On Sep 1, 2015 Jordan Crook (@jordanrcrook) over at Techcrunch wrote a post on Guru (which I will be adding to my list and public table/sheet of Sales Enablement solutions):
Continue reading “Guru Chrome web extension for Internal Knowledge Sharing”
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:
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
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.”
My blog post Define a taxonomy of customer-pain-points and map your products & solutions against them got a response that asked for a taxonomy that works as a standard across all industries containing all possible pain-points that customers could have.
Here is my answer:
Each business or organization has to get to know their respective customers or audiences very deeply in order to list all possible issues that trouble them or could trouble them. This list has to be written from the point of view (!) of the customers or audiences and with their choice of words (!).
Then this list can be structured as a taxonomy and the vocabulary can be used to articulate all unique value propositions (USP) that the business or organization has to bring to the table.
Once the taxonomy exists, all unique value propositions, marketing content, sales content, human resources information about subject matter experts’ contact details / learning and development content / training content, and other content can be mapped against the taxonomy. This will reveal gaps and outdated versions.
The suggested approach to articulate a THE one taxonomy as the overall standard across all industries on the planet sounds very ambitious. I’m with Jorn Barger and Daniell Koller who write on quora that
“You can’t build a universal ontology using natural language. Its words are too vague.” […] “You can’t build an universal ontology, but I would like to add that – for most of the use cases I have seen until now – THE one correct & complete ontology is not needed. […] To my understanding it is much more important to be able to work on your own ontology subset and to link it with somehow more general documented wisdom. […] My experience from this kind of standardization projects is that you might be able to manage the technical side of it, but the organizational and managerial aspect get very complicated once you target a singel taxonomy […]”
As stated above, I think each business or organization has to go through the process of crafting this taxonomy for themselves and keeping it fresh (in times of mergers and acquisitions etc). The very process of crafting it in the voice of the customer or audience, will help the content and the conversations, the employees have, to resonate better with the customers/audiences. The customers need to be surprised by the extend to which the sellers speak their language and know about their pain before they actually expressed it.
When I worked at Nortel, we had the role of an information architect for Nortel. This role was in charge of keeping the taxonomy (of all products, services, and solutions) fresh and ideally making each taxon on the higher level sound like a need in the voice of the customer.
I agree that there is value in seeking standards and one common ontology, especially when we really reach the times of the semantic web / web 3.0.
Then applications need to know which taxon is a treatment/intervention/mitigation for which other taxon etc…
The company BizSphere (which introduced the role of the information architect at Nortel and provided a semantic solution including software to edit the taxonomy) also developed the approach shown in this screen shot.
Full disclosure: I used to work with BizSphere. Here is a list of all other vendors I know of.
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.
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.
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:
On September 7, 2010, Matthias Roebel from BizSphere wrote “The Importance of Context for the Enterprise 2.0”:
Just a few days ago Joe Galvin from Sirius Decisions wrote about how important Social Media – as an approach for better internal collaboration – is as part of a Sales Enablement strategy. I think he is absolutely right. What used to be the informal coffee corner chat before nowadays is mimicked in Social Media platforms. Over time, people will learn that even within an enterprise the sharing of information is beneficial for everyone in the end. Yes, there may be a lot of sceptics around, especially in sales teams, but with the right programs and incentives offered, they will make the jump to the new social collaboration paradigm.
However, the flip side of extensive social collaboration might be the appearance of new information silos as well as growing information overload. Without the social collaboration being moderated to a certain extend, it might lose some of its potential impact on the overall performance of the sales teams. Aaron Roe Fulkerson discussed this in a recent blog post: “The importance of context: why Enterprise 2.0 still fails to deliver value”.
A company might use a lot of different types of social collaboration platforms – the challenges is: How can they be orchestrated in a way, that actual knowledge exchange is taking place across existing team and functional structures? And how can the content generated be aligned to some generally agreed upon enterprise structures? What companies, that are serious about implementing a Social Media strategy for sales, should think about, is to create and maintain an enterprise context.
Then collaboration can take place within this context and will add greater value to a broader audience. Ideally, the enterprise context should constantly evolve based on feedback gathered during the ongoing social collaboration.
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.
Ian Richardson wrote ‘When is Knowledge Management Not Knowledge Management?’ on April 23, 2010. As I write a lot about providing context on this blog, I really liked his second last sentence:
“When people talk about knowledge management, they actually mean information management. You may think I’m playing with semantics, but there is an important distinction and one which applies to people such as I, who are in the business of managing information.
To imply that computer systems manage knowledge, demonstrates a fundamental omission in understanding of how people interact with computers. It implies that if you take information a and apply it to person b, then person b will become “knowledgable” about a. This is far from accurate. People (as the dictionary definitions state) have a mental state of “knowledge” which is affected by whatever new information is added. […]
One cannot impart knowledge simply by making information available. Knowledge is a state of mind, gained from a gradual layering of learning experiences over time.
Companies implementing e-learning systems often make the mistake of assuming that the same information will have the same effect on all users. This is not the case. How people interpret the information they provide is actually the sum of the knowledge they extract and keep.
Let’s take you for example. You may be reading this because you have an interest in knowledge management and you arrived here from Google. You will have a whole host of prior knowledge about “knowledge management” with which to compare my assertions and either agree, disagree or be ambivalent regarding each point. the sum of this assessment is the knowledge which you will take from it. On the other hand, someone who arrives here from my Twitter feed is unlikely to have this context of being a “knowledge management expert” and they will have a different assessment of the content.
Good learning systems (aha – new term) not only allow for these different user contexts, but react to them by using the information provided by the user to infer one of many possible “contexts” – and then deliver more appropriate information.
At no point do we deliver or manage “knowledge”. […]”
On April 5, 2010, I posted the following:
The following quote (my own translation) supports BizSphere’s knowledge management methods and user interface ideas, which aim to reduce the firehose of information (that marketing departments in B2B companies provide for sales people and channel partners plus what web 2.0 / enterprise 2.0 add) to what is relevant for a specific sales situation:
“…on the web, people use language way too undisciplined. Without a guiding context you can never be sure how a word used as a tag was meant. What’s the tag ‘drama’ worth, when one person tags pages from divorce lawyers because he is currently experiencing drama in his marriage and another person tags certain theatre productions in his city?”
In the BizSphere Sales Enablement solution we do allow ‘free tagging’ but in addition we force content, contacts, comments, etc. to be tagged in a defined enterprise language – the context. For example, the intersection points of the following taxonomies – or tagging dimensions – create a clearly defined space for all relevant sales information to “live in”:
- products, services and solutions
- information types
- regions and countries
Thanks to the tagging dimensions being defined specifically for each enterprise, they can be used as a common enterprise language – even across different mother tongues. The benefits for the seller are simple yet effective: Searching for information supported by a commonly agreed semantic enterprise language delivers the results which are making sense in a certain sales context. This is something a classical search approach can’t deliver.
“I’ve been working on a lot of sales enablement kits lately. My biggest learning on sales enablement came about ten years ago, when I did a study for a big enterprise technology company on marketing effectiveness. We looked at three marketing objectives: Generate demand, drive awareness and comprehension, and enable the sales force. In hindsight, it was ultra-simple. But, we came up with a really powerful conclusion. The most effective programs, in terms of ROI, were sales enablement programs. However, when we spoke to reps, they complained about 90% of the content they were provided. What really mattered was the 10% “really good” stuff that made the deals.
So, the recommendation had two parts: First, invest more in sales enablement. Second, only produce 1/5 of the material. This sounds like a “duh” recommendation, because we’ve all heard the trite adage about the CMO who says “I know I could cut 50% of my marketing spend, I just don’t which 50%”… but there was more to it. The number one thing reps needed, it turned out, was cascading detail about the solutions they were selling. Reps selling into complex organizations need to be enabled with at least three levels of detail–one for the business lead, one for his or her researchers / support in the deal, and one for the technical folks that will actually be doing the implementation. Without a clear value proposition and component model for each of these audiences, reps spend hundreds of hours spinning their wheels. In most cases, these levels of detail don’t exist, at least not in distilled form.
Another interesting observation I’ve had is that companies are usually really good at selling into one of the above audiences, but lousy at selling in to the other two. For example, Microsoft seems really good at selling into the implementers, but not so good with the decision makers and researchers. They’re ok, don’t get me wrong, but every company has its strength. So, if you can figure out how to make selling into role a strength, you’ll outcompete your rivals and win.
Each level of detail should also cascade. If we’re focusing on a value proposition, it might cascade like this:
- Decision Maker: Acme helps me realize my performance targets by providing my teams with the best possible productivity tools, while functioning flexibly with my existing systems.
- Researcher: Acme provides superior performance management tools across the finance and HR functions, at a superior value / price ratio to the competitive set; Acme’s core APIs are best-in-class and can be integrated with a minimum of effort compared to the competitive set.
- Implementer: Acme’s integration services are flexible and best-in-class, and can be installed on any of my core systems using its easy-to-use customization kit; Acme’s load balancing services make it the least impactful to our overall operating environment
The idea here is that the value proposition builds from one level to the other. Researchers and implementers will still be interested in the “core” business value proposition, but the value we can provide them needs to be more specific to be sufficient for them to be comfortable.
The same concept applies when we get to component model. For a decision maker, a component model should be purely functional, but should show exactly how the solution in mind meets their business needs and enables the value proposition. The component model would then be filled in with detail and potentially blown into a few pages for the researcher. Finally, when it came to implementation, the component model would turn into a full-blown technical design. The key is that it’s translatable top-to-bottom and bottom-to-top. An example is shown below:
Thoughts about this topic? What are some examples of cascading sales enablement / core content that have worked for you?”
Please leave your comments on the original post ‘Cascading detail for sales enablement’.