Stealing Ideas from Baseball to Change the Game of Sales Enablement

Scott Santucci

I’ve been covering the sales enablement space here at Forrester for six years.  While the concept is certainly more common than it was “back in the day”, I’m not really sure we as a community have a lot of clarity about how to get various Marketing, Human Resources, IT, Finance, and Sales groups on the requisite same page required to drive the desired effectiveness and efficiencies of most sales enablement initiatives across the selling system. 

The problem today?  Sales is Getting Too Much Well Intended Help and Not Enough Real Support

One of the important realizations that we continue to illuminate for business leaders is that when all of these groups are working independently to support sales, a tremendous amount of uncoordinated, redundant, or conflicting investments are made.   Corralling these “random acts of sales support” is job #1 of any strategic sales enablement initiative…but how do you determine whose efforts are the random ones?  Whether you are in a small or large organization there are many different people are certain they know what salespeople need to be successful, resulting in an avalanche of sales enablement deliverables, but few real results. 

Read more

When Three's A Crowd: Navigating An Agreement Network Is Key To Sales Success In The Age Of The Customer

Scott Santucci

In most cases, the answers to life’s more complex questions have really simple answers. In today’s selling environment it’s often hard to determine who exactly is “the buyer.” Your salespeople are given a lot of inputs:

  • Your executive leadership want them calling on “business people” or “executives.”
  • The sales training courses they have been to instruct them to find “champions,” “decision-makers,” and “influencers.”
  • Marketers produce information about “personas.”
  • Business unit leaders and other subject matter experts talk about “users” or “doers.”
  • Sales managers tend to be more interested in understanding the opportunity (Access to power? Is it qualified? Is there budget allocate? When is the account going to make a decision?).
  • Their contacts within an given account give them different people or process steps to follow, or kick them over to procurement.

With all of the different voices – “You should do this,” “You should say that,” “You need to present this way” – echoing  in the heads of your salespeople, things can get very confusing.

A Tale Of Two Sales

The thing is – the buying environment for most of us has changed, leaving us with two distinctively different buying patterns:

  • On the one hand, the customer knows what they want and have developed fairly sophisticated procurements steps to acquired what they need at the best possible price.
  • On the other hand, the customer is looking for the expertise to help them get value from their investment and solve a problem.
Read more

Conversations Are The Fuel For The 21st-Century Selling System

Scott Santucci

Why are sales and marketing professionals working harder and longer than ever before? Why are they 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 enterprisewide strategic procurement initiatives underway. 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:

  • Training salespeople to get access to executives.
  • Creating "solution selling kits" (in marketing).
  • Developing return-on-investment tools.
  • Focusing on demand-generation campaigns.
  • Developing sales-coaching frameworks.
  • Creating more structured opportunity identification and account scorecards.
  • Fine-tuning the customer relationship management (CRM) system to improve reporting and forecasting processes.
  • Pricing and packaging exercises and corresponding negotiation training.
  • Reinventing product marketing functions into "solution" marketing roles.
  • Investing in branding and messaging programs.
Read more

Sales Enablement And The CEO: Partners To Drive Growth In The Age Of The Customer

Scott Santucci

There sure are a lot of often-quoted factoids/observations about the state of affairs among sales forces. We are hearing and reading how:

  • Fewer salespeople are hitting quota.
  • Buyers are much more knowledgeable before they meet with salespeople.
  • Improving the volume or quality of leads boosts marketers’contribution.
  • Making it easier to access sales information helps.
  • Sales managers are not effectively coaching their sales teams.
  • Lots of spending is dedicated to better equipping sellers.
Read more

Getting Zen about Sales Enablement

Scott Santucci

 

When you put the word “sales” and “enablement” together – it sure can mean a lot of different things – to a lot of different people. 

As the Research Director on Forrester’s Sales Enablement team – it’s a problem I see every day. 

What’s entertaining about this (or aggravating, if you are a sales enablement professional inside a large company) is that not only do many people view those two combined words differently – many of those people are extremely confident their own perspective is the right one.  Given what we publish, the number of presentations we give, all of the cross-functional group settings we run into – you might imagine we’ve heard our fair share of strong opinions.

Here are a few highlights of my favorite “certainties:”

·         Sales enablement is just lipstick on a knowledge management pig.

·         Sales enablement is the new label for sales training.

·         Product marketers have been enabling sellers for years, what’s the big deal?

·         Sales people should be enabling themselves with all of the resources we provide them.

·         Marketing should own sales enablement, because it is clearly a content issue, and the sales force doesn’t have access to good content.

Read more

"Using Working SW As The Measure Of Progress Is Narcissistic...." How Do You Measure The Value Of Agile Instead?

Diego Lo Giudice

Hi all,

My colleague and friend Mike Gualtieri wrote a really interesting blog the other day titled "Agile Software Is A Cop-Out; Here's What's Next." While I am not going to discuss the great conclusions and "next practices" of software (SW) development Mike suggests in that blog, I do want to focus on the assumption he makes about using working SW as a measurement of Agile.

I am currently researching that area and investigating how organizations actually measure the value of Agile SW development (business and IT value). And I am finding that, while organizations aim to deliver working SW, they also define value metrics to measure progress and much more:

  • Cycle time (e.g., from concept to production);
  • Business value (from number of times a feature is used by clients to impact on sales revenue, etc.);
  • Productivity metrics (such as burndown velocity, number of features deployed versus estimated); and last but not least
  • Quality metrics (such as defects per sprint/release, etc.).
Read more

Is Your Sales Force Really That Dumb ... Or Are They Just Misunderstood?

Scott Santucci

Ah, that pesky sales force. Why don’t they:

  • Follow the selling methodology you’ve developed with much expense and rolled out with great sweat?
  • Call on more senior-level buyers, for goodness sake — don’t they realize those are the people with adult money and fat wallets?
  • Just use the tools you’ve developed for them — all they need to know has already been figured out.
  • Sell more stuff to their existing customers — with so many things to sell, how can they NOT be successful?
  • Stay on your brand message? It’s like each rep has created their own version of the truth.
Read more

Forrester's Sales Enablement Conference Will Be About Selling In The New Economy

Scott Santucci

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”   

        -  Robert Frost

In today’s dramatically changing world, many of you are also at a metaphorical fork in the road. 

The path most traveled represents squeezing that last ounce of productivity from the tried-and-true practices that got you to where you are today. 

The other path is being set by trailblazers who recognize that the economy is resetting itself and new go-to-market models are emerging. 

Simply put, it’s a race to see who can develop a selling system that allows client-facing people to add more value to clients, at every interaction. These value-exchange patterns are different based on your customer types, the problems you help address, and the role your organization plays in solving them.

I am excited to be telling you about our first sales enablement conference, which will be held in downtown San Francisco February 14th and 15th. Over the summer, our team has been at work putting together a truly exciting and innovative agenda for our forum. Here are a few of the great topics we are working on:

  • What do buying executives actually think of how they are engaged by sellers? There’s a lot of talk about getting sales and marketing to sing off the same page, but what is the song? Any kind of alignment should start with buyers, and we are going to present a mountain of buyer insights that in many ways are jaw-dropping.
Read more

Do Your Value Propositions "Go To Eleven"?

Scott Santucci

In Rob Reiner’s 1984 “rockumentary,” This Is Spinal Tap, one of the main characters, Nigel Tufnel, proclaims that they are different than other bands because their amplifiers “go to ll.” (You have to watch this clip if you don't know what I am talking about).

What a perfect analog of how B2B companies are trying to differentiate themselves today. I have the opportunity to work with sales and marketing professionals on the topic of competitive preference, and here are some actual quotes from vendors about how they think they separate themselves from “other blokes”:

  • “But we are truly global and our competitors are not” – a managed services provider
  • “We are much more scalable than them” – a software provider
  • “We deliver our services in the cloud” – a software-as-a-service provider

Translation? “These go to 11.”

You know the show MythBusters?

Forrester’s Sales Enablement team is testing the conventional wisdoms of sales and marketing by asking executive level buyers what they think. 

So, does “11” differentiate you? No.

Read more

The Key To Sales Enablement Success Is To Focus On The Conversation

Scott Santucci

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:

Read more