Do you want your sales people to spend their time customizing slide decks?

Many Sales Enablement startups are citing Forrester’s Scott Santucci’s ‘Uncovering The Hidden Costs Of Sales Support’ from April 13, 2009 to make a business case for their services:

“Technology vendors are spending, on average, 19% of their selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) costs or $135,262 per quota-carrying salesperson in support-related activities. Few are aware of this enormous amount because the costs are hidden — tucked away in many different budgets dispersed throughout the organization. Corralling these random acts of sales support presents a golden opportunity. By creating a strategic sales enablement program, marketers can drive significant cost savings in the short term, while improving their companies’ competitiveness to thrive in the new growth cycle.”

On July 7, 2009 Michael Gerard (VP, Research for IDC’s Executive Advisory Group) posted on his blog:

“[…] IDC research shows that over 40% of all marketing assets handed over to sales are not in use today (IDC’s Best Practices in Sales Enablement – Content and Marketing (to be published end of July)). This includes assets that have been developed for sales, channels, prospects and current customers. IDC estimates that at least 30% of companies’ marketing investment, including program and people spend, is dedicated to creating content and marketing assets. Clearly, marketers can leverage cost reduction opportunities if they take the time to improve their content management process and technologies.

– “Our content is all over the place…a more formalized content portal is being created to get our sales team the most relevant materials when they need them.”
– “…marketing is funding an improved marketing asset management system and we are hoping to achieve 3% – 5% reduction/reallocation of spend on annual asset development and improved production efficiencies.” (improvements in production efficiency, reduced program time-to-market, and reduced re-work).

In the next several weeks, IDC will be publishing a sales enablement report highlighting best practices in marketing content management from a lifecycle management, technology, and measurement perspective. Detailed company case studies will be also be included. […]”

In 2004 it was IDC’s ‘The Cost of Information Tasks to the Enterprise’:

Whitepaper IDC Hidden Costs 0405


OK, we are in 2009 now and a lot of productivity enhancing apps are popping up on the iPhones, LinkedIns and CRM platforms of today. Information workers in marketing and sales departments have many tools available to them that will free up time when used wisely. When Google Wave becomes available in the fall, searching in conversations you had with your team or in the history of documents you collaborated on will become much more enjoyable. However, when it comes to gathering information for documents, creating images, creating documents/presentations, editing/reviewing, filing and organizing documents, we all still lose a lot of time that should be spent on bringing in additional revenue.

How often do you find yourself copying and pasting value propositions, customer references from different industries and product images from older documents into new versions that are targeted at a slightly different audience?

ABC: Always Be Customizing (Sales Decks, Value Props,…)

We need to be able to generate highly customized documents on the fly by selecting the offering, the audience, the industry vertical etc… and we do not want to spend time re-formatting anything. We just want to chose a template that is then applied to all the content.

document generation feature tour

document generation


 

Save yourself and your sales people a lot of time and nerves, better spent with the customer!

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

Knowledge Management Capabilities of CRM Systems

On June 22nd, 2009 Christian Maurer @camaurer wrote this post (Links added by the author of this blog):
Christian Maurer

What are the Knowledge Management Capabilities of CRM Systems: A reality check?

To understand whether the answer to this question is of relevance when looking for ways how to improve productivity of a sales force, let us ask

Why is Knowledge Management important in Selling?
There are many formulas telling what is needed for having success in sales. While these formulas vary slightly, knowledge seems to be an essential component in all of them.  So it seems useful to look into the question how well CRM systems support salespeople in holding the needed knowledge readily available. To answer this question, we need to look at different aspects of knowledge

The 3 C’s of Knowledge
For a successful sales campaign, adequate knowledge is needed about:
1.    The customer’s/prospect’s situation
2.    The competitive landscape
3.    The supplier’s capabilities

How do CRM Systems Support These Domains?
Using the above framework, we can make the following observations.

1. Customer Knowledge
One of the primary purposes of CRM systems is to provide data structures allowing tracking every relevant interaction between the companies customer facing people with the customers/prospects, they look after. Thus a body of situational knowledge is created. Consultation of this knowledge is then particularly valuable in the maintenance of a customer relationship.

This body of knowledge is however not sufficient when building or expanding a customer relationship. In this case, the following additional elements are needed:
•    Background information about the prospect
•    The current situation the prospect  is in
•    Trigger events causing sales people to want to build the relationship to eventually close a deal.

While CRM systems might provide a structure to capture this information for ready reference, the original source is outside of such systems. What is captured is the knowledge salespeople have gained through research activities such as: General searches on the internet, reading general printed press or specific trade journals and increasingly through the use of specialized systems made available in a Sales 2.0 context.  CRM systems support the research activity through specialized systems by providing embedded links to such system. The research can be conducted without leaving the CRM systems context. Some of those specialized systems can also automatically push information into CRM data structures.

2. Competitive Knowledge
For building and consultation of competitive knowledge, CRM systems are used pretty similar to what is described above for customer knowledge. In large companies, there might though also be dedicated people researching the competitive landscape and making it available for ready reference in CRM systems, together with the knowledge built up by sales people themselves from information learned through customer interactions.

3. Capabilities Knowledge
Was one to ask salespeople where they get the information about their companies and product and services capabilities so they know what to say in a particular sales situation, they hardly would answer, that the CRM system is the primary source. Most CRM systems do though hold some capabilities knowledge usually referred to as company literature. The original design idea for this was to enable sales people to easily and efficiently answer fulfill information requests from their customers. There are though two factors that limit the usefulness of such company literature repositories. First, the internet has caused the number of such direct information requests from customers to drop drastically. Second, it is a well known fact that salespeople consider such literature not to be of much use in their campaigns anyway and make thus little to no use of it.

Capabilities knowledge is probably mostly stored in Sales Portals. These portals are often built from a product marketing perspective.  Salespeople are thus left on their own to match the complexity of the customer requirements and the complexity of their companies capabilities to propose a valuable solution to the customer. Furthermore, customers today do not tolerate salespeople being simple conveyers of canned marketing prepared standard value propositions anymore. Salespeople are expected to be able to add value to the interaction. The messaging has to be adapted to the individual customer and to the current context of a sales campaign.

Conclusion
While CRM systems are configured to guide salespeople in what needs to be done in a sales campaign through the implementation of sales processes, they provide no support for the sales people of what is best said to the customer in a particular phase of the process. Sales portals are also no help for this as capabilities knowledge is stored under a different view point there. It becomes thus pretty obvious that sales enablement systems guiding salespeople in what needs to be said in a particular phase of the sales process and allowing furthermore the tailoring of the messaging to the specific customer context can significantly improve the productivity of salespeople, while maintaining image integrity required from a marketing perspective.

About the Author:
Christian Maurer, The Sales Executive Resource, is an independent sales effectiveness consultant, trainer and coach. He has a proven track record of helping leaders of large, global B2B sales organizations to increase their productivity.
http://www.linkedin.com/in/camaurerconsulting
http://ultimatesalesexecresource.blogspot.com/

 

Enterprise 2.0

2 in the cloud
I just discovered the blog sachachua.com where @sachac – Enterprise 2.0 consultant at IBM – has been blogging for many years.

On June 30, 2009, Sarah Lacy @sarahcuda wrote the following post on Techcrunch (I’m posting it here mainly because it led me to the Sales 2.0 case studies “Dell Makes $3 Million From Twitter-Related Sales” and “Comcast’s Twitter Guru Speaks”):

“I still think “Enterprise 2.0” is a meh business trend with a horrible name. It’s not that social media/collaboration tools don’t have a role in business, and I agree there are some situations where consumer tools aren’t the right fit. A great example is Twitter versus Yammer. (Oh, if you only saw the conversations that happen on TechCrunch’s Yammer feed…)

But I don’t see Enterprise 2.0 becoming a big area of corporate spending. The tools are too cheap and easy to replicate with tons of free alternatives, and many of the vendors are just not ready for prime time. One exception might be blogging software, but don’t most companies who want a corporate blog have one by now? Rather than the next Oracle (who by the way was one of the study’s underwriters) or even Salesforce.com emerging from this space, I’m betting that existing software-as-a-service companies incorporate the functionality themselves or you get a lot of built-in-house code.

There’s also the problem that nearly 20% of executives have no idea what “Enterprise 2.0″ is. That comes from a study [aiim.org/Research/Collaboration-Enterprise20-Research.aspx] that’s actually talking up the adoption of Enterprise 2.0. It points out that 40% didn’t know what it was at the beginning of the year, so at least that’s progress. What’s more it says that 50% of those surveyed consider enterprise 2.0 to be “very important” to their business success. (Of course, I think working out everyday is “very important” to my weight loss goals…doesn’t mean I actually do it.)

Still, given that number is so high, it stunned me that the study also said only 7% of people over the age of 45 think that Twitter is an important rapid-feedback tool for business. Sadly, it’s not much better among younger folks: Only 27% of those between the ages of 18-30 say Twitter is an important rapid-feedback tool for business. What? Really? You may think we obsess about Twitter too much on TechCrunch, but clearly most business folks aren’t getting the memo.

Let’s put aside for a moment that there are pretty well proven test cases on how Twitter utilization has helped companies like Dell and Comcast. Paying for outreach or collaboration tools without first checking out what a free, easy tool like Twitter could do is missing the entire point of the cheap flexibility and ubiquity of social media. Put another way (and to paraphrase James Carville): It’s a recession, stupid. Try the free tools first.”

Discuss Sarah Lacy’s blog post on Techcrunch.

Here are all my blog posts on Sales 2.0

Here are all my blog posts on Twitter

Buyers want the sales rep to provide information that is tailored to their unique needs

Jeff Ernest @jeffernst wrote “Sales 2.0 term still not used or recognized by sales leaders”, on May 19, 2009:

“[…] when a speaker asked a room full of sales and marketing folks “Who’s heard of the term Sales 2.0?” About 25% of the hands went up, almost entirely vendors. My take on the reason for this is that the definitions of Sales 2.0 that the vendors are bandying about are too focused on the usage of Web 2.0 tools by sales reps…namely social networks, blogs, wikis, etc. I’ve got a very different definition of Sales 2.0, and it starts with the buyer…

Because of all of the social media resources available to buyers today on the web, power has shifted from sellers to buyers. No one can deny that buyers today are much better educated about a seller’s offerings long before they talk with a sales rep.

Sales 2.0 is all about how the changing buying process requires changes in how companies sell. Buyers get frustrated if sales people are giving them the same general information they already have. They are demanding that sellers add much more value, by giving them information that’s tailored to their unique needs, at the exact time they need it.

Once we stop talking about Sales 2.0 as Web 2.0 tools for sales reps, and start recognizing it as a fundamentally different way to sell, it will become more relevant to and recognized by sales and marketing practitioners.

In a Sales 2.0 world, sales reps need to be better prepared than ever. What are you doing to prepare your reps?”

document generation

document generation feature tour

 

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

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

“Six issues that content and inbound marketing technology fails to address” from on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009:

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

Sales 2.0 Technology – Real Opportunity or Sales SOS? March 21, 2009 by Darren Cunningham, Director of Product Marketing at LucidEra [Links added by the author of this blog].

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

According to a recent IDC study (Don’t Understand Sales Enablement? You’re Not Alone!, 2009) 57% of customers feel that sales reps are not sufficiently prepared about the solution they offer, the country they are in and the industry the customer is working in. Therefore, by providing the seller with the latest and most specific content and experts within the organisation can help him prepare faster and better before his/her pitch.

Cross-Referencing the own offering portfolio (this product can be sold with this service, logistics say that this product is often shipped together with that product, etc) can enable upselling as well.”

important characteristics of how typical sales reps at large organizations roll

On February 25, 2009 Sameer (@sameerpatel) from pretzellogic.org wrote a great blog post with some important characteristics of how typical sales reps at large organizations roll:

  • “Media watching is not a sport for sales reps. Feed them the good stuff & they’ll consume it.
  • Data/Intelligence extraction over collaboration. “Give to Get” doesn’t fly with most sales reps.
  • Good reps know exactly which 8.75 data types help them bust quotas. No more, no less.
  • In spite of the above, don’t expect them to dig for it. They’d rather use the time to cold call a lead.
  • Sales often ignore a lot of what marketing might offer or recommend.
  • They don’t personalize portals & intranets.
  • They rather search than browse; they want answers, not search results. (ok, who doesn’t!)
  • CRM apps often morph into reporting mechanisms that sales reps are mandated to use.
  • Pre-sales engineers (in the case of High Tech) often do most of labor intensive tasks in the sales cycle (assembling proposal components, finding SMEs and references, etc).

[…]

Here’s the beginnings of a framework to identify what works for a sales organization at large organizations:

An information management architecture that can surface the good stuff as well as support a 90% consumption / 10% contribution model.

Traditional collaborative systems and social networks are built to enable…well, collaboration and being social. As a sales rep what I need is aggregation around news and information (person, customer, prospect, industry news) relevant to my customers that show up in SalesForce or HighRise. User and topical tags help me drill deeper and find authorities or stories on topics that can help me engage a new lead, up sell a customer, build a more compelling proposed solution, or deflect a customer satisfaction train wreck that’s about to hit. The kicker is that I shouldn’t need to browse too much or worse, contribute to be able to extract.

Augmenting or if necessary, even by-passing some of the traditional marketing qualification processes by providing a direct contextual lens into prospect and customer activity

New qualified opportunities are just as likely to show up on these social platforms as they are via traditional marketing programs such as events, email and webinars. Based on accounts I manage or territorial prospects, as stated by my CRM system, dynamically assemble a direct, real-time view into customer and lead activity. Examples are customer activity on support and developer forums, prospects commenting about specific products on blogs, or lead activity on LinkedIn, Techmeme and Satisfaction that might help me spark a conversation.
Federated, persistent search that folds social discovery into SFA/CRM processes and technologies, thereby enrichening the data available at each step of the sales cycle
For instance, say I’m in the proposal creation phase of the sales cycle: Let me look up preset searches and tags on specific content sources (e.g. specific wiki spaces where SMEs hang out, highly rated solution white papers, links to relevant online demos that everyone’s raving about) so I’m putting my best foot forward.

A push architecture so the critical intelligence can find the sales rep (not the other way around)

I’m not going to keep revisiting content sources (blogs, wikis, forums) to see if there’s anything new that I might care about. Make it easy for me to filter and subscribe to specific events on blogs, support and community forums, wikis etc., (e.g. a new white paper emerges or my customer comments on a blog) via Email, RSS, SMS, IM. Let the information find me.

The ability to broadcast a question and receive an answer

Sales reps want answers. Search functionality provides results; people, however, provide answers. The ability to ask questions to groups of relevant people and quickly crowd source the best solution or identify experts that can credibly address a solution is imperative. This needs to be both open ended as well as around an existing topic (a bookmark, link, comment, video, etc.)
There’s certainly other technologies or components to consider when trying to conceptualize how Sales can benefit from an Enterprise 2.0 enabled world. For instance, ESME is designed to let globally disparate users easily huddle around tasks at hand and the recently announced lifestreaming capabilites from Yammer is trying to bring Friendfeed-like capabilites to the enterprise. […]”

 

immersive Internet experience

In my blog post How can Sales 2.0 webinars, presentations and virtual conferences evolve beyond the 1.0 style? I pointed to web.alive as an immersive Internet experience, that with its 3D voice (spatial audio) allows for collaboration in virtual worlds right within your browser. All you need is to install a browser plug-in (just like you need a browser plug-in to see Adobe PDFs) and then it works best with a stereo-headset.

An example for one out of the three main markets web.alive targets is assisted eCommerce or lets call it social shopping.

web.alive is also targeting the education vertical for eLearning / distance education and the third target market is of course online collaboration.

BusinessWeek on web.alive from May 19, 2009:

“[…] Lenovo has more ambitious plans. The company’s eLounge site — available on the Web to any PC user—will let customers talk to Lenovo sales reps, and voices will get louder as avatars get nearer to other residents of the site. “It allows us to create a cocktail party effect” in which people can listen in on several conversations at once, says Nic Sauriol, leader of Nortel’s Web.Alive unit. Open Universities Australia of Melbourne plans to use the Nortel software to let prospective students chat with instructors and each other. […]”

[Disclosure: Until October 1, 2009, I used to work for the company behind web.alive]

Tune up your marketing strategy for the C-Suite

Mark S. Bonchek (@mbonchek) from engagingexecutives.com wrote the blog post ‘Marketing To The C-Suite’ on May 1, 2009:

“In this economy, access to the C-Suite has become more important than ever. Budget decisions that a were made by a Director or VP a year ago are now getting made by the C-Suite.

A couple ideas on how to tune up your marketing strategy for the C-Suite.

Test your value propositions and messaging with an executive audience. Sit down with your own CIO, CFO, COO, or CEO and ask them how they would respond to what you are bringing to market. If you have an executive advisory council, now is the time to be using them. If not, find your executive advocates and ask them (you know who they are: the customers you can talk to without feeling like you owe them a favor).

Double your focus on sales enablement. Your sales teams need all the help they can get these days. Chances are they aren’t accustomed to selling to the C-Suite, so they need to know how to talk less about product and more about value. They also need conversation starters, either interesting data about trends in the industry or stories about how other customers are weathering the storm. Remind them that the ABC’s of selling (Always Be Closing) don’t work in the executive suite. Instead, it’s Always Be Creating (Value). […]”

 

Finding Sales Enablement information – Why content management systems are silos

finding sales enablement information

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

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

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

Definition of Sales Enablement and Conversation Enablement

Definition of Sales Enablement

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

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

John Neeson also has an excellent definition:

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

Definition of Conversation Enablement

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

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

Conversation Enablement – Presentations are about delivery. Conversations are about discovery.

Mark S. Bonchek took the time to answer some questions I had asked as comments on his blog post “Can We Talk?”.

Here are his answers as published in his blog post “Conversation Enablement” from February 3, 2009:

“Commenting on my earlier post “Can We Talk”, Paul agreed that “conversation enablement is the way to go” and asked some great questions.  They were so good that I’m going to use them as the structure for this post.  Hopefully they will spark further comments … and perhaps a conversation.”

Who is a thought leader in that space?

“I actually haven’t seen many thought leaders on real conversation enablement in sales situations.  There are a number of thought leaders on conversational marketing, but they don’t really address what happens one-on-one with a buyer, nor how to enable conversations that a buyer has internally with stakeholders.  Some of the sales training companies like The Complex Sale or Executive Conversation cover the conversational dimension of selling, but they tend to focus on sales skills, not what needs to happen to enable the conversation. […]”

Where can I find an approach for Conversation Enablement that works?

“Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a systematic approach yet for conversation enablement.  Or at least I haven’t found one.  I think one of our companies, Truman Company, knows as much about it as anyone, but it isn’t yet systematized.  Perhaps we should start a stub on Wikipedia?”

Are we talking wikinomics and opening up of enterprise social networks to our customers to get the voice of the customer in our organization?

“I think this could be considered in a broader definition of conversation enablement.  In some sense, even the scripts used in call centers could be considered conversation enablement — whatever helps employees hold productive conversations with customers and buyers.”

Or are we talking about our internal sales enablement application having more web2.0 components and providing the sales force with more food for thought for better conversations?

“This is where my interest has been:  in B2B settings, enabling better conversations among sales people about how to sell, enabling conversation among customers, and enabling better conversations by sales people with customers.”

Should the conversation with the customer happen online more often and face to face less often to leverage the collective conversation skills of more of my employees?

“It depends on the level of the customer in their organization.  As you move up into the managerial and executive ranks, you need to have a much greater focus on face-to-face.”

Or are we looking for more dynamic client presentations that can be generated customized by audience, industry vertical, type of meeting, country, etc…?

“This is necessary but not sufficient.  And it leads to my main point.  A conversation is not a presentation, no matter how customized it might be.  A presentation can help to provide context and be a catalyst for a conversation.  But it is not a conversation.  In a presentation, you know where you are going.  In a conversation, you don’t.  Presentations are about delivery. Conversations are about discovery.

We are having a conversation about conversation enablement because I don’t know the answers. If I did, I could just give a presentation.  But for now, we’ll need to discover the answer together in the context of a conversation.”