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.
- 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.
On April 5, 2010, I posted the following:
On March 23, 2010, the German speaking site http://carta.info published an interview with Prof. Peter Kruse about complexity and the net.
The following quote (my own translation) supports BizSphere’s knowledge management methods and user interface ideas, which aim to reduce the firehose of information (that marketing departments in B2B companies provide for sales people and channel partners plus what web 2.0 / enterprise 2.0 add) to what is relevant for a specific sales situation:
“…on the web, people use language way too undisciplined. Without a guiding context you can never be sure how a word used as a tag was meant. What’s the tag ‘drama’ worth, when one person tags pages from divorce lawyers because he is currently experiencing drama in his marriage and another person tags certain theatre productions in his city?”
In the BizSphere Sales Enablement solution we do allow ‘free tagging’ but in addition we force content, contacts, comments, etc. to be tagged in a defined enterprise language – the context. For example, the intersection points of the following taxonomies – or tagging dimensions – create a clearly defined space for all relevant sales information to “live in”:
- products, services and solutions
- information types
- regions and countries
Thanks to the tagging dimensions being defined specifically for each enterprise, they can be used as a common enterprise language – even across different mother tongues. The benefits for the seller are simple yet effective: Searching for information supported by a commonly agreed semantic enterprise language delivers the results which are making sense in a certain sales context. This is something a classical search approach can’t deliver.
In the blog post ‘Sales Enablement’ from September 22, 2009 the salestrainingdrivers.com author looks at what new hire sales people want to know:
“How do you enable the sales team?
Millions of Internet pages are dedicated to the subject of sales coaching and sales training. Have you conducted an Internet search for it lately?
With all that content available, it’s amazing that sales teams have any trouble hitting their performance goals. Have you ever thought about it from a salesperson’s shoes? Think about it: there are many different resources available for salespeople on how to close, how to manage time, how to ask questions, how to manage a territory, and how to stay motivated.
Yet, despite all this, the next evolution in selling is upon us, and it requires all salespeople to conduct a thorough review […]. If salespeople aren’t actively embracing this evolution, they will be passed by.
New hire salespeople want to know:
- what are my expectations?
- what are the goals?
- what does success look like?
- what is in it for me?
- what do I need to do?
I would add:
The author goes on to speak about…
“[…] each salesperson’s ability to fully customize their own selling system to the needs of the clients and their territory. Seasoned sales pros of today have a deep command of the basics, and they’ve come up with something that is uniquely their own over time. […]”
The first part reminds me of the extend to which this kind of knowledge is geography specific as well as specific for industry verticals and client needs. In a global enterprise Sales Enablement knowledge needs to be organized by all this concurrently. Does your organization have an information architecture that allows that?
The second part shows the reality of people having their own unique ways of doing things. Hence, gathering tribal knowledge / best practices from peers can only go so far… as Gerhard Gschwandtner points out in his blog post ‘Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?’:
“I read, “Clone top performers.” Excuse me! Why not promise, “Clone your Swiss bank account”?”