Sales Enablement software market to reach $3Bn USD in annual revenue in 2020

The “sales enablement market that’s projected to be worth $2.6 billion by 2024, according to Markets and Markets.”

From my own research, the Sales Enablement software market reached $3Bn USD in annual revenue in 2020 already. The following is how I see the main players & their market share (based on crunchbase.com data which is often wrong or outdated)

The first 16 are not in order of revenue:

sales_enablement_saas_software_market_size_11-MAR-2021

I track the number of LinkedIn users with Sales Enablement in their current job title. 5-Feb-2020, LinkedIn had 10,540 users like that globally.

The use of the term Sales Enablement in job titles on LinkedIn obviously includes many employees of Sales Enablement SaaS software vendors, but nevertheless it more than tripled since August 2015 when I started tracking it. [My blog turned 12 years old in 2021.]

I keep a work in progress list of vendors / services / solutions for…

  • Sales Enablement Platforms (SEP) / Software as a Service (SaaS)
  • Marketing resource management (MRM)
  • B2B Marketing/Brand Digital Asset Management (DAM)
  • B2B Sales Knowledge Management (KM)
  • Sales asset management (SAM)
  • B2B Sales Content Management Systems (CMS)
  • Digital Content Management for Sales (DCMS)
  • Sales Engagement Platforms
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS) for sales

…with a focus on improving the intranet & mobile experience of B2B enterprises for all staff / partners who touch accounts.

My count is over 186 vendors:


Paul Krajewski LinkedIn
twitter @SalesEnablement
German citizen. Permanent Resident in Canada & Australia. Spent 2007-’09 at Nortel Networks in Toronto in Global Marketing looking after the implementation of the BizSphere Sales Enablement application for Nortel Networks’ 4000 sales people world-wide. After working as Head of Training & Senior Sales Enablement Consultant at BizSphere, Sr. Product Manager at Pivotal Labs from Jan-’15 to Jul-’19.

Indian Sales Enablement vendors and Market players based in India or doing development there

Starting this list based on India consistently being in the top 3 countries in terms of visitors to this blog.

Below my list of Indian Sales Enablement software vendors/apps/tools & Sales Enablement solutions, B2B marketing content management, B2B sales knowledge management, Digital Content Management for B2B sales (DCMS), Sales Asset Management (SAM), etc… based in India or with development mostly in India; as of 29-Mar-2021.

act-on Software act-on.com @actonsoftware Act-On’s Adaptive Marketing Platform is your command center to get the right messages, to the right people, at the right time. Emphasizes the importance of not only providing a sales team with the right content & tools & aligning those assets with the buying cycle, but aligning the right tools with the right sales person. $70.5M in estimated revenue annually & competes with Hatchbuck, Percolate, & V Locators. Portland, OR / Scottsdale, AZ, USA & Reading, UK & India

BirdzAI p360.com @P360_Solutions Optiks Solutions, Inc D\B\A P360 Solutions. Sales solution: 360 degree full-lifecycle suite for sales performance, from data management & lead resolution to data compliance. Updated the sales enablement platform, BirdzAI, with artificial intelligence that provides insights for sales forecasting, churn prediction, brand propensity analysis, next best action recommendations, & more. By adding artificial intelligence capabilities it helps life sciences companies eliminate the guesswork often associated with sales operations. Piscataway Township, New Jersey, USA. Cockburn Central WA, Australia. Eksar, Borivali, Maharashtra, India

Bsharp bsharpcorp.com @bsharpcorp Mobile sales enablement tools accelerate sales through continuous training, effective sales conversations & more productive sales reps: Inform, train, assess, equip, hear from & motivate the sales team. Mobile platform & services methodology to help you build a formidable team. Continuously train thousands of sales personnel across geos; Keep them informed of important decisions at the corporate office; Send product collateral, brochures, videos for customer use; Get info like sales, inventory, merchandising, customer meetings for analytics daily. Marlborough, MA, US & Bangalore, India

ContentRaven (See Raven360 below)

ContexTip contextip.com @contextip the right insights at the right time with the right context. In large globally spread sales teams, where many divisions often sell into the same accounts, the potential to cross-sell often goes unrealized because information is trapped in silos. ContexTip digs through all data in Salesforce & recommends the best sales executives across divisions to reach out for help with a deal. A recommendation engine gives a ring-side view of your account & helps your team with timely, relevant & optimal date to help the deal move further & faster to closure. Have the power of critical information at your finger tips just when you need it. By Lister technologies, India.

DocShare docshare.io @docshareio Track document opening & performance with easy to share weblinks. Document tracking app by SalesHandy.com @saleshandy (send, track, control, engage & present sales collateral with actionable document analytics. CENTRALIZED SALES COLLATERAL: Manage all your sales documents at one place. Organize your files by teams, company or private.) India

Draup Platform draup.com/sales/ @draup_sales Machine Learning startup incubated at @Zinnov zinnov.com Powering Sales Enablement: Empowers sales teams with comprehensive account & stakeholder intelligence to enable micro-targeting. Analyzing millions of data points to help sales teams understand finer details about their prospects, such as buying preferences, technology choices, outsourcing deals, buying centers, strategic & investment priorities etc., while also obtaining a deep understanding of the key decision makers among your prospects. Equip you with sales intelligence & help you answer pressing sales questions such as “leads to prioritize”, “Right stakeholders to target”, & “How to approach the targeted opportunity”. Cloud hosted web application with data rich insights & visualizations to help you know the most important information about your prospects. US-India-China-Singapore. Santa Clara, CA, US; India

DronaHQ dronahq.com/sales-enablement-platform/ @dronahq Legal name: Deltecs Infotech Pvt Ltd No code app development platform for building mobile & web business apps. Cloud-based no-code app development platform for building business apps & automating business operations for SMB, Enterprises, Business Units & IT Depts. Developer productivity gains, speed of delivery, while ensuring rich end-user experience. Digitize everyday sales activities along with sales support apps to help train sales team on processes, product knowledge, pricing competitive positioning or more. Enable instant reporting & automation of approvals with workflows to keep the back office connected with the sales force for faster detection & decision making. Maintain a central database of all complex sales processes, numbers & learning with real-time access to inventory status, pending requests, orders & more. India

Enablix enablix.com @enablix sales enablement platform for marketing. Know when buyers engage with your shared content: Share content with your buyers & learn when they engage with your content. Provide your buyers with a value-driven content experience. Fast access to the right content can increase a rep’s efficiency many folds. Reps can find the right content, in less time, focusing on the more important task of selling. Present in USA, Canada, & India. Virginia, USA

Infinite Possibilities in-pl.com Instructor-led & Digital Sales Enablement Platform. Our mission is to help Sales Teams be more productive through Enablement & Sales tools. The platform will enable sales people to learn world class sales skills & provide tangible metrics to measure sales effectiveness. Developed by SIB Infotech. Kondivita, Andheri East, Mumbai, Maharashtra

Journey Sales journeysales.com @JourneySales smart rooms digitally engage customers with sales teams across the customer lifecycle, allowing them to easily collaborate – all in Salesforce.com. B2B sales solution designed for you & your customer. Smart Rooms are private digital collaboration spaces where a sales team & a customer team can work together, engage key decision-makers, invite colleagues, quickly reach consensus etc. Say goodbye to repeat conversations, endless emailing & unproductive phone calls & say hello to everyone on the same page. Once had $5.8M in revenue annually. Competes with Abtech Holdings. Most recent tweets, blog posts & news from 2017/2018! Philadelphia, PA, USA & Chandigarh, Chandigarh, India

KnoBis knobis.co @knobis_kb KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PLATFORM: Somewhere along the way, Knowledge Base got really hard to use. Simple, intuitive & requires no training. By Bellurbis Technologies Pvt. Ltd., India

Raven360 ContentRaven raven360.com @Raven360_ sales enablement platform that allows companies to train, onboard, & coach their team into shortening their sales cycle & closing more deals. They focus on Sales & Partner enablement specifically, video-based coaching & learning. Content Raven (Enterprise Content Enablement Platform) has 25+ enterprise customers & 300k+ users. ENABLE YOUR SALES TEAM: Onboarding, Training, Coaching, & Confidence to Close More Deals. Provide the right training, content & messaging for complex product sales in one easy experience for reps. Also marketed as “Sales readiness platform that delivers up-to-date & consistent sales content, training & coaching.” $5M in revenue annually & competes with Syncplicity, OpenDrive, & SugarSync. Framingham, MA, US & R&D in Chennai, India

Mutual Mobile mutualmobile.com @mutualmobile Create rich user experiences that re-invent how businesses engage the world through mobile. Custom software solutions. Increase the demonstrable value of mobile. Austin, TX & Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Nowigence nowigence.com @Nowigence AI Platform Delivering The Personalized Sales Intelligence You Need To Close Deals Faster. “Work Even While You Sleep – Be Prepared”. Automatically extracts & synthesizes sales intelligence. Pluaris™, Solomon™, & Artemis™ from Nowigence. For sales: Achieve Sales Quotas, Identify New Sales Opportunities, Get Live AI Generated Briefings, Reduce Employee Turnover, Know Current Industry Dynamics. Top-Down Transparency, Expert Knowledge Sharing, View Entire Data Landscape, Institutional Memory Hub, Reduce Onboarding Time. Charlotte, NC 28202; Albany, NY 12207; Noida 201301, U.P. India

Persistent Systems persistent.com @Persistentsys announced Apr 1, 2016 that it acquired Genwi genwi.com @Genwi put the power of information in the hands of sales teams. We make it easy for sales reps to find, share & track content interactions via mobile. crunchbase.com/organization/genwi Had $1.4M in revenue annually & used to compete with Highspot, Seismic, & Bigtincan. Had joined twitter May 2008. San Jose, CA. Persistent Systems is from Pune, India

Playbook AI playbook.ai @playbookai guides sales professionals in B2B businesses to contact the right prospect, at the right time by using artificial intelligence. Accelerate Growth in SaaS – Using AI-first Account Based Sales Acceleration Platform: Playbook AI provides task-by-task prescriptions to inside sales teams, which increase effectiveness, efficiency & velocity of winning deals. Training Creator: Are you new recruits taking a long time to ramp up? Get them boiler room ready in a few days. Create micro training videos personalized to each task to teach new recruits how to interact with a prospect. AI-first omni-channel inside sales acceleration technology, which prescribes activities to B2B sales teams that increase conversion & velocity. Bengaluru, India

Regalix regalix.com @regalix nytro.ai Nytro Platform (Agency turning into product) solutions for Sales Enablement, Revenue Operations & thought leadership. Create, organize & measure interactive content so you can more effectively coach & train your sales teams to close deals quicker. The Nytro Trainer app includes remote coaching capabilities including: Role-based virtual onboarding (ability to onboard Screen Shot 2021-03-29 at 4.24.41 pmsales reps remotely & at scale, enabling them with the right sales readiness content so they can start selling to buyers across the various stages of the funnel), AI-Powered Training (Sales leaders can create customized quiz + assessment journeys, powered by artificial intelligence that recommends guided selling paths that prepare SDRs, BDRs, AEs & Field Reps with selling capabilities), Pitch Master (practice, perfect & record demos & pitches for quick evaluation, powered by AI, that provides insights into which reps are ready to sell & which require more practice to master the perfect pitch), Continuous-Coaching (create PinBoards which inform reps on the latest & greatest sales tips, plays, industry news & best practices, keeping them on top of their game to constantly improve their sales skills in an ever-changing market). Palo Alto, California, United States (Old branding was sharedemos.com) Many offices in India

Sales Bridge salesbridge.in Sales Acceleration through Sales Training: SalesBridge is your Unified Sales Training Platform to deliver all your sales training. Visual Training & Sales Acceleration Platform. Using video, search & social training technologies we make training personal, collaborative & effective. It is multilingual in architecture & built for linking related ideas & information components to a central core concept, product, skills or process. India

Salespatron salespatron.com @salespatron distribute any sales content to your sales reps with a single click/tap & ensure only the latest content gets used. With advanced analytics, find out how your content gets used in the field & align sales & marketing goals. Find out how your content gets used & create better content. Have a structured analytical way to know which pieces of sales content gets used more often than others & by whom. Use these insights to create even better content next time to improve rep productivity. Increase ROI on marketing content by helping reps close more deals. Reps gets insights on how clients are engaging with their emailed sales content with analytics (when was content opened, which pages were read & for how long). Follow-up smarter & close more deals. Have all content available neatly organized & updated any time on any device, even offline. New Delhi, India

SmartWinnr smartwinnr.com @smartwinnr Gamified platform to improve sales & training through better retention. Compliance onboarding, Sales Development, Sales Knowledge, Learning. Sales Acceleration Platform: Drive knowledge through AI-driven quizzes & feeds. Enhance performance by data-driven coaching. Boost performance by gamifying Sales KPIs. San Francisco, CA / Walnut, California & Gachibowli, Hyderabad, India

Stratbeans stratbeans.com @Stratbeans Stratbeans Consulting Pvt. Ltd. provider of AI-based online learning solutions. Advanced sales enablement tool for the BFSI sector (Banking, financial services & insurance) consisting of technologies like virtual sales training, gamified onboarding activities, & coaching templates. The tool is tailored to specific business needs that connects sales & marketing, simplifies the content library, & offers powerful sales metrics. Helps companies boost the performance of their sales & marketing teams which not only results in a higher conversion rate but also leads to enhanced customer experience & engagement. Organize & track content. Sales readiness function: Equips teams with the right training & coaching for their needs as well as a tool to continually drive more revenue. Break the boundary between coaches & experts on one hand & the sales executives on the other. India, USA, Dubai

streamz streamz.ai @Streamzai AI-based mobile sales readiness platform that empowers companies to build & maintain a highly prepared, engaged, & differentiated sales team. Enable, train & empower your sales talent everywhere. Get your team sales ready- Faster & Easier. Accelerate your business with our world-class mobile-driven sales enablement & readiness platform. Leverage our AI-enabled continuous measurement technology. Set yourself apart from your competition now. GROW YOUR SALES REVENUE WITH PROVEN DATA DRIVEN AI-ENABLED APPROACHES. Track, measure & improve sales knowledge & skills continuously with mobile-first sales enablement technology. Correlate with various sales metrics, & address key learning gaps. Create effective sales readiness programs that can drive improvements individually & at enterprise level. Achieve your sales goals through smarter actions. TeamStreamz Pte Ltd. Singapore, India

Tesseract Learning tesseractlearning.com @TesseractLearn Digital learning company helping global organizations equip their learners to perform better & be future-ready. E-Learning: deliver effective/efficient training. A training platform that you & your employees will love. Create faster & better with KREDO. Templates anybody can create training content in KREDO. Create engage bite-sized learning content, gamified content & video based content & more. Tesseract Learning Pvt. Ltd. Bangalore, Karnataka; Bengaluru, India

UpsideLMS upsidelms.com @Upside_LMS provider of an AI-powered Learning Management System & Off-the-shelf Online Content Library (Plethora). AI powered LMS, mobile-ready, SaaS Learning Management System for eLearning, Classroom Training, Virtual Training, Gamification, Social Learning & Mobile Learning. Pune, India

Wittyparrot wittyparrot.com Instantly access & reuse relevant information on any device to save time. Share best practices across teams to improve performance & consistency. Align sales & marketing messaging, maintain freshness of content, track usage. Cloud-based content delivery platform that helps companies to speak with one voice™. Bay Area / San Francisco, US & Bangalore, India

Vymo getvymo.com @getvymo personal assistant app that automates sales force activities, driving sales effectiveness. By capturing rich, contextual data, it generates actionable insights that help managers make need-based interventions to close more deals. Personal sales assistant; captures activities, automatically & predicts next best actions. Vymo, an India-based developer of software for sales automation & field force productivity, raised $18 million in Series B funding. Investors include Emergence Capital & Sequoia India. Vymo’s entry into the US market comes at a key moment for the banking and insurance industries. According to the 2019 Accenture Global Financial Services Consumer Study, banking and insurance customers want greater personalization services along with more efficient ways of integrating digital channels with physical customer interactions. Enables high-value interactions with prospects & customers through data & intelligence, thus also leading to an increase in customer trust & share of wallet. New York, NY, USA & India

Xoxoday xoxoday.com @thexoxoday all-in-one tool to connect, align, motivate & engage your employees, channel partners, sales & consumers. Improve business efficiency, productivity, performance & optimize costs in employees, sales, channel & consumer engagement. Digital rewards & software to engage employees, channel partners, fleet-on-street, & consumers. Business software products to solve problems around employee rewards & recognition, channel sales incentives, & consumer promotions. Serves customers worldwide. Nreach Online Services Private Limited. Bangalore, India

Zoho zoho.com @Zoho suite of business, collaboration, & productivity applications. Over 30 online applications from CRM to mail, office suite, project management, invoicing, email marketing, social media management, & more. Sales & Marketing: Give your sales team the perfect set of apps to help close more business deals in less time. Email & Collaboration: Empower your workforce with apps to collaborate & transform the way they work. Custom Solutions: Simplify complex business processes with apps that will make your team’s work easier. Founded Sep 15, 1996. Founder Sridhar Vembu. Zoho Corporation Pvt. Ltd.; $310 million (estimated revenue). Development headquarters in Chennai, India. HQ Pleasanton, California, US

Competing with email

ice

Follow-up to my post What is the Sales Enablement market size and how hot is it? that has my constantly updated public table/sheet of all vendors I’m aware of & definitions of Sales Enablement I subscribe to:

Out of 4 vendors Scott Santucci talked about in CRM magazine’s article ‘Sales Enablement Tools’ in 2010, …

“[…] Santucci says each of the relevant vendors — including BizSphere, iCentera, Kadient, & Savo Group — cater to slightly different problems. […]”

…only one still operates under the same name in 2015.

Besides the ever increasing number of new market entrants, what Sales Enablement vendors are really competing with and will be for the foreseeable future is email!

A recent whitepaper with data from an August 2015 survey by Highspot and Heinz Marketing says

“More than 70% of respondents rely on email to distribute content to their sales organization.”

It might seem logical to expect the importance of email to decline as baby boomers are retiring and millennials advance in the workforce.

However, the October 2015 IBV Millennial Survey ‘How Millennials are reshaping B2B marketing‘ by the IBM Institute for Business Value suggests a distinct preference for email amongst millennials. [This was for engaging with b2b vendors after the sales cycle has started, but in terms of the type of activity and state of mind it could be compared to receiving content from your own marketing / sales enablement organization.]

Source: IBV Millennial survey. ©2015 IBM Corporation
Source: IBV Millennial survey. ©2015 IBM Corporation

 

For sales enablement teams that means that for their most important task – as per the whitepaper with data from an August 2015 survey by Highspot and Heinz Marketing – “Making sure sales team can find content” they have to focus on ways to make that happen via email or deeply integrated with email.
whitepaper

Source: whitepaper with data from an August 2015 survey by Highspot & Heinz Marketing

Developing and rolling out apps for b2b sales people

FatStax Mobile Apps just published a document with 8 steps on implementing iPads for your sales force. Of those 8 steps I would like to share steps 3-6 below. You can download the full document here or follow their blog, where they discuss each step in more detailed blog posts. For me many of their recommendations make sense even for app developers who target enterprises or corporate employees who need to plan the rollout of a particular app on a number of different devices. I have added http://fatstax.com to my work in progress list of all Sales Enablement vendors.

“[…]

Step 3: Legacy systems—know the users and the owners.

Build a cross-functional team.

Think about existing software systems and business processes that will integrate with the iPad. The owners of those systems—on the technical, operational and business sides of the organization—should get involved early in the process. Build a cross-functional team that connects internal stakeholders with external consultants and developers.

Integrate successfully.

Get key people in IT, marketing, sales and other relevant areas involved early by creating a cross-functional team. It will show others that the idea has broad-based support. Finding allies now and keeping them throughout the iPad rollout will make it easier to navigate company policies, and it may inspire a broader mobile strategy for the organization. Involving stakeholders certainly will help with the development process and ensure a more relevant outcome.

The added expense of integration should come with higher returns, including better workflow efficiencies, more satisfied sales teams and the slick look and feel of a made-to-order solution.

Step 4: Set a realistic budget.

Engaging other departments may reveal additional ways to use iPads for sales, which also may reveal additional expenses. Use the input of others to create a realistic budget. Remember to look beyond the cost of purchasing an iPad for each person. In addition to purchasing the hardware, common iPad-related expenses that may get overlooked, include:

iPad cases Sales people need an easy-to-hold case that keeps the screen clean.
Data plans Talk to current and competing data plan providers.
Support What can the company absorb and what needs to be outsourced? What support can vendors provide?
Provisioning Make the internal app accessible from the iTunes library or an enterprise-based “store.”
Programmers Internal or external, programmers are expensive. Use them to custom-design apps or assist with integration.
Security Invest in encryption and wipe functionality for when an iPad is lost.
Distribution Account for the cost of shipping “loaded” iPads to team members.
VPN Check to see if VPN access apps are included in current services.
Integrators Decide if CRM and ERP integration is required for success.
Apps Plan a budget that encompasses business and pleasure.
Pilot program Identify a subset of the budget for a one- or two-phase pilot program.

Step 5: Find or make apps that work for sales.

Unless a company has the desire and budget to build its own mobile development and support team, the fastest, easiest and least expensive way to keep pace with changing hardware and software is to rely on external developers. Developers that specialize in designing all-inclusive apps for enterprises live and breathe everything related to the iPad. These specialized vendors have worked with other enterprises, giving them a great deal of exposure to user experience preferences. They may have additional advice and ideas on the best way to securely deploy iPads, as well as their product, their product to enterprise sales teams.

Whether working with internal developers or outside consultants, make sure the people designing or customizing apps for the sales team understand what sales people need. Their understanding can make all the difference in the ultimate sales force adoption of an app. For example, does the team understand the following?

  • What do sales people in their company do on a daily basis?
  • How do they interact with customers?
  • What does the sales process look like?
  • How can sales be improved and enhanced with new tools?

Learn, adapt and deploy.

No developer team will code the perfect app the first time. An app’s success will grow over time based on user experiences from the field. The iPad is so flexible that apps can, and should, evolve with feedback. Use caution when an over-zealous IT department or developers tell the sales team what it needs or how an app “should” work. For example, sales people may discover that “standard-sized” app buttons don’t work well during customer encounters. If they need big buttons, give them big buttons!

Step 6: Test assumptions in a pilot.

A great way to test assumptions, uncover missing budget items, and reveal enterprise software integration needs is to conduct an iPad pilot. Phase 1 of a pilot might include a small group of enthusiastic users. Consider tapping people who already own the iPad for personal use or who have been especially vocal about adding them to the sales team’s tool box.

Define pilot goals.

Clearly define goals for the pilot participants, and consider how much time it will take them to provide pilot feedback. If necessary, compensate participants for lost opportunities so they can attend weekly meetings or log experiences. Let participants discover what they need to make the iPad an effective part of the sales process and daily workflow.

Don’t pilot more than four apps at a time.

Sales people have the job of closing sales, so don’t plan for users to test more than three to four apps in a pilot. Starting simple with a mix of everyday apps and one custom app is much more manageable.

 Sales people often look for app-based solutions to help:

  • Manage e-mail
  • Connect to the VPN
  • Organize and access literature
  • Navigate product catalogs
  • Participate in training
  • Update CRM systems
  • Log expenses
  • Track compensation

[…]”

You can download the full document here or follow their blog, where they discuss each step in more detailed blog posts.

Comment on the Sales Enablement market

Michael Fox of the former TribalKnowledge.tv / ThoughtActionGroup commented the following on my work-in-progress list of players in the Sales Enablement market, which I updated:

“I believe I commented on this some months ago, but the situation appears to be getting worse. The term “sales enablement” appears to have been largely hijacked by a variety of vendors, selling hardware, software, and services, as a means of jumping on the latest, sales-associated, money-making bandwagon.

Savo continues to attempt some level of balance with “professional services” and much to say about their version of sales enablement, but it all still comes across as product marketing and PR. BizSphere takes a more credible, solution-approach. […]”

 

Yesterday, BizSphere uploaded new slides to slideshare. Note the second one, which as a comparison is a view on the ecosystem too:

BizSphere: Sales Enablement comparison

View more presentations from BizSphere

Here is my recent blog post on the user interface of the BizSphere Sales Enablement solution suite.

You can find them on CrunchbaseHere is the list of all other vendors I know of.

Keep up with customer pain points

offering portfolio as a taxonomy
My blog post Define a taxonomy of customer-pain-points and map your products & solutions against them got a response that asked for a taxonomy that works as a standard across all industries containing all possible pain-points that customers could have.

Here is my answer:

Each business or organization has to get to know their respective customers or audiences very deeply in order to list all possible issues that trouble them or could trouble them. This list has to be written from the point of view (!) of the customers or audiences and with their choice of words (!).

Then this list can be structured as a taxonomy and the vocabulary can be used to articulate all unique value propositions (USP) that the business or organization has to bring to the table.

Once the taxonomy exists, all unique value propositions, marketing content, sales content, human resources information about subject matter experts’ contact details / learning and development content / training content, and other content can be mapped against the taxonomy. This will reveal gaps and outdated versions.

The suggested approach to articulate a THE one taxonomy as the overall standard across all industries on the planet sounds very ambitious. I’m with Jorn Barger and Daniell Koller who write on quora that

“You can’t build a universal ontology using natural language. Its words are too vague.” […] “You can’t build an universal ontology, but I would like to add that – for most of the use cases I have seen until now – THE one correct & complete ontology is not needed. […] To my understanding it is much more important to be able to work on your own ontology subset and to link it with somehow more general documented wisdom. […] My experience from this kind of standardization projects is that you might be able to manage the technical side of it, but the organizational and managerial aspect get very complicated once you target a singel taxonomy […]”

As stated above, I think each business or organization has to go through the process of crafting this taxonomy for themselves and keeping it fresh (in times of mergers and acquisitions etc). The very process of crafting it in the voice of the customer or audience, will help the content and the conversations, the employees have, to resonate better with the customers/audiences. The customers need to be surprised by the extend to which the sellers speak their language and know about their pain before they actually expressed it.

When I worked at Nortel, we had the role of an information architect for Nortel. This role was in charge of keeping the taxonomy (of all products, services, and solutions) fresh and ideally making each taxon on the higher level sound like a need in the voice of the customer.

semantic web or web 3.0 and sales enablement

I agree that there is value in seeking standards and one common ontology, especially when we really reach the times of the semantic web / web 3.0.

Then applications need to know which taxon is a treatment/intervention/mitigation for which other taxon etc…

The company BizSphere (which introduced the role of the information architect at Nortel and provided a semantic solution including software to edit the taxonomy) also developed the approach shown in this screen shot.

Full disclosure: I used to work with BizSphere. Here is a list of all other vendors I know of.

Solution for Sales on 7 key requirements for Sales Enablement platforms

The dimensions of Sales Enablement

Usually, I use the blue graphic by BizSphere AG to explain why the context, in which the content and contacts from marketing/sales/HR/training and other departments “live”, is multidimensional.

Solution for Sales at solutionforsales.com created a great graphic (see below) that drives home the same point along with an article laying out ‘7 key requirements for Sales Enablement platforms’:

“The Sales Enablement Platform, sometimes called the sales knowledge management system, is taking its place alongside the CRM system as one of the must-have platforms of an advanced sales organisation. Any company planning to implement a Sales Enablement platform will have a long list of requirements, but the true significance of some factors is not always clear ahead of implementation. This article draws on experience of implementing and using Sales Enablement platforms to highlight 7 key requirements and explain their significance. It focuses on the needs of larger, more complex companies – the ones that have most to gain from a Sales Enablement platform.”

Sales Enablement platforms

The 7 key requirements are:

1. One source

2. No double-posting

3. Dedicated cross-company system

4. Structured information space

5. Integrated community content

6. The means to attract attention

7. Effective inventory management

Case Study of BizSphere Sales Enablement at Nortel Networks

matrixed organization

Thanks to twitter I was just reminded of a great case study Jeanne Hellman wrote about the implementation of the BizSphere Sales Enablement Solution Suite at Nortel Networks in 2006 and the following years.

It was published in 2010 by salesandmarketing.com

“Jeanne Hellman is a published subject matter expert on Sales Enablement strategies. […] she has focused on the implementation and adoption of a Sales Enablement strategy in a global $11.2bn telecom equipment and professional services company. […]”

For a complete copy of the implementation Case Study and her other articles and presentation slides, contact her through LinkedIn.

Before

Nortel…

“[…] decided to implement a Sales Enablement strategy mid-2006 as part of a larger business transformation initiative to reduce SG&A […] and to address long-standing complaints from the salesforce. 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 6000 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, CRM, and tracking tools. In addition, there was no federated search (no common search platform).

[…] 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.

After

[…] the Sales Enablement efforts contributed to the reduction of the SG&A. Looking back to the 13 Top Initiatives from the CSO Insights’ Survey, we decreased the SG&A by approximately $22m dollars just by “improving rep access to knowledge to sell effectively” and “more closely aligning sales and marketing.” These were measurable, impactful savings from improving the productivity of the selling resources and support staff and eliminating waste (unnecessary tasks and content duplication). […] It’s ultimately up to your salesforce to find relevant content, digest it, interpret it, fill in any missing gaps, and then adapt it to match their customer needs. While the topic of the actual content is a different discussion that needs to take place, Sales Enablement can successfully help your teams convert your messaging from company spiel to customer value and deliver it more intuitively and efficiently.”

Here is a list of all other vendors I know of.

Where does Sales Enablement live within an organization?

An updated version of the following post can be found here, (February 5, 2017)

On September 7, 2010, Eric Nitschke (Launch International) asked the following questions on the LinkedIn Group Sales Enablement Content. Please see my response below:

“Sales Enablement: Where does it live?
Several clients have asked us for best practices in sales enablement – specifically who owns it?

I’d support our marketing colleagues who are trying to align selling messages with product positioning and messaging documents. Others on the training side would say that their training materials are the baseline for sales enablement. Finally, the “sales enablement automation” crowd would claim ownership of the process and fulfillment of sales enablement materials on their web-based or internally-hosted portals.

So I ask YOU – learned Sales Enablement Content Group members: Where does Sales Enablement live?”

Coming from the point of view of someone providing web-based or internally-hosted portals for Sales Enablement, I would not claim ownership. All stakeholders like product marketing, training, CI/MI, the teams for pricing and ROI / business case calculations, the customer reference database, corporate branding, MarComs, etc… should be invited… invited to house their content and – just as important – their contact details in that one joint portal.

A portal… not for the sake of the technology or to have yet another portal… but… a portal to let all these stakeholders see which of their content works and which doesn’t (also which content is missing and which gets insightful comments as a feedback loop from the field or the channel back to corporate).

When there is this one interface that cuts across all team sites and the silos the many regional or functional groups might have built with SharePoint or LiveLink or any of these solutions, your sales people and channel partners can – for the first time – see what is available for the given sales situation they are in. None of the stakeholders “owns” this more than the others and the portal just helps to filter by sales step, region, industry vertical, content type, etc… to make visible whether the sale is being enabled or specific content and contacts are missing.

matrixed organization

The single biggest complaint about Sales Enablement, I hear from sales people is missing content… content that is more specific than the generic pitch. A portal, that comes along with all stakeholders agreeing on content governance, a life-cycle duration for the content and responsibilities to respond to feedback & requests, will first of all make these gaps painfully visible and then guide the content planning to invest marketing’s dollars as effective as possible.

To come back to your question, in some organizations it might be the CMO and in others the sales leader or portfolio manager – who is the executive sponsor, who aligns all the stakeholders to feed the new portal and shut down the old ones.

define a taxonomy of customer pain points and map your products and solutions against them

One of my posts on the question “where Sales Enablement lives within an organization” got a comment requesting further clarification of the following graphic:

The comment was asking where to find sales people in the graphic and what the role of sales playbooks is. I have to admit that it is difficult to read, but the sales people are actually represented within the green area as indicated by the words Sales Force. (This is not a reference to salesforceDOTcom.)

This speaks to the point that sales people and the legacy sales portals, that are supposed to enable them, sit in between a highly matrixed organization on the one side and just as complex an organization on the client’s side. These legacy sales portals are one-dimensional (they fail to show content & contact details of subject experts in the context of the highly matrixed organization and in context to which pain point on the client side is addressed) and there are often several portals as there are so many silos of information.

Each sales playbook is a great tool for a small subset of the sales force (as shown in the graphic), but comes out of one of the silos, fed by only some of the Product/Portfolio Marketing teams or one regional team. When all content (e.g. customer references from different regions or specific value propositions per industry vertical…) lives in a multi-dimensional business context like it is made possible in BizSphere (which is a Sales Enablement Solution Suite that was designed to cut across all silos. Full disclosure: I work with them.), a completely customized sales playbook for any given sales situation can be auto-generated.

In contrast to legacy sales portals, BizSphere takes at least three dimensions into account. These could be:

  • Where is the seller going to a meeting? (Sales regions, countries…)
  • What does the seller want to sell (Portfolio of products, services and solutions.)
  • What does the seller need in order to be successful in the meeting? (Content types like white paper, case study, ROI-Calculator, contact details of a subject matter expert, etc…)

You might also want to define a taxonomy of customer pain points and map your products against them or add other dimensions that your company thinks in. BizSphere then lets you filter down by media type, language of the content, and/or the sales step you are in with the opportunity you are working.

The dimensions of Sales Enablement

  • Imagine the 1st orange arrow in the graphic above to be a customer reference from a Canadian client for a specific security solution.
  • Imagine the 2nd orange arrow to be the contact details of the sales engineer in South Africa who is the expert for a given service.
  • The 3rd orange arrow could be an ROI-calculator for the same service but it is really specific to the mining industry and therefore relevant in Western Australia.
Can you already see how here the regional teams can have as much of say in “which content is relevant for specific sales situations?” as the product marketing team?

Can you get lost in BizSphere? No way, because nothing is easier than answering: What do I want to sell, where do I want to sell it and what would help me to close the deal? Once you set your context in these three dimensions you will have filtered down from thousands of marketing assets / pieces of collateral to only the relevant ones.