The Sales Track View From Forrester's Technology Sales Enablement Forum, 2011

Wow! We just came back from our first annual Technology Sales Enablement Forum (Feb. 14-15, 2011). 

Brad Holmes, the practice leader serving Technology Sales Enablement, shared on his blog that the theme for the Forum was New Buyers, New Demands: Accelerating Sales Performance. 

The objectives of the Forum were to help sales enablement professionals identify ways to:

  1. Shift vendor-centric product portfolios into customer-centric problem-solving pathways to business outcomes.
  2. Adapt a go-to-market approach to more effectively model the customer and help the sales team have more valuable sales conversations.
  3. Create strategic programs to better organize and coordinate sales support initiatives and spending.
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It's Elementary My Dear Watson! - Sales Questions A Computer Can Answer

Question: What do Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and a computer named "Watson" all have in common? 

Answer: The two humans and computer will all compete on the US game show Jeopardy! the week of February 14, 2011.

In case you're not a Jeopardy! fanatic, both Ken and Brad are previous Jeopardy! champions, and they're credited with some of the longest winning streaks and largest take-home earnings in the game show's recent history (see endnote 1). 

And here's the scoop on Watson: 

For over three years, IBM has been developing what they call the "world’s most advanced question answering machine, able to understand a question posed in everyday human language and respond with a precise and factual answer" (see endnote 2).

Features of Watson:

  • Runs IBM's "DeepQA technology" to help identify context, and answer questions quickly
  • Runs on Linux OS / 10 racks of IBM POWER 750 / 15 terabytes of RAM /2,880 processor core
  • Tens of millions of documents stored
  • Access to the equivalent of 200 million pages of content
  • Note: Watson is not connected to the Internet, so it does not do Web searches.
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Lead Nurturing: The New Tech Marketing Frontier

For years, tech marketers have been maniacally focused on generating new leads to feed the pipeline needs of their sales counterparts. Unfortunately, only a very small percentage of those new leads, like 5%, were ready to engage with sales, leading to much frustration and angst between marketing and sales.

So what happened to the 95% of those leads that weren’t sales ready? Usually, not much! An email or two every so often does not constitute a lead nurturing program that will deliver results. However, it appears that the wind of change is upon us in tech marketing. In a recent marketing investments survey that we conducted, we found that tech marketers are increasing their budget allocation for lead nurturing by 11%, and that is significant.

So how do you start to build a lead nurturing program that will deliver results? Here are three elements:

Definition: First, we need a definition for lead nurturing. I like this simple definition: Lead nurturing is a process by which leads are tracked and developed into sales-qualified leads. Meaning that they are ready and worthy of a salesperson’s time. Of course, it is critical that you jointly establish the definition of a sales-ready lead with the sales team.

Objective: Our objective is to lead our prospects on an educational journey that moves them down the qualification path and results in a prospect that is highly qualified and ready to enter the sales process.

Approach: Developing a lead nurturing strategy does not need to be a daunting task. A simple approach is best, one that is focused and meaningful to your buyers.

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