Content to Conversation: A Sales Enablement Blog

Tweet Like You Mean It

Posted: July 28th, 2010 | Author: Justin Bowers | Filed under: Content Development | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Twitter, it would seem, is here to stay. And as communicating at 140 characters a pop becomes increasingly commonplace, it’s no surprise to see businesses flocking to Twitter in droves.

While businesses have just as much of a right to tweet as pro athletes, your 10th grade niece and politicians do, it’s only natural for us to regard a company’s use of Twitter as a late-to-the-game move to attach itself to one of the day’s hottest trends.

So how can a business positively contribute to the Twitter community, while leveraging the site to more closely connect with customers, attract new prospects and expand its reach?

There are countless resources to help companies get their feet wet on Twitter – including lists of dos and don’ts, as well as 7, 50 and even 62 tips to follow – but common among these are a few simple rules any business looking to make the best use of Twitter should follow:

 

  • Embrace the sense of community Twitter provides – Like all social media, Twitter exists to help unite like-minded individuals. To this end, think about your tweets as a conversation starter. Have one of your chief technologists tweet about the accomplishments of a peer. Discuss an emerging industry trend. Follow, and be followed by, people and organizations with similar interests. Keep the discussion rolling. Whatever you do, build as many relationships as possible. You never know which connection will make 140 characters worth their weight in gold.
  • Don’t use Twitter for blatant self promotion – While Twitter can be a powerful marketing tool, the public will see through any attempt to tweet the virtues of your company to any and all who may read it. Instead, think of Twitter as a way to gain visibility. The more you engage the community, the more your name is seen on the tweets of people and organizations alike, the more likely the public is to want to learn more about who you are and what you have to offer.
  • Use Twitter to drive organizational improvement – Twitter offers businesses a truly unfiltered dose of public opinion. It may seem a bit scary, but search for your name in recent tweets. People are far more likely to be blunt and truthful over Twitter than they would be over a formal customer-sat survey, so seek out what consumers have to say about your products and services. This type of straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth opinion can really help your company make some significant improvements.

 

With some simple planning, Twitter can become a useful tool that, with little to no investment, can help your organization achieve great things. Just follow these simple rules and you’ll be well on your way. And remember –  tweet like you mean it!


A Well-Balanced Marketing Meal

Posted: July 28th, 2010 | Author: Kevin Self | Filed under: Sales Enablement, Social Media | Tags: | No Comments »

I am witnessing the heat of the summer outside my window…which, inevitably, leads to thoughts of the garden…which leads to eating food…which leads me to this blog. So how do I go from summer gardens to blogging on a balanced marketing meal? Let me explain…

I read a Gartner report this morning offering predictions for 2010, one of which focused on the potential impact of e-marketing regulations. The report suggests that regulatory bodies could stifle e-marketing to such an extent that those companies that rely too heavily on the medium will find themselves in one of two camps: becoming ineffective or the last man standing.

You don’t want to be in either camp. You want the money you spend on marketing to generate leads/revenue/traffic…whatever. You also don’t want to be the only one still using e-marketing as a primary engine (after all, who wants to invest in a shrinking market?)

But now I come full circle…

Being healthy requires eating a well-balanced meal (like those from my garden). The same is true for marketing. An effective marketing plan depends on a good balance of social media AND traditional marketing efforts. There is certainly benefit to weaving e-tactics into a larger marketing campaign, but at the end of the day it’s focusing on content, face-to-face program development, and creative thinking that sells.

It’s not always easy to find the right balance, but it’s necessary. And, I think you’ll find that when you do, your sales team will eat it up.


Are your sales people “buying” your sales enablement program?

Posted: July 28th, 2010 | Author: Jody Canavan | Filed under: Content Development, Sales Enablement, Sales Training | Tags: , | No Comments »

Sales enablement is taking center stage in most marketing organizations–and with good reason. Companies realize that, despite truly unique and compelling differentiation, people ultimately buy from people. So, making sure your salespeople can cut the mustard in front of prospects and customers is critically important…not only to gain the trust needed to close a sale, but to build loyalty and keep customers for life.

I belong to a LinkedIn group called the Sales Enablement Leader Exchange. One of the discussions you’ll find there is a rolling conversation where people define their interpretation of sales enablement. Dozens of responses produce definitions that reinforce how we’ve sufficiently diluted the term to a placeholder for all the things that don’t fit nicely into a traditional corporate infrastructure. It’s a system. It’s a process. It’s a commitment. Etc. 

Even though the term resists a single definition, we can safely agree that sales enablement is about building efficiency (sell faster) and effectiveness (sell more).  Fundamentally, it’s about delivering content to a salesperson at the right time/context of a sales process. And when they receive this content, they know what to do with it.

The right content at the right time to an able body who can then deliver it through conversation.

Interestingly enough and despite all the focus, the benefactors of many sales enablement programs (that would be the salespeople) are frustrated. They are watching their employers invest in people, process and technologies that take all of their company’s existing collateral and training tools, and populate them into enterprise class content delivery systems. They’ve invested in automation, often without assessing the actual process itself.

First rule of process automation: Don’t automate a process that isn’t proven successful.  The result of breaking the first rule: Garbage in, garbage out.

We recently completed a client engagement where we interviewed their top 50 salespeople and identified commonalities in how they leverage resources throughout their successful selling processes.  We categorized content assets into valuable, could be valuable with improvement, and unnecessary. And, we identified gaps in the portfolio. We then created a content architecture that ensured right-time delivery via whatever delivery model they chose.

Because of our 18-year history in sales enablement (which pre-dates the term itself), we also were engaged to create all missing assets and improve that which could be salvaged. After three months of effort, we were able to launch to the various sales organizations (in the form of a playbook) a documented and proven methodology for successfully carrying a prospect to a sale…complete with proof points from their peers. It remains the gold standard for this company today. Similar efforts are happening in organizations that are actively engaging key salespeople in the creation and definition of their enablement programs.  If your salespeople aren’t buying your sales enablement program, you’re not in business.


Twitter Shock and Awe

Posted: July 2nd, 2010 | Author: Evan ODonnell | Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I have a confession to make. I’m one of those people who is immediately skeptical of things that get really popular, really fast. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but it’s a characteristic that’s been with me for a while. Want proof? I didn’t get a cell phone until 2003, I’ve been on Facebook for less than a year, and I’ve never read a book in either the Harry Potter or Twilight series.

Sometimes my hesitation to bandwagon jump proves beneficial, as it has prevented me from, say, having to unload a box full of pogs on eBay. Other times, however, it simply delays me from getting in on the ground floor of something special.

Case in point, Twitter. Now I’m sure I’m not the only person who raised an eyebrow or two at a communications tool that limits you to 140 characters, but I was recently shocked and awed by its ability to foster valuable conversations in near-real time.

The other day, my girlfriend and I were watching TV when a new commercial for Diet Coke came on. The commercial itself was unremarkable, but the music playing in it was incredibly catchy. It was so catchy, in fact, that it immediately spurred my girlfriend to load up Google in search of the song title and artist’s name.

Within seconds, she knew the song was called “Sweet Disposition” and the artist’s name was The Temper Trap. “That was fast,” I said. She showed me how she found what she was looking for so quickly. Right there on the first page of Google search results was a window that was updating in real time with relevant tweets:

“Just saw the new Diet Coke commercial. Anyone know what song was in it?”

“Who knows the name of the awesome tune in the Diet Coke ad?”

And so on. Clearly, she wasn’t the only person who enjoyed the song. And then the answer tweets started rolling in:

“I’m pretty sure that was The Temper Trap. Song’s called Sweet Disposition.”

“Just heard Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap in Diet Coke commercial=more food for my iPod!”

And so on. Random groups of people were all having the same thought, at the same time, and thanks to Twitter (and Google, which aggregated the thoughts), they were able to converse and quickly exchange meaningful information. I was blown away.

On the surface, it may not seem all that groundbreaking. So a bunch of people were interested in a song from a Diet Coke commercial, big deal. But think about it a little longer and you realize that millions of other conversations are happening right now, about millions of other things unrelated to soda and music. And I’m willing to bet at least a few of those have something to do with your company/industry/business. Question is, are you participating?