Anyone who has met me observes two things: I have pink hair and I am passionate about aligning B2B sales and marketing. Enterprise buyers today shop for solutions the same way they buy TVs and jeans. And that’s forcing a change in the way enterprise sales and marketing communicate with the buyer, and the tools we use to support that.
In the past couple of years, there has been an explosion of new solutions in what is being called Sales Enablement. But what is “enablement” exactly? It’s not in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. So we have a challenge: a new industry that’s busting at the seams, ripe with confusion and noise, defined by a term that’s not a real word. That’s exactly why I joined Blue Hill Research. I want to help create some meaning and structure out of this chaos.
I’ve been watching the advancing changes in sales and marketing since 2009, as LinkedIn was just getting traction with 50 million users (today they have over 400 million) and we all started to get a lot more connected with our buyers via mobile and social. At the time, I was managing an inside sales team and we were noticing that our buyers were behaving differently, that they were spending time in forums and social media discussing best practices and getting input from one another on what solutions to consider. We began experimenting with new approaches including social media outreach and listening, account-focused research and targeting, and leveraging specific content across the sales cycle. With these new approaches and experimentation, we cut our sales cycle by more than half, beating the industry average overall by a considerable amount. We learned that we could differentiate by selling differently.
Yet, we struggled with the tools we had to work with, and providing metrics and reporting to show management what we were doing was nearly impossible. That experience got me hooked. I wanted to figure what was going on with buyers and how I could learn more and improve on that experience in the sales and marketing functions. Recently, I’ve noticed a growing number of tools, in addition to the original CRM systems, designed to help sales people more easily, quickly, and effectively engage with the buyer in their journey. A lot of them tap into the mobile and social aspect of engagement today. Automation, AI and predictive analytics are being tried out in the sales world, a place they had never been before. Sales is demanding more educational content tailored to each step in the decision process. Social Selling became a “thing”. In 2014, I joined the association for inside sales professionals (AA-ISP) and became chair for the San Diego chapter. The AA-ISP is a global organization dedicated to the profession of inside sales and sales development. At their last annual leadership meeting, the number of new vendors in the expo was astonishing. All seem to have similar messaging. How can one tell them apart? How does an enterprise figure out which ones fit together best for their company? Which are viable? Where does one start to build requirements for these new tools? How can you ensure adoption once implemented? Which ones are working, which ones aren’t? What’s the ROI on any of this?
This is why Sales Enablement excites me. It’s a brand-new space. It’s an industry that’s forming, learning, maturing. There is a lot of stuff to figure out. There will be consolidation. There will be successes and failures. It’s stimulating to be witnessing the birth of a new category, one that is serving a new and evolving need. Joining the Blue Hill Research team, I bring my experience from the other side of the table when I was part of the emerging Telecom Expense Management industry in the early 2000’s. As a TEM vendor, I relied on groups like Blue Hill Research to help us figure out what the market wanted, honing our platform, our service delivery, and our implementation process as we matured. That experience will help me to ask the right questions and provide guidance to this maturing category of Sales Enablement.
Sales Enablement Is more than just Technology
Sales Enablement can’t just be about technology and tools; it has to start with a defined, structured process that addresses buyer and customer engagement. This is a process that touches multiple stakeholders in a company: marketing, sales, and customer success. Tools and technology support this process. Sales Enablement is still in its early stages with new vendors emerging each month and experiencing growing pains getting their products to market and in deployment and adoption. My goal is to help vendors better understand their customers and to help buyers understand how to cut through the noise and hype so that they can successfully select the right solutions for their needs and utilize sales enablement in their environment.
For Sales Enablement Vendors
I am here to help sales enablement vendors to:
- Craft messaging that helps them stand out
- Understand the evolving needs of their buyer
- Understand who the stakeholders are for each purchase
- Identify what key process areas they support
- Develop Business Case Studies that showcase results, implementation strategies, deployment challenges, and ROI
- Help define the ROI of their solution
- Develop best practices in implementation
- Benchmark how they compare to the market
For Customers Adopting Sales Enablement
I am here to help enterprises looking to improve their sales processes to:
- Provide current market insights and updates
- Align internal stakeholders to access their needs
- Define their own internal processes
- Develop vendor requirements
- Assess best vendor fit for their needs
- Prepare their internal teams to ensure implementation success
- Apply best practices to ensure uniform user adoption
Let’s Clarify the Landscape
Most vendor landscapes I’ve seen lump pretty much any company who touches the sales, marketing, or customer success together. I see everything from point solutions to complete platforms lumped together. Some include CRM solutions. My goal will be to break this down to provide more clarity for both vendors and users. I’ll be monitoring the trends – new entrants, mergers and acquisitions, funding, and innovations that will benefit users.
Bottom, line, my goal is to prevent “shiny rock syndrome” along with the heartache and wasted time and money that goes with it.