice: “Think like a publisher. Plan what content you will produce and over what time frame”.
07:10 We talk about how a blog platform, like WordPress, is an ideal platform to use to produce a website, especially for small to midsized businesses. It’s a “swiss army” knife for web marketing.
08:19 Paul gives some great examples of how Facebook can be used for B2B marketing.
14:00 The conversation turns to the adoption of social media. Where should a company start and how to measure ROI? What Paul is doing to show ROI at Avaya.
18:23 We talk about Avaya’s use of Twitter to support customers and how advocates (loyal customers) are helping support Avaya in return. These brand ambassadors act as unofficial spokespersons for Avaya. They can also become formal references and case study candidates.
22:55 Paul talks about how he shows examples of Twitter conversations to members of the Avaya management team so they can see the positive impact they are having on the Avaya brand. This helps turn social media skeptics into believers. One twitter conversation led to a customer purchasing an Avaya systemin less then 15 days.

About Paul Dunay

Paul Dunay is the Global Managing Director of Services and Social Marketing for Avaya, a global leader in enterprise communications, and author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies (Wiley 2009). Paul is an award winning business to business marketer and publisher of the blog Buzz Marketing for Technology. Paul is on our “A” List of B2B marketers.

Links of Interest

Paul’s Blog
Paul on Linkedin
Paul on Twitter
Blog post on Linkedin and Search Engine Optimization
Avaya’s Customer Support Twitter account

Selling vs. Buying – A Marketing wake-up call

On June 1, 2010, my favorite marketing blogger April Dunford (@aprildunford) from rocketwatcher.com wrote the post ‘Selling vs. Buying – A Marketing wake-up call’ at her blog rocketwatcher.com:

“Last week I posted a New Marketing Framework which sparked a set of interesting conversations about how marketing is changing.  I believe that marketing needs to shift its focus from selling to helping customers buy.

The categories of marketing we’ve used traditionally have been very focused on “selling”.  The big 4 marketing groups-Branding, PR, Communications, and Product Marketing, reflect this inside-out, sales-oriented thinking.  Even at startups traditionally “marketing” has meant communications.  PR was outsourced to an agency and product marketing was assigned to product management where it was generally ignored.  Helping customers buy has not been a major focus for marketing.

The world has changed a lot, particularly around how customers discover and evaluate products.  The result is a big shift in control of the sales process toward prospects and away from companies. For this reason marketing now has to shift from selling toward helping customers buy.  Here’s what’s changed:

  • We don’t believe advertising (in fact we don’t believe much of anything companies tell us)- There was a time when if a company said they the best at something, we believed it.  But those claims weren’t always true so now we don’t believe what companies tell us anymore.
  • Customers can broadcast to the world – They might be happy, they might be upset but they now have a way to broadcast their stories without going through any media gate-keepers.
  • Prospects can easily communicate with each other – Before, during and after the sales cycle, potential customers can ask each other questions and learn about your offerings and your company in a way they never could before.
  • Information about products is easy to get (without having to talk to the company directly) – Old media might be suffering but if you are looking for product information, there are more sources than there have ever been.  There have been an explosion of niche blogs and review sites covering products.  Everyone from consultants to resellers and service providers is a potential source of information that can be accessed anywhere anytime.  Gone are the days when your first step to getting information about a product was to contact the company.  For many prospects, that is now the last step.

So what does this mean for marketing?  What changes when we are helping customers buy rather then selling them stuff?  A lot, including:

  1. Messaging – Your messages need to be understandable and clear. They need to be free of vague or unsubstantiated claims.  They need to help prospects answer the question “Is this offering a good fit for me?” (rather than trying to convince people it’s a good fit for everyone) and it needs to be able to answer that question in a matter of seconds.
  2. Content – Customers are looking for materials that can educate them and help them determine what they should buy.  Prospects are looking for information that helps them understand different options for solving a problem and what the benefits and risks are to those options.  They are looking for best practices and knowledge to help them do their jobs better.  They are looking for the benefit of your expertise. Your offering is only one piece of that – your content is another, very important piece.  Stated simply – your content needs to be helpful to be effective.
  3. Customer Relationships and Retention – In a world where the customer is highly in control of the buying process, customer relationships become more critical than ever.   Existing customers have given you permission to interact with them (something you don’t have with folks that are still just prospects), which is a huge opportunity build trust and loyalty.
  4. Visibility – In a world where customers don’t want to hear from companies, companies have to rely on other people to carry their stories and in some cases, sell for them.  How do you make it easy for non-users to see that others are customers?  How can you encourage people to share your content or invite their friends/network to become customers?  How can you demonstrate to prospects the benefits that other people/companies just like them have seen from the solution?

None of these is handled well within the traditional divisions of marketing.  In my opinion, in the next year we will see a rethinking of how a typical marketing department is structured so that these functions will have more clearly defined ownership within marketing.”

If you liked April’s blog post follow April on Twitter.

Related posts by April:

  1. A New Marketing Framework
  2. Is Your Marketing Content Worth Receiving?
  3. Top 5 Customer Retention Marketing Tactics

Implementing Sales Enablement

David Batup, founder of perperitus.com sums up Sales Enablement as “a range of activities, disciplines and thinking focused on removing the barriers that often get in the way of successfully closing deals”.

“Sales enablement is all about maximising the outcome of the opportunity development time a salesperson has, and minimising the time spent on activities that can only be described, unkindly by some, as sales procrastination. To do this, sales enablement is about preparation for, the holding of, and follow-up from customer meetings to ensure the salesperson has the greatest chance of success, where success is moving the sale forward or closing.”

“Central to sales enablement is the idea of harnessing the knowledge and best practices of your best salespeople (the so-called ‘rainmakers’), to the benefit of the whole sales operation. And it is also about approaching the sales cycle not from the perspective of your company’s products and services, but from your customers’ perspective.”

“I suggest the major steps for sales enablement are:

  • Understand how to articulate your products to customers’ business needs, buying cycle and information needs. Engage with your top performing salespeople
  • Overlay the ‘moments of truth’ (MOT) onto the customer’s buying cycle to create an MOT map and include the levels of responsiveness required to meet their needs
  • Define the sales enablement problem from the perspective of the customer and salespeople’s needs. Identify the collateral, tools and solutions that will support the salesperson before and after the appointment
  • Invest in developing or aligning your assets to meet the customer’s business and process needs. Deploy the assets in a way that makes them easily accessible to sales, ensure they are in the context of the sales cycle and where appropriate provide customer self-service […]”

“[…] Sales and marketing teams may say, “So what, this is what we do already, isn’t it?” But there is evidence that there is still a big shortfall in the way salespeople are prepared for and conduct themselves in front of the customer, relative to the customers’ expectations.[…]”

  • 57% of customers felt the salesperson was not prepared for the meeting
  • 33% of customers say deals could have been won if the salesperson had been better prepared
  • 65% of sales time is spent not selling
  • 7 hours a week is what the average salesperson spends looking for relevant information to prepare for sales calls
  • 70%–90% of marketing material goes unused by sales
  • 50% of information is pushed through email
  • It takes an average of 7 months to ramp up a new salesperson.