A lot of time and money goes into strategy. Most strategists at tech firms I work with do a great job talking about creating business solutions and forming strategic relationships. The truth? They are still selling speeds and feeds and are not considered strategic by their buyers.
There is a lot to lose if you don't engage on solutions to real business problems. Buyers are changing. Digital natives are entering into leadership positions and new as-a-service approaches make applications and technology accessible that previously were just the purview of IT.
Buyers of technology today tell us that only 13% of salespeople can demonstrate passable understanding of their business issues.
Enter the new discipline of Sale Enablement. It’s an emerging discipline that is taking hold, where people with a variety of backgrounds and functions — from marketing to sales operations to front line teams to solution groups — are being tapped to “fix the broken things.” These emerging leaders are approaching the problem with a new vision — moving from random acts to purpose-built plans. Shifting the focus from products and services to customer problems. Not just saying “customer-focus” but living it.
IBM, as always, put on a really big show at Lotusphere this year. More than 5,000 attendees from all walks of IT and business came together to find out how IBM could help them execute their business strategies — and IBM promised to help them make their business social, and thus more personal and effective. Every IBM executive that I heard present or spoke with had one thing in mind: how to help customers evolve the culture of business from one where employees hoard information and rely on their own ability to solve problems to get themselves and their firm ahead to one where sharing information and insight enables better decision-making and better customer service.
Over two and a half days, I talked to (or heard presentations from) dozens of companies leveraging social technologies to accelerate their business, including:
A global management consulting firm that is using an internal social platform to enable project teams to find and engage process and industry experts for client work — rather than having staffing managers rely on their personal networks — and which plans to extend that platform to support document creation and client delivery processes.
A snack food company that created a public social platform to engage competitors in a process to eliminate a threat to raw material supply across their industry — rather than working on their own to solve the problem for their supply chain only.
A retail bank that uses an internal social platform to optimize routing of customer inquiries to banking products experts located at other branches or central sites — rather than relying on branch personnel who may not know the answer or promising to respond to the customer later.