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Archive for the ‘CRM’ Category

Solution for Sales just published this comprehensive look at the requirements for Sales Enablement solutions:

Sales enablement platforms – seven key requirements

“The Sales Enablement Platform, sometimes called the sales knowledge management system, is taking its place alongside the Customer Relationship Management system as one of the must-have platforms of an advanced sales organization. Any company planning to implement a Sales Enablement Platform will have a long list of requirements, but the true significance of some factors is not always clear ahead of implementation. This article draws on experience of implementing and using Sales Enablement Platforms to highlight seven key requirements and explain their significance. It focuses on the needs of larger, more complex companies – the ones that have most to gain from a Sales Enablement Platform. [...]

Read it here. At this link you can also download a nicer looking PDF version of the article.

On May 26, 2010, Brian Lambert from Forrester Research wrote the blog post “What Changes are the Sales Team Facing – Right Now?”.

I would like to thank Brian, for bringing up the “change” subject. From my experience, being able to manage and moderate change is crucial for the success of any sales enablement initiative.

Let me give you one example from my time at Nortel. Back in 2006, the company had decided to become a services and solutions company – like many other tech firms before. Now, on the one hand we were facing the challenge of defining a solutions portfolio connected to the already existing products, on the other hand thousands of box selling sales people needed to educated to become solution sellers.

One thing that helped us a lot was that we visualized the change for sellers. Executives often wonder, why people are not instantly getting how new structures are supposed to be working – what they forget is how long it actually took to agree on these new structures in the first place. So naturally, adapting to change needs time, but this can be supported, if the change of structures is not only communicated to but visualized for people leveraging inutive graphical navigation elements in the sales portal for example. During the Services and Solutions transformation this approach did help Nortel a great deal.

So, a bucket you might want to add to the change discussion is the bucket of visualization of change. Making changing structures, changing selling context tangible makes change efforts like new solutions launches more likekly to be successful.

Another interesting bucket might be the rapidly changing web and the impact on sellers and buyers – so called Sales 2.0. Only a few years back no seller would have thought that monitoring prospects on LinkedIn and Twitter for example will become key to sales success. Therefore, launching effective Social CRM tools for sellers aligned with the existing sales process will become an important change initiative for sales organizations.

information overload

In the February 2010 issue of CRM magazine Christopher Musico looked at ‘Sales Enablement Tools’. The article is great to begin the Sales Enablement conversation:

Sales Enablement Tools – Make the Selling Simpler: Organizations want sales reps to have access to the right information at the most critical moments

Sales professionals should have the world at their fingertips, thanks to netbooks, laptops, smartphones, and the ubiquity of cloud-based data. And yet pundits and executives alike say the same basic challenge endures: the lack of personalized, targeted information.

[...] Michael Gerard, vice president of the sales advisory practice at IDC. “It’s the most basic things. Reps are having a difficult time having a fluent conversation with the customer, and that gets into knowing who [she] is, about [her] company, what products [her] company may or may not have already purchased.”

This is the sweet spot for sales enablement—defined by IDC as “the delivery of the right information in the right format to the right person at the right time and in the right place to assist in moving a specific sales opportunity forward.”

Whilst we couldn’t agree more with this definition of Sales Enablement we like to see “…in the right format…” added into that definition above. One of our YouTube videos explains what we mean by that.

“Scott Santucci, senior analyst at Forrester Research, says he’s seen an explosion of interest in this area over the past year. As with any technology, however, those rushing to buy the hot newness without first establishing a clear strategy are doomed to fail. It’s not that there’s a lack of information—far from it. Instead, it’s hard to wade through the sheer tonnage of information and determine what’s up-to-date, relevant, and in a form amenable to the particular sales conversation. “It’s a very simple, yet really complicated problem,” Santucci says.

IDC’s Gerard says the first step is to figure out who owns sales enablement in your organization. While the prevailing view has the niche bridging both sales and marketing, no one seems able to agree on exactly who owns which pieces of the pie. [...]”

These are nuanced problems, and Santucci says each of the relevant vendors—including BizSphere, iCentera, Kadient, and Savo Group—cater to slightly different problems. [...]

Santucci says that BizSphere is a relative newcomer to this space, but tackles a more-ambitious problem. “Imagine a large company that can sell different combinations of products and services, and organize things in a variety of different hierarchies,” he says. “If we were calling on a c-level person about [her] particular business problem, it could span across multiple product lines. If you talk to a manager-level person, you may only talk about one particular product. How do we build a taxonomy that allows us to cascade and work within that complex an infrastructure? That’s what BizSphere does. [...]”

BizSphere AG agrees with Scott Santucci that different companies need different Sales Enablement solutions and we like to think of ourselves as the Sales Enablement solution for the large global B2B enterprise with our experience at Fortune 500 companies like IBM and Nortel, since the year 2006.

“These vendors offer on-premises and software-as-a-service (SaaS) models—and CSO Insights Managing Principal Jim Dickie says the SaaS option is growing in popularity, in part because those prices range between $40 and $100 per sales professional per month. That model, he adds, is an easy way for sales executives to test if sales enablement can fix a particular problem. If it does, expect sales folks to take more ownership—literally. “You’ll see people start off with SaaS, but if they decide to use it long-term, they’ll convert over to perpetual license,” Dickie says. [...]

BizSphere AG’s Sales Enablement solution is available as on-premises or SaaS.


  • $135,262 is spent, on average, in support costs per year for each salesperson.
  • 7 hours per week is what the average salesperson spends looking for relevant information to prepare for sales calls.
  • 50 percent of the information is pushed through email.
  • 10 percent is “made available in a useful format.”

Source: Forrester Research & IDC Sales Advisory Service

On 2/4/2010, Tamara Schenk @tamaraschenk (T-Systems International GmbH, Portfolio & Offering Management, Head of Special ICT Innovation Projects) posted a great comment on the article mentioned above:

Christopher, thanks for this great summary – spot on!

The discussion on “who owns sales enablement” is really interesting – from my point of view this question brings as back to the “functional silos”. Didn’t we want to overcome the functional silos by implementing sales enablement? We had a similar discussion when we started our sales enablement project. Now we have a cross-functional team which is lead by portfolio & offering management, in our approach the “backbone” of sales enablement.

You hit the nail on the head with your characteristics of the here listed vendors (there are a few more with interesting, solutions for special needs…). If an organization has a complex offering portfolio with different kinds of relationships within the portfolio you will need a lot of taxonomy features – but make sure that your first step is the consolidation of your portfolio and the second step is implementing sales enablement, including working on content quality, governance, processes, change management etc. The better you design the portfolio structure the easier you can analyze the content quality later on. From our experience that’s one of the critical success factors – and the other one is change management – how do I motivate sales reps to use the sales enablement platform and to use the collaboration features? Communicate, communicate, communicate… and you could give the sales user groups the responsibility for a successful change!

The objectives of sales enablement initiative could be different, e.g. one collaboration platform instead of ten different portals, get consistent messages, optimize go-to-market, deliver right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place, break functional silos, reduce applications, reduce ramp-up time for new hires, improve sales efficiency etc. All objectives should be aligned to one common understanding: “Sales is the customer”!

To understand whether the answer to this question is of relevance when looking for ways how to improve productivity of a sales force, let us ask

Why is Knowledge Management important in Selling?
There are many formulas telling what is needed for having success in sales. While these formulas vary slightly, knowledge seems to be an essential component in all of them.  So it seems useful to look into the question how well CRM systems support salespeople in holding the needed knowledge readily available. To answer this question, we need to look at different aspects of knowledge

The 3 C’s of Knowledge
For a successful sales campaign, adequate knowledge is needed about:
1.    The customer’s/prospect’s situation
2.    The competitive landscape
3.    The supplier’s capabilities

Read the rest of this entry »

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