Getting The Most Out Of Your Enablement Technology

shutterstock_164695367It’s like having a car. You bought it in the expectation of achieving certain desired results. But if you don’t drive it, you won’t get the benefits of owning it. And that’s not the car’s fault.

Sales leaders have lots of expectations when it comes to sales enablement content management (SECM) solutions. Based on our CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study, improving access to content for salespeople leads the list with 57.4%, followed by reducing search time (33.1%), sharing best practices, improving sales and marketing alignment and increasing win rates (27.7% each), and reducing the ramp-up time of new hires (24.8%).

Now, let’s look at the adoption rate of those SECM solutions. They are very mixed. Almost a third of study participants have adoption rates lower than 50%, and another fifth ends up between 50% and 75%. In both these cases (which amount to 51% of our study participants), there is no impact on sales performance to be diagnosed. Only adoption rates that are greater than 76% have a significant impact on sales performance. The good news is that 49% reported those adoption rates. So, if you are in the 49% group, you should experience, for instance, win rate improvements by 11.9%, and quota improvements by 6%. But if you did not experience this performance impact, look at these six ways to improve the adoption rate of your SECM technology.

#1 Set up your sales force enablement charter

Enablement charters are highly relevant because if there is no clarity on vision, mission, and purpose, and no clarity on goals and objectives and how enablement services impact productivity and performance, then your efforts will not produce results.

Energy has to be focused to create a movement. And that’s the actual value of an enablement charter. These are the primary areas you should define in your charter: target audience, vision, mission, and purpose, objectives to achieving the vision and the related strategies to get you there, a timeline, and the enablement services you are going to provide for your target audience. And don’t forget to define the metrics for measuring success.

#2 Clean up the content basement

Many sales content landscapes look like a chaotic basement: all sorts of content everywhere – old, new, relevant, and irrelevant. Assets exist in ten different versions and ten different content repositories. So, implementing an SECM solution is like moving to a new house: you don’t want to bring all the clutter with you.

First, make an inventory of what exists, and where. Assess your content assets in terms of quality criteria, and then, be brave and throw away what’s no longer relevant and what didn’t match the criteria. Furthermore, our research indicates that only 39% of all the content salespeople need along the entire customer’s journey comes from marketing. That means you will need a formal cross-functional production process and a related collaboration model to be efficient and effective in the future.

#3 Define and create enablement content services

Only content that’s valuable AND relevant really matters, and that is determined by what’s relevant and valuable to your prospects and customers. As they still make the buying decision, it’s a no-brainer that content should be tailored along the customer’s journey and for the different buyer roles. Dynamic value messaging is a big challenge to be mastered here. Instead of having value propositions only, you will need value hypothesis, value propositions in different levels, and value confirmation messages that have to be developed and integrated into content assets.

#4 Aligning content and training services

For those of you in an enablement role, this may sound familiar to you: “We need this, and we need that, and you have nothing for our role, but we are so special.” It happens all day long. If people don’t know how to use their tools, they will never have enough and always ask for more. Distributing content and tools is not enough; training is also important. So, “no content without training” should become your motto. Create, for instance, a short video about how to effectively use your newly developed playbook, or even better, let a salesperson explain it…

#5 Integrate your SECM into your CRM system

Now, once we have done all the preparation work, where do we put the SECM technology? Stand alone? That’s probably not the best idea. It’s much easier to drive adoption if you provide your SECM solution within the CRM system. This way, it’s a “one-stop shopping” experience for salespeople.

Additionally, such an integration is the prerequisite that you can suggest, which will allow you to recommend sales content automatically within the CRM when a salesperson adds a new opportunity. Make sure that you align your content design criteria, as discussed above, with the selling scenario criteria in the CRM. All the work you have done so far pays off now in this step.

#6 Implement “Be Inspired!”

Now, the salespeople will have anytime, anywhere access to the right content, with the right value messaging, for the right buyer roles, and that addresses their business challenges at the right time. We call a content delivery mechanism like that “Be Inspired!”

Now, your focus should be entirely on a solid implementation, based on senior executive buy-in and their ongoing involvement, in the context of a change story that focuses on why, what, how, and when.

Last but not least: Please make sure that your sales managers coach their salespeople accordingly. Only then can an SECM implementation be successful.

And please don’t forget to measure and to adjust regularly. And use the full analytics capabilities of your SECM solution – but that’s a topic for another article.


Related blog posts:

Three Pillars of A Solid Sales Enablement Foundation

Sales Force Enablement Technology: How to Define the Functional and The Technology Layer

How to leverage the full potential of your sales enablement platform!

It’s time to share some insights on sales enablement platforms/solutions and their real value – and how to leverage their full potential.
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?“
Those of you who know me won’t be surprised that I wrote a response which was rather a blog post than a short response on a LinkedIn question. That’s why I’m writing this blog post on one of my favorite topics – for YOU, the whole sales enablement tribe out there!

First of all, there are platform providers and platform providers. Some of them just sell a software product, a platform, 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, specific implementation services tailored to the customer’s current state, change management consulting services and additional content management 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. However you might think about that… I don’t agree.

In fact, I strongly believe, that technology is a great enabler for additional business value and that we need to leverage this great potential with a smart and holistic implementation strategy – then, we will get a win-win situation and see significant return on our investment – in terms of growth and efficiency!
But one without the other won’t deliver the expected added value.

The reason is this: There is a critical dependency – and that’s sales content. Yes, 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“, which is from my point of view a mandatory phase in every sales enablement platform implementation project. But that’s not the most funny part of the project, especially not in a large organization.

Let’s start with the end in mind to give you an impression what I mean: 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 in multiple dimensions.

What does that mean and how to get there? It means, that content types are defined and categorized, the purpose is defined for each content type (e.g. gain appropriate access or create shared vision of success), 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 or directly to the customer’s problem solving process.

You might get a first impression what has to be done…. Yes, it’s a lot of work and I strongly recommend to start with a content assessment – what is really relevant and what’s not required and not used? Be brave and throw away everything that’s no longer relevant for your organization. You will find the same or similar content on different platforms, portals, you will find content that’s outdated, that’s no longer relevant, content which has at least to be reworked and so on.

Quality before quantity – that should be your mission for content and for platforms!

Then, each content type has a clearly defined RACI matrix regarding content creating, content publishing and content localization including the relevant budgets – covering all relevant roles in your organization that are working on sales content. All that is by definition a cross-functional endeavor. Not only marketing, product marketing, but also solution sales roles, presales roles, portfolio managers, process managers, solution designers, sales enablement managers and commercial roles are content contributors!

Based on that content management foundation – you could launch your shiny new platform! Then, make your roadmap and prepare the next level and create dynamic content – and that’s where technology can be really very valuable and very helpful. An example can be to create standardized and modularized content elements focused on specific selling situations in specific industries. If a sales person is then looking for challenge x, industry y, target audience is CIO, first meeting etc. – and the sales enablement platform creates an 80/20 approach for the specific selling situation – the missing 20% have to be customized – much better than customize 50% or rework everything! That creates value for sales reps in terms of much more selling time! 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, contact information on the specific solution manager, marketing manager, solution sales contacts – just one mouse click away – the possibility to chat and to use web conferencing and all those features also in a mobile version – all that is very, 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 that’s exactly how it should be.

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 collaborative 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 and to create long-term business value for you, they are not focused on selling you a product only…


You might be interested in more blog posts on that topic – on Michael Fox’s excellent sales enablement blog:

Convinced About Content
Content Management and Content Creation for Sales Enablement

and another one:
Forrester Sales Enablement Community – Selecting Sales Enablement Solutions