Today, I continue my introduction to the new analysts (from April 1st) in our group providing research and advisory for B2B Marketing professionals, including sales enablement. In addition to Laura Ramos, whom I introduced last week, we are also being joined by experienced Forrester analysts Kim Celestre and Lori Wizdo.
So, as an introduction to Kim’s work, let me point you to a recent report: Executive Q&A: How Online Communities Help You Achieve A Social Depth Objective, which is currently on the Marketing Leadership pages on this website. This report discusses the benefits of creating and maintaining online communities, a marketing tactic still undervalued by marketing leaders. As Kim points out, you can better influence how your customers explore your offerings and help move them to a purchase decision by tapping into the content and interactions generated by online communities. She explains about social reach and depth and cites the EMC Community Network online community as a powerful B2B marketing best practice. Through 2015, Kim will also be researching and publishing on the topic of social selling.
In last week’s post, I mentioned the upcoming transition of the Sales Enablement role to a much more strategic B2B Marketing role. In April, overnight, you will have immediate access to over a hundred reports about B2B marketing written by experienced Forrester analysts Laura Ramos, Lori Wizdo, and Kim Celestre.
This is in addition to the reports you know already from our existing sales enablement research. That body of research will continue as planned within the new role; there is no let-off in our momentum on sales enablement coverage. But this research will now be read by a much broader audience across B2B marketing. That is important for sales enablement automation vendors and service providers, because most of them actually sell their wares to the marketing department. So the reports we write about them will reach a larger audience.
Plus, as I discussed at the Sales Enablement Forum, you Sales Enablement Professionals are wearing at least six hats of responsibility, for what we call the six business goals of sales enablement, and you must continually educate and influence colleagues to get things done. Most of these colleagues are also in marketing, so we are helping your cause directly.
As an introduction to the new analysts in our group over the next few weeks, I will refer you to an interesting report that they have published and discuss how relevant it is to our sales enablement ambitions.
Wow! It may have taken place eight days ago, but I am still exhausted — and also exhilarated. In all modesty, we held a greatSales Enablement Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona last week. Nearly 350 attendees enjoyed presentations from 34 different speakers, including many industry practitioners, as well the opportunity to meet 21 sponsoring companies. As I promised you a few months ago, the agenda was equally strong around B2B marketing topics. For those of you who did not make it, here is a short recap on the Sales Enablement landing page of what we covered in the two days.
Wow! It may have taken place eight days ago, but I am still exhausted — and also exhilarated. In all modesty, we held a greatSales Enablement Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona last week. Nearly 350 attendees enjoyed presentations from 34 different speakers, including many industry practitioners, as well the opportunity to meet 21 sponsoring companies. For those of you who did not make it, here is a short recap of what we covered in the two days.
Day One: Challenge Thinking
Rowena Track from TE Connectivity kicked off our presentations on the main stage, discussing how to establish an infrastructure to help sales be successful. She focused on how customers were already well on their way to digital self-sufficiency, which means that the buyer’s journey starts well before your sales team is aware of them.
Forrester analyst Andy Hoar took the stage next and presented a wealth of data that revealed customers’ growing preference for engaging via self-serve eCommerce portals; this data led to him to predict that this will displace 1 million B2B salespeople over the next five years. Andy’s prediction and analysis resonated with attendees throughout the Forum.
Joanne Moretti from Jabil joined us next to talk about the evolution of sales enablement over the years, including her own experience creating HP’s Sales University, integrating Dell’s various software businesses, and in her current role at Jabil.
Peter O’Neill here. We held our annual research planning meeting the other week and ended discussing yet again the eternal question of B2B marketing versus B2C. This is also a common discussion point with clients in my experience. Many of the documented marketing stories and best practices seem unsuitable for B2B marketers, they claim. B2C marketers respond that even business buyers are people and so the lessons they have learned apply equally to B2B. Now, as is always the case with these interminable arguments, both parties are partly right — and they are partly wrong.
My colleagues and I are planning a Forrester report that explores this dilemma in much more detail. Here is a table which I have often used to lead discussions and which I would like to include in the report. As this is “research in progress”, I have annotated the graph accordingly. In fact, I am looking for YOUR feedback on this please.
I was talking last week with Neil Ringel, Executive Vice President at Staples Advantage as we continue to prepare for the Sales Enablement Forum in March where Neil is one of the industry keynote speakers. Staples Advantage, a division of Staples, is the world’s largest office products delivery business, serving everyone from the twenty-person office up to and including the Fortune 500 and the B2B sales team works with clients to develop customized programs with specialized pricing, dedicated account management, and a complete assortment of products and services at the lowest total delivered cost while ordering and fulfillment is a mixture of these direct meetings and eBusiness transactions. Although they are called sales, they are actually more responsible for delivering the company’s brand promise: “We make buying office products easy.” Here is our discussion.
Peter: Do you think that you will need less, more, and/or different salespeople in 5 years time?
We are working on a new report on how to prepare a business case for investment projects around the six goals of sales enablement, including investments in technology — there is a massive opportunity to help salespeople through the use of data analytics and content presentation tools, especially around mobile devices. This report is actually being authored by my colleague Kate Leggett, our research coryphaei on CRM projects who usually serves Application Development & Delivery Professionals. I have asked her to focus this report on the needs of Sales Enablement Professionals: marketers or sales training executives who may see the need for these investments but, because they are the business professionals, do not always have a technology budget to spend.
Our buyer data certainly tells us that this is a priority. Investing in sales technology is now the No. 3 priority among businesses. The following survey data was published in another of Kate’s reports. When asked which departments or business groups their firm are focusing on the most when considering their software strategy and investments, the priority sequence was
I spent some time last week with Paul Gottsegen, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Office at Mindtree. Paul is one of our guest keynote speakers at our Sales Enablement Forum in March and Mindtree is one of the fastest growing business services companies in the industry. Services marketing, let alone services selling is a particular challenge; and thought leadership and storytelling play an important role in ensuring success. Like many companies, Mindtree has had to learn to elevate its story to align to the needs of business executives.
Paul and I discussed his upcoming presentation and here is our dialogue.
Peter: How are you helping your own salespeople to better understand their buyers?
Now it is high time that I remind you of our upcoming Sales Enablement Forum on March 2 and 3 in Scottsdale, Arizona,where the overall theme this year is about the different approaches required to optimize your sales channels. Our research shows that more transactional buyers now prefer more automation and self-service (eBusiness); whereas executives who are involved in buying prefer (no, insist on) having conversations and engagement that match their problem-solving needs. So we have designed an agenda that covers direct selling, selling through channel partners, as well as selling through eBusiness interactions. More importantly, we will address the challenge of aligning each of these channels so that your buyers think you are one company regardless of the channel they choose to leverage at any point in time.
I had great fun presenting our sales enablement (SE) execution landscape to Forrester clients last week in a regular client webinar. The SE execution landscape is an idea partly based on a report we published in September. That report introduced the concept of “the supply chain for successful sales conversations” and categorized about 45 different vendors and service providers in terms of six SE business goals, as shown below. We see these goals as the bridge between marketing automation and sales operations processes. The vendor list was the state of our knowledge when we submitted the report to our publishing team in July. But since then, we’ve become aware of so many more vendors in the space; either they’ve briefed us or we’ve come across them in client discussions. So as of last week, Forrester is tracking a SE landscape numbering some 112 companies. This area of technology is positively exploding!!!