Solution for Sales on 7 key requirements for Sales Enablement platforms

The dimensions of Sales Enablement

Usually, I use the blue graphic by BizSphere AG to explain why the context, in which the content and contacts from marketing/sales/HR/training and other departments “live”, is multidimensional.

Solution for Sales at created a great graphic (see below) that drives home the same point along with an article laying out ‘7 key requirements for Sales Enablement platforms’:

“The Sales Enablement Platform, sometimes called the sales knowledge management system, is taking its place alongside the CRM system as one of the must-have platforms of an advanced sales organisation. Any company planning to implement a Sales Enablement platform will have a long list of requirements, but the true significance of some factors is not always clear ahead of implementation. This article draws on experience of implementing and using Sales Enablement platforms to highlight 7 key requirements and explain their significance. It focuses on the needs of larger, more complex companies – the ones that have most to gain from a Sales Enablement platform.”

Sales Enablement platforms

The 7 key requirements are:

1. One source

2. No double-posting

3. Dedicated cross-company system

4. Structured information space

5. Integrated community content

6. The means to attract attention

7. Effective inventory management

Case Study of BizSphere Sales Enablement at Nortel Networks

matrixed organization

Thanks to twitter I was just reminded of a great case study Jeanne Hellman wrote about the implementation of the BizSphere Sales Enablement Solution Suite at Nortel Networks in 2006 and the following years.

It was published in 2010 by

“Jeanne Hellman is a published subject matter expert on Sales Enablement strategies. […] she has focused on the implementation and adoption of a Sales Enablement strategy in a global $11.2bn telecom equipment and professional services company. […]”

For a complete copy of the implementation Case Study and her other articles and presentation slides, contact her through LinkedIn.



“[…] decided to implement a Sales Enablement strategy mid-2006 as part of a larger business transformation initiative to reduce SG&A […] and to address long-standing complaints from the salesforce. It was a heavily matrixed, global organization with approximately 450 products, 30 solutions, and more than 90 different professional services, and every seller was expected to sell “everything on the truck.” Information was spread around 20-plus team sites and the corporate-sanctioned sales portal, which hosted more than 6000 documents distributed among 185 different document types, not to mention the separate competitive and business intelligence sites; installed base sites; and the mix of ordering, pricing, proposal generation, CRM, and tracking tools. In addition, there was no federated search (no common search platform).

[…] it took sellers hours to look for basic information (validating numerous studies from several industry analysts). Seller confidence in marketing was low and complaints were high, as was attested to by the yearly seller satisfaction surveys (or dissatisfaction surveys) that had been conducted.


[…] the Sales Enablement efforts contributed to the reduction of the SG&A. Looking back to the 13 Top Initiatives from the CSO Insights’ Survey, we decreased the SG&A by approximately $22m dollars just by “improving rep access to knowledge to sell effectively” and “more closely aligning sales and marketing.” These were measurable, impactful savings from improving the productivity of the selling resources and support staff and eliminating waste (unnecessary tasks and content duplication). […] It’s ultimately up to your salesforce to find relevant content, digest it, interpret it, fill in any missing gaps, and then adapt it to match their customer needs. While the topic of the actual content is a different discussion that needs to take place, Sales Enablement can successfully help your teams convert your messaging from company spiel to customer value and deliver it more intuitively and efficiently.”

Here is a list of all other vendors I know of.

Reading List – Middle of August 2010

“Been there, sold that” – Marketing to CMOs can be a tricky proposition, but a little listening and a lot of knowledge go a long way (Kate Maddox, BtoB Magazine; August 16, 2010)

“Is Your Sales Experience Valuable to Buyers?” (John Cousineau; August 13, 2010)

“Forrester and IDC think Sales Enablement is a Big Deal … and We Agree!” (Tom Pisello; August 15, 2010)

“What Is “Sales Enablement” And How Did Forrester Go About Defining It?” (Scott Santucci; August 14, 2010)

“Rise of the Sales Operations Function” (Michael Gerard, VP for IDC’s Sales Advisory Practice; July 27, 2010)

“Where Sales Reps Go Wrong” –

“The “most destructive” failures of business-to-business sales reps are too much contact with customers (35%) and inadequate product knowledge (20%), a McKinsey survey of sales targets indicates. […]” (McKinsey & Company; June 21, 2010)

Every now and then there is a discussion on the definition of Sales Enablement

Every now and then there is a discussion on the definition of Sales Enablement. I tried to capture some at about and here.

Craig Rosenberg (@funnelholic), author of the b2b sales and marketing blog, started the discussion “How do you define Sales Enablement?”, on May 25, 2010:

A user called “ED” responded with the following interesting point amongst other points:

“[…] I don’t define it as sales enablement; rather I use “Sales Optimization”. I say as I had one rather perturbed head of global sales once say “My sales people don’t need enablement from marketing”. So I’m always careful as to how I position the effort. […]”

Ardath Albee from wrote the following response:

“1. Sales enablement is the process for helping salespeople to have conversations with buyers that the buyers’ perceive as valuable because the interactions is focused on helping them to achieve a high-priority business objective.
2. Sales enablement puts the conversational tools, storyline and end-stage content at a salesperson’s fingertips to help them engage buyers by focusing on what their products enable buyers to achieve, rather than the feeds and speeds of the products themselves. I agree with ED’s idea above that every marketing program should have a sales chapter.
3. Sales enablement is jointly owned by marketing and sales. Unless both sides collaborate on what’s needed (content, conversational guides, personas, etc.), integrate it with top of the funnel programs and construct a seamless end-to-end process across the cycle, no one is enabled.
In fact, this process should actually be called “buyer enablement.” The focus needs to be on helping buyers buy, not selling them products/solutions. That’s what drives relevance. The kicker is that both marketing and sales have insights that must be merged to create the best overall process. Marketing and sales are not two separate functions – not for buyers.”

A user called “perramond” said the following amongst other things:

“[…] Customer 2.0 doesn’t need your data sheets, positioning docs, competitive matrix, etc. They can find all that stuff (as well as your competitors’) without your help. So when your sales people do engage, they had better come to the table with something relevant and timely, something that helps the customer move to the next step in diagnosing and addressing an important business problem (wherever they might be in their buying process, vs. where they fall in your sales process.) […]”

Tamara Schenk (@tamaraschenk) (Portfolio & Offering Management – Innovation Center; T-Systems International GmbH) wrote the following:

“Our sales enablement initiative is based on the broad Forrester definition. Important criteria from my viewpoint are: it is a cross-functional discipline, it is a strategic ongoing process and it has very ambitious objectives: to equip all people touching the accounts with the right information in a well-structured, reusable way at all stages of the customers problem solving process / the customers buying cycle. Most important in an approach like this:

Sales enablement will deliver measurable business outcome!
Who owns sales enablement: I’m always wondering when this question appears. Wouldn’t we overcome “functional silo thinking” with an integrated sales enablement approach? As I see sales enablement as a joined approach, there can be no dedicated owner. There will be major stakeholders and other stakeholders, and normally one business unit sitting in the driver seat. And that’s not necessarily sales or marketing – portfolio & offering management can also be in a leading role.”

Let me extend what Tamara Schenk said:

It’s a cross-functional discipline, it’s a strategic ongoing process and it has very ambitious objectives: to equip all people touching the accounts (more than just pre-sales and sales) with the right information (sales playbooks, campaign information, ROI calculators and alike, documents/links, contact details of subject matter experts, etc.) in a well-structured (what is applicable where, who authored what, what can be used for how long?), reusable way (output in different formats or even auto-generation of tailored content) across all silos in the enterprise and in the right language(!) at all stages of the customers problem solving process / the customers buying cycle.
Having been on the enterprise side and having seen how many marketing dollars go into content production and towards polishing the look&feel I want to highlight how important it is that the money is only spent on content that works (content planning, content intelligence like tracking usage and ratings/comments) and if possible can even be done in-house.

IDC says Sales Enablement and Content Audits are great ways to save money

On March 31st, 2010, Matthias Roebel from MING Labs posted ‘IDC says Sales Enablement and Content Audits are great ways to save money’:

‘IDC Forecasts Tech Sales & Marketing Expenses to Grow Faster Than Revenue in 2010′, press release from March 30, 2010:

“The International Data Corporation (IDC) Executive Advisory Group forecasts that global sales and marketing expenses will to grow at 4.7% and 3.5% respectively in 2010, outpacing the projected 3.2% growth in worldwide IT spending. These expense gains will lead tech executives to accelerate their initiatives to improve the productivity and cost efficiency of sales and marketing.

In addition, executives may continue to seek greater sales and marketing alignment through dramatic organization and reporting changes, as a way to solve the costly misalignments that have continually undermined sales and marketing integration and efficiency. […]“

We have been addressing sales and marketing misalignments for large b2b enterprises since 2006 and it is great to see that IDC shares our point of view that sales enablement, content audits and improved campaigns are the way to go:

“Within the typical tech marketing organization, IDC sees that executives have numerous opportunities for savings and efficiency. “Sales enablement, content audits, and campaign vs. product go-to-market programs are all great ways to save money, and to make customers happier at the same time,” noted Rich Vancil, vice president of IDC’s Executive Advisory Group.”

For our approach to content audits please see our blog post on Content Intelligence.”

expansion of Sales Enablement roles within marketing headcount

21-Mar-2010, Kathleen Schaub LinkedIn account Twitter account posted ‘IDC 2010 Tech Marketing Barometer’:

“The 2010 forecast for marketing is partly sunny, according to the IDC 2010 Tech Marketing Barometer. Watch for organizational winds to shift and the atmospheric pressure from declining sales productivity to rise.

Marketing Leaders Forecast for 2010 – Partly Sunny

The 43 survey participants (my company, Sybase, participated in the study) will increase marketing budgets by an average of 3.5%. This follows an 8.3% reduction in 2009. So, we’re not quite where we were before the recession but doing better.

Blowing Down Silo Walls

Rich Vancil, IDC Vice President for CMO Advisory Service reports that marketing’s three pillars (corporate marketing, product marketing, and field marketing) still get the lion’s share of the marketing budget. However, Vancil says, their tendency towards silo orientation doesn’t sit well with buyers. Prospects disdain the way that corporate marketing tends to brag about solving world hunger, product marketing inundates them with product pitches, and field marketing treats everyone like a lead.

One antidote to silo-ism is the expansion of three new integrating roles. Collectively, these three roles now comprise 12% of the average tech company’s marketing headcount. The three roles are:

  • Campaign managers (managing integrated, themed, cross-silo, campaigns) are at 5.5% of the marketing organization
  • Marketing operations specialists( covering things such as systems, processes, metrics, benchmarking, planning, budgeting, learning and development, and CMO chief-of-staff) are at nearly 5% of the organization
  • Sales enablement staff (focused on getting the right tools to sales at the right time) are at about 2% of the organization

The biggest beneficiary of the expansion of these three roles may be the sales team.

Sales Productivity Under Pressure

A whopping 80% of survey participants will invest in Sales and Marketing Alignment this year – up from a not-too-shabby 60% last year. Here’s why:

Sales productivity is a train wreck. I don’t care which expert’s numbers you use – IDC, Forrester, SiriusDecisions, CSO Insights- they all show alarming trends. IDC reports that a full 50% of sales people didn’t make quota last year (sales managers expected only 30% to lag in the downturn). Customers told IDC that 2/3 of vendor switching is due to sales relationship problems. The average cost of sales is now at 11% of revenue and has increased above revenue growth rates for years. IDC estimates that there are about 4-5 margin points of waste in the sales budget.

Wow! That’s more that the whole marketing budget for some companies. Is it any wonder that companies are FRANTIC to get this puppy under control?

Surveyed companies will start alignment at the top, tightening relationships between the CMO and sales executives. IDC sales advisory group reports that about 20% of large companies are going farther, mashing up field marketing and sales. Some are even putting sales and marketing under a single executive. In 2010, companies intend to improve sales support (thus the increase in sales enablement roles). They intend to better integrate planning, budgeting, processes, and metrics (getting help from marketing operations). And, of course, they will invest in the never-ending quest for more and better leads (campaign managers will help here).

Digital, Social, and Influencers Continue their Dominating March

IDC reports that digital marketing continues to replace traditional programs, with a huge chunk coming out of paper-base collateral. Eighty percent of companies will add more digital marketing specialists and many will formalize social marketing dashboards. Spending for direct marketing, for analyst relations, and public relations will also expand. Automation continues to be a big focus – primarily systems that support the three new roles described above. Survey participants view lead management, CRM, campaign and database marketing systems to be the most important.

Looks like some very interesting trends are heating up.”

Sales Executives indicate Sales Enablement Tools Vital to 2010 Success

18-Mar-2010, Tom Pisello (@tpisello) wrote ‘Sales Executives indicate Sales Enablement Tools Vital to 2010 Success‘:

“A recent IDC Executive Tele Briefing on Sales & Marketing Strategies for 2010, results of a survey of 40+ worldwide technology sales executives, indicates that sales enablement is one of the top priorities, and the highest expected investment growth area over next 12mths.

Over the past six months, with frugalnomics reigning large with spend-thrift customers, it should not be a surprise that that it takes more leads and a longer sales cycle to acheive sales goals. The survey indicates that:
> 62% of respondents indicate that they need more leads in order to generate the same amount of sales
> 72% of respondents indicate an increase in sales cycle time over the past 6mths

To help address the close effectiveness and sales cycle issues, sales executives indicated that they are very focused on sales productivity and preparedness.

When frugal customers were asked how prepared sales reps are for meetings with them?

> 24% indicate that they are not prepared at all
> 30% indicate that they are somewhat prepared
> Only 29% indicate that they are well prepared

IDC indicates that the recommended best practice for this is to “Better Enable Sales Reps to Engage with Customers”, getting sales reps the right information and intelligence at the right time and in the right format, so they are prepared for customer meetings, and productive in meeting this need. This investment includes better Customer Intelligence and Sales Enablement tools such as interactive assessments, ROI business case & TCO comparison tools.

Sales executives are indeed aligned with this best practice advice from IDC, with 65%of sales executives indicating that sales enablement investments will be increased or significantly increased over the next 12 months. This is the largest increase compared to all other investments such as partners / channels, automation, training, and inside sales.”

Forrester Research on two innovative European vendors

Peter O’Neill from Forrester Research, Inc. on two interesting European software vendors he spotted, from March 7, 2010:

“[…] I like that there are these European companies with some very innovative ideas that will contribute to the success of both factory and field marketers in the tech industry. But it is also their innovation that I find interesting.

Last week, Laura Ramos blogged on our view of the marketing technology landscape, split into six core applications areas. Looking at the graphic, we are also clearly documenting that the Enterprise Marketing Platform is in its very early days and that there is plenty of room, probably time as well, for emerging vendors to play a role here.

BizSphere positions itself as providing sales enablement solutions (my colleague Scott Santucci also knows them well) but they are actually filling a gap between a marketing asset management system and satisfying the needs of both sales people and field marketers. While central marketing people need an asset management system to maintain content integrity and oversight; their colleagues in the field also need a tool to help them collate the right collateral package matching every potential sales situation, most relevant to that target customer and status in the sales cycle.

BizSphere is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany and their solutions are based on long term projects done for tech vendors. Their own marketing is, well, German, but the products are proven. See them for yourself, if interested, at the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco this week.

Blue Kiwi is was a French vendor with already quite some market momentum. They offer the capability for enterprise marketers to aggregate information from various social networks onto one console. I expect that many field marketers will want to have their own versions of this software running to be able to watch activity in their local market. […]”


Sales Enablement is the top investment area for 2010 – Who owns it inside an Enterprise?

On February 5, 2010 IDC’s Michael Gerard (@michaelgerard) posted the following on Twitter:

“Preliminary IDC data – Sales Enablement is the top investment area for 2010! More at IDC Directions #dir10”

That is obviously very exciting for us in this field, who for years now have been saying that Sales Enablement is going to be huge one day. Let’s take a look again at the term Sales Enablement in order to understand in detail what’s all included in what is projected to be a top investment area for 2010:

Michael Gerard’s definition of Sales Enablement as posted as ‘Musings on the Science and Art of Selling’:

“The delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time in the right format [often forgotten] and in the right place to assist in moving a specific sales opportunity forward”

Sales Enablement as per IDC


In its February 2010 issue CRM magazine looked at Sales Enablement:

“Scott Santucci, senior analyst at Forrester Research, says he’s seen an explosion of interest in this area over the past year. As with any technology, however, those rushing to buy the hot newness without first establishing a clear strategy are doomed to fail. It’s not that there’s a lack of information—far from it. Instead, it’s hard to wade through the sheer tonnage of information and determine what’s up-to-date, relevant, and in a form amenable to the particular sales conversation. “It’s a very simple, yet really complicated problem,” Santucci says.

IDC’s Gerard says the first step is to figure out who owns sales enablement in your organization. While the prevailing view has the niche bridging both sales and marketing, no one seems able to agree on exactly who owns which pieces of the pie. (See “The Shotgun Marriage of Sales and Marketing.”) Marketers lay claim to 69 percent of sales enablement, according to IDC, while sales pros estimate they control 60 percent. It’s not hard to imagine the damage caused by that disconnect, Gerard says: “There’s confusion amongst companies, some misalignment as to who’s doing what.”

These are nuanced problems, and Santucci says each of the relevant vendors—including BizSphere, iCentera, Kadient, and Savo Group—cater to slightly different problems. […]”

In the comments of the article quoted above Tamara Schenk (@tamaraschenk) from T-Systems International GmbH (Portfolio & Offering Management, Head of Special ICT Innovation Projects) wrote the following on February 4, 2010:

“[…] The discussion on “who owns sales enablement” is really interesting – from my point of view this question brings as back to the “functional silos”. Didn’t we want to overcome the functional silos by implementing sales enablement? We had a similar discussion when we started our sales enablement project. Now we have a cross-functional team which is lead by portfolio & offering management, in our approach the “backbone” of sales enablement.

[…] If an organization has a complex offering portfolio with different kinds of relationships within the portfolio you will need a lot of taxonomy features – but make sure that your first step is the consolidation of your portfolio and the second step is implementing sales enablement, including working on content quality, governance, processes, change management etc. The better you design the portfolio structure the easier you can analyze the content quality later on. From our experience that’s one of the critical success factors – and the other one is change management – how do I motivate sales reps to use the sales enablement platform and to use the collaboration features? Communicate, communicate, communicate… and you could give the sales user groups the responsibility for a successful change!

The objectives of sales enablement initiative could be different, e.g. one collaboration platform instead of ten different portals, get consistent messages, optimize go-to-market, deliver right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place, break functional silos, reduce applications, reduce ramp-up time for new hires, improve sales efficiency etc. […]”

February 2010 issue of CRM magazine: Sales Enablement Tools – The relevant vendors

I keep a work in progress list of Sales Enablement vendors. In its February 2010 issue CRM magazine does a great job at singling out the relevant vendors:

Sales Enablement Tools

Make the Selling Simpler: Organizations want sales reps to have access to the right information at the most critical moments
By Christopher Musico

“[…] the sweet spot for sales enablement—defined by IDC as “the delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place to assist in moving a specific sales opportunity forward.”
Scott Santucci, senior analyst at Forrester Research, says he’s seen an explosion of interest in this area over the past year. […]
Santucci says each of the relevant vendors—including BizSphere, iCentera, Kadient, and Savo Group—cater to slightly different problems. […]


  • $135,262 is spent, on average, in support costs per year for each salesperson.
  • 7 hours per week is what the average salesperson spends looking for relevant information to prepare for sales calls.
  • 50 percent of the information is pushed through email.
  • 10 percent is “made available in a useful format.”

Source: Forrester Research & IDC Sales Advisory Service


BizSphere — BizSphere Sales Enablement consists of four separate applications involving both sales and marketing: Sales Web, Document Generation, Content Landscape, and Editors.
iCentera ( — iCentera Enterprise Edition 6.0 offers wiki-page builders, customizable portals, custom tabs, a company newsroom, and dynamic email.
Kadient — Kadient Dynamic Sales Content, Sales Playbooks, and Sales Performance Analytics can be accessed directly from within sales force automation systems via productized integration with and Oracle CRM On Demand.
Savo Group — Savo Sales Asset Manager provides an organizational structure to enable sales pros to rank content, based on business rules, to recommend content for each particular selling situation.”


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