Sales 2.0 should be about the sales person—not just provided to them, but designed for them. After having read Joe’s and Donal’s posts—Marketing’s Opportunity and Scuttlebutt (including the provided/designed comment above)—it occurred to me that defining what a salesperson would need from a competitive knowledge management perspective might be a good place to start with respect to getting more specific about Sales 2.0 capabilities. Keeping Donal’s “velocity” in mind—improving the close-rate—I can close my eyes and practically see my new Sales 2.0 competitive knowledge management system… Relevant, accurate, comprehensive, and actionable intelligence about my competition served up when and where I need it.
So, assuming the role of under-supported salesrep, here is my first, quick pass on a Sales 2.0 competitive knowledge wish list:
- Company-level Content:
- I’ll want to know everything about their annual revenues, financial position (P&L, balance sheet, etc.), number of employees, office locations, alliances & partnerships, leadership, corporate-level messages (mission statement, goals and objectives, etc.), history, view by securities and industry analysts, important customers, markets, slide presentations given at investor conferences, press releases, job openings, etc.
- Of course, I’d like to have access to the annotations and comments made by members of my team on all documents in this category, including the paper napkin-based analyses our CFO likes to do when they announce earnings each quarter.
- Internal best-practices on how best to use this information in real, live sales opportunities would be a major plus.
- So would access to the internal (and external) experts on this competitor.
- Product-level Content:
- What’s important to me is product/service strengths & weaknesses, market share by product or product line, brochures, approach to market, product development history, new products, technology platforms, pricing, discount history, warranties, distribution channels, terms and conditions, customer satisfaction levels, availability, support and service options, etc.
- I’d like to see all manner of product comparisons: theirs and ours.
- It would be nice to hear how other reps effectively highlighted this competitor’s product weaknesses.
- I’ll need our unique differentiators and theirs as well (don’t make believe those don’t exist, please). I’d like to see those differentiators positioned from the customer’s perspective, with the quantified business value attributed to each.
- I’ll also need relevant ROI and cost-justification models for each product/service, with examples, and instructions on how best to employ and position them.
- Competitor’s new products under development (link to www.USPTO.gov) might give me a heads up on what they’ll be announcing later in the year.
- Again, internal best-practices on how best to use this information I’ll need as well.
- Plus, access to the internal (and external) experts on this competitor, especially those who were involved in sales opportunities against this specific competitor.
- Sales Team- and Salesrep-level Content:
- This information would help me the most: Sales approaches, strategies and tactics employed by them against us (what has worked and what hasn’t), strategies and tactics employed by us against them (what has worked and what hasn’t), compensation plans (am I competing against commission-only reps?), resources available during the sale, preferred person for entry into an account, etc.
- The “story” behind each reference customer that they’ll use, so I can immunize my prospect.
- The sales objections they’ll raise about our company and our products/services and the best responses for managing those objections.
- Why we’ve won and why we’ve lost against them. Key take-aways from individual win/loss reports should be available as well.
- Information on individual sales people: how long in the industry, how long in the job, biggest wins, biggest losses, what they count on to win, etc.
- Internal best-practices on how best to use this information, ranked by relevance and/or
- Access to the internal (and external) experts on this competitor, especially those sales reps who sold against this specific competitor.
Inputs for the Competitive Knowledge Wish List:
- We would need a closed-loop system that would collect and retain valuable content from:
- Our training materials database
- Relevant e-learning modules and podcasts (including the ones Donal mentioned).
- Relevant emails (that aren’t marked private)
- (Our soon-to-be-sunsetted) sales portal
- Internal chats and wikis; internal and external communities and discussion forums, newsletters, etc.
- Our CRM system
- External sites where relevant information might be found (investor bulletin boards, Hoover’s, MySpace, YouTube, Fortune, ComputerWorld, etc.)
- I’d like easy-to-use updating, feedback and input mechanisms so we can collect the competitive intelligence listed above from the field. If marketing wants me to input my observations and experiences, they’ll need to make it easy, and show me that they are using what I provide. If it goes into a black hole, take me off the list.
- Collection of other forms intelligence so we can help marketing and product management help us to be more competitive tomorrow, such as what capabilities are being asked for by customers that we don’t have today and what capabilities our competitors have so they can come up with workarounds or alternative products.
- An RSS feed so I can be proactive.
- Powerful, advanced search, so I can get right to what I need quickly.
- Available any time, anywhere, on any device I happen to have in my hand.
- A modern, intuitive user interface like other Web 2.0 applications.
- Integration with the most widely used business and social networking sites (start with LinkedIn) so I can easily find people who know the companies and salesreps against whom I am competing.
- All the new Sales 2.0 capabilities that will be introduced between now and when this application gets done.
Christmas is only 191 days away!