On December 1, 2009 Matthias Roebel from MING Labs wrote the following post entitled “It is time to think about creating an enterprise context”:
“Hang on a second! Could the following be happening? By implementing an enterprise social network a company is solving all its Sales Enablement Challenges? Well, I doubt it.
No question, it is extremely important for every company to leverage the social networking and interaction technologies available today. They actually might encourage employees to share knowledge and to connect with each other more easily. However, if a social networking strategy is implemented without addressing some fundamental content management and communications problems within the enterprise, it won’t be successful in the long run.
“Facebook doesn’t have your friends. It has facts about your friends. Google is at its best when it gives you links to links, not the information itself,” says Seth Godin in his recent blog post “Getting Meta“. Technology can just be an enabler, not the solution to existing fundamental problems – social software makes no exception here.
Why is that? Just imagine an international school, where students from all over the world are gathering. All of them are speaking different mother tongues – a lingua franca like English is missing however. Now offer to this crowd of students the possibility to network. What you’ll see happening is them networking within their language silos. Just like on Facebook or LinkedIn: Nobody is having friends he can’t communicate with – like in the real world.
Finding a common language
So, in order to make collaboration and knowledge exchange strategies sustainable and successful a common language within the enterprise needs to be established – a lingua franca, an enterprise context. If this is not happening, Sales and Marketing, Communications and Delivery will keep on misunderstanding each other causing a lot of inefficiencies for the company. And they will keep on producing more and more information without actually creating a knowledge base for the company – the social content additionally created by the masses, even would come on top of this information pile.
You may think: This sounds pretty philosophical and far from reality? Let me proof to you the opposite with two examples. The first example is related to the incredible number of different namings for the same type of document. Take a brochure: It may be called brochure or flyer or customer deliverable or, or, or… I’ve seen companies with 500+ different labels for in fact just over 70 types for content items.
The second example is related to the offerings of a company. Times are changing quickly and so are the names of products and solutions. It’s quite normal in an enterprise, that some people are still speaking about a product using its older name while others are using the new name or an abbreviation – such differences are another source for misunderstandings.
“Right now, there’s way too much stuff and far too little information about that stuff. Sounds like an opportunity,” Seth Godin also states in “Getting Meta”. And exactly this opportunity enterprises need to explore, if they really want to become serious about a sustainable knowledge strategy for their Sales and Delivery, their Marketing and Communications departments. To overcome their existing challenges in the area of Sales Enablement they need to start creating information about information, in other words: meta data. Organizing this meta data in a controlled framework means setting up a commonly agreed on enterprise context, which describes the macro and the micro structures of the companies in a simple, but effective manner.
Once set up, the company’s knowledge base can grow steadily and even socially without causing additional information overload. Marketing can produce content right on target, and Sales reliably receives the information they need to lead valuable conversations with their customers.”
On November 22, 2009 Scott Santucci from blogs.forrester.com/tech_sales_enablement/ wrote the following in his post “It’s Been A While, Why — And What’s Going On With Sales Enablement These Days?”:
“[…] Too often people are focused on very tactical, short-term things to boost sales or improve skills, but a year later have very little to show for that effort. Why?
Enterprise selling is complex, and that complexity creates a paradox […] where making things simple for customers and sales requires you to confront the fact that you have a variety of people in your company who each carry different perspectives of who your customers are; and what needs to be done to solve them.
Declaring you need better sales people (or smarter sales people), or focusing on more activity (more leads, more calls); misses the point entirely.
Your customers have access to more information now […] than they have ever had before in the history of mankind. Preparing your sales people with more product knowledge is not suitable today as you are arming your field with the vary information customers can get themselves.
Buyer/seller relationships are stratifying right before our eyes into a new caste systems of strategic, value-added vendors on the one end; and undifferentiated, commodity-type suppliers on the other. Addressing this issue requires a fundamentally different way to go-to-market than we have had in the past and it means we’ve got to confront the mismatch in our business unit construct and product-centric view points with the new selling model of actually co-creating value with customers and focusing on helping those customers drive business outcomes.
[…] you would be very surprised at the number of your competitors who are building strategic programs right now to address these exact issues. The trick is to first understand this is a holistic problem, and then break it down into a set of manageable projects where you can “fix the plane while it’s flying”.”
In response to Scott’s blog post Ken Knickerbocker wrote the following on December 1, 2009:
“Scott stated “you have a variety of people in your company who each carry different perspectives of who your customers are; and what needs to be done to [help] them.”
So true. In your presentation Scott you refer to this as blind men describing an elephant challenge. All the blind men see the elephant differently depending on which part of the animal they happen to be touching.
[…] I’ve begun calling it the Mexico Dilemma. How one defines Mexico is largely dependent on where in Mexico they’ve visited. […]
So it is within any sales system. To someone tasked with ramping new sales people, knowledge management is an essential element in helping new recruits find the material and best practices needed to make a c-level call or position the company’s wide portfolio of products and services in the first meeting with that executive. But the Chief Sales Officer, with a singular focus on closing deals and meeting quarterly objectives, objectives the CFO and Wall Street are counting on, may not place the same emphasis on knowledge management. Instead knowledge management becomes just another SG&A line item to that CSO, one that is easily paired back in tough economic times.”