Posted: February 27th, 2013 | Author: Jim Moliski | Filed under: Content Strategy, Sales Enablement, Thought leadership, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Is your company providing unique insights into customer problems and how to solve them? Can your salespeople deliver those insights in executive conversations?
At the Sales Enablement Forum in Scottsdale, Arizona (March 4-5) Launch International will discuss Thoughtful Selling strategies for delivering unique insights that lead to strategic customer relationships.
According to Forrester Research, only “13% of executive buyers believe that a salesperson can clearly show they understand their business issues and articulate a way to solve them.” Salespeople who push products rather than solve problems face declining win rates and heavy discounting. In the future they will lose more to competitors who know how to get marketing and sales on the same page in speaking to buyer issues.
Launch will show how leading companies are developing strategic customer relationships by:
- Creating unique insights that speak to buyer problems
- Communicating those insights through effective campaigns
- Enabling all customer facing employees to have effective two-way conversations
Join Launch International at Booth #103 to learn more.
Posted: February 27th, 2013 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Launch International will once again be presenting at the Forrester Sales Enablement Forum coming up next week in Phoenix.
Along with debuting Thoughtful Selling (TM) model and our OnQ(TM) Value Conversation App, we’ll be speaking with channel enablement companies about their frameworks for partner enablement.
A more holistic, dynamic enablement strategy is needed to help partners drive services and solution revenues with your offerings at their foundation. Focusing on “practice enablement” is a way to differentiate your company from competitors with similar offerings. Moving a partner from a reseller model to “solution practice” is a huge win for your company, and can provide valuable benefits and profits for the partner.
Take a look at our Channel Enablement 2013 ebook (registration here, or email me for a copy). And we look forward to talking about partner enablement at the Forrester show!
Posted: February 1st, 2013 | Author: Jody Canavan | Filed under: Client communication, Content Development, Content Strategy, Messaging, Presentations, Sales Enablement, Thought leadership, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Take a moment and try this: Search for “sales conversations” on Google, and see how many results you get. I bet it’s nine figures. My own search produced 109 million results. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of opinions about what makes a good sales conversation. That’s no surprise, because improving the value of sales conversations is a top goal for every single client we serve.
With good reason; it’s widely acknowledged that the makeup of an effective sales conversation has changed since customers and prospects have been able to consume more information digitally before a seller is engaged. That means salespeople are walking into meetings and conversations without the benefit of knowing their starting points, and the navigation is anything but easy.
In fact, IDC discovered in its research on the customer experience that more than 50% of salespeople were showing up to meetings unprepared. And Forrester Research reported that just 15% of executives believe sales meetings meet their expectations.
Stats like these have us wondering how our work as marketers and sales enablers contributes to such low marks from customers. After all, we’ve all been focused on improving seller conversations, so it can’t be in the tools they use, right?
Too many companies are still doing “random acts of sales enablement” which, frankly, do not improve the customer’s experience with your salespeople or your company in a sustainable way. Even the companies that believe they’ve implemented “best-in-class” enablement processes and tools are challenged to prove that they are moving the needle in any significant manner.
Why is this such a struggle for so many? Go back and take a look at the top hits of your Google search. Each article and blog post likely presented a similar theme on how to make sales conversations better:
- Uncover pains.
- Identify goals.
- Visualize improvement.
- Show outcomes.
- Use questions.
- Use number plays.
- Use proof points.
- Use better visuals.
- Appeal to the left brain.
- Don’t forget the right brain.
To me, it seemed as though most authors were focused on conversation architecture. A few offered techniques to serve up positioning and solution statements in response to prescribed customer need. Not one of them actually shared how to make a conversation truly different and unique.
No one is focused on the DNA of differentiation.
As reference, in a recent conversation with a valued client and VP of Sales Enablement, she shared that their customers were complaining that the introductory conversations being offered by salespeople across several different vendors presenting to them looked/sounded painfully similar. “Let’s talk about how we can help you reduce costs, manage risks, and improve service to your customers.” In an industry where we are all starting to sound identical (especially at high, introductory levels) and in an economy where we are all chasing the same budget dollars, what is it that separates true market leaders and their best-in-class salespeople from everyone else?
Answer: A truly unique point of view.
I don’t mean POVs. Every company we know is producing POVs out of their marketing and sales enablement teams. But, sadly, they are most often neither unique NOR a point of view. Meaning, salespeople forced to present a canned POV often do not bring truly differentiated insight from your company as part of their story.
The POV I’m referring to is about invention and innovation. It’s about experience and your ability to deliver. These are game-changing conversations. They are discussions that make customers think and ask you for more. They challenge or validate thinking. They engage.
When I explore the topic of value conversation creation with clients, my favorite question to ask is, “Where does true differentiation come from?”
Quite simply, without creating true differentiation, you cannot create conversations of real value.
My next blog will show you how to create a truly unique point of view, and then how to carry that brilliance into a strategy that brings marketing and sales together in a way you’ve never done before.
Stay tuned for the DNA of Differentiation, Part 2.
In the meantime, where do you think true differentiation comes from? I welcome your thoughts.
Posted: January 29th, 2013 | Author: Jody Canavan | Filed under: Content Development, Messaging, Sales Enablement, Sales Training, Thought leadership, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
During a recent conversation with a valued client whose job role is Vice President of Sales Enablement, she shared with me some of the challenges her organization is facing as it transforms to be more customer-centric. She said, “Sometimes I think my job should be called ‘VP of Internal Selling.’”
How true. While many of us may not be quota-carrying salespeople, we are all in the business of helping our peers and colleagues visualize a better outcome through our ideas and perspectives. In fact, in Daniel Pink’s newest book, To Sell Is Human, Pink explains that each of us spends 40% of our business time in “non-sales selling” activities, such as persuading and pitching to a variety of audiences.
Pink reminds us that, “Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.” That’s an interesting perspective reversal from the notion that selling is a dying art and that salespeople will eventually become extinct. In fact, between 2000 and today—when online commerce was supposed to show signs of a decreased need for salespeople—the total number of sales jobs actually increased across the US. And, two million more new sales jobs are expected by 2020.
To Sell Is Human is an interesting and validating read that reinforces the fact that, as sales enablement professionals, our jobs have never been more visible—or more important. It is also true, however, that salespeople must be relevant in their interactions with customers, or they will not survive in today’s competitive, self-service climate.
Every client we serve is laser focused on solving the sales enablement challenge by building better tools and resources to support seller and buyer journeys. Those most successful have integrated marketing, thought leadership, and campaign strategies into their sales toolsets in a way that supports truly unique and differentiated interactions with customers using messages that are consistent and unified.
Stay tuned for the upcoming webinar on our Thoughtful Selling™ model, which provides a framework and system for creating truly unique and differentiated value conversations for salespeople.
Posted: November 30th, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
We just launched this ebook about ebooks – Always love a good Seinfeld reference.
Let’s face it–everyone has an ebook these days. To me, the challenge has always been about just throwing the name “ebook” on any old PDF, just to increase its relevance.
So this ebook about ebooks was a good way for us to take a more strategic approach to their creation–and provide a few specific paths to creating them. Instead of just rebranding a white paper or solution brief as an ebook–we put together a few ideas for compelling, interactive ebooks that start with a unique twist on content and data you may already have.
Take a look at Four Quick Routes to Cool Ebooks – I’d love to hear your feedback.
Posted: November 20th, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
We here at Launch are closing out the year with a few great ebooks over the next few weeks.
Our latest ebook–5 Tips to Bring Sales Conversations to Life—is a quick read, and is both prescriptive and actionable. It’s a great topic—and it’s even in the title of this Launch Content to Conversation blog!
And there’s no registration required…just download and read over your holiday weekend!
The idea is simple: regardless of your company’s sales model or methodology, the core of sale success is the conversations between salespeople and customers.
Whether you’re a Challenger, a Solution Seller—or even an order-taker!—you need the right content and messages to progress a customer through the buying cycle.
The 5 Tips to Bring Sales Conversations to Life ebook has ideas and best practices—along with a few examples — for how marketing, sales operations managers and sales enablement pros can create the tools and resources that help salespeople bring conversations to life.
We’d love to hear your feedback!
Posted: August 6th, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Have you ever felt desperate to “do some marketing” but unable to get it done?
Every year, 25 percent of the $1 billion in MDF available to the channel goes unclaimed and is added back to the bottom lines of vendors and distributors, according to estimates from CMP Media. How does that make you feel? If you’re frustrated but don’t know what to do it about it, you’re not alone.
Vendors and distributors don’t like wasting that money because it indicates that their programs are not as valuable or complementary as they should be. Certainly they need to know if you’re not finding value in their programs, but let’s leave that challenge for next year. Your immediate marching orders: Claim the MDF you have accrued this year and save it from reabsorption on Jan. 1.
My non-scientific survey of more than a dozen solution providers, vendors and distributors indicates that roughly 75 percent of VARs will squander some MDF this year, simply because they don’t know what they may have accrued. What an incredible waste!
I consulted for one leading VAR that successfully built a national event marketing strategy primarily on MDF. This company has a large in-house marketing team, however, and is able to dedicate staff to tracking MDF. Few partners can support the resources required to track MDF and create strategies to maximize the MDF use. That’s when you need to rely on automated tools and resources provided by your vendor or distributor. Or at the very least, lean on your regional channel manager to find out what funds are available.
MDF exists to help build channel revenue, so most vendors are only interested in supporting initiatives that can directly drive sales. That means brochures, Web sites and other broad messages aren’t likely to be covered. Vendors are more likely to fund programs with maximum revenue potential.
Through my experience with organizations on all sides of the channel, I’ve developed a list of marketing initiatives that you could execute this year to optimize your MDF opportunity.
- Awareness: Print, e-mail and telemarketing campaigns that target a specific market with a clear message are the best way to spend this year’s funds and deliver the greatest chance for reimbursement. The campaigns could help you kick off next year with a bang.
- Briefs: Reports showing executives the business-level benefits of a technology solution are valuable—and more likely to be read. Remember, be long on vision and short on spin. They can also be great payoffs to your demand gen campaigns—and the development will fit into your budget for next year’s delivery.
- Case studies: Customer successes are the perfect answer to prospects who say “prove it” to your claims. Providing an past success with a similar solution gives the perfect validation that you can do what you say you can do.
By the way, vendors and distributors seem perfectly willing to work with partners who still have MDF available and want to spend it this year. In the words of one availability management software channel manager, “I love to help our partners spend free money!”
Posted: June 13th, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Day 1 of the Channel Management Summit was an interesting mix of recruiting, sales enablement, marketing, and compensation—all the things that make the channel an interesting place to work!
I live-tweeted (@emnitschke) much of the day, trying to capture takeaways from the various speakers—representing a broad range of solutions and channel models: Cisco, Iron Key, LANdesk, Motorola and CA.
The challenge with live-tweeting an event is achieving brevity and relevancy in 140 characters…while not missing the rest of the live event going on around you!
I realized in reviewing my “tweet log” that I really painted each of the sessions with my own brush; that I viewed and heard each presenter with my own interpretation into terms of practice enablement.
Practice enablement is an umbrella term for all the services and value a vendor channel organization can deliver to channel partners to help them develop a fully-functioning practice around their solution—and not just establish a reseller outpost in a specific region.
Practice enablement is also a call for consistency in messaging, content and enablement across all the processes and organizations that touch your channel. A compelling product story only generates partner interest; a compelling practice story generates long term partner loyalty and success.
I write more about practice enablement—and the related channel strategy, recruiting, onboarding, sales enablement and marketing enablement—in my upcoming ebook, Content Strategies for the Channel Landscape.
Looking forward to Day 2 of the summit, and connecting wth the channel organization teams who have come for new ideas and best practices to succeeding in the channel.
Posted: April 18th, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Thanks to all the channel enablement professionals who joined our Channel Enablement Roundtable on the beautiful NetApp Sunnyvale campus in March. It was a great start to what should be an intriguing ongoing conversation in 2012.
Attendees gathered to hear about best practices from their peers and focus on the importance of a strategic approach to channel enablement. Channel executives too often live quarter to quarter, focusing on product-focused campaigns, and are not able to take a strategic view on providing channel partners the right information to be successful over time.
In addition to compelling conversation among the attendees, we had a chance to hear from industry leaders:
|Highlighted the opportunities and challenges of sales enablement as a craft and a practice, as technology companies continue to hone their sales and marketing support functions.
||Sales enablement is much like the publishing industry; organizations must always consider how the content will be used and expectations for the end result.
|Related trends and information about SiriusDecisions’ customers around channel enablement and marketing
||Programs and campaigns are important, but content aligned with partner sales processes is critical
|Pointed to best practices around asset planning and enablement frameworks for successful channel enablement.
||Sales assets in the channel need to be targeted based on partner need and potential return.
|Provided a compelling use scenario for integrating vendor offerings with existing partner practices to create a complete solution.
||NetApp provides an portfolio of print, video and web enablement assets to help partners integrate NetApp offerings into their existing solution practices.
Moving forward There were several themes that ran across all the speakers’ presentations, and their themes of “align, integrate and execute” form the foundation for future conversations:
We’ll discuss each of these three pillars of channel enablement in future posts.
Create less content to drive more sales
There was also lots of interest in the “asset framework and analysis” discussion at the end of our session. You can download the Few and Improved ebook here.
Looking forward to great conversation about channel enablement!
Posted: April 2nd, 2012 | Author: Eric Nitschke | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Just returning from a baseball spring training trip in Florida (Go Phils)…read a Southwest Airlines magazine article about the background of the word “boilerplate.”
“In the early 19th century, boilerplates were thin plates of steel used to make steam boilers. As regional newspapers started popping up, news syndicates developed and sold them stories, which were printed on thin sheets of metal that resembled boilerplates. Because of the medium they came in, editors had to publish the stories as written. So the term boilerplate came to refer to any kind of formulaic, unvarying text, often seen in wills, contracts, and other legal documents.”
I thought through the implications of “boilerplate” content that many companies use in their sales enablement materials (and those used for channel sales enablement).
- Consistency and repetition are good. The overall intention of boilerplate content is to ensure the validity and accuracy of the messaging being presented to salespeople as well as customers. But while we like consistency, “unvarying” is NOT good…
- Boilerplate doesnt allow for customization by audience. Sadly, many sales enablement assets (playbooks, battlecards, guides, etc) are simply repackaged collateral copy with a few competitive angles. That kind of boilerplate content isnt really helpful to salespeople who need to apply solution messaging in specific selling environments (by industry or persona).
- Channel organizations really understand the pain. Channel sales enablement professionals are too often tasked with taking general corporate collateral and making it work in a channel setting. If they’re not able to update contents and messages to apply to partners’ services and solutions–or to their unique view on the midmarket–then the boilerplate gets thrown out the window.
It’s also interesting to consider the newest concepts of “syndication” compared to early 19th century printing. Web and channel syndication is alive and well today (I’ve spoken to some leaders in channel syndication that are doing some exciting things with automating channel marketing). The intersection of channel enablement and web syndication will be the subject of future research and blogs!