Forrester's 21st Century Selling System

Just back from the Forum for Sales Enablement professionals in Scottsdale and the buzz is still there.  Maybe that's the effect of cold Boston air after 5 days in paradise, but I think there is more to it. Attendees were on a high with the ideas and approaches they learned to "work back from their customers" to better communicate in the ways buyers need and want in the Age of the Customer.

Check the twitter feed here and you will see some of that energy, like "marketing and sales have to align on the same methodology, but start from the customer perspective", or "buyers want you to give them insight they haven't thought of".

What is that methodology?  If Forrester's new 21st Century Selling System in the Age of the Customer.  The core idea is simple, model your buyers, so you can map your messages and assign the right messenger to communicate what the buyer needs in order to appreciate your value.  The key?  There are 4 archetypes of buyers, so there are 4 aligned archetypes of messages and messengers as well, like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Buyer Insights Are The Rosetta Stone Of Enablement

These days, it's harder and harder to skate ahead of business buyers who are more informed and fickle than ever before. We all experience the same dynamics, our buyers know a lot about our capabilities before we meet, or they have a point of view on where we fit that may or may not be what we would want them to think of us, but there it is. They move around a lot, and they work in teams that form and break apart on projects or programs that span days or years. And they have options, lots of them, so what used to be a clear competitive landscape is now muddled with new alternatives. It's just hard to sell your value these days when buyers are so well informed and on top of your stuff -- and changing all the time.

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A Focus on Messaging at Forrester's Forum for Sales Enablement Professionals

Forrester's Forum for Sales Enablement Professionals will be held in Scottsdale, AZ on March 3-4. In preparation, I will be interviewing some of the presenting analysts. Today, VP and Principal Analyst Peter O’Neill discusses his track at the Forum and what attendees can expect to learn from attending.

Brad: What does the Forum theme "Driving Growth With a 21st Century Selling System" mean?

Peter: It means several things around my research area, particularly in terms of the challenges marketers are having in developing content that customers find valuable and making sure the right message gets to the right buyer, and, of course, at the right time as well. I’ll be running a track that addresses the Message component of the 21st century selling system; we’ll talk through several examples of how to develop and tune the Message to each member of the buyer team, what we call the Audience, and then of course how to think about different content delivery programs. Most importantly, we’ll discuss combining content that is mostly output from marketing programs, with conversation, which is what salespeople deliver in front of their contacts in the accounts – that all needs to be fully aligned to what the buyer needs for the Message to be effective.

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Will your selling system get you back on a growth trajectory?

The Age of the Customer is upon us.  And that is not hype as you know too well yourself if you have been trying to satisfy B2B buyers over the last few years.

B2B buyers today are more demanding, informed, value sensitive, and have more choices available to them than at any other point in history.  After taking a beating in 2008, and over the protracted course of this recovery, a permanent change has taken place in how B2B companies buy (think groups pooling their resources to solve big business problems), why they buy (to get a result you can prove you are able to help them achieve), and what they expect in the conversations and interactions with the companies who aspire to meet their needs (in a word, empathy).

So how are we doing?  At the Sales Enablement Forum in Scottsdale, AZ on March 3-4, we will reveal the results of our annual Executive Buyer Insight Study. 

For now, let me just say the answer is not better, yet.  Last year, when we asked respondents about their perception of the agenda of the sales people with whom they meet, 20% said either “they try to understand our challenges and offer suggestions” or “they are genuinely interested in partnering with us make sure our initiative is a success”.   In our recently completed survey that result dropped to 14%.

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What Is Valuable?

Funny question. The answer seems so obvious, right?  True that when it comes to tangible stuff with clear intrinsic attributes which are, well, easy to value.  Gold goes for $1,390 as of 3:16 pm Eastern time today, and we all know why. It's a commodity, a scarce one at that, and gold here, same as gold where you are. Obvious. 

But what about intangible stuff?  How valuable is fame, how valuable is professional success, leadership, or maybe a strategy? Well, we also know that depends on who is doing the buying and why, which means that value is in the eye of the beholder, just like beauty. So putting a price on some things is tricky.  How much were you looking to pay for that success? And maybe price is not really an issue when a strategy for turning around your $15b company is the goal and its your head if that strategy does not work in the next 18 months, so that will cost you $6m, few questions asked.

So why am I asking such a simple question?

In our research with business and IT executives we ask them simple questions, like what's valuable to them, and they are quite clear.  And their answers tend toward the intangibles versus the tangibles. For example, when we ask, "What would you consider to be a valuable meeting with a vendor salesperson?" the number one reply is "The salesperson clearly shows they understand my business issues and can clearly articulate to me how to solve them." That's an intangible value forged in the cauldron of empathy, credibility, expertise, experience. Also obvious, but perhaps not so easy to deliver.

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Why do you have a sales force?

Funny question, until you think about it a bit more. With all the focus on the changed buyer who finds online or from peers much of what she needs to make a decision, on just about everything, including what to buy, why do we still have salespeople on the payroll?

Because your customers require them.  

Funny answer, until you think about it a bit more.

Work with me here.  If your company is in the business of converting assets, like a patent, or skilled craftspeople, or molten metal, or a process you understand well, into something of potential value to others, that is step one.  Next, you have to communicate that value to other people so they can decide to get some, or not.  To do that, you have people crafting all sorts of messages about your value; some of those messages you send out to the world online, some in traditional ads, others on blogs, some into communities, maybe a book, and those messages are the simpler ones. Simpler because these are messages the target recipient must be able to decode, absorb, and assimilate unaided into his or her personal value equation.  Does the value I perceive exceed the cost and is the risk to realizing that value manageable and acceptable? "I like what I hear and read about this iPhone well enough, the cost seems worth it, and I think I can figure out how to make it work."  Like that.  

Then there are more complex messages, to go with more involved decisions, for stuff, the value of which you created to solve more involved problems than retrieving and sending texts or booking a table for dinner.

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Where To Find The Tech Marketing Analysts

 

This is our final post to the Tech Marketing (TM) role blog, but we are not going away! We have consolidated the number of professional roles you can choose as your home page at Forrester.com, but we have not reduced the scope of challenges we can help you solve to be successful in your job. Posts from analysts whose research you find valuable will still appear on their individual blogs, as well as the role blogs with which their ongoing work is now associated.

The analysts who were aligned to the Tech Marketing role are now aligned to one of two other roles.

Sales Enablement: At Forrester, we work with leaders taking action across marketing, sales, channel, and other functions to orchestrate a higher return on the spending and activity that their companies invest in growing B2B revenues. To them, Sales Enablement (SE) means both revenue enablement and salesperson enablement. Given the broad scope of our clients’ professional challenges, current Tech Marketing analysts Lori Wizdo, Peter O’Neill, Tim Harmon, and Jon Silber have joined the SE role team because their research and advice about optimizing your investments in leads and the end-to-end lead management process and optimizing channel and partner routes to market all maps to the SE Role definition and scope. You will find their posts, both past and future, at the SE role blog.  

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MARKETING MONDAYS: FEBRUARY 4TH, 2013

Hello Fellow B2B Marketers, this weekly blog post highlights our ongoing research focused on B2B revenue acceleration, as well as an exclusive look into what outputs you can expect in the coming weeks. Kick off your week here every Monday to get a burst of support for your professional success.

Forrester hosts its Sales Enablement Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 4 and 5, 2013. Attendees will engage as a community with a shared focus on driving revenue, hear success stories in process from leading practitioners, become immersed in the latest research outputs and survey data from Forrester, and enjoy one-on-one conversations with analysts and each other, all in the comfort of the Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. This week, Marketing Mondays spotlights some of our guest speakers.

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MARKETING MONDAYS: JANUARY 28th, 2013

Hello Fellow B2B Marketers, this weekly blog post highlights our ongoing research focused on B2B revenue acceleration, as well as an exclusive look into what outputs you can expect in the coming weeks. Kick off your week here every Monday to get a burst of support for your professional success.

Forrester hosts its Sales Enablement Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 4 and 5, 2013. Attendees will engage as a community with a shared focus on driving revenue, hear success stories in process from their peers and leading B2B practitioners, become immersed in the latest thinking and data from Forrester including face time with analysts, all in the comfort of the Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. Over the next few weeks, Marketing Mondays will spotlight the themes of the forum through a series of Q&A sessions with attending analysts. This week I sat down with Norbert Kriebel to discuss his track at the upcoming forum.

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SE Forum Update: A Conversation With Norbert Kriebel

Forrester hosts its Sales Enablement Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 4 and 5, 2013. Attendees will engage as a community with a shared focus on driving revenue, hear success stories in process from their peers and leading B2B practitioners, become immersed in the latest thinking and data from Forrester including face time with analysts, all in the comfort of the Camelback Inn Resort & Spa. Over the next three weeks, Marketing Mondays will spotlight the

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