On August 27th, Forrester hosted the first Sales Enablement roundtable in the industry focused on addressing challenges related to profitable growth objectices for large enterprise technology companies.
Assembling a balanced group of sales and marketing executives, through one lens the session could have been viewed as an economic summit. Added together, the total revues of the participants exceeded $350 Billion. To put that into perspective, that would make our panel the 27th largest economy in the world right behind Greece, but ahead of Denmark. In attendance were representatives from the following global organizations: Accenture, Allen Systems Group, BearingPoint, BMC Software, CA, CSC, Dimension Data, Dun & Bradstreet, IBM, Kronos, Orange Business Services, Siemens, SunGard, Unisys, and Xerox.
During our session we talked about best practices, a cross functional framework to help galvanize product, marketing, and sales teams around customers, and how to create a more strategic sales enablement program.
However, most of our time together was invested in defining the problem. We reached unanimous consensus that current “random acts of enablement” are wasteful and do not have any real significant on sales performance. Problems with current approaches cited included:
•Gaining adoption for programs and investments among the sales force
•Changing the behavior of selling teams
•Challenges with the architecture of the portfolio (doesn’t support a consultative selling approach)
•Information overload and management problems
•Content management and development problems
•Message and value proposition inconsistencies across the portfolio
•Product, marketing, and sales groups being out of sync
•Sales pipeline management techniques focused on “facilitating the buying cycle” often work against value-selling strategies
•Different view points about what customer really want / need within product groups and across organizational issues
•Inability to measure enablement investments
•Perception of sales enablement as an event (gear up for a new product launch) rather than an ongoing discipline
We agreed that in order for complex businesses to achieve their business strategies of becoming a strategic provider of many products and services to large accounts, enterprise technology companies must develop a new business architecture to empower sales professionals to configure the right combination of capabilities to match a given accounts specific needs. As such, we created the following definition.
Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips all client facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving lifecycle.
To accomplish this goal; product, marketing, and sales teams must work cross-functionally to create effective sales content that maps to a holistic customer model and is delivered on a common platform.
I am currently writing a research report around this topic and collecting some fantastic information from buyers as well. Look for this note to be published at the end of the month or first week of October.