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

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:

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"Patton-ed" Lessons In Execution And How They Apply To Sales Enablement

The line from Shakespeare, "What's past is prologue" has always resonated with me. History does have a funny way of repeating itself and people who can learn from what’s happened before have an advantage over those that don’t. As we celebrate Memorial Day here in the States, I thought I’d use the time to share some useful insights about one of America’s most successful generals and how they relate to sales enablement professionals today.

General George Patton’s unparalleled ability to execute in WWII sometimes gets overshadowed by his colorful (and stupid) public relations. Because of his quick strike abilities, the Axis leaders feared him more than any other Allied general. What made him truly unique, and someone still studied in military academies throughout the world today, was his formula for success. Patton had a voracious appetite for history and believed that humanity already had a master inventory of all of the strategies and tactics for winning a battle. All one had to do was apply that knowledge to a given situation. His success can be summed up by his ability to model, map, and match.

He was able to model the various elements of a particular battle (from tactics, troop movements, level of aggression of his opponent, terrain, initiative, strengths, weather patterns, etc.) to recognize patterns from an engagement of antiquity. Having identified patterns, he was able to associate (or map) the actions of the victorious general to his situation, giving him a powerful competitive advantage -- the trial-and-error wisdom of thousands of successful and failed tactics and strategies of the other generals of the ages. Armed with the best advisor (the collective wisdom of centuries of peers), Patton was able to rapidly and effectively match winning tactics from the past to his specific circumstances.

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Forrester's Sales Enablement Roundtable Findings Teleconference Is On March 5th

I got back from Europe over the weekend and have some great stories, but what I am really excited to do is share some of the findings from Forrester's third Sales Enablement Roundtable executive exchange session. To help chart a course for this rapidly emerging discipline, we have been rolling up our sleeves and getting into the details about this very important and complex topic.

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It's Been A While, Why — And What's Going On With Sales Enablement These Days?

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated this blog, and it’s been brought to my attention by many of you as we discuss the sales enablement topic at: conferences, meetings, over peaking duck Peking duck (wow, this is what happens when you trust Word too much in your edits and try to get something out too quickly over the voices of children who want you to go downstairs and play Wii with them), or during inquires.   (NOTE: guys, if you add comments, I know you are reading!!)

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The Quest For Vision — Selling Ahead Of The RFP

It used to be that sales people could hit their numbers by responding to inbound inquiries (leads, RFIs, RFP, etc) from various companies within their territory. Now, however, these same reps are forced to develop opportunities from scratch as go-to-market models are increasingly more account–based than in the past. In addition, most firms are finding their win rates for unsolicited RFPs drop below 25%, a fact that contributes to the growing cost of sales.

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Are You Mounting A Value-Selling Engine On A Product-Selling Chassis?

It used to be that sales people could hit their numbers by responding to inbound inquiries (leads, RFIs, RFP, etc) from various companies within their territory. Now, however, these same reps are forced to develop opportunities from scratch as go-to-market models are increasingly more account–based than in the past. In addition, most firms are finding their win rates for unsolicited RFPs drop below 25%, a fact that contributes to the growing cost of sales.

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Trusted Advisor Or "C-Rate Consultant" : Which One Are You Turning Your Sales Force Into?

Cheesy salesman Most of the companies I speak with are focusing on changing their go-to-market models and asking their sales people to call higher in organizations. The term “trusted advisor” is batted about within the halls and conference rooms of vendor organizations.

I’ve yet to run into a marketing or sales leader who IS NOT encouraging their sales team to elevate their access level. 

Who could have a problem with a sales organization focusing on gaining more consistent access to the budget holders that control their fate? 

The real problem here is that these organizations do not realize they are making a dramatic and fundamental shift from being focused on market share (promoting products and measuring their unit sales) to a wallet share (the percentage of available spend a particular executive has in the vendors category) orientation.

Incremental changes don’t work when you are fundamentally changing the game. 

What am I talking about?

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Are Your Salespeople Stupid?

Come on, admit it.  Einstein

It’s what you think, isn’t it?

If I had a dollar for every time I heard “our salespeople lack the skills or ability to (insert any of the following: cross-sell, sell higher, sell to value, get ahead of the RFP)” I would be a very rich person.

But are selling skills really the problem?

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What Science Do You Use For The Science Of Selling?

Alchemist

Most companies are acutely focused on their sales organizations, wanting to apply more structure, discipline, and measurement in order to maximize productivity, predictability, and transparency. A phrase often used to encapsulate this endeavor is “art to science.”

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Metrics And Measures Really Do Matter