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/

 

How do your sales people and channel partners navigate your product and services information?

Are you in Marketing/Sales Enablement at a business that sells to businesses all over the world? Do you have traditional intranet pages for each country or sales region you have sales people or channel partners in? Then you have thousands if silos to maintain and your users have hundreds of mouse clicks stealing their time!

offerings


  • Are you 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”.)cube


On May 15, 2009, @scottsantucci (Forrester Analyst covering Sales Enablement) tweeted:


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


Displaying your Sales Enablement resources and the feedback from your sales people and channel partners in…

  1. a context (an information architecture)
  2. in Rich Internet Applications using web2.0 technologies

… makes the scary amount of traditional intranet pages from the image above a thing of the past.

BizSphere Sales Web does exactly this. The result can look like the images below and requires an amazingly low number of mouse clicks to navigate.

sales web_mdt

BizSphere Sales Web

Finding Sales Enablement information – Why content management systems are silos

finding sales enablement information

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

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

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

creating content for the salesforce

From BizSphere:

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

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

document generation

document generation feature tour

 

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

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

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

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

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

Straightforward brochure on Sales Enablement

Brochure on Sales Enablement

A slideshare on Sales Enablement by BizSphere published in October 2009 is getting a lot of attention on Twitter, on SlideShare and amongst Sales Enablement experts.

Gerhard Gschwandtner (@gerhard20) from SellingPower.com commented on it:

“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 – 2009Q4” 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).

That is what I call a dashboard for marketing folks who want to enable sales

That’s what I call a dashboard!!! (for marketing folks who want to enable sales)

The vendor BizSphere calls it ‘Content Landscape’.

  • Here marketing can stay on top of sales enablement resources in their lifecycle and track how sales rates them.
  • In a different user interface the sales people look at only those resources that are set to ‘published’.

Content Lanscape

Content Landscape – feature rich web application for Sales Enablement

The videos below by Moritz Stefaner (his blog), a recognized expert on interface design, visualization, statistics and data mining, show how he applied his ‘Elastic Lists’ (Example 1, Example 2) to Sales Enablement resources. The result is called ‘Content Landscape’ and has been developed by the Sales Enablement vendor BizSphere.

From http://moritz.stefaner.eu/projects/content-landscape/

“Content Landscape is a feature rich web application for searching and browsing digital resources in the enterprise. It facilitates not only content access, but also the understanding of resource distributions. […]

A regional marketing manager for a product group wants to retrieve resources only for his specific region and product, restricted to marketing materials. Other users may be interested in the latest news across all areas, or material only related to contract preparation. […]

The browsing mode allows to select multiple filter settings in flat (’Content Area’, ’Sales Step’, ’Media type’), hierarchical (’Region’, ’Offering’ and ’Resource type’) and numerical facets (’Rating’ and ’Date created’). […] Understanding resource production, use and distribution across departments, regions, and product groups is one of the core challenges of knowledge management in the enterprise.

’What are the most downloaded contents?’, ’do the presentation materials for a given product cover all important sales regions?’, ’what parts of my resource collection are growing? and which are declining?’ are typical questions in this area. […]”