Intranets embrace Mobile Usability and Social Networking

In the following text you can interchange the word Intranet with the term Sales Enablement as many of the leading Sales Enablement vendors are not only embracing but actually pushing Mobile Usability and Social Networking. ‘Top Intranets Embrace Mobile Accessibility and Social Networking’ written by Alex Williams for readwriteweb.com on January 4, 2010:

“Intranets are becoming a higher priority for organizations. Intranet teams are growing in size, and the best of them are embracing new trends such as mobile accessibility [usability] and social networking.

These are some of the findings from Jakob Nielsen’s annual report on the top intranets for 2010. Companies that made the list this year include General Electric, Trend Micro Devices and Walmart.

Nielsen is recognized as one of the world’s foremost usability experts. His findings appear solid, though it is apparent that Intranet development is just on the verge of becoming a central communication environment for enterprise collaboration.

This year, Nielsen says, top companies on the list had a median size of about 6,300 employees, which continues a year-to-year trend toward smaller businesses. He attributes it to the increase in availability of small-company-friendly intranet technology.

In addition, intranet teams are growing, up to 14 people, 27% higher than the average team size in 2006. This is not a big surprise. The need to develop the best possible internal communications environments now cuts across multiple platforms, ranging from the web to mobile devices. More resources are required to keep these platforms synced and accessible to the employees in the organization.

Mobile Intranet Sites

The best intranets had a separate mobile site for their employees. Of the companies polled, only 30% actually had a dedicated mobile site. Expect this to change in the year ahead. People are still getting to know how to use smart phones. It’s still rare for companies to launch application environments for users, but at least one company did: an iPhone web app. Soon, though, users will expect to have access “anytime, anywhere,” to their organization’s network.

Social Features

The social Web is finding its way into intranets. Nielsen cites two trends:

  • social features for employees as individuals
  • workgroup support and other features that encourage work-related connections

He cites Walmart for its discussion and profile pages and Trend Micro’s TrendSpace, which includes the capability for employees to create their own content. Trend Micro goes as far as offering an elaborate system of reward points that accrue to employees when they contribute to the intranet’s community features.

It’s noteworthy that social features are still just emerging in intranet environments, especially with the advent of enterprise collaboration services. Companies still have the chance to be recognized as innovators in this space, especially if they implement real-time update capabilities and mashup environments.

Intranet Design is Maturing

Overall, Nielsen comes to the conclusion that intranet design is maturing. In many respects, the Intranet has come of age.

In the year ahead, intranets will change even more. Mobile usability and social networking features will continue to evolve, especially as teams begin to experiment with the wide variety of enterprise collaboration services now available.”

Chris Johnson left the following comment:

“Also interestingly 1/2 of the winning intranets run on SharePoint. Only more SharePoint goodness to come with the 2010 release too.”

This is when you know you need Sales Enablement

Sales and Marketing Management Magazine published Jeanne Hellman‘s article ‘A Sales Optimization Strategy’, on November 16, 2009. Here the part that takes a historic look at the company [Nortel Networks] where Jeanne and later myself drove the adoption of the BizSphere Sales Enablement solution:

A Case Study

A global telecom company decided to implement a Sales Enablement strategy mid-2006 as part of a larger business transformation initiative to reduce SG&A (selling, general, and administrative expenses of an operating budget) and to address long-standing complaints from the sales force. It was a heavily matrixed, global organization with approximately 450 products, 30 solutions, and more than 90 different professional services, and every seller was expected to sell “everything on the truck.” Information was spread around 20-plus team sites and the corporate-sanctioned sales portal, which hosted more than 6,000 documents distributed among 185 different document types, not to mention the separate competitive and business intelligence sites; installed base sites; and the mix of ordering, pricing, proposal generation, customer relationship management (CRM), and tracking tools. In addition, there was no federated search (no common search platform).

As you can imagine, it took sellers hours to look for basic information (validating numerous studies from several industry analysts). Seller confidence in marketing was low and complaints were high, as was attested to by the yearly seller satisfaction surveys (or dissatisfaction surveys) that had been conducted.”

Be sure to see the post ‘Case Study of one of the biggest Sales Enablement application implementations’ as it gives you the detailed document on the case above.

Case Study of one of the biggest Sales Enablement application implementations

In September 2009 my former colleague Jeanne Hellman wrote the case study ‘Sales Enablement Implementation & Case Study: Achieving Your Sales Knowledge Advantage’. Here the table of contents:

Part 1: Arm your sales force with access to information

Connect the dots between marketing and sales

Optimize your sales force

Part 2: How to gain a “Knowledge Advantage”

Access to knowledge is key to success

The state of knowing

Your typical company-centric approach

Garbage in – garbage out!

Turning company spiel to customer value

Part 3: Setting the Stage for Change

Company snapshot: the summer of ‘06

At no time were we trying to get 100% adoption

Know your sellers

The revolving door

Phases and Work Streams

Part 4: Improving the bottom line

Reduced SG&A by $22M

Specific results: efficiency, time and waste reduction

Part 5: Lessons learned

Buy versus rent

Advice from the front lines

  1. Do your due diligence
  2. Build relationships
  3. Focus on the delivery of content
  4. Establish accountability for usage – it works!
  5. Ensure content availability and value
  6. Single source data
  7. Auto-generate key customer collateral
  8. Grow a thick skin
  9. Choose Wisely
  10. Adoption, Adoption, Adoption

Food for thought

Once sellers see the value, they will use it

‘The cost of running a sales enablement solution: Is there a need for editorial staff to help create and edit content?’ is my own blog post about topics like Single Sourcing and Auto-Generation of marketing assets / content Jeanne talks about in her case study.

AMD blogs on Sales Enablement

David Kenyon, VP of WW Channel Marketing for AMD says “making channel & sales enablement a critical priority” & “just combined three disparate groups into one enablement team that is metric- and objective-driven, tasked with improving the content and training experience for […] sales teams and channel customers.”

At http://blogs.amd.com/channel/ David posted ‘Sales Enablement: Finding what you are looking for in sales and marketing content’:

[…] “Have you ever looked for something you knew that you needed, but couldn’t find it?” Of course we all have those experiences – some more than others, depending on your organization skills. What about when that happens to you electronically? What about those times when you are looking for content, training materials, or have a question that you know is answered in some obscure presentation that you’ve stored somewhere, but you just can’t find it?

In the channel partner community, I imagine that this happens even more often.  Today’s channel partners participate in multiple vendor programs, are barraged by content everyday from over-eager marketing product managers, and likely have terabytes of storage taken up with stale presentations that are never opened once they hit the spinning platters. Sales enablement of channel partners through well-placed and designed content, training and knowledge management, is not just a critical competitive advantage for manufacturers, it’s an experience as rare as a hole-in-one in my lackluster golf game.

How do you make it easy for partners to get information, training, and answers without them having to call tons of 800 numbers or salespeople, or search Web sites for what  seems like hours? It is a question that perplexes most companies, and I believe few actually address. At a recent channel conference I attended, a speaker asked the audience of 300 or so channels executives: “Who believes your intranet or company site is easier to navigate and find things than the global Internet?” Only two people raised their hands. The speaker then made the point that companies devote teams of IT individuals and professionals to design these properties to no productive avail, it seems.

The question then becomes:  how can a company enable its sales team via private portals and electronic communications to provide the easiest possible experience for its partners and customers? It’s a question we are facing at AMD alongside the other hundreds companies represented at that channel conference, and thousands of others around the world. In fact, we are making channel and sales enablement a critical priority.

We have just combined three disparate groups into one enablement team that is metric- and objective-driven, tasked with improving the content and training experience for our sales teams and channel customers. As we transition into a single, integrated sales enablement team, our online resources are front and center in our line of sight. Looking at successful models across industries, a few key attributes stand out: global integration; one interface to partners for all types of interaction; simplified and consistent timing and communications.  And, most importantly: simplify, simplify, simplify web interfaces to external audiences.

In short, it’s time to get serious about improving sales and channel enablement.  At AMD, we want to make this not just a good experience, but also an advantage to doing business with us.  We’d love your feedback as we work through the plans over the upcoming weeks and months. Just like you, we don’t have the time or the patience to spend hours looking for things that should take us seconds to find and activate. Who does? […]”

Information Architecture?

In a Sales 2.0 world there is no doubt about the need for Sales Enablement applications to be social / web 2.0.

As indicated in the graphic below, I would hope that even Customer Service taps into and participates in the harnessed collective intelligence of Sales and Marketing by using the Sales Enablement application.

sales enablement app

Graphic from Dion Hinchcliffe but altered with regards to ‘Sales Enablement Application’ instead of ‘online community’.



For such a Sales Enablement application to play together with the rest of the intranet / Enterprise 2.0 and the customer facing website, information architectures need to be aligned.

Information architecture?

Information architecture is the organization of sites, the content management system(s), metadata, ontologies, taxonomies, etc … This has actually been the biggest problem for users of intranets as the following data shows (not too fresh anymore but I think it holds true still):

Pain points of Intranets

– 42% Problems with the information architecture
– 38% Search functionality is missing or unsatisfying
– 28% Information is missing or outdated
– 19% Graphical User Interface (GUI) is cluttered/crowded
– 11% Performance problems
– 9% Too little relevance to day-to-day job

Source: Translated from STIMMT Intranet Report 2003 topics.stimmt.ch/intranet/

cube


On May 15, 2009, @scottsantucci noted:


“Had a briefing from BizSphere. Very interesting thinking, particularly about the need for an information architecture.”


The need for an information architecture that cross-references content and contacts based on taxonomies (for example the taxonomy of sales regions) to establish context for sales people becomes clear when looking at old-fashioned sales portals like the ones many businesses expect their sales people to navigate still:

offerings


In case you are in Marketing / Sales Enablement at a business that sells to businesses all over the world, would it look anywhere close to the image above when all products and services, that your company needs to enable sales people and channel partners for, were shown in a taxonomy/hierarchy?

Do you have traditional intranet pages for each country or sales region that you have sales people or channel partners in?

If so, then you have thousands of silos to maintain and your users have hundreds of mouse clicks stealing their time! (Also see “Important characteristics of how typical sales reps at large organizations roll”.)

Or with the words of Bruce A. Brien from his blog post ‘Marketing Alignment is critical to Sales Enablement’ from July 16, 2009:

“It is one thing to create a massive library of assets with a navigation structure that only a marketing guru could navigate, it is quite another to enable your sales organization by delivering just the right assets at the right time in the buying process, related to the right industry and business issues being addressed. That’s right, your sales teams will not be able to nor will they want to navigate some intranet or “knowledge garden” as it was called at one company at which I worked. If this is what you have done, your assets will get stale and sales will claim that they can’t find anything they need. Marketing is not supporting them. Don’t waste money creating the asset if you can’t deliver it when and where it is needed.”

Displaying your content and the feedback from your sales people and channel partners in…

  1. a context (an information architecture)
  2. in Rich Internet Applications using web 2.0 technologies

… makes the scary amount of traditional intranet pages from the image above a thing of the past. These web 1.0 sales portals have to become tools that help sales people excel at selling. From my point of view they need to offer a highly customized experience for each user based on…

– what we know about their job,
– what we know about their language and location,
– what we know about their last visits to the tool,
– what they want and don’t want to see (they might have taken the time to adjust some settings),
– what marketing or corporate want them to see (news alert/announcement, promotion/campaign, etc…)
– what their peers have rated, tagged, contributed…
– and what they are allowed to see (channel partners aren’t allowed to see everything etc…).


BizSphere Sales Web is one Sales Enablement application that…

  1. starts with establishing a context as mentioned above
  2. and then encourages to break up all content into small nuggets,
  3. which get tagged according to the parts of the context they are applicable to.
  4. Finally, for sales people this allows to simply auto-generate a polished client-facing presentation or document that includes all the right nuggets (e.g. customer references from the right country and industry vertical etc…).

 

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/

 

How do your sales people and channel partners navigate your product and services information?

Are you in Marketing/Sales Enablement at a business that sells to businesses all over the world? Do you have traditional intranet pages for each country or sales region you have sales people or channel partners in? Then you have thousands if silos to maintain and your users have hundreds of mouse clicks stealing their time!

offerings


  • Are you in Marketing/Sales Enablement at a business that sells to businesses all over the world?
  • Would it look anywhere close to the image above when all products and services, that your company needs to enable sales people and channel partners for, were shown in a taxonomy/hierarchy?
  • Do you have traditional intranet pages for each country or sales region that you have sales people or channel partners in?

If so, then you have thousands of silos to maintain and your users have hundreds of mouse clicks stealing their time! (Also see “Important characteristics of how typical sales reps at large organizations roll”.)cube


On May 15, 2009, @scottsantucci (Forrester Analyst covering Sales Enablement) tweeted:


“Had a briefing from BizSphere. Very interesting thinking, particularly about the need for an information architecture.”


Displaying your Sales Enablement resources and the feedback from your sales people and channel partners in…

  1. a context (an information architecture)
  2. in Rich Internet Applications using web2.0 technologies

… makes the scary amount of traditional intranet pages from the image above a thing of the past.

BizSphere Sales Web does exactly this. The result can look like the images below and requires an amazingly low number of mouse clicks to navigate.

sales web_mdt

BizSphere Sales Web

Without sales enablement, there are inefficient processes, communication flows, and more required rework

Brian Lambert posted “Sales 2.0 impact on Sales Process, Sales Enablement, Sales Development”

From July 15, 2008:

“[…] As more knowledge is provided to buyers through the Internet, opinion sites, and more research oriented sites, the power-shift from the seller to the buyer will certainly continue as international competition increases creating new and emerging markets for many industries.

The changing landscape of the sales environment is not only found in the buyer-seller relationship, it’s also found within the sales team. Turnover continues to be high and the talent shortage continues to create challenges for even the best and most-reputable sales teams. Sales managers sit at a critical junction point between sales execution and sales strategy — yet many are not provided resources, tools, and (perhaps most importantly) the time necessary to ratchet performance over the long term. To compound the issues, the system’s approach required to address unique customer challenges, respond to the competitive landscape, and create an agile, responsive sales organization involves more people than just the sales manager and sales team. It requires the alignment of sales development and training efforts as well as Sales Enablement and operational execution. […]

Sales Process Execution (SPE) requires the complete alignment of company resources to facilitate a responsive and agile customer relationship.  Without sales process execution, there are no sales. SPE is enabled by Sales 2.0 largely through CRM, SFA, Knowledge Management Tools, and customer-driven communications such as knowledge bases and wikis. […]

Sales Enablement improves sales capacity of the firm overall. Without sales enablement, there are inefficient processes, communication flows, and more required rework. While Sales Process Execution is mostly focused on the external relationships and buyer-seller interface, Sales Enablement (SE) is mostly concerned with the internal efficiency of the company.  SE initiatives are most impacting when optimizing existing work flow, processes, and administrative tasks.  The goal of SE therefore becomes is to “substitute” as much of the sales team member’s work as possible. By providing adequate task substitution as a primary goal of Sales Enablement,  sales teams are more free to spend time with customers. Sales Enablement in Sales 2.0 is largely the world of large-scale CRM tools, company intranet tools, and peer-to-peer sharing tools. There is more room for Sales 2.0 to support the internal working of the organization especially on critical inter-departmental communication and alignment. […]

Sales 2.0 tools can help organizations synchronize to individual buying organizations while freeing up sales team members from routine administrative tasks. […]”