Q2 2015 Sales Enablement market news and trends

Sales Enablement thought leaders

I’ve been cleaning up / refreshing my work in progress list of Sales Enablement apps/tools/solutions/services.

On April 1, 2015, I was honored to find myself on this list of 30+ Top Sales Enablement Thought Leaders.

I noticed that vbprofiles.com/search?q=Sales+Enablement is an extensive list of experts too.

Should Your Agency Get Into the Sales Enablement Game?, Jami Oetting, March 26, 2015.

Sales Enablement Tools: Keys To Building Trust To Win Sales, 4/21/15:

“Your Marketing team has likely already compiled a number of blogs, videos, and/or ebooks, tailored to different phases in the Buyer’s Journey. However, this doesn’t mean that only Marketing can use them. If, during their ongoing communication with their leads, your Sales reps notice a particular question is being asked again and again by a number of different leads, they can leverage Marketing’s content and pass it along. Again, showing that your company already knows about their concerns and is ready to answer their questions will build trust with your leads. […] By getting to know your leads through tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Buyer Personas, as well through conversations, and by showing that they care by delivering relevant and valuable information, your Sales reps can build a relationship with these leads. These relationships can speed up the process of closing leads into full-fledged customers.”

Will sales enablement software replace content marketing? by Alp Mimaroglu, 6/04/2015 with this graphic:

AAEAAQAAAAAAAABLAAAAJDQ5MTkwZjQwLWU2ZjEtNDI3NS1iZGI3LTU2ZWEyYjg0MWY3OA.png12

Alp Mimaroglu also writes:

“[…] Sales Enablement […] cannot work without a backbone of data-driven content marketing. And the most efficient way for salespeople to get the right information these days is to look at the data behind marketing that works using marketing automation software. Both sales and marketing need to share the data their teams are producing. The problem is that this just doesn’t happen in most companies (as shown by commonplace disagreements on lead responsibilities). […]”

A bit older: Content in crisis: Content marketing vs. sales enablement John Koetsier, Nov. 5, 2014 with this graphic:
Image Credit: Content Marketing Institute

Image Credit: Content Marketing Institute

New Study Shows Rapid Onboarding Increases Sales Growth Rates by 10%, Eyal Orgil, May 11, 2015:

“PUT ALL YOUR SUPPORTING MATERIALS IN ONE PLACE – Forcing new reps to hunt around for information that they hope exists somewhere is no way to speed the onboarding process. When all your sales enablement documents – data sheets, presentations, case studies, etc. – are collected and stored in a central repository, new hires can quickly do their homework on any offering. More importantly, they know exactly where to find the value added materials they need to create a more compelling proposal. You can even take this one step further and integrate document management right into your sales quoting solution and automate the entire proposal process.”

Three Big Myths Debunked at SiriusDecisions Summit, Tom Pisello, May 19, 2015:

“B2B marketing is not replacing B2B sales, so more B2B marketing doesn’t equate to more effectiveness. Sales reps are still VERY relevant, however we do need to recognize that buyer’s have changed, and Frugalnomics is in full effect. As a result, you need to enable sales reps to engage effectively throughout the buyer’s journey, especially at the critical early stages of influence. The ability for sales reps to help buyers navigate the journey, gain consensus from committee decisions, and articulate your unique value – all critical for continued relevance and competitive sales success. […] Content is King? Although large amounts are spent every year to develop and deliver content, and these investments are growing YoY, SiriusDecisions reports that almost 2/3rds of the content marketing investment is wasted! In a survey of almost 300 firms, 65% of content spending was wasted. Half of the waste was attributable to sales reps not being able to find the content. While the other half saying the content wasn’t good or useful. More is not more when it comes to content. Prospects and sales reps are all to easily lost in a sea of content.”

Mobile Strategy For Sales Enablement, Shankar Ganapathy, April 30, 2015:

“Sales people are not chained to their desk anymore but they are attached to their smartphones, so it makes sense for them to have everything they need available on their phone. Rather than searching through hundreds of emails, wiki links or dropbox files to find the particular product update memo, a mobile sales enablement app can make updates easy to find in a fraction of the time. With Millenials estimated to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, you can also make your employees more productive by meeting their preference to consume content on the go. While the majority of companies understand the need for sales enablement, according to research by Adobe less than 30% are actually implementing sales enablement solutions because it can be complex and time consuming to execute. However, mobile sales enablement can be implemented quickly and cost-effectively. This means implementing a mobile sales enablement strategy now could give you a competitive advantage. While other companies grapple with how to keep their sales teams up to date, and their reps spend precious time searching their email box, reading through volumes of wiki pages or searching through files in cloud storage, yours can be having impactful and engaging conversations with customers. When I talk about mobile sales enablement, I don’t just mean replicating your CRM on a mobile app, but rather achieving true sales enablement for both your sales reps and managers. Think about how Whatsapp has replaced email, making communication and sharing photos instant, quick and easy without needing to log-on. Mobile sales enablement can have a similar impact on your sales teams.”

A look at the user interface of the BizSphere Sales Enablement Solution Suite

BizSphere AGAfter a lot of focus on their global clients and a number of new releases of the BizSphere Sales Enablement solution suite, BizSphere allowed a look at their UX design (user experience) / user interface.

You can find them on CrunchbaseHere is a list of all other vendors I know of.

In case you speak German, you can read/watch interviews with the BizSphere staff here.

BizSphere SalesWeb

sales web SalesWeb

BizSphere AG sales web SalesWeb

BizSphere ContentLandscape

contentlandscape content landscape

Content Landscape: Interaction prototype from Moritz Stefaner

Where does Sales Enablement live within an organization?

An updated version of the following post can be found here, (February 5, 2017)

On September 7, 2010, Eric Nitschke (Launch International) asked the following questions on the LinkedIn Group Sales Enablement Content. Please see my response below:

“Sales Enablement: Where does it live?
Several clients have asked us for best practices in sales enablement – specifically who owns it?

I’d support our marketing colleagues who are trying to align selling messages with product positioning and messaging documents. Others on the training side would say that their training materials are the baseline for sales enablement. Finally, the “sales enablement automation” crowd would claim ownership of the process and fulfillment of sales enablement materials on their web-based or internally-hosted portals.

So I ask YOU – learned Sales Enablement Content Group members: Where does Sales Enablement live?”

Coming from the point of view of someone providing web-based or internally-hosted portals for Sales Enablement, I would not claim ownership. All stakeholders like product marketing, training, CI/MI, the teams for pricing and ROI / business case calculations, the customer reference database, corporate branding, MarComs, etc… should be invited… invited to house their content and – just as important – their contact details in that one joint portal.

A portal… not for the sake of the technology or to have yet another portal… but… a portal to let all these stakeholders see which of their content works and which doesn’t (also which content is missing and which gets insightful comments as a feedback loop from the field or the channel back to corporate).

When there is this one interface that cuts across all team sites and the silos the many regional or functional groups might have built with SharePoint or LiveLink or any of these solutions, your sales people and channel partners can – for the first time – see what is available for the given sales situation they are in. None of the stakeholders “owns” this more than the others and the portal just helps to filter by sales step, region, industry vertical, content type, etc… to make visible whether the sale is being enabled or specific content and contacts are missing.

matrixed organization

The single biggest complaint about Sales Enablement, I hear from sales people is missing content… content that is more specific than the generic pitch. A portal, that comes along with all stakeholders agreeing on content governance, a life-cycle duration for the content and responsibilities to respond to feedback & requests, will first of all make these gaps painfully visible and then guide the content planning to invest marketing’s dollars as effective as possible.

To come back to your question, in some organizations it might be the CMO and in others the sales leader or portfolio manager – who is the executive sponsor, who aligns all the stakeholders to feed the new portal and shut down the old ones.

define a taxonomy of customer pain points and map your products and solutions against them

One of my posts on the question “where Sales Enablement lives within an organization” got a comment requesting further clarification of the following graphic:

The comment was asking where to find sales people in the graphic and what the role of sales playbooks is. I have to admit that it is difficult to read, but the sales people are actually represented within the green area as indicated by the words Sales Force. (This is not a reference to salesforceDOTcom.)

This speaks to the point that sales people and the legacy sales portals, that are supposed to enable them, sit in between a highly matrixed organization on the one side and just as complex an organization on the client’s side. These legacy sales portals are one-dimensional (they fail to show content & contact details of subject experts in the context of the highly matrixed organization and in context to which pain point on the client side is addressed) and there are often several portals as there are so many silos of information.

Each sales playbook is a great tool for a small subset of the sales force (as shown in the graphic), but comes out of one of the silos, fed by only some of the Product/Portfolio Marketing teams or one regional team. When all content (e.g. customer references from different regions or specific value propositions per industry vertical…) lives in a multi-dimensional business context like it is made possible in BizSphere (which is a Sales Enablement Solution Suite that was designed to cut across all silos. Full disclosure: I work with them.), a completely customized sales playbook for any given sales situation can be auto-generated.

In contrast to legacy sales portals, BizSphere takes at least three dimensions into account. These could be:

  • Where is the seller going to a meeting? (Sales regions, countries…)
  • What does the seller want to sell (Portfolio of products, services and solutions.)
  • What does the seller need in order to be successful in the meeting? (Content types like white paper, case study, ROI-Calculator, contact details of a subject matter expert, etc…)

You might also want to define a taxonomy of customer pain points and map your products against them or add other dimensions that your company thinks in. BizSphere then lets you filter down by media type, language of the content, and/or the sales step you are in with the opportunity you are working.

The dimensions of Sales Enablement

  • Imagine the 1st orange arrow in the graphic above to be a customer reference from a Canadian client for a specific security solution.
  • Imagine the 2nd orange arrow to be the contact details of the sales engineer in South Africa who is the expert for a given service.
  • The 3rd orange arrow could be an ROI-calculator for the same service but it is really specific to the mining industry and therefore relevant in Western Australia.
Can you already see how here the regional teams can have as much of say in “which content is relevant for specific sales situations?” as the product marketing team?

Can you get lost in BizSphere? No way, because nothing is easier than answering: What do I want to sell, where do I want to sell it and what would help me to close the deal? Once you set your context in these three dimensions you will have filtered down from thousands of marketing assets / pieces of collateral to only the relevant ones.

inability to get sales and marketing teams aligned around the right processes and technologies costs upwards of 10 percent of revenue per year

On July 21, 2011, IDC hosted a webinar entitled “Setting Your Sales Enablement Strategy”. In the invite for the webinar IDC revealed a very interesting number that really helps to put the financial impact a proper Sales Enablement strategy can make into perspective:

“Is Sales Enablement a new concept? Certainly not. Marketing and some sales organizations have been attempting for decades to equip their direct and indirect sales channels with the right information, at the right time, in the right format, to assist in moving specific opportunities forward. However, companies’ inability to get their sales and marketing teams aligned around the right processes and technologies (or at least consistent ones) has cost them upwards of 10% or more of revenue per year; or $100 M for a $1B company. […]”

The following chart (source IDG Connect) was also shared during the webinar:

too_much_content_that_is_not_useful

Legacy sales portals provide no feedback to ensure marketing produces valuable material. Sales is too busy to address the issue

feedback from sales

On February 7, 2010 navigateknowledge.blogspot.com posted ‘Sales Enablement – An Inverse Definition’:

“Instead of defining sales enablement, I prefer to focus on the inadequacies of the existing legacy sales portals (many large companies have more than six). Sales Portals widen the gulf between sales and marketing.

An investment in sales enablement pays dividends in several ways but perhaps the strongest benefit is the alignment of a customers marketing investment with their sales resources. The legacy sales portals that are still being used by most businesses actually reinforce the practices that keep marketing and sales teams misaligned. Marketing teams are rewarded based partially on their ability to create sales collateral, brochures, presentations, campaigns, and such; whereas sales teams are rewarded based on their ability to retire quota. Legacy sales portals provide no feedback mechanisms to ensure the marketing team is actually producing valuable material to aid the sales effort, and the sales teams are too busy working to meet/exceed their numbers that they can’t take time out to address the issue.

The longer this problem goes unchecked, the more systemic it becomes. The only time anyone in sales talks about it is when they don’t make their numbers or hit their accelerators, at which point the “complaints” are largely ignored. The problem is compounded year after year as more marketing materials get posted onto the portal with little or no governance in place to remove “dated” items, making finding useful material even more difficult. The useful material that is found typically has to be reworked, taking valuable “selling” hours away from sales.

It is estimated that from 70% to as high as 90% of the material produced by marketing goes unused by sales. (IDC). […]”

I could not have described these pain points better. I’m sure that pretty much everyone in the B2B environment can relate to the them. No matter which Sales Enablement vendor you decide to work with, what needs to be done is the following:

  • Implement ‘Content Governance’ (automate a life cycle for content, define responsibilities for roles, send them automated reminders to rework what the life cycle has pulled off the portal, …)

life cycle for content

  • Add ‘Social Features’ everyone is familiar with from the web 2.0 like rating, commenting and uploading of their own content or links (gets everyone engaged and gathers feedback on the content as well as new insights from the field)

sales-web_social

  • Analyze (‘Content Intelligence’) the usage of your improved sales portal and how the two steps above yield fruit
  • Take action with ‘Content Planning’ based on your findings

Content Intelligence
The example above shows that there are 19 customer reference documents for EMEA but not a single one about a customer in Luxembourg. If you wanted to target a prospect in Luxembourg that might be a problem. A dash board overview for your Content Intelligence like the showcased Content Landscape from BizSphere helps you to identify gaps in your content inventory.

Content Intelligence? Yet another buzzword? Turns out it is almost as important as Business Intelligence

On January 27, 2010 Marc Seefelder of BizSphere brought up an interesting question in his post ‘3 Reasons why Enterprises need Content Intelligence’:

“[…] huge companies spend so much money on Business Intelligence (think of the Data Warehouses, OLAP tools and executive dashboards etc.), but don´t spend a dime on gaining intelligence on one of the biggest assets in the company – their knowledge inventory.

Fortune 500 companies invest millions of dollars every year to produce up-to-date material for marketing, sales and employee training. Shockingly, less than half of the produced material is used at all […]”

Product marketing teams need to know how their product is fairing and what sales material is driving sales conversations forward

feedback from sales

On January 8, 2010, Ken Knickerbocker wrote ‘Can sales give as good as it gets?’:

“When Joe Galvin of Sirius Decisions wrote “sales enablement is about knowledge transfer” last month, he spoke about how Salespeople need to access and acquire constantly changing information from a variety of internal sources to maintain their state of knowledge readiness and be able transfer that knowledge to their customers.

Joe is right of course, but he only has half of the picture. He should have also included the two-way exchange of knowledge that must exist if a sales and marketing organization is to flourish.

Not only must knowledge in the form of content, insight and data flow to the sales person, but insight, understanding and even raw data must flow back to other sales ecosystem stakeholders supporting the sales as well.

For instance, lead gen groups need up-to-the-minute and accurate knowledge of lead status and campaign effectiveness passed to them to make adjustments in the current campaigns or plan their next initiative or event.

Product marketing teams need to know how their product is fairing and what sales material is driving sales conversations forward.

Finance and legal teams need knowledge of the terms and conditions agreed to and the customers performance against those targets the prior year as they consider pricing on new projects and opportunities with the same client.

The sales operations group needs a damn near perfect knowledge of where each opportunity sits in the pipeline, how likely, for how much and when the deal is to close to generate a forecast executives can take to the street.

Professional services leaders need to see what service level agreements are being extended to ensure the appropriate resources are trained and available when the value promised must be delivered.

C-level executives need knowledge about the strength of the pipeline and current status of strategic opportunities and clients to determine where their time is best applied to drive forecasted results.

Enabling sales people is a first step, but in a world where everyone sells, sales enablement must take on more of a two-way, enterprise wide exchange of information and knowledge.”

I agree with the post above, but I’m wondering which feedback from Sales to Marketing is a task of Sales Enablement applications and which is a task of CRM systems? I can only speak to Sales Enablement applications:

Having a dashboard overview of both your inventory of sales material and its usage lets you track whether a certain sales region or certain products/services/solutions have no material available or whether it is not being looked at.

You will see which type of material 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 dashboard BizSphere calls ‘Content Landscape’ as well as even more detailed usage metrics of the Sales Enablement application; 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 is the Sales Enablement application Jeanne Hellman looks at in her case study of “implementing Sales Enablement in a complex, global company”.

Content Landscape

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

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