How do your sales people and channel partners navigate your product and services information?

Are you in Marketing/Sales Enablement at a business that sells to businesses all over the world? Do you have traditional intranet pages for each country or sales region you have sales people or channel partners in? Then you have thousands if silos to maintain and your users have hundreds of mouse clicks stealing their time!

offerings


  • Are you in Marketing/Sales Enablement at a business that sells to businesses all over the world?
  • Would it look anywhere close to the image above when all products and services, that your company needs to enable sales people and channel partners for, were shown in a taxonomy/hierarchy?
  • Do you have traditional intranet pages for each country or sales region that you have sales people or channel partners in?

If so, then you have thousands of silos to maintain and your users have hundreds of mouse clicks stealing their time! (Also see “Important characteristics of how typical sales reps at large organizations roll”.)cube


On May 15, 2009, @scottsantucci (Forrester Analyst covering Sales Enablement) tweeted:


“Had a briefing from BizSphere. Very interesting thinking, particularly about the need for an information architecture.”


Displaying your Sales Enablement resources and the feedback from your sales people and channel partners in…

  1. a context (an information architecture)
  2. in Rich Internet Applications using web2.0 technologies

… makes the scary amount of traditional intranet pages from the image above a thing of the past.

BizSphere Sales Web does exactly this. The result can look like the images below and requires an amazingly low number of mouse clicks to navigate.

sales web_mdt

BizSphere Sales Web

Twitter for Product Marketers

Via rocketwatcher.com, I’m subscribed to, I found “7 Reasons Why Good Product Managers Must Be On Twitter”:

  1. Connect with other PMs […]
  2. Get in touch with (potential) clients […]
  3. Listen to customer feedback […]
  4. Locate the experts […]
  5. Share good and relevant articles […]
  6. Grow your online-reputation […]
  7. Let people know about your product […]

Read the full blog post at webproductblog.com

Here is the response “5 Not Obvious Reasons Product Marketers Should Twitter” from rocketwatcher.com:

“Thomas Fuchs Martin over at webproductblog.com had a great post called “the 7 reasons why good product managers must be on Twitter” which covers the big reasons like listening to customer feedback and connecting with other PM’s. This then got me thinking about other perhaps less pressing reasons to be on Twitter and I give you…

5 non-obvious reasons product marketers should Twitter:

  1. Communicate Bad News […]
  2. Spy on the Other Guys […]
  3. Get inside the heads of Analysts and Experts […]
  4. Find People you Want to Hire (and some you don’t) […]
  5. Prove you’re human (so people cut your company some slack when you screw up) […]”

Read the full blog post “5 Not Obvious Reasons Product Marketers Should Twitter“.

Mass media being replaced by social streams of information

Thomas Baekdal (@baekdal) from baekdal.com put trends into a great graphic and wrote a blog post on April 27, 2009:

http://www.baekdal.com

“[…]

2007 – Me too

3 years later the social element if the internet showed just how powerful the voice of the people really is. The TV was [for] the first time no longer the primary source of information, and newspapers are struggling to survive.

Everyone wanted to create their own little world, and connect it with their friends. But 2007 was also the turning point for the traditional websites. It was once the most important change, but now people compared the traditional websites to newspapers – a static and passive form of information. We wanted active information. We wanted to be a part of it, not just looking at it.

The blogs also started to get in trouble. Just as TV had eliminated radio (because it was better and richer way to give people LIVE information) so are social networks eliminating blogs. A social profile is a more active way for people to share what they care about. Social networks are simply the best tool for the job, and the blogs could not keep up.

2009 – Everything is Social

2 years later, today, the new internet is completely dominating our world. The newspapers are dead in the water, and people are watching less TV than ever. The new king of information is everyone, using social networking tools to connect and communicate.

Even the traditional website is dying from the relentless force of the constant stream of rich information from the social networks.

In the past 210 years we have seen an amazing evolution of information. We could:

  • Get information from distant places
  • Get it LIVE
  • See it LIVE
  • Get to decide when to see something, and what to see
  • Allow us to take part, and comment.
  • Publish our own information
  • …and in 2009… be the information.

But 2009 is also going to be the start of the next revolution. Because everything we know is about to change.

The Future

The first and most dramatic change is the concept of Social News. Social news is quickly taking over our need for staying up-to-date with what goes on in the world. News is no longer being reported by journalists, now it comes from everyone. And it is being reported directly from the source to you – bypassing the traditional media channels. […]

But social news is much more than that. It is increasingly about getting news directly from the people who [make] it. Instead of having a journalist reporting what some analyst are saying, you hear it from the analyst […]. Social news is about getting news from the source, directly, and unfiltered.

A new wave of entertainment is emerging […], one dominated by the games, video and audio streams. Instead of tuning into a TV channel, you decide what to see and when to see it. We are no longer subscribing to a channel, where someone else decides what you can see. You decide and control everything about the experience.

And a new concept in the form of targeted information is slowly emerging. We are already seeing an increasing number of services on mobile phones, where you can get information for the area that you are in. E.g. instead of showing all the restaurants in the world, you will only get a list of the restaurants in your area.

This is something that is going to explode into in the years to come. In the world where we have access to more information that we can consume, getting only the relevant parts is going to be a very important element. And, this will expand far beyond the simple geo-targeting that we see today.

2020 – Traditional is dead

In the next 5-10 years, the world of information will change quite a bit. All the traditional forms of information are essentially dead. The traditional printed newspapers no longer exists, television in the form of preset channels is replaced by single shows that you can watch whenever you like. Radio shows [are being] replaced [by] podcasts and vodcasts.

The websites have a much lesser role, as their primary function will be to serve as a hub for all the activities that you do elsewhere. It is the place where people get the raw material for use in other places. And the websites and social networks will merge into one. Your website and blog is your social profile.

Social news, as described previously, is going to be the most important way that people communicate. The traditional journalistic reporting is by now completely replaced getting information directly from the source. Everyone is a potential reporter, but new advances in targeting will eliminate most of the noise. The journalists will turn into editors who, instead of reporting the news, bring it together to give us a bigger picture.

The news stream of the future will be personalized to each individual person, and is constantly adjusting what you see – much the same way as Last.fm is doing today with music.

Everything will incorporate some form of targeting. You will be in control over every single bit of information that flows your way.

In 2010, two new concepts will start to emerge. One of them is intelligent information, where information streams can combine bits from many different news sources. Not just by pulling data, but summarizing it, breaking it apart and extracting the valuable parts.

Instead of reading 5 different articles on the same topic, you will be presented with one, highlighting the vital point of interest.

The world information is also going to be available almost everywhere. The concept of having to get the paper, sit in front of your TV, or look at your computer, will be long gone. Information will not be something you have to get. It comes to you, wherever you are, in whatever situation you happen to be in.

In the same way, information will not be something you ‘consume’ a certain times – like you did with prime-time on TVs. The information stream will be a natural part of every second of your life. It is not something you get, it is something you have.

The static and controlled forms of information that we see today will soon be a thing of the past.

Get ready!

Ask yourself. Are you still trying to get journalists to write about your products? Are you still making websites? Is your social networking strategy to ‘get a Facebook Page’?

…or…

Are you making yourself a natural part of people’s stream of information?”

With this great thought I would like to hand it over to Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan) and April Dunford (@aprildunford) with the blog post “What Marketers can Learn from Chris Brogan’s ‘Next Media Company'” from rocketwatcher.com:

“Chris Brogan is a social media marketing smarty-pants.  There are a lot of folks out there (in marketing especially) that bill themselves as “Social Media Experts” because, like, they use Facebook a lot, but Chris, my friends is the real deal.  If you don’t read his blog you should and following him on Twitter is great because he interacts with everyone.

His latest post “The Next Media Company” is a must-read for anyone thinking about what social media means for traditional media and communications in general and that mean YOU, dear marketing readers.  In it he outlines a set of characteristics that he believes the next generation of media companies should have. Here are a few points I have picked out that I think are really important for marketers to think about:

  • Stories are points in time, but won’t end at publication. (Edits, updates, extensions are next.)
  • Media cannot stick to one form. Text, photos, video, music, audio, animation, etc are a flow.
  • Everything must be portable and mobile-ready. (Mobile devices need to evolve here, too).
  • Everything must have collaborative opportunities. If I write about a restaurant, you should have wikified access to add to the article directly.
  • Contributors come in many shapes: onstaff, partner (how pros like TechCrunch link to Washington Post), guest (for love and glory only), and conversational come right to mind. Who else?
  • Collaboration rules. Why should I pick the next cover? Why should my picture of the car crash be the best?
  • Everything is modular and linkable. Everything is fluid. Meaning, if I want the publication to be a business periodical, then I don’t want to have to read a piece about sports.

Now go back and think about your company website, your marketing materials, your customer facing information in any form.  How much of that is interactive/collaborative/fluid?  How much of your customer facing communications crosses media types?  How much of it is mobile-ready?  Is all of your customer-facing content being created inside the organization?  Do you make your customers read a bunch of stuff that isn’t relevant to them, just to get at the bits that are?  Do you collaborate with your customers?

If you are in marketing, you are in the communications business and the way we are communicating is changing, in my opinion, for the better.  The next great marketing company is going to be thinking a lot about the same things the next media company is thinking about.”

Read this blog post on rocketwatcher.com

important characteristics of how typical sales reps at large organizations roll

On February 25, 2009 Sameer (@sameerpatel) from pretzellogic.org wrote a great blog post with some important characteristics of how typical sales reps at large organizations roll:

  • “Media watching is not a sport for sales reps. Feed them the good stuff & they’ll consume it.
  • Data/Intelligence extraction over collaboration. “Give to Get” doesn’t fly with most sales reps.
  • Good reps know exactly which 8.75 data types help them bust quotas. No more, no less.
  • In spite of the above, don’t expect them to dig for it. They’d rather use the time to cold call a lead.
  • Sales often ignore a lot of what marketing might offer or recommend.
  • They don’t personalize portals & intranets.
  • They rather search than browse; they want answers, not search results. (ok, who doesn’t!)
  • CRM apps often morph into reporting mechanisms that sales reps are mandated to use.
  • Pre-sales engineers (in the case of High Tech) often do most of labor intensive tasks in the sales cycle (assembling proposal components, finding SMEs and references, etc).

[…]

Here’s the beginnings of a framework to identify what works for a sales organization at large organizations:

An information management architecture that can surface the good stuff as well as support a 90% consumption / 10% contribution model.

Traditional collaborative systems and social networks are built to enable…well, collaboration and being social. As a sales rep what I need is aggregation around news and information (person, customer, prospect, industry news) relevant to my customers that show up in SalesForce or HighRise. User and topical tags help me drill deeper and find authorities or stories on topics that can help me engage a new lead, up sell a customer, build a more compelling proposed solution, or deflect a customer satisfaction train wreck that’s about to hit. The kicker is that I shouldn’t need to browse too much or worse, contribute to be able to extract.

Augmenting or if necessary, even by-passing some of the traditional marketing qualification processes by providing a direct contextual lens into prospect and customer activity

New qualified opportunities are just as likely to show up on these social platforms as they are via traditional marketing programs such as events, email and webinars. Based on accounts I manage or territorial prospects, as stated by my CRM system, dynamically assemble a direct, real-time view into customer and lead activity. Examples are customer activity on support and developer forums, prospects commenting about specific products on blogs, or lead activity on LinkedIn, Techmeme and Satisfaction that might help me spark a conversation.
Federated, persistent search that folds social discovery into SFA/CRM processes and technologies, thereby enrichening the data available at each step of the sales cycle
For instance, say I’m in the proposal creation phase of the sales cycle: Let me look up preset searches and tags on specific content sources (e.g. specific wiki spaces where SMEs hang out, highly rated solution white papers, links to relevant online demos that everyone’s raving about) so I’m putting my best foot forward.

A push architecture so the critical intelligence can find the sales rep (not the other way around)

I’m not going to keep revisiting content sources (blogs, wikis, forums) to see if there’s anything new that I might care about. Make it easy for me to filter and subscribe to specific events on blogs, support and community forums, wikis etc., (e.g. a new white paper emerges or my customer comments on a blog) via Email, RSS, SMS, IM. Let the information find me.

The ability to broadcast a question and receive an answer

Sales reps want answers. Search functionality provides results; people, however, provide answers. The ability to ask questions to groups of relevant people and quickly crowd source the best solution or identify experts that can credibly address a solution is imperative. This needs to be both open ended as well as around an existing topic (a bookmark, link, comment, video, etc.)
There’s certainly other technologies or components to consider when trying to conceptualize how Sales can benefit from an Enterprise 2.0 enabled world. For instance, ESME is designed to let globally disparate users easily huddle around tasks at hand and the recently announced lifestreaming capabilites from Yammer is trying to bring Friendfeed-like capabilites to the enterprise. […]”

 

immersive Internet experience

In my blog post How can Sales 2.0 webinars, presentations and virtual conferences evolve beyond the 1.0 style? I pointed to web.alive as an immersive Internet experience, that with its 3D voice (spatial audio) allows for collaboration in virtual worlds right within your browser. All you need is to install a browser plug-in (just like you need a browser plug-in to see Adobe PDFs) and then it works best with a stereo-headset.

An example for one out of the three main markets web.alive targets is assisted eCommerce or lets call it social shopping.

web.alive is also targeting the education vertical for eLearning / distance education and the third target market is of course online collaboration.

BusinessWeek on web.alive from May 19, 2009:

“[…] Lenovo has more ambitious plans. The company’s eLounge site — available on the Web to any PC user—will let customers talk to Lenovo sales reps, and voices will get louder as avatars get nearer to other residents of the site. “It allows us to create a cocktail party effect” in which people can listen in on several conversations at once, says Nic Sauriol, leader of Nortel’s Web.Alive unit. Open Universities Australia of Melbourne plans to use the Nortel software to let prospective students chat with instructors and each other. […]”

[Disclosure: Until October 1, 2009, I used to work for the company behind web.alive]

Twitter the lead generation tool

Adam Green (@140dev) commented the following on this Techcrunch post on April 24th, 2009:

“There may be millions of people on Twitter, but if you know how to do the right Google search, you can pick out exactly the people you want to reach. It is an amazing lead generation tool. All you have to do is look for the right patterns in user bios. for example to find all the lawyers, you can search for:

(intext:”bio * legal” OR intext:”bio * lawyer”) site:twitter.com

I’ve written up this complete procedure for creating Google Alerts based on these searches on my blog:

The great thing about doing this with Google Alerts is that you will be notified as soon as a new bio is created or edited with your keywords. This lets you follow people when they have a new account, which is when they are most likely to follow back.

So in time Twitter bios will be a directory for millions of professionals. It is so light weight that it may replace Facebook for people’s “home page” online. Best of all, it doesn’t insist on your current sexual preference and marital status. I’m sure a lot of professionals are not that interested in publicly announcing their preferences in hooking up.

The advertising implications of knowing the bios of millions of people and being able to deliver selective “follow lists” will be huge. Right now Twitter auto-follows celebrities when you create an account. I’d rather auto-follow potential customers.”

Adam Green’s (@140dev) blog post:

“Twitter search tools are everywhere now, and most of them are much faster than Google Alerts, but they focus on the text of a tweet. If you are looking for marketing contacts to follow, chasing every use of a keyword in tweets is casting a very wide net, and can waste a lot of time. For example, just because someone uses the word lawyer in a tweet doesn’t mean that they work in the legal profession. If you want to develop a quality list of contacts through Twitter, you are better off trying to find people who use your keywords in their username or bio.

That’s where Google Alerts comes in. If you build the right query, you’ll be notified every time a new Twitter account is created by someone who wants to tell the world they are closely associated with your keywords. The nice part of this approach is that you will discover new users as they create their accounts, which is when they are most likely to follow you back. We’ll work this procedure out step by step using legal contacts as an example. The information we are looking for is on a user’s Twitter profile page. If you look at the profile page for the user @legaltwitt you’ll see that the user name is in the title.

Example Twitter Bio

We can create a Google Alert for exactly the pattern of a profile page. This will keep us from getting alerts where the keyword just happens to be in a tweet:

intitle:”legal * on twitter” site:twitter.com

This query can be expanded to match other keywords in usernames, such as lawyer:

(intitle:”legal * on twitter” OR intitle:”lawyer * on twitter”) site:twitter.com

The next area of the page we want to match is the bio. There are two possibilities. The keywords can come right after the word bio. This is matched by:

(intext:”bio legal” OR intext:”bio lawyer”) site:twitter.com

The other case is when there are words between bio and the target keyword, which can be found with this pattern:

(intext:”bio * legal” OR intext:”bio * lawyer”) site:twitter.com

We can put all of these matches together in a single search:

(intitle:”legal * on twitter” OR intitle:”lawyer * on twitter” OR intext:”bio legal” OR intext:”bio lawyer” OR intext:”bio * legal” OR intext:”bio * lawyer”) site:twitter.com

[…]”

I just tried
(intext:”bio * sales enablement” OR intext:”bio * sales 2.0″) site:twitter.com works great!

Social Media Tools in B2B Selling

Some quotes from Facts vs Fiction – Social Media Tools in B2B Selling posted on btbtraining.com on April 6th, 2009:

“[…] how effective are these new technologies in producing additional sales? and are they now, as has been claimed in some quarters already replacing established sales methodology and processes?

Well according to a new study by ES Research Group, Inc. (ESR), one of the leading research and advisory firms on sales effectiveness, social media tools such as Jigsaw, LinkedIn,Twitter, Plaxo, Facebook, Hoovers and OneSource may be useful for other purposes, but most of them aren’t helping sales teams close many B2B deals today. […]

Based on a survey of nearly 400 sales professionals in the U.S., the report found that only LinkedIn (86%) and Hoovers/OneSource combined (61%) were used by more than half of respondents in their selling efforts. Facebook (50%), Plaxo (48%), Twitter (31%), and Jigsaw (26%) trailed in use. […]

Of respondents actually using the tools for sales, Hoovers and OneSource were the only tools helping more than half (54%) of them win B2B sales sometimes or often. LinkedIn was next at 42% and Jigsaw followed at 35%. Worst were Facebook (15%), Plaxo (13%) and Twitter (13%).

“The results demonstrate that with all the hype and buzz, most social network tools aren’t helping sales teams sell more yet,” Said Dave Stein, CEO and founder, ES Research Group. “For example, Twitter has not come into its own as a salesperson’s tool. It is presently a marketing tool that can potentially benefit the sales organization by contributing to the generation and nurturing of new sales leads. For now, the use of sales methodologies integrated with CRM systems and other sales enablement tools are proving far more successful in driving sales.”

Other key findings include the following:

  • LinkedIn is clearly the favorite among B2B salespeople surveyed.
  • The established for-pay information services (Hoover’s and OneSource) came in second.
  • Free/low-cost information sharing services such as Jigsaw will rise in popularity over time.
  • Twitter is an anomaly. It will have a high degree of uptake, but in a very narrow market. Marketing will find the tool much more valuable than sales for the foreseeable future. Presently it is not a valuable mainstream medium for B2B salespeople.
  • For the time being, Facebook is best reserved for the personal and family sides of one’s life.

The ESR survey of sales representatives in a broad set of industries examined the prospecting process, the selling process, and the storage and retrieval of customer and prospect information.

No one doubts, the evolving role that social media technologies will play in the B2B selling environment, however the evidence clearly demonstrates that their present significance is no where near what some would have us believe. This is a topic of conversation that we will no doubt re-visit as the months and years go by. For now though, I applaud Dave and the ES research group for seeking out the facts of the matter, and for giving me the reassurance to continue to deliver the best advice for my customers and their sales people. […]”

 

Social Media Tools Not Ready for Prime Time in B2B Sales

April 07, 2009

“ES Research Group survey finds sales methodologies, CRM still most effective
According to a recent study by ES Research Group, Inc. (ESR), a research and advisory firm on sales effectiveness, social media tools such as Jigsaw, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo, Facebook, Hoovers and OneSource are not helping sales teams close many B2B deals today. In fact, based upon ESR’s research, sales methodologies used in conjunction with CRM systems are far more effective in this regard.

The study, developed in cooperation with The TAS Group, surveyed nearly 400 sales professionals in the U.S. ESR’s “The New Social Media: Do They Enable B2B Selling?” report found that only LinkedIn (86 percent) and Hoovers/OneSource combined (61 percent) were used by more than half of respondents in their selling efforts. Facebook (50 percent), Plaxo (48 percent), Twitter (31 percent), and Jigsaw (26 percent) trailed in use. Note: Hoovers and OneSource are separate companies but were combined for survey purposes because of their similar services.

Of respondents actually using the tools for sales, Hoovers and OneSource were the only tools helping more than half (54 percent) of them win B2B sales sometimes or often. LinkedIn was next at 42 percent and Jigsaw followed at 35 percent. Worst were Facebook (15 percent), Plaxo (13 percent) and Twitter (13 percent).

“The results demonstrate that with all the hype and buzz, most social network tools aren’t helping sales teams sell more yet,” says Dave Stein, CEO and founder, ES Research Group. “For example, Twitter has not come into its own as a salesperson’s tool. It is presently a marketing tool that can potentially benefit the sales organization by contributing to the generation and nurturing of new sales leads. For now, the use of sales methodologies integrated with CRM systems and other sales enablement tools are proving far more successful in driving sales.”

Other key findings include the following:

• LinkedIn is clearly the favorite among B2B salespeople surveyed.

• The established for-pay information services (Hoover’s and OneSource) came in second.

• Free/low-cost information sharing services such as Jigsaw will rise in popularity over time.

• Twitter is an anomaly. It will have a high degree of uptake, but in a very narrow market. Marketing will find the tool much more valuable than sales for the foreseeable future. Presently it is not a valuable mainstream medium for B2B salespeople.

• For the time being, Facebook is best reserved for the personal and family sides of one’s life.
The ESR survey of sales representatives in a broad set of industries examined the prospecting process, the selling process, and the storage and retrieval of customer and prospect information.

“The New Social Media: Do They Enable B2B Selling?” contains ESR’s insights into each of the tools surveyed.
Free highlights of the survey can be found at The TAS Group. The full report is available for a fee at ESR Research.”

Source: Sales & Marketing Management

Sales 2.0 and Sales Enablement groups on LinkedIn etc

In “LinkedIn Groups-Where The Action Is” on fillthefunnel.com @MilesAustin recommends a few LinkedIn groups to join

“The real action on LinkedIn can be found within Groups.  If you want to increase the benefits and rewards of being a LinkedIn user, consider joining one of over 212,000  groups on LinkedIn.  These groups  typically are open to everyone, and are comprised of professionals that have a specific area of interest, experience, affiliation or goals.  There are Groups for Alumni associations, Community organizations, Industries, Professional Certifications, software programs and even geography.   These Groups are an effective way to develop connections with others in your profession or area of interest. […]

To find a group that interests you, the Groups Directory allows you to easily find the right group.
[…]

In my opinion, LinkedIn should be required for anyone participating in our Web 2.0 world .  If you want to break through to the real power of this, or any tool, you need to go deeper into its capabilities.  Utilizing the power of Groups in LinkedIn will enhance your experience.

For SalesMakers, here is a short list of some of the Sales Groups that I belong to and recommend exploring and joining if you are so inclined:

  1. Sales Blogcast.com
  2. The Sales 2.0 Network
  3. Jigsaw User Group
  4. Selling to Big Companies
  5. Inside Sales Experts
  6. Friends of the Funnel

Join one of more of these groups, start one of your own, and most importantly jump in and contribute ideas, answer questions and share experiences. You will get out of this what you put into it.”

More groups on LinkedIn:

Sales Enablement Gurus

Sales Enablement Leader Exchange:

“Welcome to our LinkedIn Group dedicated to exchanging ideas about Sales Enablement.

What exactly is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is the process of arming an organization’s sales force with access to the insight, experts, and information that will ultimately increase revenue. It is a term that has gained momentum in the last decade. It is often used to describe a variety of tools, processes and methodologies that are applied to enable a sales force, both direct and indirect. The terms “sales effectiveness” and “sales readiness” are sometime used interchangeably to denote Sales Enablement as well.