Lauren Carlson, CRM Analyst, Software Advice, blogged on December 14, 2011. Her premise is that 15 years ago, Sales force automation (SFA) systems hit the market and had a bad rep among sales teams. Fast-forward to now and most sales organizations are singing the praises of SFA. So, what changed? Her article highlights the four innovations that she thinks transformed SFA into a sales rep’s best friend and the tide is still turning. We didn’t even hit on social media / web 2.0 she points out. For me the impact of the web 3.0 and its semantic approaches to search, summarizing and customizing content, and combining data from different silos will also be interesting to see especially in the part of SFA that is called Sales Enablement. See her full blog post here.
BidManagementTools.org posted ‘One Company’s Approach to Marketing Intelligence’, on March 26, 2010:
Market Intelligence Is More Accessible Than Ever
Thanks to improvements in technology and to the social Web, even bootstrap/small companies can cost-effectively access and process market information.
Examples of relatively, inexpensive easy-to-use sources of market information include highly-specialized blogs, search engine analytics, off-the-shelf customer relationship management (CRM) and sales enablement systems, and hybrid solutions that integrate basic functions from several of these technologies to help businesses determine what’s working and then replicate success.
Larger, better-capitalized companies have even more options. They can purchase better systems, and they can afford the human resources to make better use of the systems already in place.
But Resources Are Tighter
Still, everyone is trying to do more with less. Which means that companies that formerly invested in market intelligence as well as strategic and tactical marketing are now figuring out where to make cuts. If the want ads are any indication, many smaller companies are beefing up marketing communications at the expense of strategy and market intelligence.
On the other hand, some of the larger companies are taking the opposite approach. One sales executive told me recently: “A few years ago, we had lots of opportunities and pursued those that were easy to close. Now that everyone has to justify every penny they spend, we really have to understand and communicate our unique value to even get in the door.”
Consequently, his company has stepped up its market research and invested in honing its value propositions in each of its major market segments. […]”
See below BizSphere’s view on the information architecture for Sales Enablement where Market Intelligence (MI) and Competitive Intelligence (CI) have their place as well as value propositions for each industry vertical etc…:
On January 8, 2010, Ken Knickerbocker wrote ‘Can sales give as good as it gets?’:
“When Joe Galvin of Sirius Decisions wrote “sales enablement is about knowledge transfer” last month, he spoke about how Salespeople need to access and acquire constantly changing information from a variety of internal sources to maintain their state of knowledge readiness and be able transfer that knowledge to their customers.
Joe is right of course, but he only has half of the picture. He should have also included the two-way exchange of knowledge that must exist if a sales and marketing organization is to flourish.
Not only must knowledge in the form of content, insight and data flow to the sales person, but insight, understanding and even raw data must flow back to other sales ecosystem stakeholders supporting the sales as well.
For instance, lead gen groups need up-to-the-minute and accurate knowledge of lead status and campaign effectiveness passed to them to make adjustments in the current campaigns or plan their next initiative or event.
Product marketing teams need to know how their product is fairing and what sales material is driving sales conversations forward.
Finance and legal teams need knowledge of the terms and conditions agreed to and the customers performance against those targets the prior year as they consider pricing on new projects and opportunities with the same client.
The sales operations group needs a damn near perfect knowledge of where each opportunity sits in the pipeline, how likely, for how much and when the deal is to close to generate a forecast executives can take to the street.
Professional services leaders need to see what service level agreements are being extended to ensure the appropriate resources are trained and available when the value promised must be delivered.
C-level executives need knowledge about the strength of the pipeline and current status of strategic opportunities and clients to determine where their time is best applied to drive forecasted results.
Enabling sales people is a first step, but in a world where everyone sells, sales enablement must take on more of a two-way, enterprise wide exchange of information and knowledge.”
I agree with the post above, but I’m wondering which feedback from Sales to Marketing is a task of Sales Enablement applications and which is a task of CRM systems? I can only speak to Sales Enablement applications:
Having a dash board overview of both your inventory of sales material and its usage lets you track whether a certain sales region or certain products/services/solutions have no material available or whether it is not being looked at.
You will see which type of material your sales people love (Ratings might not tell you a lot but usage data will). This ability is crucial in becoming better and better in focusing your marketing efforts on what will actually help sales to close deals. “IDC research shows that over 40% of all marketing assets handed over to sales are not in use today.” (IDC’s Best Practices in Sales Enablement – Content and Marketing, July 2009)
Why pay someone to create reports every week when you and everybody else, who is interested, could have the kind of dashboard BizSphere calls ‘Content Landscape’ as well as even more detailed usage metrics of the Sales Enablement application; all of it in real-time and sliced and diced as you wish. For presentations to executives, just create a deep link to how you sliced and diced the data and they will get to see the current – as opposed to last week’s – data.
BizSphere is the Sales Enablement application Jeanne Hellman looks at in her case study of “implementing Sales Enablement in a complex, global company”.
“[…] Having worked in Sales and having a CRM background, I know why user adoption [of CRM systems] is not higher. Sales people do not like to be tracked, measured or accounted for against anything other than quota. Think about it. What other organization is measured against a quota, that if not met, will likely result in job loss? Sales is already measured.
The sales enablement concept is very interesting because it gives sales a real reason to use a CRM system. If it does provide value, user adoption goes up, ROI goes up, and hopefully, sales go up. Then everyone will be happy. The average tenure of a Sales VP is currently 19 months. Can your organization survive with 19 months or less of sales data?”
“[…] Sales are one of the most accountable areas of the organization and often are under the constant microscope of senior leaders as they have a significant, immediate, and direct impact on the bottom line.
[…] as a salesperson our job is to; Sell. Yes you ask me to do all kinds of little side projects, write reports, and conduct market investigations gathering data to insure what marketing is telling the CEO is actually what’s going on out here in this mystical place called “our market.” However at the end of the day my compensation is specifically tied to: selling stuff. The more stuff I sell the more money I make. My job is to “make it happen” with whatever you folks at corporate throw over the wall.
I tried telling you the reason that last product launch failed was because you created a product because you could and not because you should…but you said I was just making excuses and I needed to “sell through objections…and hit my numbers”
My pay, my commission rice bowl if you will, is about selling as much as I can, as quick as I can, and building relationships that plant seeds for future sales. With the internet my customers are more knowledgeable than they have ever been before about our products and services, (they often know things about our company before I do these days and this really makes me look bad in my market) so my job is really to help buyers solve their problems with the stuff I sell, and help them buy from us. I don’t like to discount our product unless I have to because my commission is based on the selling price, and the more I discount the more units I will need to sell to hit my targeted compensation. […]
[…] About 70% of what marketing gives me I do not use. I know it will piss you off, but what I have been doing is writing my own stuff and using some of what Mike also created up in the North West region, you see it is old, but it works! […]”
Jeff Ernst adds ‘Sales reps will never use SFA [Sales Force Automation], so stop beating them over the head to use it’:
“[…] Every sales or marketing manager I talk to about Sales Force Automation (SFA) says that their company has to beat their sales reps over the head to get them to use it. Here’s how one of my clients describes their SFA experience:
“We spent almost half a million dollars to roll out our SFA system […] we wanted more visibility into our pipeline so we could get better sales forecasts. We tried everything to get the reps to enter data. First we offered incentives, but that didn’t work. Then we started sending emails to the sales managers when their reps hadn’t logged in. That didn’t work either. Now we’re threatening to withhold commission checks if they don’t update their deals. So the reps wait until the night before their sales manager is meeting with the VP, and then they throw in some data. We don’t have much confidence in the data, but at least we’re getting the salespeople to log in.” […]
You can’t blame the salespeople. They want to be out selling, but we’re asking them to be bookkeepers. As Joe Galvin from SiriusDecisions puts it, SFA really stands for Sales Force Accounting, since it provides management with visibility into sales but does little to help people sell. It’s no wonder it takes a stick to get them to use it.
What would your reps say if you asked:
Has the SFA system helped you be better prepared for the dialog you need to have on sales calls?
When was the last time you won a deal because of your SFA?
Do you get more value out of the SFA than you put in?
The last question is the kicker. The value meter is way out of whack. Reps are being asked to put a lot of data in, but they’re not getting an equal amount of value out. So they stick to using the tools they value…their Blackberries and iPhones.
While an SFA system has become an absolute necessity for the management of a sales team, it has been implemented as a tool of control rather than a tool of sales enablement. Traditional SFA systems are intended to collect data about sales activities for the benefit of managers, so they can get their pipeline and forecast reports, but are not built to give salespeople guidance on how to sell better.
If you want people to use your SFA and keep their opportunity records updated, give them a reason to go in. As you’re discovering the messages, tools, and conversations that are proving to work for your best reps, make sure these are delivered to your sales team through the SFA. Put your sales playbooks into the SFA. Turn your SFA into an SEA… Sales Enablement Automation. […]”
All blog posts cited above were published on August 6, 2009. Please visit the sources to read the full texts and to leave comments for the authors. Whilst you should check out all the comments below, I would like to highlight the one from Bryan Karp (@midnitecoder).
On June 22nd, 2009 Christian Maurer @camaurer wrote this post (Links added by the author of this blog):
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