Why are sales and marketing professionals seemingly in a constant firefighting mode, moving from one fire drill to the next, one meeting to another? We are in the middle of a major transformation in the B2B sales model. Your company is caught between a rock and a hard place because your investors want to see accelerated growth and improved margins. However, your customers have the same pressures, and all have some form of enterprise-wide strategic procurement initiatives under way. Your goal: sell at a higher price. Their goal: buy only what they need at the lowest possible price. Something has to give.
In response to these tectonic forces, we find many companies have a variety of internal projects designed to combat the commoditization trend. Some common efforts include:
The line from Shakespeare, "What's past is prologue" has always resonated with me. History does have a funny way of repeating itself and people who can learn from what’s happened before have an advantage over those that don’t. As we celebrate Memorial Day here in the States, I thought I’d use the time to share some useful insights about one of America’s most successful generals and how they relate to sales enablement professionals today.
General George Patton’s unparalleled ability to execute in WWII sometimes gets overshadowed by his colorful (and stupid) public relations. Because of his quick strike abilities, the Axis leaders feared him more than any other Allied general. What made him truly unique, and someone still studied in military academies throughout the world today, was his formula for success. Patton had a voracious appetite for history and believed that humanity already had a master inventory of all of the strategies and tactics for winning a battle. All one had to do was apply that knowledge to a given situation. His success can be summed up by his ability to model, map, and match.
He was able to model the various elements of a particular battle (from tactics, troop movements, level of aggression of his opponent, terrain, initiative, strengths, weather patterns, etc.) to recognize patterns from an engagement of antiquity. Having identified patterns, he was able to associate (or map) the actions of the victorious general to his situation, giving him a powerful competitive advantage -- the trial-and-error wisdom of thousands of successful and failed tactics and strategies of the other generals of the ages. Armed with the best advisor (the collective wisdom of centuries of peers), Patton was able to rapidly and effectively match winning tactics from the past to his specific circumstances.
Service companies definitely understand business problems better than product companies. Case in point: I've been talking a lot lately to both kinds of companies about innovation. When you ask vendors the question, "How do you approach the innovation process?" service companies, on average, say something about business problems first. Product companies, on average, talk about technology.
By no small coincidence, many product companies are now trying to figure out the kind of solutions in which they might play a role. That question has two sides:
The vast majority of people who read this blog are undoubtedly involved in some aspect of sales enablement. I'm tempted to add, "Whether you like it or not," but most PMs enjoy that part of the job, even though they might do a little too much of it.
Therefore, we'd be grateful to hear what research we have planned for the future would be most helpful to you, the sales enablers...Er, the PMs who help enable sales. Forrester takes the "Client Choice" channel of communication with the outside world very seriously. We want to keep producing research that answers the most pressing questions on your mind. Click below to state your preferences.
Saeed's recent post on the triumvirate of Sales, Marketing, and PM contains laudable suggestions for how PM can work better with these other groups. When he starts talking about the rocky relationship between Sales and Marketing, I worry that some hapless PM might read this post and think about playing peacekeeping force between these warring factions.
My frank advice: don't try to be the hero that ends the frictions between these two groups. At some point, they might ask you for help in some project that might help settle their differences. However, as in all troubled relationships, they must want to change for this sort of activity to be worthwhile. PM has enough challenges of its own, and it has little leverage or no over either of these organizations.
I love the saying “you get delegated to the people you sound like” - especially when it comes to selling.
At the end of the day, all of the work that goes on to build and support a product comes down to the discrete conversations your sales people have with customers.
This parody video is both incredibly funny (especially if you’ve ever carried a bag before, or work in a company dominated by engineers) and drives home an outstanding point – “you-centric”, jargon filled presentations more or less all sound ike this one.
In my last post as a product manager, sales training did not top my list of favorite things to do. The problem wasn't the sales team, which was composed of bright, motivated people, with a genuine interest in what was coming next from the development team. Instead, the problem was with the format of sales training.
Who looks forward to three days of non-stop PowerPoint? Not me, and certainly not the audience. We had to come up with a better approach, particularly as the company expanded into new technology areas, such as records management and scanning. Therefore, we experimented with a few new ideas. Some worked, others didn't.
One of the moderately successful experiments started with the assertion, "Scanning isn't as complicated as people think it is. I bet that I could put a bag on my head, pretend to be the most stupid end user imaginable, and I could still understand scanning. Someone just needs to explain the basics in the most practical terms imaginable."
On November 7th, I facilitated Forrester’s second sales enablement roundtable – this time in Foster City,California.Joining us were sales and marketing executives from:Intel, NetApp, Borland, Informatica, Sun, Interwoven, Microchip, Renesas, Juniper Networks, Trend Micro, and Thoughtworks.
Overall, we had an extremely high energy session, even though I lost my voice the previous week.It’s hard to summarize a whole day of intense discussion into a blog post, but I’ll give it a try.
General George Patton’s unparalleled ability to execute in WWII sometimes gets overshadowed by his colorful (and stupid) public relations. Because of his quick strike abilities, the Axis leaders feared him more than any other Allied general.What made him truly unique, and someone still studied in military academies throughout the world today, was his formula for success.Patton had a voracious appetite for history and believed that humanity already had a master inventory of all of the strategies and tactics for winning a battle.
Join Brad Holmes and I for a look at what can be done to drive sales results in a down economy. Forrester views "Sales Enablement" as a cross-functional disipline requiring product, marketing, and sales teams to work together to optimize results.