Sales Enablement lessons on positioning & launching

Quite a number of Sales Enablement lessons in this talk by Kent Weathers on ‘How to launch a product’ in Sydney on 17-Sep-2019:

Frequent Launch Issues

  • Is the sales force ready to sell the product/service/solution?
  • Are sales and marketing (Sales Enablement) collateral complete? (Translated, adapted to different geographies where you intend to launch in terms of currencies/prices/availability/culture/etc?)
  • Did you do the positioning as per April Dunford below?
  • Do you have a one-pager/FAQ as per the photo below?
  • Is the sales training sufficient? (Did you get feedback on it, has it been translated, is it optimised for knowledge retention, recall, micro-learning etc?)

Summary of the talk by Evelyn Ong, Product Professional, Sydney:

  1. Launch goals/metrics = business case goals/metrics. (That way, sponsors/stakeholders are on the same page from the get-go about what success is.)
  2. Contrary to popular belief, the launch is not a one-time event. It’s a continuous part of strategy/strategic execution.
  3. Mitigate risks by checking off your plan against frequent launch failures (see photo above).

Why do new products fail?

“Why do some products fail? Unsurprisingly most often due to corner cutting at the early stages of product inception. Take the time to know your market and customers, and focus on solving a problem in a differentiated way.”
(Summary by Erin Howell, Product Manager at Cloud Conformity)

Kent writes: 40% of all product launches end in failure; but why?

“The Product Launch is the most visible activity in a product’s lifecycle, but, it is not a one-time event. It’s not about the public party when we are ready to make our product available in the market. It’s about the highest-value work we must do before the launch.”

Creating and sharing a ‘launch plan’ at the correct time is a key factor for a successful product launch/go-live!

April Dunford aprildunford.com @aprildunford is the Toronto based founder of Rocket Launch Marketing with a deep understanding of Marketing & Positioning. Her book, Obviously Awesome, shows you how to find your product’s “secret sauce”—& then sell that sauce to those who crave it. Having spent years as a startup executive (with 16 product launches under her belt) & a consultant (who’s worked on dozens more), she speaks with authority about breaking through the noise of a crowded market.

Positioning: A definition

(April Dunford aprildunford.com @aprildunford)

Components of positioning:

The positioning process:

inability to get sales and marketing teams aligned around the right processes and technologies costs upwards of 10 percent of revenue per year

On July 21, 2011, IDC hosted a webinar entitled “Setting Your Sales Enablement Strategy”. In the invite for the webinar IDC revealed a very interesting number that really helps to put the financial impact a proper Sales Enablement strategy can make into perspective:

“Is Sales Enablement a new concept? Certainly not. Marketing and some sales organizations have been attempting for decades to equip their direct and indirect sales channels with the right information, at the right time, in the right format, to assist in moving specific opportunities forward. However, companies’ inability to get their sales and marketing teams aligned around the right processes and technologies (or at least consistent ones) has cost them upwards of 10% or more of revenue per year; or $100 M for a $1B company. […]”

The following chart (source IDG Connect) was also shared during the webinar:

too_much_content_that_is_not_useful

The Importance of Content Marketing

The following is a guest post by Jared M. Wells from TSL Marketing:

“The fourth Quarter is an interesting time for B2B Sales and Marketing professionals, you’re focused on closing the year with strong numbers.  Being in sales, I’m guilty of thinking low hanging fruit is the most appetizing, at times.  However, I have to ask myself if I’m cutting myself short.

Image by TSL MarketingSales and Marketing teams work diligently throughout the year filling sales pipeline and often times lead generation efforts go to waste when the sales team is focused primarily on short sales. Buying intent is often underestimated with longer-term opportunities and leads are overlooked.

This is why it is important to enable your sales team with tele-prospecting support and lead nurturing tactics. This helps assure that you will get you more mileage out of your pipeline and leads will not slip through the cracks.

The Importance of Content Marketing

B2B marketers have gotten more sophisticated with technology and taken steps towards better alignment with sales in recent years; because of this many coin 2010 as “The Year of Content Marketing” Sirius Decisions released some excellent research in this area. Content generated will have the most impact if it’s targeted to the prospect’s position along the Buyer’s Journey:

by TSL Marketing

“Content is Key” but be warned – it’s not just about content…  A recent study by IDG Market Fusion determined that in only 42% of cases, prospects received relevant content; that means 58% of the time the WRONG content is being shared. Marketing Sherpa also discovered that irrelevant or off-target information reduces your chance to win the business by as much as 45%. Keep it relevant!

Leveraging your Inside Sales Team for Lead Progression

Longer-term deals require time and attention in order to realize their full potential.  Automated Lead Nurturing is great, however nothing beats an actual conversation!  Leveraging inside sales for lead qualification will help ensure proper lead nurturing, and most importantly, pipeline acceleration are taking place.

Inside Sales is best suited to enable the Sales Team by qualifying and helping to ensure proper content is being provided. This will enable the field sales team to do what they do best, focus on closing deals.  If history has shown us anything: That’s what they’ll do, regardless.

To learn more on the importance of lead progression, TSL Marketing recently released a free whitepaper, “The Payoffs of Lead Progression”. In this whitepaper you will learn how you can increase lead conversion rates by upwards of 44%.”

Chief Listening Officer – Chief Listener – CLO

One of my past job titles explained by Advertising Age:

‘Chief Listeners’ Use Technology to Track, Sort Company Mentions
Relatively New Role Is Becoming More Commonplace in Major Marketing Companies

by Irina Slutsky
Published: August 30, 2010

“[…] the CLO’s job is one of “broad listening” – as Dell has such a deep penetration globally in so many different markets.

“Our chief listener is critical to making sure the right people in the organization are aware of what the conversations on the web are saying about us, so that relevant people in the business can connect with customers,”

Unlike many social-media jobs, this position is very inward-facing. She’s listening to Dell customers and consumers and giving all the intel to her Dell colleagues internally.

[…] “Dell has been listening for four years and created a position called ‘Listening Czar’ two years ago.

[…] said their companies were driving innovation through customer feedback. […]”

Constant loop of quantitative and qualitative feedback in a Sales Enablement portal

My blog post ‘How the metrics of a Sales Enablement application help you to save sales people even more time’:

Today, I had a look at the usage metrics and statistics report gathered at a large enterprise that recently launched the BizSphere Sales Enablement application to replace more than 35 intranet portals. What I love about the report is that it not only tracks which content sales people view, download, rate (with up to 5 stars) or comment on (We actually also display all of the above in the front-end to show sales people where the good stuff is.), but it also tracks what they were not able to find. An anonymous list of all search queries that were punched in comes with the number of actual results that were displayed. That way the owners of the Sales Enablement application at our customers can take a look at all search queries that led to zero results and specifically address what must be a huge frustration for sales people who are trying to prepare a customer meeting.

Constant loop of quantitative and qualitative feedback lets you improve the experience

Knowing which way people search, what they are looking for, and to analyze whether the content does actually exist or still needs to be created is very insightful. Not only does it direct the content planning process (to invest marketing dollars only for content that will actually be used), but it also helps to focus on the important topics when optimizing your texts and their tags for indexing by the search. What I mean by this is that a search term that led to zero results can be added – visible or invisible – to the content that would had been the perfect match. An example from one of our early customers – Nortel – would be frequent searches for CS1k with the expectation to find content for the product CS1000. It is just fair enough that people search the way they speak and analyzing the metrics and statistics helps you to improve their search experience.

Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration

Besides the quantitative things to look at, you also have the qualitative feedback in form of comments under each piece of content. When people start to…

  • comment on a white paper why it did not resonate with customers in a specific industry vertical,
  • add competitive insight from the field on an internal presentation,
  • applaud or criticize the authors
  • and help each other with lots of comments etc…

…then each piece of content has its own blog.

A word, that is not an official term but keeps on showing up in these comments or in the log files mentioned above, can be added as an alias of a product/service/solution, region/country or resource/document type.

The real Enterprise 2.0 style collaboration starts to happen when your Sales Enablement application allows your employees or even your channel partners to share their own documents or links which they found helpful. When everything can be accessed from one place and is marked as ‘peer contribution’ or as ‘content approved by marketing’, then there might be a chance to ensure that everyone is always using the latest version and does not waste time emailing people for it.

The report – this ‘one place’ should show in real-time – tells you who contributed the content that gets a lot of love and the collaboration around it might reveal insights of the kind only employees touching the customer accounts gather and the marketing department usually finds out about late.

Enterprise 2.0 from a Sales Enablement point of view

Every now and then there is a discussion on the definition of Sales Enablement

Every now and then there is a discussion on the definition of Sales Enablement. I tried to capture some at about and here.

Craig Rosenberg (@funnelholic), author of the b2b sales and marketing blog funnelholic.com, started the discussion “How do you define Sales Enablement?”, on May 25, 2010:

A user called “ED” responded with the following interesting point amongst other points:

“[…] I don’t define it as sales enablement; rather I use “Sales Optimization”. I say as I had one rather perturbed head of global sales once say “My sales people don’t need enablement from marketing”. So I’m always careful as to how I position the effort. […]”

Ardath Albee from marketinginteractions.typepad.com wrote the following response:

“1. Sales enablement is the process for helping salespeople to have conversations with buyers that the buyers’ perceive as valuable because the interactions is focused on helping them to achieve a high-priority business objective.
2. Sales enablement puts the conversational tools, storyline and end-stage content at a salesperson’s fingertips to help them engage buyers by focusing on what their products enable buyers to achieve, rather than the feeds and speeds of the products themselves. I agree with ED’s idea above that every marketing program should have a sales chapter.
3. Sales enablement is jointly owned by marketing and sales. Unless both sides collaborate on what’s needed (content, conversational guides, personas, etc.), integrate it with top of the funnel programs and construct a seamless end-to-end process across the cycle, no one is enabled.
In fact, this process should actually be called “buyer enablement.” The focus needs to be on helping buyers buy, not selling them products/solutions. That’s what drives relevance. The kicker is that both marketing and sales have insights that must be merged to create the best overall process. Marketing and sales are not two separate functions – not for buyers.”

A user called “perramond” said the following amongst other things:

“[…] Customer 2.0 doesn’t need your data sheets, positioning docs, competitive matrix, etc. They can find all that stuff (as well as your competitors’) without your help. So when your sales people do engage, they had better come to the table with something relevant and timely, something that helps the customer move to the next step in diagnosing and addressing an important business problem (wherever they might be in their buying process, vs. where they fall in your sales process.) […]”

Tamara Schenk (@tamaraschenk) (Portfolio & Offering Management – Innovation Center; T-Systems International GmbH) wrote the following:

“Our sales enablement initiative is based on the broad Forrester definition. Important criteria from my viewpoint are: it is a cross-functional discipline, it is a strategic ongoing process and it has very ambitious objectives: to equip all people touching the accounts with the right information in a well-structured, reusable way at all stages of the customers problem solving process / the customers buying cycle. Most important in an approach like this:

Sales enablement will deliver measurable business outcome!
Who owns sales enablement: I’m always wondering when this question appears. Wouldn’t we overcome “functional silo thinking” with an integrated sales enablement approach? As I see sales enablement as a joined approach, there can be no dedicated owner. There will be major stakeholders and other stakeholders, and normally one business unit sitting in the driver seat. And that’s not necessarily sales or marketing – portfolio & offering management can also be in a leading role.”

Let me extend what Tamara Schenk said:

It’s a cross-functional discipline, it’s a strategic ongoing process and it has very ambitious objectives: to equip all people touching the accounts (more than just pre-sales and sales) with the right information (sales playbooks, campaign information, ROI calculators and alike, documents/links, contact details of subject matter experts, etc.) in a well-structured (what is applicable where, who authored what, what can be used for how long?), reusable way (output in different formats or even auto-generation of tailored content) across all silos in the enterprise and in the right language(!) at all stages of the customers problem solving process / the customers buying cycle.
Having been on the enterprise side and having seen how many marketing dollars go into content production and towards polishing the look&feel I want to highlight how important it is that the money is only spent on content that works (content planning, content intelligence like tracking usage and ratings/comments) and if possible can even be done in-house.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure

Craig Klein (@craigklein) wrote ‘8 Metrics You Must Know about Marketing, Leads and Sales’, on March 9, 2010:

“[…]

#1 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Total number of leads coming in.

Simple right? Well, it is but, it means you need to know about all of them. All the referrals your sales people get that they never mention to you. All the call-ins that come in but, never get called back by a sales rep, etc.

#2 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Where does each lead comes from?

How did they hear about you? What ad did they respond to? Where did you meet them? Who referred them to you?

Again, simple stuff but, the key is to be sure you get this information for each and every lead you talk to. If you get 100 leads a month and fail to collect this information for 5 of them, it could really throw off any analysis you do.

#3 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
How qualified is each lead?

This one is tougher. The reason is that you have to decide on objective criteria that makes a lead qualified. Do they have a need for what you sell? Do they have the money for it? The answers don’t necessarily need to mean that are absolutely going to buy from you. Just that there is a basic fit between their needs and situation and your company. They’re worth your time. Choose the 4 or 5 questions you have to ask every new lead and start capturing the answers for each and every lead. I know, you won’t be able to get all that information for all of them. That’s OK. If you don’t get it all, they’re not qualified.

#4 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
What’s the value of the sales opportunity?

Best case scenario, what can you sell them in the near term? What is this opportunity worth to your company? Pretty simple.

#5 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
What market segment do they fit in?

In every business, you have a few segments you have developed unique solutions for. It might be business vs. residential or small vs. large. You’ve got to know where they all fit.

#6 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Product you propose to them.

This could be a direct one to one relationship with the segment they fit in but, it’s usually not that simple. Some customers will request certain solutions even though it’s not what you’d recommend for them given the segment they’re in, etc. Again, you’ve got to track this for each lead.

#7 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Won or Lost

Did they buy or not? Simple right? What about if they just say “call me later”? (that’s a No if they don’t buy within a reasonable amount of time BTW)

#8 Metric You Must Know about Marketing and Sales
Did they give you a referral?

Why do you need to know this? Well, you need to know if they were asked for one thing. Also, this is a great measure of the satisfaction of that client. Let’s face it… You can value customers by how much they spend but, a customer that gives you referrals is much more valuable than one that spends the same and doesn’t give you any referrals.

[…]”

 

Product marketing teams need to know how their product is fairing and what sales material is driving sales conversations forward

feedback from sales

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 dashboard 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”.

Content Landscape

Way too much stuff and far too little information about that stuff – Context matters

On November 29, 2009, Seth Godin wrote about what we in Sales Enablement for b2b enterprises are focused on:
Context matters!

Getting meta

Wikipedia contains facts about facts. It’s a collection of facts from other places.

Facebook doesn’t have your friends. It has facts about your friends.

Google is at its best when it gives you links to links, not the information itself.

Over and over, the Internet is allowing new levels of abstraction. Information about information might be worth more than the information itself. Which posts should I read? Which elements of the project are at risk? Who is making the biggest difference to the organization?

Right now, there’s way too much stuff and far too little information about that stuff. Sounds like an opportunity.

I couldn’t agree more with Seth that this is an opportunity. Successfully using this opportunity will have to do with web 3.0 (semantic) approaches being applied to the stuff from web 1.0 and web 2.0 as well as understanding what information architecture is and how it can be set up for complex organizations.

For the approach to Sales Enablement I have been working with at a company with 4,000+ sales people you could say:
SharePoint (or similar) has your marketing assets for sales reps.

Sales Enablement – as the layer on top – has the facts about your marketing assets:

  • Which assets/links/comments should a sales rep read for a specific sales situation?
  • Who is the contributor of marketing assets or comments that really drive sales?

Sales vs Marketing – Whose job is it to generate leads?

‘Sales Vs. Marketing: Whose Job is it to Generate Leads?’ by Pete Caputa from November 4, 2009:

This article is an interview of Anthony Cole by HubSpot’s Peter Caputa. Tony is a sales development guru and the founder of Anthony Cole Training Group. Anthony Cole Training Group (a HubSpot customer) helps individuals and companies drive consistent and predictable sales growth. Tony’s blog is called the Sales Java blog.

In marketing, we call it “generating leads.” In sales, it’s usually called “prospecting.” Whose job is it anyways?

While salespeople have always been measured on their ability to generate leads, inside sales people are often measured only on their ability to turn a cold list into warmer leads for their outside reps. However, even outside sales people who do their own prospecting are measured on their ability to fill the top of their funnel based on what leads turn into sales at the bottom.

Great marketers generate demand for their sales teams. With online marketing, marketers are now being measured on their ability to do so. With measurement comes great responsibility.

As a marketer, are you up for the challenge? Is your sales team carrying their weight too?

To find out what it takes for a salesperson to be good at prospecting and generating leads, I turned to a sales training guru that I’ve been following for a few years, Anthony Cole:

Pete: How do you teach sales people to prospect?

Tony: Actually the real key is to hire people who can prospect (prospect qualification is a testable skill) and then help them improve their techniques. Prospecting effectively is a topic we help sales people with every day and maybe for the marketers out there, this may help you understand how to better support your sales teams. We coach salespeople that their attitude about prospecting will determine how successful their sales career will be. If they feel that prospecting is something they have to do, then they will view it as drudgery. They will resist it; they will find other things to do instead of prospecting. They will not improve their skills at it and  their performance and success in sales will suffer. They must embrace prospecting. They must understand that prospecting is the job. They get paid a lot of money because they are willing to do what others won’t – prospect.

Pete: Most people think that the best salespeople are the ones who are all about talking a lot and closing hard. In your experience, would you say that prospecting is the hardest thing for salespeople?

Tony: Those people in sales who are making the most money are not making the most because they are brighter or have better presentations, or because their product is better. They are making big money because they have figured out that the real job is getting in front of people or businesses that need, want and can pay for the product and services they provide.  The moment they realize that prospecting is THE job, they have taken their first step to the best year in sales they’ve ever had.

Pete: Have you found that there are certain salespeople that are better at prospecting than others? Why?

Tony: Yes, there are people who are better prospectors and here’s why.  They have less of a need for approval and can ask tough questions.  Also, they recover from rejection quickly so not much gets them down.  They need to have the attitude of prospects that ‘some will, some won’t, so what, next…’  Many salespeople have self-limiting beliefs that in turn limit their behavior. The first step to unlocking the locked mindset is to identify those beliefs. Here are some examples:

  • “I don’t like prospecting.”
  • “It’s hard to get past gatekeepers.”
  • “If a prospect asks me to send something, I usually send something.”
  • “I’m uncomfortable asking for referrals.”

Pete: How do you recommend salespeople get over these self-limiting beliefs?

Tony: Having the right attitude and beliefs about prospecting is the essential key that will unlock the skills they may have already, if they had just been able to overcome their own self-limiting beliefs. We tell them to take the limiting beliefs they’ve identified and turn them into positive affirmations. Below are a few examples:

  • “I don’t like prospecting.” –> “I love prospecting because it is the key to great prosperity.”
  • “It’s hard to get past gatekeepers.” –> “Getting past a gatekeeper is what I do best when I prospect.”
  • “People don’t like to give referrals.” –> “People are more than willing to introduce me to other people they know.”

Pete: That’s really interesting. Do you think marketers have self limiting beliefs about generating leads for their sales teams?

Well, I’m not the expert on that. But, I’ve listened to enough salespeople complain about their marketing teams to know that it’s probably a good idea for marketers to reflect on it.

[…]”