“Are you sure this is a smart thing to do for your business?” was the question I was asked last week by a well regarded sales effectiveness industry observer. (I will call him Joe – not his real name.) I had just told him that we were launching the DealmakerMagic Youtube Channel where anyone could go to look at online movie demos of our Dealmaker Sales Performance Automation platform. Joe continued, “Surely you’re giving your competitors access to lots of information here. Isn’t Dealmaker your main point of differentiation?” Hmm, interesting perspective.
I know that Joe’s comments were well intentioned. He’s been a supporter of what we’ve been doing ever since we acquired OnTarget (the sales methodology division of Oracle) back in 2006 and introduced sales performance automation to the mainstream sales training or sales effectiveness world. He believes in the value of technology when intelligently applied to sales process. Also, he’s a huge Dealmaker fan (bless his heart!). But, this time, I think he’s missing the point on a number of fronts.
Difference versus Differentiation: In the first instance, I think there is waaaay too much emphasis placed on differentiation, and not enough placed on real difference. In my opinion an inordinate amount of misplaced and misguided resources is allocated towards marketing differentiation rather than product / service / solution value difference. Too frequently the emphasis seems to be on finding how to position for a prospect, rather than how to produce for a customer. Efforts should be prioritized towards how to provide real value to the customer from your product / service / solution. Only then should positioning be considered. That’s not to diminish the importance of positioning; unless you can describe your value, you’ll never be able to afford to continue to add value. But, in the long run, marketing messages can not supplant innovation. And that brings me to my next point.
Sustain Advantage Through Customer Focused Innovation: Ok, so, according to Joe, our competitors can just go to our DealmakerMagic channel on Youtube and get a good understanding of Dealmaker. This is undoubtedly true – but I’m not sure that we should care.
- Firstly, it’s easy to see what Dealmaker does, but not that simple to understand what we do in the background to make it work. And, what we do is hard. Delivering enterprise-class on-demand software that encapsulates complex sales methodology and delivers intelligent guidance to a sales person, in the context of where they are in the sales cycle – is not trivial; particularly when you consider that ever customer’s sales process is different.
- Secondly, our job is to continue to increase the value we deliver, and through a combination of vision and market research, we’ve roadmap and development initiatives that map the future for the next two years. With all bias stated, we believe we can deliver much greater value to our customers today than any alternative – but that’s not enough. Unless we maintain a laser-like focus on increasing the value we deliver to our customers, we will be caught up by our competitors, and in that case we don’t deserve to survive. I don’t believe that will happen, and I certainly don’t think that making it easy for anyone to see our products will induce our demise.
- Finally, there’s no guarantee that our next innovation is going to look anything like the last one. A constantly changing landscape mandates fresh perspectives and evolving skills and the collective responses of customers to something like the DealmakerMagic channel can only help to inform that evolution.
Making It Easier For Customers to Find You: If there’s one early business lesson to be learned from social media is that now is the time to make it easier for customers to find you, and focus less on pushing messages at prospects. I don’t expect for a minute that viewing our online demos equates to an in-depth discussion with a customer about the business issues they are trying to solve, but it informs the conversation. The old adage of ‘knowledge is power’ is less of a truism than before. Application of knowledge, and finding the right knowledge at the right time is more important, and we’re trying to make it easier for our customers to do that, and if they think it’s right for their business, they will ask us to help.
Learning from the Crowd: Putting our product information on Youtube is also an experiment in crowd-sourcing. We’re keen to see which of the demos will receive the most views, opinions or comments. I don’t believe there’s anything about the content itself that will make it go viral, and our target market is quite specific, so I don’t expect huge volume. But if we get a few hundred or thousand views, and subset of those people add comments – then we can only learn.
Today the DealmakerMagic channel is just a set of nine online movies, but we will be adding more over time.
Two of my favorites are:
Sales Process (shows how you can use Dealmaker to embody your own sales process), and
Dealmaker Virtual Learning System (shows how you can make your sales effectiveness, or other, content available on demand)
You can access the complete set of demo movies here.
Let me know what you think. Is this a good idea? Is Joe right? I’d love to hear your thoughts.