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Oct 25, 2010


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We know that crafting custom solutions is essential if we're going to avoid fighting over discounts with procurement folks on the other side of the table. Our sales teams need to know more, do more,


Like the blog, appreciate the share!

Rob Leavitt

Thanks Barbara, and definitely a useful post on your site. Theres almost no such thing as too much customer insight, and I agree that you need real live conversation to get there; web analytics are certainly useful, but not enough to get the real feel for customer reality that is so essential to supporting the buying process.

Rob Leavitt

Thanks Kathleen; Im sure youre right on the head scratching to come. Your tough description of the old approach rings all too true for a great many organizations I see as well. On the brighter side, its a great opportunity for marketing folks to take leadership in making the necessary changes.

Barbara Bix

Hi Rob et. al.

Many thoughts also running through my mind. First is that we need to go back to the 6 Ps--rather than just focusing on promotion. Else, buyers will find better-designed, better-positioned, better priced, etc. solutions through search and social contacts. Second to Rob's last point, I wrote a post just this morning about the challenges of doing the "hard strategic work" while "keeping the trains running". You can read it at http://bit.ly/ak4iJf

Kathleen Schaub

Valuable post, Rob. These are the kinds of questions we need to ask.

Digital information channels started changing B2C selling a decade ago. Because a complex B2B sale is a social sale (i.e., an organization sells to another organization) and requires more customer education, it has taken longer for us to feel the effects of change. We’re there now. And the effects are showing up in declining sales productivity, huge misses in quota, and annoyed customers.

For any company that has accepted this new reality (sales adopts a shared, orchestrated process and marketing climbs out of the “brand-ghetto” and into a real collaborative commerce role) sales enablement means one thing – you and other commenters have described key elements.

For any company still banging its history-burdened head against this new reality, sales enablement means the same-old bulging content library, dry product training, and data-deficient lead generation. They’ll be left scratching their heads as to why it isn’t working.

Rob Leavitt

Frank, Paul, Tom: Thanks much for your comments. Definitely a lot to chew over with your responses.

From the marketing perspective, I'll echo all of your comments that we are indeed looking at a big shift in how we work with sales and with customers, and that we need to create much more focused, high-quality, value-laden tools and materials to help engage buyers in serious conversation.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is balancing the hard strategic work of building a new foundation for "buyer enablement" with all the new approaches this usually requires, while continuing to keep the trains running on time and putting out the fires that flare up on a daily basis. In this context, figuring out what to stop doing is probably as important as figuring out what to start!

Tom Pisello

Agree! Been writing similarly for some time about how:

1) Internet fueled buying cycles reign, and sales is being disintermediated / engaged later and later in cycle as they add less and less real value to the decision making process.

2) Buyers are more frugal than ever - tasked to do-more-with-less, and now need more consultative help than ever to help diagnose issues and recommend solutions.

The key is not to arm the sales teams with the same information and tools as buyers, but to empower them to be diagnostic consultants - value selling vs. product / solution selling.

This requires arming them with tools to engage buyers, almost like a holistic physician would ... assessment tools to benchmark practices vs. spending and drive capability / maturity improvements..... business case tools to make the case for change when doing nothing is easier, but less valuable to the business .... and competitive comparison tools to prove that the recommended solutions can do-more-for-less.

I have a few blog posts with delve into some thoughts along these lines that your readers might find accretive to your ideas:

Frugalnomics Forces Changes in Sales Enablement!

Is Marketing Too Busy? The Forgotten Sales Professional.


Don't Just Sell the Problem: "Quantify It"

Forrester and IDC think Sales Enablement is a Big Deal ... Do You?

Can a Value Selling Program Help Accelerate Sales Cycles and Drive More Sales?

Paul Dunay

Hey Rob great post!

There is so much in here that is now running though my mind but let me get out a few key points I want to mention ...

First, one of the most important shifts you are signaling (which we dont hear enough about) is the shift from sales enablement to enableing buyers to buy. This sounds subtle but in B2B its pretty big. But there is still a role for creating awareness at the brand level that I think this shift makes even more important (dare I say ... Brand enablement).

Second is when Sales needs to be enabled in B2B they need it right away - gone is the lead time you used to have so I see smart marketers are thinking 1 or 2 moves down stream now to be sure they aren't caught flat footed with the sales force and scrambling.

and third, from a pointless word game perspective - sales enablement can often be used as a dumping ground for anything from thought leadership, messaging exercises to email creation - I have seen it over used and even abused from a budget perspective.


Frank Days

Great post. Much like has happened for marketers, seems like there needs to be a sea change from the historical content formats and styles for sales and partner enablement. It is more than "how can my sales teams read this on their iPhone". It is how to get the into the conversation in a meaningful ways to influence the prospects at the right part of the buying cycle.

Frank Days

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