The term “sales enablement” has been treated very roughly over the years — by vendors, by the media in its coverage of sales content, and by many sales and marketing professionals. Like many other terms, sales enablement has been pushed, pulled, stretched, and shaped to fit whatever is required in the moment. That means one thing for a vendor, another for a consultant, and another for an actual practitioner. Becoming a buzzword means that sales enablement is a term that’s heard more often and understood less. The result is confusion over what sales enablement really is, and as a result, many organizations fail to identify it as the solution to their problems.
The symptoms of the problem can be many and disparate: a ballooning content creation budget that doesn’t correspond to improving results; salespeople asking for the same content to be created over and over again; sales using the same outdated content, even though new content exists; and the sales process grinding to a halt as salespeople hunt for the right content for individual customers. These may at first blush seem like a marketing problem or, maybe, a sales operations problem. In practice, responsibility for remedying the situation may be split among departments, resulting in an imperfect solution, or it may all get dumped on a troubleshooter (dubbed the “VP of Broken Stuff” by analyst Scott Santucci).
In this scenario, sales enablement tools are only sought out when their absence starts to derail deals and cost money. Vendors pushing point solutions without making any efforts to tie them to an underlying strategy only deepens the problem. This reactionary approach provides sales with an incomplete set of tools, each working in isolation from the others, sputtering along and struggling to cope with an ever-more challenging sales environment.
Late last year, Gartner took aim on the technologies that deal with this challenge with its 2016 Market Guide for Digital Content Management for Sales. The new nomenclature is helpful — it allowed Gartner to redraw the landscape of the problem to fit a more modern definition. A solution for DCM for sales, in Gartner’s reasoning, must satisfy at least one of these use cases:
- Customer-facing selling: Sales content is used to educate prospects or to evoke a purchase decision.
- Internal knowledge transfer: Sales content is used to convey new product information to representatives. Also includes formal sales training and coaching functionality
- Sales representative onboarding: Content is used to educate employees about the process, products, and competitors.
- Partner relationship management and sales channel selling
- Sales development representative (SDR) processes
And, to satisfy these use cases, a solution for DCM for sales must include certain capabilities, including the following:
- Content Repository Management
- Content Development
- Content Delivery
- Content Usage Analytics
- Sales Process Integration
Laying out the landscape like this paves the way to a much easier understanding of the associated issues that make up the sales content management problem. It can also help clarify who in the organization should lead the efforts to select and implement a solution, and it can help that leader establish some priorities for content management within that deployment.
Would your company benefit from a reset in the way it looks at sales content management? If so, the Gartner guide is an excellent place to start. To download your free copy of the report, click here.