Legacy sales portals provide no feedback to ensure marketing produces valuable material. Sales is too busy to address the issue

feedback from sales

On February 7, 2010 navigateknowledge.blogspot.com posted ‘Sales Enablement – An Inverse Definition’:

“Instead of defining sales enablement, I prefer to focus on the inadequacies of the existing legacy sales portals (many large companies have more than six). Sales Portals widen the gulf between sales and marketing.

An investment in sales enablement pays dividends in several ways but perhaps the strongest benefit is the alignment of a customers marketing investment with their sales resources. The legacy sales portals that are still being used by most businesses actually reinforce the practices that keep marketing and sales teams misaligned. Marketing teams are rewarded based partially on their ability to create sales collateral, brochures, presentations, campaigns, and such; whereas sales teams are rewarded based on their ability to retire quota. Legacy sales portals provide no feedback mechanisms to ensure the marketing team is actually producing valuable material to aid the sales effort, and the sales teams are too busy working to meet/exceed their numbers that they can’t take time out to address the issue.

The longer this problem goes unchecked, the more systemic it becomes. The only time anyone in sales talks about it is when they don’t make their numbers or hit their accelerators, at which point the “complaints” are largely ignored. The problem is compounded year after year as more marketing materials get posted onto the portal with little or no governance in place to remove “dated” items, making finding useful material even more difficult. The useful material that is found typically has to be reworked, taking valuable “selling” hours away from sales.

It is estimated that from 70% to as high as 90% of the material produced by marketing goes unused by sales. (IDC). […]”

I could not have described these pain points better. I’m sure that pretty much everyone in the B2B environment can relate to the them. No matter which Sales Enablement vendor you decide to work with, what needs to be done is the following:

  • Implement ‘Content Governance’ (automate a life cycle for content, define responsibilities for roles, send them automated reminders to rework what the life cycle has pulled off the portal, …)

life cycle for content

  • Add ‘Social Features’ everyone is familiar with from the web 2.0 like rating, commenting and uploading of their own content or links (gets everyone engaged and gathers feedback on the content as well as new insights from the field)

sales-web_social

  • Analyze (‘Content Intelligence’) the usage of your improved sales portal and how the two steps above yield fruit
  • Take action with ‘Content Planning’ based on your findings

Content Intelligence
The example above shows that there are 19 customer reference documents for EMEA but not a single one about a customer in Luxembourg. If you wanted to target a prospect in Luxembourg that might be a problem. A dash board overview for your Content Intelligence like the showcased Content Landscape from BizSphere helps you to identify gaps in your content inventory.

Sales Enablement in a nutshell

Sandeep Pandit asked the following question about Sales Enablement on LinkedIn Answers and got the great answers below:

“What are the best practices of Sales Enablement? Also please list down the activities which are required to enable Sales in IT industry.
Sales Enablement is the fine art of enabling Sales function with the tools, knowledge, resources and processes so that Sales community can go and book orders, get the same delivered and subsequently be ready to service it.”

Garry Mansfield:

“[…] Each aspect is focused on providing the customer facing teams with the material to have a real conversation with the target customer. They may be the CEO or a telecoms manager but all of them will likely be involved in the buying decision and will talk. Therefore consistency in the message is key and you should invest time to get this message clear and relevant.

From my experience the materials that helps most are those that give confidence in those conversations; this can come in the form of training, collateral, fact sheets, account planning, deal/opportunity strategy etc. Ultimately the value of what you are offering needs to be expressible in terms that the customer would understand, recognise and be able to act on.

A clear description and information on customers likely issues will help the client facing teams to engage in conversations to understand the customer better. they can then probe further for evidence and supporting facts to build an offer that is more compelling.

Also, a clear articulation of what you do, backed with the SO WHAT? answers and suitable proof points will also help to build credibility with the client.

When I speak with clients and buyers, each of them say the same thing. Broadly there are three stages to the buying process:

  1. you have to help the customer to understand that they have a problem that can be solved. and it is important enough to invest resources in to fix.
  2. you have to help the customer to explore the options available to them in solving the problem and demonstrate why the option you have is best suited to their need.
  3. you have to prove that your organisation is best placed to deliver this option in the competitive marketplace. […]”

Bob Apollo:

“[…] Sales enablement is – as you’ve no doubt concluded – a critical success factor for B2B companies. I’d suggest that there are four key elements that need to be mastered:

  1. Clarity about who your best prospects are and how to recognise them
  2. A deep understanding of the business issues that are likely to cause them to take action
  3. Clear insights into the sources of information they trust when they start researching solutions
  4. A profound appreciation of their decision making process and how and why they choose to buy

In my experience, it is critical that sales and marketing work together in a truly collaborative fashion to develop a common agreement and a common language in each of these areas.

If you can develop a clear picture of the buying decision process that your prospects go through, you’ll be in great shape to create the tools and programs that are going to have the most impact on facilitating the buying process.

You’ll also avoid the huge amount of wasted effort that most companies put into the creation of sales and marketing deliverables that at the end of the day have no impact what so ever the on chances of a prospect buying the solution. […]”

I would like to respond to the discussion above with a slide by BizSphere. It shows how the Sales Enablement approach I have worked with [at a corporation with over 4,000 sales people world-wide] provides a context sales and marketing can collaborate in to equip the customer facing teams, who have to sell very complex portfolios, with the right…

  • core messages;
  • resources;
  • internal contacts;
  • and [cross-selling/up-selling] relationships

…for the right audience at the equally complex client:
complex

resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whitepaper IDC Hidden Costs 0405


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

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

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

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

document generation feature tour

document generation


 

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

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

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. […]”