Methinks Tech Marketing Is Not Yet Ready For Sentiment Analysis

Peter O'Neill

As you’d expect from a Forrester analyst, this is Peter O'Neill by the way, I travel a lot— about 40% of my working days. But it is also amazing how a full week spent in the home office can still feel so busy! These days, social media keeps you in the discussion mainstream – perhaps even more so than if you are on the road because you have more time to engage. Bob Apollo, at the UK-based consultancy Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, even tweeted me privately this week with the message, “And you a VP at Forrester, reading my stuff, an 'umble blogger... I'm not worthy...” after I told him that I enjoyed his tweets and found them useful. Well, even as a fully fledged analyst for tech marketers, I continue to be eager to learn from anybody else. And I do this without any fear of appearing to copy others — here in Germany, a popular government minister has now resigned because he plagiarized the majority of his doctorate dissertation years ago; bad enough itself, but he initially denied it when discovered.

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Why Are The ITMS Megavendors Not Addressing Empowered IT Operations Professionals?

Peter O'Neill

Why Are The ITMS Megavendors Not Addressing Empowered IT Operations Professionals?

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The Portfolio Track View From Forrester's Sales Enablement Forum 2011

Dean Davison

In addition to the sessions mentioned by Brad Holmes and Brian Lambert in their blog entries, we dedicated an entire track to sessions that discussed how the decisions made by portfolio teams relate to the efficiency (or not) of sales teams.

Participants in the portfolio track all consider themselves to be sales enablement professionals, but have job titles that include product management, sales operations, competitive intelligence, and marketing communications.

Despite this wide range of responsibilities, each person shares a common goal of improving their areas of responsibility in ways that improve sales efficiency.

Attendees who look at sales enablement through a portoflio lens expressed the following thoughts about the Forum:

  • We feel empowered by seeing and hearing so many sales enablement professional come together.
  • We need to make our company executives aware of the industry changes in sales enablement.
  • We have entrenched behaviors that we need to overcome (i.e. muscle memory).
  • We face a complex amount of change and need a way to communicate it clearly.
  • We need to understand how e can overcome organizational silos that increase complexity.
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Tech Distribution Changes In An Empowered And Cloudy Industry – Discussed At Distree XXL

Peter O'Neill

I was invited to speak at the annual Distree XXL event in Monte Carlo last week. Now in its ninth year, Distree XXL gathers together top executives from tech industry vendors and distributors plus, in recent years, retailers from around EMEA for three days that include a trade show, presentation sessions, and meetings to discuss industry-specific channel topics. The 2011 event drew 950 delegates from 127 tech vendors and over 400 distributors. One of the event highlights for everybody is a process to request and set up formal one-on-one meetings between the various players, similar to our own one-on-one sessions at the Forrester Forums (only their software is better). A total of 5,000 such sessions were scheduled: some at tables in larger rooms around the trade show, many others in private meeting rooms elsewhere in the conference center.

The keynote presentation I gave was a clone of my recent Forrester Teleconference , where I use the word “changes” both as a noun and a verb: I describe what changes we see happening in the channel due to recent industry trends, and I propose how channel resellers and distributors must also change their business model for continued success. The most common comment I heard from attendees after I presented was, “It was good to hear somebody outside our business make these points. We’ve been discussing this for a while now, but not everybody is convinced this is happening or knows what to do about it.” I must say, I have never, ever collected so many business cards after a presentation where I must follow up by sending slides as well as two relevant reports (one on channel resellers and one on distributors) by my esteemed colleague Tim Harmon and myself.

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Sales Enablement And The Future Of Selling

Scott Santucci

Highlights

  • Looking back on the past 10 years puts the changes taking place today in the technology industry in context.
  • Over this period, SGA has grown faster than revenues – a major contributor to margin erosion.
  • Buyers are stratifying their suppliers into a caste system, increasingly delineating strategic vendors from commodity providers.
  • In order to achieve profitable growth objectives, technology vendors must rethink how they go to market.
  • Forrester’s Sales Enablement Forum February 14-15 will provide sales enablement leaders the concepts and approaches to compete in the new emerging “outcome economy.”
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“What Did Marketing Ever Do For Us?” Asks Sales

Peter O'Neill

 It is January, 2015, and technology sales reps Reg, Xerxes, Francis, and Loretta have been to the movies to watch a rerun of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, probably one of the best film comedies of any time. At dinner afterward, they are reliving the scene where the commandos discuss “what did the Romans ever do for us” when one of their marketing colleagues stops by to say hello. After the marketing manager leaves, they continue their discussion.

REG:

Now there’s another point. Those people in marketing. What have they ever done for us?!

XERXES:

Well, they give us much better leads now.

REG:

What?

XERXES:

Yes. Compared to before, they’re really qualified. I can certainly close my deals much quicker than I used to. To be honest, I didn’t even look at leads five years ago  — they were a waste of my time.

REG:

Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.

XERXES:

And those contact profiles.

LORETTA:

Oh, yeah, the contact profiles. Remember what it used to be like? We’d have no idea who we were visiting. Had to ask all those questions about family and hobbies. Now, before I see someone, marketing give me a full profile  — I see their Facebook, I know how LinkedIn they are. I even see their last 20 tweets.

REG:

Yeah. All right. I'll grant you: Leads and the contact profiles are two things that marketing has done for us.

MATTHIAS:

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An Inside Look At Forrester's Sales Enablement Conference

Scott Santucci

Quickly

  • There are a lot of forces at work driving technology industry vendors to change how they go to market. 
  • Forrester’s upcoming Technology Sales Enablement Forum is a two-day agenda targeted at addressing this.
  • You can register for a free webinar on Tuesday 1/18 to learn more about the conference.
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How Your Battle Cards Will Become Even More Important To Sales!

Dean Davison

I hear you! My earlier post about battle cards, and my title in particular, confused some readers. By outlining some of the problems with battle cards that have surfaced in our current research on the topic without providing a clear context of where battle cards are headed, I did not play out my cards effectively. My bad; thanks for the feedback.

Here is what we are up to and why: We are in the process of interviewing competitive intelligence professionals and reviewing a raft of tech industry battle cards. Our research to date shows that the wide range of purposes -- and the inconsistency of content -- in battle cards are undermining the value to sales reps at many tech vendors. This lack of a clear design point and focus on content that will be useful to the buyer -- and thus usable by the rep -- is making many battle cards mushy -- but not all of them!

At companies where battle cards are successful, they are very successful.

Effective battle cards provide valuable talking points that lie at the intersection of buyer expectations and needs and the product advantages and competitive differentiators that satisfy those needs. Great battle cards don’t deluge sales reps with facts out of context, but rather equip reps with usable insights to engage customers about meeting their needs. That is what we are finding so far. 

Our purpose in researching battle cards is to identify what makes them successful and to develop a design point and methodology for creating great ones. Our research indicates that as the tech industry moves toward outcome selling, sales battle cards will become one of the important vehicles that portfolio teams will use to enable their sales channels.

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Why Your Sales Battle Cards Don't Work!

Dean Davison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We recently interviewed dozens of sales enablement professionals within the tech vendor community. These interviews painted a less-than-ideal picture of how sales teams value and use competitive battle cards – that competitive battle cards are a relic from out-dated selling models.

 

Battle cards still focus on products – just as they did in the days when customers purchased one product over another based on a side-by-side comparison of their features. In those days, competitive intelligence teams created battle cards about competitors – their company financials, products, sales tactics, and weaknesses – literally for sales reps to keep in their pocket.

A sampling of battle cards that we collected from across the tech industry confirms that battle cards are fashioned from a product point of view and often created because they are among the checklist of items for product managers when creating sales content. Today, portfolio managers also use the term “battle card’ for almost anything prepared for sales teams. In addition to competitive battle cards, we uncovered materials labeled as battle cards that talked about:

  • Industry overviews. How a vendor’s products can combine into a new solution to meet the needs of customers in an industry that the vendor does not currently service.
  • Technology profiles. How the capabilities of a new or emerging technology will allow it to displace the products or solutions that customers currently use.
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The Credibility Crisis Of Competitive And Market Intelligence

Dean Davison

Leaders of competitive and market intelligence teams know that something is wrong. They tell Forrester this every day. They describe it as being similar to when your car doesn’t drive quite right, but the mechanic can’t find a problem, or when you feel sick, but the doctor gives you a clean bill of health.

You know that something needs to change, but can’t seem to find a point of view to guide you toward the right way to change.

The most frequently used word to describe this problem is “credibility” — and is usually couched in questions such as “how can we build credibility with sales?” or “why isn’t our content credible with sales teams?” Forrester’s practice serving sales enablement professionals will discuss the challenge of building CMI credibility with sales during our February teleconference.

Across the tech industry, marketing and portfolio teams place massive amounts of content into sales portals and measure their success from the usage data — views, downloads, prints — from these repositories. During a recent research interview, one sales rep at a leading software company said, “I know that a lot of materials are supposed to be on our sales portals, but in my nine years, I haven’t ever taken the time to look.”

Your supply chain is broken if a sales rep can succeed for a decade without ever using your materials or even visiting the primary site holding your content!

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