[Note: This is the second of a two-part series on Sales Knowledge Management. Read part 1]
SKM and the Sales Manager
Sales Management is responsible for annual, quarterly and monthly metrics, account, sales, revenue, and profitability goals—not to mention the day-to-day activities of reporting reps in the field. Management must balance internal sales operating expenditures against customer development, bookings, and revenue goals. These metrics must be reported upward along with those of other management teams so that important historical and strategic conversations can take place. For Management to focus on sales effectiveness—territory and account planning, resource alignment, call and opportunity activity, forecast reliability, and all the unknowns—they must have the support of well-equipped reps. Management must feel confident their reps know the methodologies inside and out, that they can access playbooks of best practices, and that they have the tools they need to execute. What Management needs is more and faster. More productive reps. New reps productive faster. More flow and more accuracy of deal data. Faster interactions and faster cycles. More cross-sell opportunities. Faster penetration into new leads and new markets. More innovative ways to leverage tools and technology to support reps and prospects—from cold call to close. More agility. Faster to all the unknowns.
SKM and the Alliance Partner
The enterprise’s partner relationships increase the value of its solutions through complementary technology, solution integration, and extended global sales, services and support reach. Partners are strategic to growth strategy. Trusted partners work closely with internal staff at all levels to drive additional market opportunities, augment the breadth of its solution offerings, and contribute domain expertise across the customer lifecycle. Partners grow the brand. They deserve full support. What a valued partner needs is a solid support infrastructure that clearly delineates consistent positioning, while allowing for the variations in access and message necessitated by the unique nature of each relationship. Portals are a viable answer—consistently branded, yet customized, and reflecting the laser-focused attention the company brings to bear on its customers. The approach removes the barriers between content producers and consumers while enabling technology-assisted security, flexibility, and process.
SKM and the Customer
An organization’s customers come from multiple industries, multiple organizational levels, and multiple walks of life. They are responsible for ensuring they have quality products at the right price and time to increase revenues, decrease expenditures, and manage risk for their companies. Customers evaluate solution offerings, negotiate contracts, measure performance, and often develop partnerships and working relationships with strategic vendors. Customers must deal with the internal financial, strategic, and political aspects of any complex buy. They must often show due diligence in the bidding process, and will play vendors against each other, fighting smoke with smoke. Placing hurdles along the path—more calls, more meetings, and always more demands for information—helps to winnow out weak vendor players and shape the game as decision time draws near. What a Customer needs is a vendor who is responsive and professional. A vendor who shows up not just on time, but early—not just in a jacket, but with a tie ready just in case. A vendor who is as consistently responsive and professional in print as in person. The vendor who beats timelines for formal deliverables AND is quick with additional information they need AND knows the Customer well enough to proactively feed information before it’s needed AND does all these things while maintaining consistent messaging in a professional package—that vendor is a trusted partner.
SKM and the New Sales Person
A company birthed through acquisition and nourished through attrition and organic growth is a company reshaping the traditional definition of “new” employee. At the same time as it hires, promotes, and transitions sales staff, it increasingly demands the cross-pollination of talent and experience to promote sales spanning multiple product groups. New staff must ramp quickly and ramp repeatedly. The opportunity cost of this ramp-up process can be very high in terms of company revenue performance. This lost revenue in conjunction with the cost of hiring, training and compensating a new sales person can have a huge negative effect on the company’s bottom line. Regardless of their specific role in the process—field sales, business consulting, marketing or sales support—all new staff must know not only what they’re selling, but how, and to whom. In the sprint to show value, the best intentions of a comprehensive education are thwarted by the reality of productivity-now expectations: a demo next week, a C-level meeting tomorrow, an RFP today. What a new sales person needs is the benefit of a proven sales playbook for the company’s solutions and market segments, and access to the best selling content to present polished, accurate and consistent deliverables. Reducing the distance from CRM coaching to the optimal sales message—from days to minutes, from phone tag to a mouse click—is a critical component of an effective employee learning program. If new team members have the resources they need to be successful, the likelihood of turnover is reduced, which in turn helps reduce the scale of the ramp-up challenge.