A few weeks ago, there was an interesting LinkedIn question regarding sales enablement platforms. It was called “So you’ve got a platform for Sales Enablement! What is the feature that really benefits or differentiates, that enables you more than yesterday?“
I wrote a response which was rather a blog post than a short LinkedIn response. That’s why I’m writing this article on one of my favorite topics – for YOU, the whole sales enablement tribe!
First of all, there are platform providers and platform providers. Some of them just sell a software product, and some of them sell a variety of sales enablement services, for instance consulting services to identify the customer’s current state and specific business challenges, different implementation services, change management consulting services and additional content services. I think, we don’t need to debate that the tool providers won’t be the winners in that business.
Anyhow, some platform providers still believe – and that’s how they are selling – that technology itself would deliver significant business value to their clients.
I don’t agree.
In fact, I strongly believe, that technology is a great enabler for additional value and that we need to leverage this potential with a smart implementation strategy. Then, we will realize a significant return on our investment – regarding growth and efficiency!
But one without the other won’t deliver the expected results, because there is a critical dependency – and that’s sales content and the related content management processes! So, what has to be done to leverage the full potential of technology? It’s all about „content management homework“.
Let’s start with the end in mind to get the big picture: You live in wonderful, effective and efficient sales content world, without any random acts of content creation. All the attributes you mapped to your content are completely covered by the newly implemented sales enablement platform and you create great value in terms of reduced search time, reduced ramp-up time for new hires, dynamic content generation and increased collaboration between content contributors and content consumers based on a variety of social collaborative features – and you receive great analytics to improve continuously.
What does that mean and how to get there? Content types are categorized and defined, the internal and external target groups including their altitude level are mapped, each content type is also mapped to customer oriented milestones along the sales process – that’s why each content’s purpose is so important.
You might get a first impression. It’s a lot of work and I strongly recommend to start with a content assessment – what is really relevant, what’s not required and not used – from a sales perspective. Be brave, throw away everything that’s no longer relevant for your organization, available on different portals in different stages, outdated and so on…
Quality before quantity – that should be your mission!
Then, each content type has a clearly defined RACI matrix regarding content creation, publishing and localization including relevant budgets – covering all relevant roles that are working on sales content. This is by definition a cross-functional endeavor. Not only marketing, but also solution sales, presales, portfolio and process managers, solution designers, sales enablement and commercial roles are content contributors!
Now you can launch your shiny new platform! Next, make your road map and prepare the next level and create dynamic content – and that’s where technology can be really very valuable. An example could be to create standardized and modularized content elements focused on specific selling situations. If a sales person is searching for challenge x, industry y, audience z, first meeting to get access – and technology creates the tailored content in a 80/20 manner. The sales reps get much more selling time and are better prepared! The same principle helps you to design dynamic playbooks, ideally connected to your CRM system – cherry on the cake!
Additional benefits are mobile services, social features like commenting, rating; also contact information on the specific product or marketing manager, just one click away for a chat – all that is very, valuable!
Sales people will use what’s quick and easy and what creates value for their daily business. And, be aware…. sales people will never distinguish between platform and content – it’s one system for them, and it should also be one for us.
Finally: Really smart sales enablement vendors are aware of all these issues, they know pretty well how big the change effort in your organization might be to leverage the full potential of their technology. They don’t sell a product, they sell tailored services, e.g. consulting services that help customers to master all the content issues together combined with their technology, based on a professional analysis of the current state including professional change management services.
Really smart providers love to solve your problem instead of selling you a product only …