“Be Prepared” is not just a Boy Scout Motto, but also a rule by which all great salespeople live by!

Print Friendly

Clearly one of the greatest challenges facing sales organizations today is making sure that their sales people are as prepared as they need to be to effectively win more business. We constantly hear reports from organizations like IDC, Aberdeen Group, Forrester Group, etc. that only 25% of prospects rate salespeople as being knowledgeable, effective, or prepared when they call upon them. 25% that means that 3 out of 4 salespeople who call upon them are not prepared to effectively engage the prospect’s they call upon.

This is a serious problem for a lot of organizations out there. Many sales managers are frustrated and perplexed about what they can do to change that. So, many sales and marketing managers are turning to the concept of sales enablement to help them solve this dilemma.

The following is an excerpt from an article that Rich Vancil wrote for B2B Magazine on January 17, 2012, and is reprinted here with his permission:

“IDC’s definition of good sales enablement is: “Getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time and place, and in the right format, to move a sales opportunity forward.”

“Over several years of surveys of tech sellers, IDC has asked: “What percentage of marketing assets provided to you as a sales rep, do you actually use?” The answer is, invariably, “We use perhaps 20 % to 25% of the total.” Sales reps use just one of every five “things” that marketers produce for them! They spend a lot of time trying to get prepared and ready and smart—or in other words “enabled”—but more often than not they leave the office to go on a sales call in a state of un-readiness.

This disheveled “state of enablement” is validated by the customers. Tech buyers give tech sellers consistently poor scores on preparedness. Year after year, IDC research has shown that tech sellers are ranked poorly on product knowledge, account knowledge, relevance of their presentations, and other factors. The purchase cycle from awareness through to P.O. (purchase order) is now 19 months for big-ticket IT purchases, and this expanded by two months just in 2011. Tech buyers would love nothing more than to greet at their office door a better prepared, better-enabled sales rep that can help reduce the time that it takes them (the buyers) to make a purchase decision.

Here is one idea to improve sales enablement: Perform a major marketing asset audit with the goal of literally “getting stuff off the table.” The sheer volume of marketing assets in an organization that has perhaps dozens of product lines is overwhelming to sellers. There is no way the sellers can successfully sort through and find and deploy the “right content at the right time and place” in an efficient way. So what happens? They leave the office “disabled” versus “enabled” and the buyer sentiment reflected earlier goes into effect.”

So, I think the facts speak for themselves. The question is how prepared are your salespeople when they go out to call upon the next prospect. Will it be a wasted opportunity or will they be prepared and knowledgeable enough to capitalize on it and turn it into a buyer/sales opportunity? The more important question is what is your company doing to provide the right tools they need that will capture and then deliver that knowledge to them when they need it? If you aren’t then perhaps you are not the “Scout Leader” that you should be.

  1. Ed Arnold Says: June 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Chuck – it sounds to me like you’ve come to one of the same conclusions that Jill Konrath came to: ensure your preparation makes you ALIGNED and PRIORITIZED with the prospects key business issues/needs. Jill says the alignment must address a true business issue or need and although a bit more challenging the issue must be a PRIORITY for that business. It sounds like the “marketing asset audit” you’re talking about could enable a more focused approach – especially if the sales materials/aids are specific to a niche in a particular industry.

    • Thanks Ed, I certainly don’t mind being thrown in the same company as Jill. And you are absolutley right. What we are attempting to do with CollaboRate is provide salespeople with a platform for them to provide feedback on the quality and value of the content they are provided, so it will be better. This provides those responsible for creating that content with the feedback they need to be better aligned with what sales people feel they need.