Open The Door To Sales Enablement Success

Steven Wright

Open The Door To Sales Enablement Success

After seven months as a Forrester research analyst, with scores of vendor briefings and customer inquiries under my belt, I've seen certain patterns to unlocking sales enablement success emerge. Five Keys To Sales Enablement Automation Success brings together lessons learned from vendors and practitioners to show where B2B marketers should focus their attention. Some considerations to keep in mind – especially when it comes to content: 

  • Design content for conversation. B2B marketers naturally focus on outwardly focused content (PDFs, white papers, videos, third-party, etc.) and use sales enablement automation to make that content visible and easy for sellers to use to engage with buyers. But sellers need more – they need information on how to use content to best engage not with emails and links but in conversation. That’s where the real connection is made.
  • Keep it concise and consistent. Shorter is better. Fewer is better. Whether that’s the amount of content or the places to discover it, less is more. Using analytics, marketers can see what content is used, how often, and by whom. That unlocks insight into how to improve quality, not quantity.
  • Build in collaboration to improve customizing. Sellers will always need to personalize and customize content, whether it's an email, a presentation, or – most frequently – any sort of proposal. Analysis can show what is most frequently changed, and marketers can use that to better understand how to improve content.
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Your B2B Prospects Don't Want You To Call Them

Steven Casey

So this makes it official: the rite of passage for every new analyst. My first research report, How Self-Service Research Changes B2B Marketing, has just been published.

I covered the premise of this report in my first blog post — but I’ll summarize it here again: multiple Forrester surveys have shown that B2B buyers strongly prefer to conduct their own research, without ever speaking with a sales rep. Forward-thinking B2B marketers will embrace this change and enable the customer-directed research journey with self-service technologies such as contextual help solutions and virtual agents.

Many B2B marketers may feel that this is a risky move — giving up control and resisting the urge to email or call every prospect who lands on your site and guide them along a carefully crafted content path — but after more than a dozen conversations with vendors and their customers to create my report, I’m more convinced than ever that this is the right thing to do. This is true for lots of reasons, which I cover in the report, but the most important one is that we’re all digital consumers now. So the self-service habits we have all learned over the last decade or so are now preferred behaviors — even for B2B buyers, who now just want to be left alone to find the content they need.

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Do Millennials Lack Grit?

Mary Shea

In a recent blog post, "Why Millennials Struggle For Success", well known psychologist, author and MacArthur Fellow Angela Duckworth, explores the question many experienced business leaders and managers ask as well: What’s wrong with Millennials? Why do they keep changing jobs? Why do they complain when work needs to be taken home over the weekend? And so on. She asks if it’s because they don’t have enough grit. Duckworth believes the secret to outstanding success is not talent but rather a special blend of passion and persistence called grit. Duckworth developed a Grit Scale and now has scores from thousands of Americans where her data reveal that grit and age go hand and hand.

So what do we do with those Millennials? Today, Millennials make up one third of the workforce and in four years time they will be half. With the average age of the US B2B sales rep at 40 years old, millennial sellers are, or soon will be, the future revenue generators and business leaders for their firms. Smart sales and marketing leaders realize that status quo communication, management approaches and tools will fail to inspire, and are adapting their enablement strategies and tech stacks to resonate with this important group of employees.

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What Do B2B Marketers Really Do? Forrester Wants To Know

Laura Ramos

Have you ever wondered about the tactical challenges B2B marketers (like you) face across role responsibilities like building brand/awareness, generating qualified demand, nurturing leads into qualified sales opportunities, enabling sales/channel partners to better close business, and expanding current customer relationships? 

Or how your practices around technology adoption, process change, modern marketing skill development, and sales alignment compare to peers?

If you tell us -- we will tell you more in return.

Many of you read our blog and research, or talk to us during inquiries, about best practices.  We have deep experience helping many clients strategize and execute on many aspects of modern marketing, but sometimes it's great to have some fresh input all at once.  Therefore, the B2B marketing research team has fielded a survey to take an indepth look at the state of B2B marketing tactics and sales enablement activity.   We hope you will take about 10 to 15 minutes to share your experiences by clicking here.

All responses will be kept confidential and results reported in the aggregate (so no one can figure out who's leading and who's lagging!)

We planned to close the survey last Friday, but would LOVE to hear from a few more of you to help us get a nice healthy sample.  And if you want Matt Camuso (our RA working on the survey) to stop badgering your with all those emails, now's the time to take the survey!

Time runs out officially this Friday, May 6 at 5 pm ET. Take this Survey!  Or the dog gets it.... (c'mon, you remember National Lampoon?)

Simplifying the Seller's Journey -- Real World Sales Enablement Experts Weigh In

Steven Wright

In this, the age of the customer, the value of simplifying the customer’s journey seems abundantly clear. But what is sometimes left in its shadow – especially as B2B marketers work to better align sales and marketing efforts – is how to simplify the seller’s journey.

For the new report, “Simplifying the Seller’s Journey,” I spoke with sales enablement practitioners at various companies, with from ten  to thousands of sellers, to investigate  how they are simplifying the seller journey – including using various sales enablement automation solutions.

Their experiences point to some key points to consider when planning on how to implement seller-focused projects for content management, training, engagement tracking and more:

  • Know your sellers: The more you understand a day in their life and where you can remove obstacles the better.
  • Understand how sellers – not just prospects – engage with content: This will help not only  marketers  to better target content, but sales  managers will be able to  better coaching their teams.
  • Improved efficiency opens the door to effectiveness: B2B marketers can then  measure how effective content and related sales actions can produce faster and larger sales.

That’s just the beginning – implementing solutions that are flexible and transparent so that they easily integrate with e-mail and your CRM helps ensure rapid adoption as well as rapid response to changes in your environment.

Continuously curious –

Steven

A Practical Approach To B2B Buyer Journey Mapping

Steven Casey

After a conversation with my colleague Lori Wizdo the other day about buyer journey mapping, she followed up by sharing the following cartoon – which I thought was perfect:

Perfect because it captured both our perspectives on the topic: Lori’s that buyer journeys are by their very nature hypothetical; and mine that you can never anticipate every buyer’s possible path to purchase.

This is not to say that buyer journey mapping is a futile exercise – or that the way to deal with its limitations is to ensure that your customers stay on the paths you’ve laid out for them, as appealing (and humorously absurd) as that reaction may be for all marketers.

As Lori pointed out in a recent blog post, you need to understand your buyer’s typical path to purchase to build an effective omnichannel marketing strategy that successfully engages with buyers at the right time with the right content through the right channel.

But be realistic in your goals and recognize that you will never be able to anticipate every possible buyer journey. When large companies with a wide range of solutions are documenting dozens, if not hundreds, of discrete paths to purchase, it’s too easy to get lost in the process and proceed well past the point of diminishing returns. 

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What's The Impact Of Content Marketing In The B2B Marketing Mix?

Laura Ramos
I have a confession to make.  I love talking with B2B marketers and clients, but there is one question I get occasionally that really makes me crazy. (And you will hear an earful if you are unfortunate enough to ask it.) 
 
“Laura, what’s working well in B2B marketing tactics?”
 
And I’m thinking, “Do I look like the Lone Ranger?”
(Silver bullets? Get it?)
 
To be fair, when marketers ask me "What works best?" I don’t really think they are looking for a simple and seemingly magical solution to a complicated problem. Most just want to validate their current choices and ensure they haven't overlooked other viable approaches. But when 87% of B2B marketers say they struggle to develop compelling content, no amount of messing around with the mix will create a significant improvement in results.
 
And now I have research to support that position.  Forrester’s recent report on the state of the B2B marketing mix reveals a couple of very interesting results:
 
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Sales Enablement Automation – A View Of The Landscape

Steven Wright

In the days before Waze, Google Maps, or even Mapquest, when I needed to figure out how to get somewhere in Southern California, I relied on the Thomas Guide. Still available for many areas, the thick, spiral-bound tome was the location bible. It was not the easiest thing to use. Everyone’s copy was dog-eared through constant flipping back and forth to compare the street name index at the back with the coordinates on the correct map-page at the front. It was time-consuming, and sometimes confusing if you didn’t know the exact version of the street – court versus place versus avenue – or what section of the street you were looking for.

The market landscape for sales enablement automation solutions has been in the Thomas Guide phase of finding solutions.  There are a wide range of vendors, with a correspondingly wide range of offerings and capabilities. That leads to the web-based equivalent of flipping back and forth trying to map what it is they really do to where you want to go.

The latest Forrester Vendor Landscape: Sales Enablement Automation Solutions and the related toolkit, which includes detailed profiles, looks at 18 vendors and calls out key functions and considerations when starting a search for a sales enablement solution. It discusses why B2B marketers should focus on content, understand how to present and recommend from the seller’s point of view, leverage engagement analytics for multiple audiences, and more.

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Millennials Arrive In Force!

Mary Shea
We’ve been hearing so much lately about the changing dynamics between B2B buyers and sellers. Not only are buyers engaging more and more online as part of their evaluation and purchase process, but sellers have the ability to track prospects’ behaviors and interests in order to contextualize their outreach as well. There is another exciting transformation underway...the arrival of the Millennials in force!
 
Today, Millennials make up a third of the workforce; by 2020, they will be half. This generation of employees may work more to your advantage than you think. Born in the digital age to tech-savvy parents, Millennials have experienced everything from the pseudo Y2K crisis to the 2008 downturn to the social media explosion in the mid-2000s. They don’t quite function or react in the workplace like Boomers and Gen Xers, and they have different needs. But, there’s an upside and a divergent side to be considered with them.
 
Not having the right tools or enforcing restrictive schedules can work against sales and marketing leaders…and don’t forget to give and take feedback at each step of the way. And what about the rest of your sales team? Is it possible for Millennials and more tenured reps to work synergistically? You bet! Make sure you encourage collaboration through reverse mentorship and in-tune management approaches, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The right tools and technologies are only the tip of the iceberg in thinking about how you can support your sales force both today and in the future. 
 
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Channel Partner Business Models In The Age Of The Customer

Tim Harmon

I’ve been invited to present at several partner conferences this year on the topic of how channel partners should transform their businesses, specifically in light of declining discount margins and digital transformation.  Yes, you heard me right – declining discount margins.  It’s not happening across the board, but the general trend in the tech industry for the past couple of years is that vendors are reducing the discounts they are offering to partners (but some are rolling out programs that can boost partners’ profitability in other ways). 

To more than compensate for shrinking discount margins, I posted last year that there is a new wide world of value-added services opportunities for channel partners – particularly “away from the box” value-added services (as opposed to “close to the box” services involving installation and configuration), driven largely by the upsurge of line-of-business buyers: planning, adoption services, change management, risk management, multi-vendor management, and benchmarking, to name a few.  For example, we just interviewed a Google partner who is seeing significant growth with its customer success program.

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