M&A strategies shouldn’t miss the Sales Enablement dimension

On January 5, 2010 Matthias Roebel from MING Labs wrote the post ‘M&A strategies shouldn’t miss the Sales Enablement dimension’:

“I recently had a call with an executive centered around his company’s growth through a M&A strategy. His observation was that with financing for these deals returning and the number of under-valued assets (companies) left in the wake of the recession’s creative destruction, this was for many companies a chance of lifetime. But he qualified this comment with a warning: as long as you know how to do this stuff.

He had me. A bit. “What stuff?”, I asked. He responded that most of all the immediate value used to justify the purchase would be in increased sales through the combining of customers and products (more opportunities to sell more). As we talked further he summed up the pitfalls as:

  • Sellers will instantly have 40%-60% more new products and solutions to sell (that they know little about): Where will sellers get the necessary knowledge or find an expert just-in-time?
  • Customers with trusting relationships will want “what does this mean to us” meetings: Has marketing (or management) given sellers the up to date details?
  • The combined companies will begin a process of choosing what stays, what goes – a complete restructuring of offering portfolio will have to happen: How will you get your sellers on the same page and focused on selling?

We spoke about how these challenges could manifest and about the best ways to address them. Basically, he emphasized that C-level executives recognize that critical nature of communication and collaboration of the selling community (sales reps, expert or support roles, and marketing) to maintain focus on the essential goal of selling. His point was simple: You got to keep selling.

Reflecting on the call, I realized that innovative technology and consulting methods, specifically Sales Enablement solutions, can go a long way to address these needs. I made the following list to send to this executive:

  • Given the rapid nature of combining the teams, being able to provide access to all relevant content (regardless of where it is stored) explaining the new offering portfolio – but within the context of the customer conversations – is the key.
  • Within this newly established enterprise context web 2.0 collaboration methods become very powerful. Sharing content instantly leveraging blog and twitter like functionality across sales teams can boost the effectiveness of communication to the customers.
  • With the virtual doubling of the team’s size, even the guy with the deepest networks will be severely impacted – often sellers need the expert not just the white paper or slide and integrating to unified communications (VoIP / chat / presence information / etc.) would be hugely powerful.

Additionally, I found an article at Forbes.com that was written by McKinsey & Company titled ‘Master sales force integration in a merger’, that explores this topic beyond the technology aspect I cover. […]”

 

Christian Maurer from UltimateSalesExecResource.blogspot.com commented:

“Keeping sales up to speed through a M&A phase is indeed a very challenging task and often neglected, especially when cost benefits are the primary focus of the M&A. It would extend this thought also for companies going into strategic partnerships.”

Job opening – Sales Enablement Group Manager at Adobe

Old! Outdated!

Sales Enablement Group Manager

Description

Adobe believes in hiring the very best. We are known for our vibrant, dynamic and rewarding workplace where personal and professional fulfillment and company success go hand in hand. We take pride in creating exceptional work experiences, encouraging innovation and being involved with our employees, customers and communities. We invite you to discover what makes Adobe such a great place to work.

Position Summary

The Sales Enablement Group Manager will be responsible for leading the team that drives sales enablement efforts across Adobe’s Worldwide Field Organization. The focus of the sales enablement team is to create and deliver initiatives that increase sales effectiveness, facilitate performance management and encourage consistent and active usage of Adobe’s sales methodology. This includes selling skills, training, best practices, content and resources for sales management and individual sales reps across enterprise and channel sales.

Responsibilities

This role requires strong leadership skills, knowledge of enterprise and channel sales, the ability to build relationships, and a keen ability to prioritize and align enablement activities to impact sales performance. Specifically, s/he will be responsible for the program direction, content tools and infrastructure that enhances selling skills, introduces rigor around the sales methodology and account planning process, enables sales managers to more effectively coach their teams, and ensures new hires understand Adobe solutions, business processes and the sales tools required to ramp quickly. Success in this role requires credibility and a collaborative approach across sales management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, as well as the unique ability to balance strategic thinking with a fast paced sales environment.

Requirements

  • 5-7 years experience managing global sales enablement teams and programs
  • Strong communication, critical thinking and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent presentations skills and ability to garner support for new ideas and initiatives
  • Proven success scoping, designing and implementing strategic programs
  • Demonstrated leadership and  team mentoring ability
  • In-depth understanding of sales
  • Enterprise and channel experience

Adobe’s dynamic working environment is well known – including ten years on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For”, and other, similar accolades. By hiring the very best and brightest, we continue to be a simply better place to work.

Adobe is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. We welcome and encourage diversity in the workplace.

About Adobe United States

Adobe has approximately 4,000 employees in the United States and is headquartered in San Jose, California, with other office locations nationwide.

Job: Sales
Primary Location: Americas-USW-San Jose (Headquarters)
Schedule: Full-time

Job opening – Senior Communications Manager, Sales Enablement

Senior Communications Manager, Sales Enablement

Job Overview

Company:
American Power Conversion
Location:
US-RI-West Kingston
Industry:
Energy – Utilities – Gas – Electric
Job Type:
Sales
Relocation Covered:
Yes
Posted:
08/20/2009

Job Description

As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation, and data centers/networks, as well as a broad presence in residential applications. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, efficient, productive and green, the company’s 114,000 employees achieved sales of more than $25 billion in 2008, through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations “Make the most of their energy.”

us.schneider-electric.com

APC by Schneider Electric is a global leader in critical power and cooling services, providing industry leading products, software and systems.

Job Responsibilities:

Create and implement a communications plan for just in time, opportunity-specific internal sales playbooks for key solutions environments and vertical markets. Communications plan includes a structure, organization and methodology to represent market overviews, sales tools, marketing and training assets in order to increase sales effectiveness for internal sales and APC partner community. This position will serve as a central hub and work in conjunction with business development, marketing strategy, training, sales leadership and lines of business to effectively communicate key launches through established medium. Tracks, measures and analyzes communications plan and adjusts accordingly. Acts as a communications subject matter expert and best practice advisor on sales execution and communications. Assists the NAM Director of Communications on other regional communications initiatives as required.

Position Responsibilities:

Develops program to capture sales feedback on what works and doesn’t work, and uses that feedback to continuously improve the base of knowledge.

Provides a medium and process to communicate the right (and most current) information for APC’s sales team and partner community.

Creates a forum for ‘proven plays’ that assist the sales team in winning against top competitors.

Works within cross functional initiative team to create process and deliverables that empower the sales force to be more efficient and effective in sales engagements.

Provide communications leadership to lines of business, marketing and business development on sales execution and needs of the sales team.

Support NAM Communications to fulfill established goals and objectives.

Other duties as the job requires.

 

Position Requirements:

Possess a Bachelor’s or advanced degree in Marketing, Communications or Business.

8-10 years of relevant work experience.

Proven knowledge of industry trends.

Ability to execute through positive relationships, effective communication and cross-team collaboration.

Strong leadership and interpersonal skills.

Strong marketing foundation.

Sales experience a plus.

Excellent strategic thinking, project management, relationship building, and consultative skills.

Proven strategic and tactical experience working in the technology industry with partner channels.

Success driven and energetic with excellent time-management, multi-tasking, oral and written communication skills. Demonstrated ability to manage projects and people cross-functionally.
APC-MGE is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability or veteran status.

Disconnect between large vendor Marketing and the sales messaging needed for SMBs or channel partners

Great blog post at acsellerant.com by Bob Leonard from October 25, 2009:

“[…] Sales Enablement is the process of arming an organization’s salespeople with information that will help to close profitable deals. Sales Enablement delivers the most relevant information for a specific sales situation.

Sales people are what I call “just in time learners”. They are extremely busy. They are action-oriented. They have little patience for sitting, reading and digesting reams of information so they can later distill and communicate the most significant message for a particular sales situation. Salespeople learn what they need to know when they need to know it.

Sales Enablement should bridge the gap between the 35,000 foot PowerPoint and the, “I’m sitting across the table from a decision maker who is willing to take the next step… if I can show her that we are capable of solving her specific business problem.”

The specificity need not be deeply detailed, but it should address the particular problem… not describe issues that are universal across an industry. It should bridge Sales and Marketing departments. It should augment market research and global messaging with:

  • Competitive Intelligence – not at the vendor level, but of local [SMBs or your channel partners that sell to them]
  • Tribal knowledge – specific to the client industry in the local geography
  • Product knowledge from the minds of the technologists who have developed/integrated similar solutions, and
  • Answers to questions and objections encountered by salespeople who have sold similar solutions in that market.

Here are three common mistakes salespeople make when attempting to bridge the gaps described above:

Mistake #1: Giving the Feature/Benefit World Tour

These tours often happen during demos, presentations, proposals, and in printed and online collateral. They’re an attempt to show prospects everything that your product/service/solution can deliver. Don’t give the ‘List of the Top Ten Features and Benefits’. Your website should have that information. When in front of a customer you want to pick the two or three features and benefits that are meaningful to them given their situation.

A savvy sales enablement provider will help the salesperson pick the three most relevant features and benefits, and will translate them into higher-order value statements. As an example, the three most relevant value statements for an Electronic Records Management solution might be:

  1. A 25% increase in productivity due to improved access to information for daily tasks.
  2. An average 40% savings on paper storage costs.
  3. A 99% reduction in fines and penalties due to regulatory non-compliance.

If you know that all three of those are primary concerns with that prospect, you’ve just reduced your sales cycle significantly.

Mistake #2: Let Me Tell You All About My Baby

This happens most often when an engineer is brought along on a sales call. They are (usually justifiably) proud of their baby. They built it, and they love to talk about it… what it does, how it does it, why it does it this way, and so forth ad nauseum. There’s a time and a place for this conversation – when your techie is talking to their techie. When that occurs, it’s usually quite late in the buying process and the business people have already decided to go ahead.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, though. Summarize the solution effectively (and briefly) using graphics, then provide a link or a white paper which details the technical information. Your decision maker will be more at ease if he can give those details to his trusted technical advisor.

Mistake #3: No Proof Points… Just Trust Me

This is a situation that’s as old as B2B technology sales itself. Salespeople understand the effectiveness of case studies and testimonials. They constantly ask for them. But they never want to take the time to elicit them from clients. Your salespeople, and your technicians and customer service reps too, should be alert for positive statements from clients. When clients make these statements, the automatic response should be, “Thank you. We’d love to be able to use that in our promotional materials. Can I have someone contact you about it?” Then, whoever is handling your Sales Enablement should quickly follow up with a written testimonial, or if appropriate, an outline for a case study, for their approval. Don’t wait for the client to write it. It won’t happen.

Also be alert for situations where your solution has made a hero out of someone in the client organization. Those people will be happy to sit down with your Sales Enabler and tell them all about the problem that was solved, and how it came about, and the results achieved. Case studies with a client hero or heroine (she was smart enough to choose your solution) resonate with prospects. After all, who doesn’t want to be seen as a hero by their company?

Consider incenting everyone who has client contact to submit potential testimonials and case studies.

 

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

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? […]”

How many emails do your sales people write to find a contact they are looking for?

sales

This post is with regards to cutting down the time wasted by your own employees (and your channel partners) researching who to contact or which contact details to pass on to the customer when it comes to a specific kind of expert for a specific offering in a specific country.

Real life example

Don’t you know these email trails of at least 10 emails which started off like this: A sales rep asking his boss who in product marketing to contact for the product BCM50 when it is about a customer in Poland?

Sales writes to marketing and marketing writes to each other and before there is a meaningful answer you easily have had ten people involved and a lot of time wasted. (Business cases for how much time of information workers is worth here.)

Statistic

70% of all attempts to find an expert by email are unsuccessful
according to thinkbeforeyousend.com

What can Sales Enablement do about it?

Let me show you how the sales enablement application I’m looking after for our 4,000 sales people world-wide cuts down the time to research this kind of contact information. Actually it works just the same if you searched for documents, tools (like ROI calculators), relationships (like cross-selling opportunities), summary descriptions (like updates when a product will be GA) etc.:

contacts

This is what we train our marketing and sales employees to do.

  1. You drill down from ‘Global’ to ‘Poland’ on the top of the screen or by clicking on a Google Maps like map.
  2. In the search form in the upper right hand corner you type in the full name or the acronym of the product/service you are interested in.
  3. In the left hand side navigation you pick the kind of information you are looking for.
  4. Given that you have now set the context you can pick from the list of experts in the middle of the screen and even call them with one click (UC / Unified Communications that is).

How long does that take? 10 seconds for one person instead of ten emails from different people that everybody is then copied on each time.

Why is it possible to save so much time? The reason is we established an information architecture and lots of people are empowered to keep it up to date by just doing a right click on a piece of information to edit it.

For contact details the following happens: Information that is missing will be filled in the moment the contact from the higher level gets all the requests. He/she will be quick to provide the contact details of who should really be contacted for the specific situation. Basically “forced crowd-sourcing”.

The areas where all this helps you can call sales enablement, conversation enablement, channel enablement or just knowledge management.

Definition of Sales Enablement and Conversation Enablement

Definition of Sales Enablement

This blog follows IDC‘s Michael Gerard’s definition of Sales Enablement as posted on his blog ‘Musings on the Science and Art of Selling’:

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

John Neeson also has an excellent definition:

“Channel and Sales Enablement. Provide sales (direct and channel) the tools that will give them access to the knowledge assets that support in-process sales pursuits. Foster sharing of information on a two-way basis as information learned in the field can be used to tune, refresh, and continuously improve the knowledge base. […] focusing on “searchability and findability” of information.”

Definition of Conversation Enablement

Building on Michael Gerard’s definition of Sales Enablement, Conversation Enablement can be defined as:

The delivery of the right knowledge(=information provided in context) in the right format
and the right questions to ask (“Conversations are about discovery”)
to the right person at the right time and in the right place
necessary to move a specific conversation forward.