Location North America, California
This position is a key part of the our Sales and Partner Enablement team, whose mission is to define and deliver the right tools, messaging and training to Sales & Partners, in order to drive revenue.
Managing the development of sales references, marketing references and customer stories/business ROIs.
Refining Software Sales Messaging, tools, and marketing assets (such as presentations, sales solution cards, white papers, contributed articles, and website content) based on feedback from the Field as well as buyer research.
Collaborate with other members of the Software Sales Enablement team to ensure direct sales are equipped to effectively sell Software into Enterprise customers.
5-7 years of related experience (3-5 years experience in marketing to Media & Entertainment, product design, or other creatively-driven enterprises is a strong advantage.)
Will have a highly collaborative work style including experience working cross-organizationally and across geographies, aligning multiple stakeholders and teams.
Strong ability to frame issues, drive appropriate analyses, and make clear, actionable recommendations
Exceptional analytical, communication, and presentation skills
Excellent program management skills.
Solid skills in quantitative analysis and Excel.
Bachelors degree required, MBA a plus
Media & Entertainment, Enterprise Software Marketing, MBA Marketing
On July 21, 2010
manticoretechnology.com/blog/ posted ‘Thought Leadership Interview: Jill Konrath on Closing the Gap between Marketing and Sales’:
“[…] CD: What does marketing need to do to get salespeople to use the content they provide?
JK: Write good content. Most of what marketing produces today sucks. It’s self-serving tripe that highlights the company’s fabulous products, unique methodologies and state-of-the-art technologies. When sellers use this type of content, it trivializes them with customers. They’re seen as product-pushing peddlers who add little value to the sales process.
Educate the sales force. After an eternity of only getting crap from marketing, salespeople don’t have a clue how to use good content. They need to know how to follow up effectively on leads with content during the sales process.
Make it simple. Salespeople don’t have a lot of time. If it’s scattered across the website, it won’t be used. If it’s not intuitive, it won’t be used. Make it as much a no-brainer as possible.
CD: In SNAP Selling, you talk about the prospect’s three decisions. What are they and how do they related to content?
JK: Basically prospects make three primary decisions when it comes to dealing with salespeople.
Their 1st Decision is to “allow access” to them. Sellers may only want a small amount of their time, but today’s crazy-busy buyers are stingy with it. At this stage, salespeople could use content related to the value other firms have used from using the company’s offering. This supports their reason for getting together and increases their chances of setting up a meeting.
The prospect’s 2nd Decision is to “initiate change” – which is something they are loathe to do with everything else on their calendar. Sellers desperately need good content to help prospects determine if making a change would provide significant value for their organization. This could include case studies, white papers, podcasts, articles, analyst reports and more.
Finally, the prospect’s 3rd Decision is to “select resources.” At this phase, sellers need content that differentiates them from other vendors and supports the company’s strengths.
Please notice that I didn’t say brochures. They provide little value except at the very end of the sales process. In my opinion, fancy four-color glossies are a relic of the past – even though salespeople may still be clamoring for them. There are enough sales dinosaurs out there who haven’t yet realized that brochures create significant collateral damage and destroy more opportunities than they gain. […]”
My blog post ‘How the metrics of a Sales Enablement application help you to save sales people even more time’:
Today, I had a look at the usage metrics and statistics report gathered at a large enterprise that recently launched the BizSphere Sales Enablement application to replace more than 35 intranet portals. What I love about the report is that it not only tracks which content sales people view, download, rate (with up to 5 stars) or comment on (We actually also display all of the above in the front-end to show sales people where the good stuff is.), but it also tracks what they were not able to find. An anonymous list of all search queries that were punched in comes with the number of actual results that were displayed. That way the owners of the Sales Enablement application at our customers can take a look at all search queries that led to zero results and specifically address what must be a huge frustration for sales people who are trying to prepare a customer meeting.
Constant loop of quantitative and qualitative feedback lets you improve the experience
Knowing which way people search, what they are looking for, and to analyze whether the content does actually exist or still needs to be created is very insightful. Not only does it direct the content planning process (to invest marketing dollars only for content that will actually be used), but it also helps to focus on the important topics when optimizing your texts and their tags for indexing by the search. What I mean by this is that a search term that led to zero results can be added – visible or invisible – to the content that would had been the perfect match. An example from one of our early customers – Nortel – would be frequent searches for CS1k with the expectation to find content for the product CS1000. It is just fair enough that people search the way they speak and analyzing the metrics and statistics helps you to improve their search experience.
Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration
Besides the quantitative things to look at, you also have the qualitative feedback in form of comments under each piece of content. When people start to…
- comment on a white paper why it did not resonate with customers in a specific industry vertical,
- add competitive insight from the field on an internal presentation,
- applaud or criticize the authors
- and help each other with lots of comments etc…
…then each piece of content has its own blog.
A word, that is not an official term but keeps on showing up in these comments or in the log files mentioned above, can be added as an alias of a product/service/solution, region/country or resource/document type.
The real Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration starts to happen when your Sales Enablement application allows your employees or even your channel partners to share their own documents or links which they found helpful. When everything can be accessed from one place and is marked as ‘peer contribution’ or as ‘content approved by marketing’, then there might be a chance to ensure that everyone is always using the latest version and does not waste time emailing people for it.
The report – this ‘one place’ should show in real-time – tells you who contributed the content that gets a lot of love and the collaboration around it might reveal insights of the kind only employees touching the customer accounts gather and the marketing department usually finds out about late.
A user called “ED” responded with the following interesting point amongst other points:
“[…] I don’t define it as sales enablement; rather I use “Sales Optimization”. I say as I had one rather perturbed head of global sales once say “My sales people don’t need enablement from marketing”. So I’m always careful as to how I position the effort. […]”
Ardath Albee from marketinginteractions.typepad.com wrote the following response:
“1. Sales enablement is the process for helping salespeople to have conversations with buyers that the buyers’ perceive as valuable because the interactions is focused on helping them to achieve a high-priority business objective.
2. Sales enablement puts the conversational tools, storyline and end-stage content at a salesperson’s fingertips to help them engage buyers by focusing on what their products enable buyers to achieve, rather than the feeds and speeds of the products themselves. I agree with ED’s idea above that every marketing program should have a sales chapter.
3. Sales enablement is jointly owned by marketing and sales. Unless both sides collaborate on what’s needed (content, conversational guides, personas, etc.), integrate it with top of the funnel programs and construct a seamless end-to-end process across the cycle, no one is enabled.
In fact, this process should actually be called “buyer enablement.” The focus needs to be on helping buyers buy, not selling them products/solutions. That’s what drives relevance. The kicker is that both marketing and sales have insights that must be merged to create the best overall process. Marketing and sales are not two separate functions – not for buyers.”
A user called “perramond” said the following amongst other things:
“[…] Customer 2.0 doesn’t need your data sheets, positioning docs, competitive matrix, etc. They can find all that stuff (as well as your competitors’) without your help. So when your sales people do engage, they had better come to the table with something relevant and timely, something that helps the customer move to the next step in diagnosing and addressing an important business problem (wherever they might be in their buying process, vs. where they fall in your sales process.) […]”
“Our sales enablement initiative is based on the broad Forrester definition. Important criteria from my viewpoint are: it is a cross-functional discipline, it is a strategic ongoing process and it has very ambitious objectives: to equip all people touching the accounts with the right information in a well-structured, reusable way at all stages of the customers problem solving process / the customers buying cycle. Most important in an approach like this:
Sales enablement will deliver measurable business outcome!
Who owns sales enablement: I’m always wondering when this question appears. Wouldn’t we overcome “functional silo thinking” with an integrated sales enablement approach? As I see sales enablement as a joined approach, there can be no dedicated owner. There will be major stakeholders and other stakeholders, and normally one business unit sitting in the driver seat. And that’s not necessarily sales or marketing – portfolio & offering management can also be in a leading role.”
Let me extend what Tamara Schenk said:
It’s a cross-functional discipline, it’s a strategic ongoing process and it has very ambitious objectives: to equip all people touching the accounts (more than just pre-sales and sales) with the right information (sales playbooks, campaign information, ROI calculators and alike, documents/links, contact details of subject matter experts, etc.) in a well-structured (what is applicable where, who authored what, what can be used for how long?), reusable way (output in different formats or even auto-generation of tailored content) across all silos in the enterprise and in the right language(!) at all stages of the customers problem solving process / the customers buying cycle.
Having been on the enterprise side and having seen how many marketing dollars go into content production and towards polishing the look&feel I want to highlight how important it is that the money is only spent on content that works (content planning, content intelligence like tracking usage and ratings/comments) and if possible can even be done in-house.
In the group “Sales Enablement Gurus” on LinkedIn.com Tamara Schenk (@tamaraschenk)
(Portfolio & Offering Management – Innovation Center; T-Systems International GmbH) left the following comment on a discussion called “Sales enablement platforms – needs and benefits”, which is the name of a blog post that can be found at the BizSphere blog, my blog and the original source – the Solution for Sales blog:
“The sales cycle can be viewed as a series of interactions or conversations with the customer.” Right! If we remember a holistic sales enablement approach we should be able to equip all our client facing people with the right set of resources that they are able to have valuable conversations with the customers at each stage of their problem solving process (also see Forrester Research’s sales enablement definition).
What does it mean for content producing people in Marketing and Portfolio & Offering management and as well for the sales enablement platforms as a content and knowledge management foundation?
Content needs to become well structured, re-usable and easy to be customized, definitions of internal and external resources or content types are a prerequisite, too. Not only one or two slide decks for sales are necessary. First you should have content according to the sales cycle respectively to the customers problem solving process. Second resources for different audiences are required, e.g. for C-level, for workshops, for second and third meetings.
Third, to deliver all these resources, a certain degree of structure, re-useability and customizing of sales content is required.
For sales enablement platforms it means a lot of flexibility regarding taxonomies, relationships, collaboration features and e.g. features regarding content structures, re-useability, generating content automatically.
And last but not least a lot of sales resources are focused on the vendors company and portfolio structure, but where’s the customer? Sales resources without specific business value for the customer are not really helpful, the customer will alway ask “so what, what’s in for me?” Being aware of delivering business outcomes instead of products or solutions will be key for success.
In the long run vendors who are able to address business outcomes instead of product features, who are able to create a shared vision with an interesting business case will win the deals.”
Thanks to Kathleen Schaub (@kathleenschaub) for allowing me to re-post her blog post ‘No Respect for Collateral’ from April 21, 2010. On April 28, 2010.
“In the 1986 classic film, Back to School, Rodney Dangerfield plays a self-made millionaire who attempts to earn a college degree by leveraging the skills that made him a business success. For instance, he outsources term papers to subject-matter experts, then evaluates their work by weight. “I dunno,” Dangerfield mutters as he hefts a stack of paper, “It feels like a ‘C’.” We laugh, because we know that you don’t judge content by volume, unless you are trying to be funny.
Yet, according to the American Marketing Association, as much as 80-90% of collateral plays no useful role in the selling process. No one laughs at that.
Companies produce a huge volume of digital and print marketing collateral. We can get seduced into believing that because we have so many communications pieces, we’ve really communicated. Consider a new product go-to-market plan. It’s often largely a checklist of collateral items. Business presentation? Check. Technology presentation? Check. White paper? Check. Website update? Check. Sales training material? Check. YouTube demo? Check. Twitter hashtag? Check. The list may go on for pages.
Measurement is good. But measuring launch preparedness by the volume of collateral is like using a scale to measure the temperature. Instead, we should measure the completeness of our ability to answer our future buyer’s critical questions.
Each buyer’s journey is a cognitive path leading from unawareness to enlightenment and agreement. The steps on a buyer’s journey are questions. For a B2B technology purchase, I estimate that there are about 25 critical questions that a buyer needs answered before he will buy. Early in this cognitive journey, he asks questions like, “how can I be better?” and “am I headed for a problem?”. In the middle of the journey, questions such as “what vendors offer possible solutions?” and “have companies like us been successful at actually realizing promised benefits?” Near the journey’s end are questions such as “why should I buy now?” and “what are this vendor’s terms?”
A company’s marketing communications materials are supposed to answer these questions. Our answers must help remove cognitive roadblocks so that the buyer can keep moving towards a purchase.
Technology companies typically answer, maybe, eight out the 25 questions. These same eight questions get answered over and over again in different media. The volume and range of communications materials tricks us into thinking our job is done. Meanwhile, the rest of the buyer’s path, containing his other 17 questions, remains dark and murky. All it takes is one key question inadequately answered to derail a sale.
I’m definitely a fan of interesting, creative, marketing communications. Brain-friendly content that is made to stick improves message transmission and comprehension. If we first measure how completely we are answering our buyer’s key questions, and then apply our communications ingenuity, we will truly have a winning collateral strategy.
Otherwise, if 17 out of a buyer’s 25 critical questions remain unanswered, we will find our sales people discarding our kilos of award-winning brochures, clever podcasts, and stunning community websites for a home-made Powerpoint deck that does the job they really need.”
I’m honored to have Tony Zambito (@TonyZambito) from GoalCentric.com as a guest blogger with a post he wrote as a response to my tweeted call for guest bloggers for this blog. He is an expert on creating buyer personas. Check out his blog BuyerPersonaInsights.com where he currently runs a series called ‘The 10 Rules for Creating a Buyer Persona’.
How to Achieve Sales Enablement with Buyer Personas
“Enabling a sales force is no easy feat. Especially when there may be hundreds or even thousands of sales personnel spread out through various locations around the globe and working remotely. Aligning selling efforts with marketing efforts can become the albatross around any organization’s efforts to connect with its’ buyers.
Fortunately, technology in sales enablement is making it easier for companies to enable a sales force in their ability to win business. Sales enablement technology is an enabler of assisting sales to communicate and progress the sales cycle along. One thing technology cannot do though is have the conversation with customers and buyers for the sales representative. When companies can align technology, marketing initiatives and sales conversations it can attain a distinct competitive edge. Assuring that sales can connect with buyers conversationally is the most challenging aspect of sales enablement. This is where buyer personas can make the difference.
A buyer persona is a qualitative research derived archetype of a buyer that models their goals and provides deep insight into how they move along the buying process. They are not to be confused with customer profiles that have been common to sales and now in some instances you find the buyer persona label being attached to customer profiling.
An example of a Goal Centric client may help:
A Fortune 100 client faced a dilemma of reaching a new segment of buyers. They knew that if they could not enable the sales force to deeply understand buyers as well as to be able to engage conversationally, they would stand little chance of succeeding. They embarked on a buyer persona development initiative in two stages. The first stage was to conduct qualitative interviewing into this new segment of buyers. Over a three months period, significant and previously unknown insight was gained about this new buyer segment. These insights helped senior sales and marketing executives to strategically plan the best go-to-market efforts that would give them a winning edge over competitors. The insights were then translated into crafted buyer personas that reflected conversationally how to talk about the issues and goals of the buyer throughout the buying process. The second stage was aligning marketing communications with the anticipated selling conversations that enabled the ability of sales to help buyers reach their goals. Sales representatives were trained and received guided resources that helped them to have engaging conversations with buyers. They were enabled to demonstrate their ability to understand buyer goals in their language and terminology. Senior executives were able to achieve an increase in revenues in this new buyer segment by nearly 15% in the first year of rolling out buyer personas as a guided resource.
What can we learn through this example about how to achieve sales enablement with buyer personas?
Here are some of the highlights:
- Gain executive sponsorship to engage in the process of acquiring deep insights into your buyers
- Embed buyer personas and the qualitative insights into strategic planning for sales and marketing
- Buyer personas are derived and crafted from qualitative interviews and a specific methodology focused on goals and are not to be confused with profiles
- Important to align marketing with the new found insights into buyers so they can provide the necessary sales enablement resources that sales representatives will actually use
- Invest in adequate training to acquaint sales with the conversational aspect of using buyer personas to engage with their buyers
In the end, sales enablement is a process that ends either face-to-face or through the phone when that critical moment of truth happens – the conversation with the buyer. Buyer personas can go a long way towards ensuring that sales are enabled and ready right at that moment.”
On April 6, 2010, Stefan Broda from posted: “Alan Willis of Solutions for Sales @salesready) wrote a detailed and insightful post entitled ‘Sales Enablement Platforms – needs and benefits’. Solution for Sales is one of our trusted partners in the UK and one of the pioneers of the term ‘Sales Enablement‘. While BizSphere provides technology and methodology to clients so that their sales force is able to access the most relevant information to their current sales situation, Solution for Sales creates this information for its clients. Their interactive sales kits have become an industry standard. Especially through this synergy, we are looking forward to a mutually productive partnership with Solution for Sales.
Thanks to Solution for Sales for allowing us to re-post their article on our blog. It describes the sales enablement theme from a business perspective and greatly compliments the articles on our page:
Sales Enablement Platforms – needs and benefits
Salespeople volunteer for a tough job. The complexity of what they sell and the sophistication of the people they sell to increase year by year. In this environment every sales interaction and conversation is important, which is why the best salespeople spend so much time preparing for their conversations with customers and creating the materials they will use.
But salespeople are often not well served by the resources they are given to prepare for these conversations. The problem resides at two levels: the quality of sales materials is often poor and it is hard to find the right resources, even if they do exist. The concept of the sales enablement platform – a knowledge management tool for sales – has arisen as a solution to the second of these problems. This article outlines the requirements for an effective sales enablement platform and analyses the benefits.
What customers want
Customers have grown out of having products sold to them; they have even tired of solutions selling. Now they want to buy on the basis of business outcomes. The communications company doesn’t want an improved customer loyalty system; it wants customers that stay longer and spend more. The manufacturer no longer wants an improved supply chain solution; it wants lower supply costs and on time delivery. And they want to look at all the options for achieving their desired outcome.
One consequence is that customers expect salespeople to explain how they can deliver outcomes. They are looking for salespeople to share a point of view, not just ask questions. Customers want to work with salespeople who bring business knowledge from a wide range of different situations; salespeople who can contribute new business ideas.
What salespeople need
The sales cycle can be viewed as a series of interactions or conversations with the customer. Each sales interaction has a specific set of objectives: it must change a viewpoint, unearth information, resolve a concern, solve a problem or provide needed information. Knowing this, and understanding the customer’s expectations, it is apparent that the salesperson, when preparing for a sales conversation, needs to be able to marshal a wide range of information and structure it according to the context and objectives of each different situation. Salespeople need better information systems to help them do this, and the sales enablement platform has evolved to address this need.
What’s the problem?
Typically, current tools do not meet the information needs of salespeople – see below “What salespeople say they need”. These shortfalls are damaging because salespeople rely on sales resources to fuel the engine of sales conversations – no fuel, no progress.
What salespeople say they need
- One source – I don’t want to have to search through multiple, unconnected information silos, arranged arbitrarily e.g. according to product set, department, country
- The big picture – I need the high level view so I can spot related offerings and cross and up sell opportunities
- Concise and complete – I want just the resources that are relevant now, not loads of extraneous stuff. But it must be all the resources, from all departments
- Arranged for me – I don’t want to have to be an expert on the portfolio to get to the resources I need
- In my language – it must respond to the words I use
- Responding to the sales context – e.g. the stage of sale, technical vs business
- Linking me to people who can help – I want to connect to salespeople who have been here before me, and to the expert behind the resource
- Listening to me – I’d like the opportunity to comment and share information. I’d like to be updated on topics that I choose
The impact – sales efficiency
Much has been written about the impact of these problems on salesforce productivity. For example, IDC research says that on average each week a salesperson spends:
- 6.4 hours creating presentations
- 5.8 hours searching for client-related information
- 2.3 hours searching for marketing collateral
Clearly, if these processes could be speeded up sales would be more efficient. For example, for a salesforce of 500, saving one hour each week is worth over €500k each year in simple efficiency savings. That means getting more sales out of the same size salesforce or accommodating salesperson wastage without loss of sales.
Significant as this is, Solutions for Sales believes that it is the potential improvement in sales effectiveness delivered by the sales enablement platform that offers the most significant gains.
The impact – sales effectiveness
We have argued that customers expect a higher quality of interaction with their sales contacts. They want business advice; they want a balanced view; they want to focus on their desired business outcome not the salesperson’s desired sales outcome. To meet these customer expectations salespeople need to tap into a wide range of resources and quickly find all that is available to make the next sales interaction successful.
This is something salespeople are not doing well according to statistics from IDC, which show that:
- 33% of all unsuccessful deals could have been won if the seller had been better informed and had acted more client-oriented
- 57% of customers feel that salespeople are poorly prepared or not prepared at all at initial meetings
- More than 50% of customers expect salespeople to be better informed about client-specific requirements and goals
If accessing sales resources is difficult or laborious, it is our experience that the salesperson’s patience runs out long before all relevant resources have been discovered. The result is sales meetings that fall into the 57% that customers judge to be poorly prepared and sales opportunities that end up in the 33% that would have been won if the salesperson had been better informed.
The most significant benefit of a good sales enablement platform is that it improves the quality of the sales conversation, which results in more wins. When it comes to quantifying this benefit there are so many other factors at play that it is hard to provide objective figures. Readers must judge for themselves, but if it is accepted that salespeople who are better prepared for sales meetings can achieve a 1% higher win rate, then for a company with sales of €250 million the result would be an extra €1.5 – €2.5 million of sales each year. And there’s another important benefit: the salesperson that demonstrates the ability to talk outcomes with their customer gains visibility of more sales opportunities.
Marketing has needs too
Sales enablement platforms are not just for sales. Marketing has a whole range of requirements in this area. See below:
What CMOs say they need
- Drive Sales – I need to have better ways of steering Sales in the direction the company wants to go
- Satisfy Sales – I want to provide the sales resources that salespeople need. I am sick of hearing them say that Marketing is no help
- Economise on Marketing resource – I would like to know which resources are valued by sales so I can save money by stopping doing what’s not wanted
- Improve visibility – I want to see who’s using what, which resources are getting old, and what the coverage is of sales resources across the portfolio
- Develop a broader view – I’d like people to have a better understanding of the breadth of our capability and the positive synergies across our portfolio
- Exploit all our resources – I want everyone to be able to contribute to selling, including organisations like professional services and delivery
- Encourage interaction – I need to get salespeople sharing their experience and marketing people contributing their knowledge directly to sales
- Structured, uniform and global – I’m worried that the ad-hoc social networking and web tools that are springing up will just create confusion. Worse, if they aren’t maintained they will mislead
Producing the best sales resources
People all round the company have information that can help sales. Of course the main producers are Products, Marketing and Sales themselves, but there are others. In some companies Professional Services and Consulting divisions have information on the services they offer, their expertise and their processes, methods and tools. They may produce opinion pieces and white papers. This is valuable material in a complex sales process. Delivery and Operations can provide performance statistics and quality measures that are useful sales ammunition, and customers want to know about the design, implementation and support services available to them.
Products, Marketing, Sales, Professional Services, Consulting, Delivery and Operations will all have their own ways of producing and storing information – this is what created the silos in the first place. The good news is that these don’t have to change. The sales enablement platform spans all these sources, presenting sales materials from all departments as an integrated whole. As well as giving 360° visibility, the sales enablement platform helps producers by providing:
- Structure: defining the types of resource salespeople need; formats; desired content
- User feedback: comments from salespeople on how resources can be improved and what new resources are needed
- User rating: rating and usage statistics allow producers to judge how well they are doing and allow managers to identify the best producers and the most popular types of resource
- Inventory control: to highlight when resources need updating or are approaching end-of-life, and show where more resources are needed
The result is a continuous improvement cycle that leads towards better quality sales resources which are more useful to salespeople.
Sales enablement in context
The selling process can be viewed as a series of conversations between salesperson and customer, so the job of sales enablement is to make those conversations more interesting and ultimately more rewarding for both parties.
When preparing for a sales call, the salesperson needs sales resources that are appropriate to the specific conversation being planned. Successful companies make sure that high quality sales resources exist, and they make it easy for salespeople to find the right resources for the job at hand. The sales enablement platform solves the second of these problems. It gives sellers access to the right sales resources and information – the fuel that powers the engine of sales. Moreover, it helps improve the quality of sales resources by creating channels for feedback and engagement so that content producers get a better understanding of what’s needed.
The sales enablement platform is a strategic tool that CMOs can use to define the portfolio structure, drive sales behaviour and optimise product marketing resource. It cuts through organisational silos and allows every department to play its part in supporting sales. It fosters business networking amongst salespeople and with other departments that have a major impact on sales, such as Marketing, Operations and Professional Services. It improves the quality of sales resources by facilitating feedback and engagement between users and producers. For all these activities it provides a structure that is uniform, maintainable and scalable.
For the Sales VP, the sales enablement platform facilitates better execution in the everyday work of the salesforce, leading to lower sales costs and a higher win rate. The result is a solid business case for investment, which explains why the sales enablement platform is taking its place alongside CRM and marketing automation as a must-have business tool.
This article was written by Alan Willis of Solutions for Sales.”
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.
On March 1, 2010, Lilia Shirman (@B2BGuru) wrote the post To reach the moon, match enthusiasm with (sales) resources. These 5 really help! on her blog revenueorchard.com:
“[…] Setting big goals at a sales kickoff and barraging reps with information about the newest products just isn’t enough. The top reps will deliver the numbers in any case. The rest will struggle without extensive resources and support.
Sales reps report that the following are especially effective in helping them achieve their targets:
- Case studies, case studies, case studies. Repeatedly and consistently rated as the most useful sales tool. […]
- In-account deal support from subject-matter, industry, or technology specialists. This is especially critical in larger companies, where account managers must be relationship experts, but cannot possibly know the details of every product, business process, or industry (unless they are vertically-aligned). The very fact of bringing in an expert who is perceived as more senior by the customer is often enough to move a deal forward.
- Business-level messaging and sales tools targeted at the high-level decision makers and budget holders. These should complement detailed product-focused content, which is necessary but insufficient bu itself. Business messaging targets the audience evaluating the investment rather than the people evaluating your product.
- Training & tools that enable sales reps to ask great questions and have intelligent conversations with customers at multiple organizational levels and functional roles. Asking great questions accomplishes three critical things: Positions the sales person as an ally and advisor, demonstrates that they can listen, and provides valuable information about the customers that can guide the rep in structuring the deal.
- Quantitative results achieved for other customers. While compliments (customer testimonials that discuss how easy you are to work with) are good, hard numbers about specific improvements they achieved are always more powerful. Numbers in the elevator pitch get attention and meetings, and numbers in the business case help close the deal.
The two links above have been added by the author of this blog. In relation to point #4 above: In a Sales Enablement solution with rating, commenting, uploading of user generated content and similar web 2.0 (enterprise 2.0) features all employees not only sales reps can ask and answer questions. At the same time, marketing can benefit from the feedback from the field. This created a closed-loop knowledge management in the enterprise where new industry trends or customer needs which sales people hear about get shared and addressed. Through content audits (content intelligence) areas for which no marketing assets have been developed yet get a red flag and so do areas where content is outdated.