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Posted by Scott Santucci on November 15, 2008
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.
Facts about our group
What exactly did we all have in common?
What is the problem?
Lacking an organizing model or group, various activities to “help sales sell” create virtual chaos in the field.
What are the implications of this problem?
Huge wastes in marketing expenditures and inefficiencies at the point of sales contribute to performance strains; both create major barriers to execute business strategy.
Too much risk in the selling model as 20% of the sales force generates between 60% and 80% of the revenue.
What’s the risk?
The IT market is shifting away from a siloed, command and control, model optimized to manage assets; to a more cross-functional, adaptive model optimized to provide service to business constituents. As this shift occurs, we are seeing an engagement gap between those that have “cracked the code” to adding value to customers – and those who only provide capabilities. As shift from IT to BT widens – we are going to see a new buyer / seller caste system emerge.
If you can address the product, marketing, and sales gap challenges – your company can effectively compete in the higher-order caste that will be rewarded with sustainable margins. If not, you should start looking for efficient ways to begin radically reducing the overall cost of sales because pricing pressures will not support current selling models.
What’s the answer?
Develop coordination across product, marketing and sales groups to facilitate valuable conversations, by creating a customer-centered framework to guide alignment, standardization, and consistency across traditional silos.
As one of our clients told us, “It’s far easier to use our customers as our design point because they change a lot less frequently than we do!”
Implied by this approach – get off the deliverable mentality and develop a more service-oriented construct to supporting the sales force. Invest in programs to achieve specific outcomes – like increase average deal size, rather than measuring usage patterns of tools, web clicks of advertisements, or other derivative metrics. The key is working backwards from core business problems that can be measured in terms that move the dial on the balance sheet.
The current state of sales support related efforts has reached a level of diminishing return. You can only make so much improvement in product, marketing, and sales silos before you run out of room to have an impact. The next frontier of sales enablement lies in the development of truly outside-in designed programs, created specifically to help customers drive adoption and are executed cross-functionally. Significant rewards await those that accomplish this transformation before their peers in the market as they will be able to achieve “strategic vendor” status in more large accounts, more quickly than their rivals – relegating those competitors to the commodity heap.
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