Q2 2015 Sales Enablement market news and trends

Sales Enablement thought leaders

I’ve been cleaning up / refreshing my work in progress list of Sales Enablement apps/tools/solutions/services.

On April 1, 2015, I was honored to find myself on this list of 30+ Top Sales Enablement Thought Leaders.

I noticed that vbprofiles.com/search?q=Sales+Enablement is an extensive list of experts too.

Should Your Agency Get Into the Sales Enablement Game?, Jami Oetting, March 26, 2015.

Sales Enablement Tools: Keys To Building Trust To Win Sales, 4/21/15:

“Your Marketing team has likely already compiled a number of blogs, videos, and/or ebooks, tailored to different phases in the Buyer’s Journey. However, this doesn’t mean that only Marketing can use them. If, during their ongoing communication with their leads, your Sales reps notice a particular question is being asked again and again by a number of different leads, they can leverage Marketing’s content and pass it along. Again, showing that your company already knows about their concerns and is ready to answer their questions will build trust with your leads. […] By getting to know your leads through tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Buyer Personas, as well through conversations, and by showing that they care by delivering relevant and valuable information, your Sales reps can build a relationship with these leads. These relationships can speed up the process of closing leads into full-fledged customers.”

Will sales enablement software replace content marketing? by Alp Mimaroglu, 6/04/2015 with this graphic:

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Alp Mimaroglu also writes:

“[…] Sales Enablement […] cannot work without a backbone of data-driven content marketing. And the most efficient way for salespeople to get the right information these days is to look at the data behind marketing that works using marketing automation software. Both sales and marketing need to share the data their teams are producing. The problem is that this just doesn’t happen in most companies (as shown by commonplace disagreements on lead responsibilities). […]”

A bit older: Content in crisis: Content marketing vs. sales enablement John Koetsier, Nov. 5, 2014 with this graphic:
Image Credit: Content Marketing Institute

Image Credit: Content Marketing Institute

New Study Shows Rapid Onboarding Increases Sales Growth Rates by 10%, Eyal Orgil, May 11, 2015:

“PUT ALL YOUR SUPPORTING MATERIALS IN ONE PLACE – Forcing new reps to hunt around for information that they hope exists somewhere is no way to speed the onboarding process. When all your sales enablement documents – data sheets, presentations, case studies, etc. – are collected and stored in a central repository, new hires can quickly do their homework on any offering. More importantly, they know exactly where to find the value added materials they need to create a more compelling proposal. You can even take this one step further and integrate document management right into your sales quoting solution and automate the entire proposal process.”

Three Big Myths Debunked at SiriusDecisions Summit, Tom Pisello, May 19, 2015:

“B2B marketing is not replacing B2B sales, so more B2B marketing doesn’t equate to more effectiveness. Sales reps are still VERY relevant, however we do need to recognize that buyer’s have changed, and Frugalnomics is in full effect. As a result, you need to enable sales reps to engage effectively throughout the buyer’s journey, especially at the critical early stages of influence. The ability for sales reps to help buyers navigate the journey, gain consensus from committee decisions, and articulate your unique value – all critical for continued relevance and competitive sales success. […] Content is King? Although large amounts are spent every year to develop and deliver content, and these investments are growing YoY, SiriusDecisions reports that almost 2/3rds of the content marketing investment is wasted! In a survey of almost 300 firms, 65% of content spending was wasted. Half of the waste was attributable to sales reps not being able to find the content. While the other half saying the content wasn’t good or useful. More is not more when it comes to content. Prospects and sales reps are all to easily lost in a sea of content.”

Mobile Strategy For Sales Enablement, Shankar Ganapathy, April 30, 2015:

“Sales people are not chained to their desk anymore but they are attached to their smartphones, so it makes sense for them to have everything they need available on their phone. Rather than searching through hundreds of emails, wiki links or dropbox files to find the particular product update memo, a mobile sales enablement app can make updates easy to find in a fraction of the time. With Millenials estimated to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, you can also make your employees more productive by meeting their preference to consume content on the go. While the majority of companies understand the need for sales enablement, according to research by Adobe less than 30% are actually implementing sales enablement solutions because it can be complex and time consuming to execute. However, mobile sales enablement can be implemented quickly and cost-effectively. This means implementing a mobile sales enablement strategy now could give you a competitive advantage. While other companies grapple with how to keep their sales teams up to date, and their reps spend precious time searching their email box, reading through volumes of wiki pages or searching through files in cloud storage, yours can be having impactful and engaging conversations with customers. When I talk about mobile sales enablement, I don’t just mean replicating your CRM on a mobile app, but rather achieving true sales enablement for both your sales reps and managers. Think about how Whatsapp has replaced email, making communication and sharing photos instant, quick and easy without needing to log-on. Mobile sales enablement can have a similar impact on your sales teams.”

Q4 2014 Sales Enablement market news and trends

As my list of Sales Enablement solutions has grown, I would like to take a look at some recent Sales Enablement market news and trends:
Continue reading “Q4 2014 Sales Enablement market news and trends”

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%.”

Reading List – Beginning of September 2010

“Engage early with Senior Execs, or Lose the Deal” (Tom Pisello: The ROI Guy; May 13, 2010)

“[…] Many salespeople are not armed today to adequately engage executives in the consultative strategy phase. That can be changed with Executive Assessment tools, providing a structured way to connect and engage with executives in this crucial early buying phase. […]”

“In Sales Productivity, Coroners’ Inquests Won’t Improve Life Expectancies” (John Cousineau, CEO, innovativeinfo; AUGUST 27, 2010)

“[…] Today, one of the productivity-improving therapies often recommended in sales operations is Loss Analysis. When a deal’s lost, do a post mortem to determine what happened + what should be done to prevent future deal deaths. In my view, it’s a bit like holding a coroner’s inquest. It accepts that fatalities are unavoidable other than by learning from them after the fact. It’s a strange way to stretch life expectancies. […]”

“Meet the Chief Listening Officer” (Neville Hobson; August 30, 2010):

“[…] So I wonder how a Chief Listening Officer will do.

In my view, such a role implied by the title is surely and exactly what organizations need today, especially large organizations. It’s not enough just to listen to conversations, analyze what’s going on and interpret the metrics: you need to know exactly, with precision, what the huge amount of interpreted data means to your organization specifically and what the people in their different roles can and must do as a result of the knowledge and insight you’ve gleaned from that listening, from that interpretation of the data.

Above all, you must know who in your organization needs what information, and be able to get that info to those people, on demand, when they need it. […]”

Reading List – End of August 2010

Forrester’s Santucci: Sales Enablement Defined (Kathleen Schaub; August 23, 2010):

“[…] more and more people touch customers along the demand chain. […] extend Sales Enablement constituents to include influencers, as buyers are also extensively socially-engaged. […]”

Enterprise 2.0 › Blog “Is it Knowledge Management or Business Intelligence?” (Rich Blank @sharepointpmp; 08/19/2010)

“[…] Knowledge management – the buzzword of decades past that might be synonymous with other buzzwords like collective intelligence or intellectual capital. Or maybe you’ve heard of tacit and explicit knowledge – differentiating between what is in our heads vs what’s written down. From a technology perspective, KM represents the mounds of documents, information, conversations, blogs, wikis, emails, social networks, knowhow, and expertise …. it’s all the “stuff” that continues to overload us daily and continues to present challenges for individuals and organizations in filtering out what is important vs. what is just noise. KM is also about the way we create, collect, manage, consume, share, and leverage the unstructured information combined with the structured data […]. […] BI has many parallels to KM… and at the end of the day it’s all about being able to filter out the noise, identify all the variables in the equation, and make the right decisions based on what you know and assume to be true – be it structured or unstructured.”

“A Salesperson’s Seven Deadly Sins” (Steve W. Martin; August 23, 2010)

The Content Economy by Oscar Berg: The business case for social intranets” (Stefan Pfeiffer; August 26, 2010)

If an organization really considers innovation to be important, it should engage everyone and make innovation everybody’s business. It should provide a ping-pong table, give every coworker, partner and customer a racket to play with, and invite them to play.

Most people will, if they‘ don’t already, come to understand that a social intranet is not just about adding features such as blogs, wikis, activity feeds, social bookmarking and micro-blogging on top of a traditional intranet; it’s about rethinking the purpose of intranets with the intention of bringing the paradigm shift in how we communicate and collaborate that is taking place on the web to the very core of how enterprises are operated and managed. A social intranet needs to be seen as a strategic component when trying to do this.

via thecontenteconomy.com

the corporate intranet needs to change to become the social intranet. It will become social – or it will become an intranet grave: And a lot of the do current intranets are already a grave. The intranet – like the corporate web site – needs to live. There needs to be dialog, discussion – and innovation.

Screen Shot 2021-07-25 at 8.11.02 pm

“Selling “Naked” & 8 Other Truths About Content Marketing” (demandcreationspecialists.com; August 13, 2010)

“You’ve got to love Jill Konrath’s straight up approach to sales enablement: how to use content to engage with “crazy-busy” executives mired in a multi-tasking swamp. Her popular new book, SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales & Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers […]:

• Don’t be the “Naked Seller” – woefully unprepared to make successful sales calls because they’re still speaking “seller” when the language has changed to “buyer.”
• Salespeople desperately need content, and they need guidance about how to use it. This is marketing’s job…and marketing has not done a great job at this.
• Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is often camouflaged. It needs to be loud and clear, in the form of case studies, white papers, webinars and great content.
• Decision makers today have chaotic lives. They’re overburdened and burned out. Their psyches cry out for “don’t waste my time” sales and marketing content that simplifies your value proposition and makes their lives easier.
• Buyers want to talk to experts. People who know their vertical, its pitfalls and challenges. Good content fills this need, and supports the sales process.
• Whether you’re in sales or marketing, ask yourself: have you aligned with the buyer’s objectives? Does your content reflect this? If not, you’re toast.
• Content must demonstrate value, and be delivered for short attention spans.
• Acknowledge and work within the customer’s process:
1) Allowing Access – takes 8-12 contacts to achieve this.
2) Decision to Initiate Change – where clients break out of the status quo.
3) Decision on which option to choose – Content quality can make or break this.
• The acronym says it all – Simple; iNvaluable; Aligned; Prioritized (SNAP)”

The Importance of Context: Why Enterprise 2.0 Still Fails to Deliver Value (AARON ROE FULKERSON Aug 25, 2010)

Four ways Gen Y is changing the B2B sales process

‘4 Ways Gen Y Is Changing the B-to-B Sales Process’ by Hallie Mummert, from July 21, 2010:

“As the older segment of Gen Y—the population segment generally defined as being born between 1980 and the early 2000s—takes on bigger roles in the buying process for their employers, B-to-B firms are challenged to adapt their selling strategies.

A survey of 300 managers up to age 35 was conducted last year by Chicago integrated marketing agency Colman Brohan Davis and research firm E-RM. The results indicated a “propensity for social and interactive communications,” the agency reported. In fact, only four out of the 13 tools that respondents indicated they use to research products and services are traditional media, and the agency noted that even their influence was waning. Use of social networks, on the other hand, had increased 152 percent year over year. […]”

 

Jill Konrath on Closing the Gap between Marketing & Sales

On July 21, 2010 manticoretechnology.com/blog/ posted ‘Thought Leadership Interview: Jill Konrath on Closing the Gap between Marketing and Sales’:

“[…] CD: What does marketing need to do to get salespeople to use the content they provide?

JK: Write good content. Most of what marketing produces today sucks. It’s self-serving tripe that highlights the company’s fabulous products, unique methodologies and state-of-the-art technologies. When sellers use this type of content, it trivializes them with customers. They’re seen as product-pushing peddlers who add little value to the sales process.

Educate the sales force. After an eternity of only getting crap from marketing, salespeople don’t have a clue how to use good content. They need to know how to follow up effectively on leads with content during the sales process.

Make it simple. Salespeople don’t have a lot of time. If it’s scattered across the website, it won’t be used. If it’s not intuitive, it won’t be used. Make it as much a no-brainer as possible.

CD: In SNAP Selling, you talk about the prospect’s three decisions. What are they and how do they related to content?

JK: Basically prospects make three primary decisions when it comes to dealing with salespeople.

Their 1st Decision is to “allow access” to them. Sellers may only want a small amount of their time, but today’s crazy-busy buyers are stingy with it. At this stage, salespeople could use content related to the value other firms have used from using the company’s offering. This supports their reason for getting together and increases their chances of setting up a meeting.

The prospect’s 2nd Decision is to “initiate change” – which is something they are loathe to do with everything else on their calendar. Sellers desperately need good content to help prospects determine if making a change would provide significant value for their organization. This could include case studies, white papers, podcasts, articles, analyst reports and more.

Finally, the prospect’s 3rd Decision is to “select resources.” At this phase, sellers need content that differentiates them from other vendors and supports the company’s strengths.

Please notice that I didn’t say brochures. They provide little value except at the very end of the sales process. In my opinion, fancy four-color glossies are a relic of the past – even though salespeople may still be clamoring for them. There are enough sales dinosaurs out there who haven’t yet realized that brochures create significant collateral damage and destroy more opportunities than they gain. […]”

 

Reading list – July 9, 2010

All blog posts below were posted on July 9, 2010:

The Sales Force of the Future

More on Social Media and B2B Buying Cycles

How Knowledge Management Is Moving Away From the Repository as Goal
(video blog)

Implementing Sales Enablement

David Batup, founder of perperitus.com sums up Sales Enablement as “a range of activities, disciplines and thinking focused on removing the barriers that often get in the way of successfully closing deals”.

“Sales enablement is all about maximising the outcome of the opportunity development time a salesperson has, and minimising the time spent on activities that can only be described, unkindly by some, as sales procrastination. To do this, sales enablement is about preparation for, the holding of, and follow-up from customer meetings to ensure the salesperson has the greatest chance of success, where success is moving the sale forward or closing.”

“Central to sales enablement is the idea of harnessing the knowledge and best practices of your best salespeople (the so-called ‘rainmakers’), to the benefit of the whole sales operation. And it is also about approaching the sales cycle not from the perspective of your company’s products and services, but from your customers’ perspective.”

“I suggest the major steps for sales enablement are:

  • Understand how to articulate your products to customers’ business needs, buying cycle and information needs. Engage with your top performing salespeople
  • Overlay the ‘moments of truth’ (MOT) onto the customer’s buying cycle to create an MOT map and include the levels of responsiveness required to meet their needs
  • Define the sales enablement problem from the perspective of the customer and salespeople’s needs. Identify the collateral, tools and solutions that will support the salesperson before and after the appointment
  • Invest in developing or aligning your assets to meet the customer’s business and process needs. Deploy the assets in a way that makes them easily accessible to sales, ensure they are in the context of the sales cycle and where appropriate provide customer self-service […]”

“[…] Sales and marketing teams may say, “So what, this is what we do already, isn’t it?” But there is evidence that there is still a big shortfall in the way salespeople are prepared for and conduct themselves in front of the customer, relative to the customers’ expectations.[…]”

  • 57% of customers felt the salesperson was not prepared for the meeting
  • 33% of customers say deals could have been won if the salesperson had been better prepared
  • 65% of sales time is spent not selling
  • 7 hours a week is what the average salesperson spends looking for relevant information to prepare for sales calls
  • 70%–90% of marketing material goes unused by sales
  • 50% of information is pushed through email
  • It takes an average of 7 months to ramp up a new salesperson.

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.