The sales enablement space is white hot with an incredible amount of interest and investment by customers, analysts, venture capital, and vendors. Ultimately this is good for customers as there is significant ROI for sales enablement tools and software.
With so many vendors flooding into the space there is also a lot of hype that customers need to sift through. And depending on the particulars of their solution, vendors too often present self-serving advice on the best path to success.
These myths fall in to the “tell customers what they want to hear” category but unfortunately will lead to failed projects. You need to decide for yourself and do a thorough evaluation to choose the right sales enablement tools and software to meet your business.
Here are the top 3 myths we encounter in our discussions with customers.
Myth 1: Search Can Replace Content Curation
Search is an incredibly important feature in a robust sales enablement platform. With advanced data science and machine learning search can be incredibly powerful and accurate. But don’t let anyone tell you that search can replace the marketing and sales enablement role as content curators.
We recently spoke to a large Enterprise customer who had a number of disjointed content repositories with several terabytes of data. The repositories had a mix of final content and various intermediate versions and supporting files. Vendors were telling them what they wanted to hear, namely, they could just leave all the content in their repositories and use search to find the relevant documents among the chaos.
This is a seductive siren song, but ultimately will lead to a failed sales enablement project. Want proof? Go to your company’s Intranet search box and type in that key sales document you are looking for. Did you find it? Of course not. Enterprise search over the chaos of both published and non-published content is an intractable problem. If Google and Microsoft can’t crack enterprise search why do you think your sales enablement platform can do much better.
But search against published and curated content is tractable and sales enablement platforms can do an amazing job if they use advanced machine learning and take in to account signals such as internal usage, customer engagement, and influenced revenue.
Where the content is stored is not the key point. The key point is that marketing and sales enablement must specify which content is published and ready for the sales team to consume. Whether this publishing step is simply copying the final file to a special directory or uploading it to the sales enablement platform is less important. The important thing is that there is an explicit publishing step.
Once published to the sales enablement platform, search can work its magic.
Myth 2: CRM Content Targeting Can Replace Searching and Browsing
Targeting content within CRM lead, contact, account, and opportunity records is an incredibly important feature in a robust sales enablement platform. Often this feature is sales playbooks or content targeting. On first blush, the idea is wonderful. Sales team no longer need to search or browse for content and instead the best and most effective content will be “automagically” pushed to them for each situation.
Content targeting can be very powerful and save time by focusing the ales rep on the most relevant content. We have seen great success with certain kinds of roles and certain kinds of content such as action plans by stage or the main pitch decks or the right price sheet. But it can’t be the only way to find content.
For many complex B2B scenarios the reps need other ways to find content such as searching and browsing. Want proof? Think about the 100s or 1000s of pieces of your content. Now think about your sales funnel. Knowing everything you know, do you know 100% of the time which 10 (more than 10 starts gets overwhelming) pieces of content should be put in front of a sales rep for each and every day of a sale? Of course not. And neither can your sales enablement platform.
Content targeting is an important tool, and combined with great browsing, filtering, search, and recommendations sales reps can connect to effective content.
Myth 3: Manually tagging content is sustainable and scaleable
You have a lot of content you need to manage and share. Maybe there is an easy solution – if you could just tag each item the right way, then everyone can quickly find exactly what they need.
It doesn’t sound that hard. First, you have to figure out the right tags to use. You might label everything with a type – “pitch deck”, “white paper”, or “price sheet”. You might label it with the set of products that it covers. And the relevant technology trends. And regions where it applies. And so on.
We’ve talked to hundreds of customers who have tried it, and they’ve all had the same experience – after you use the system for a while, the results are dismal. And they get steadily worse. Want proof? Let’s assume you have 1000 pieces of content and you want to organize your content along a few dimensions, say “Sales Stage”, “Product Line”, “Geography”, and “Customer Segment”. And to keep the math easy let’s say each dimension has 5 possible values. That leads to 20,000 possible combinations and the need to apply 4000 tags. And given the pace of business today, as content evolves and the tags evolve, you must keep applying the tags or the results deteriorate.
There are many other problems with tags which are detailed in the Trouble with Tags.
The reality is that nobody can design and maintain a tag system that keeps up with the pace of modern business, and nobody has time to update all the tags in the system whenever the business changes. So the tags you are using, and the tags that every piece of content has on it, get more and more out of date and disconnected from reality. It’s just not a workable model at any reasonable level of scale.
Sales enablement tools and software can provide organizations with excellent ROI by improving marketing effectiveness and increasing sales. In today’s marketplace there are more options and more hype than ever so it is important to evaluate vendor claims carefully and systematically. Our sales enablement evaluation tool can help. Even better than hearing vendor claims, put the software through its paces and judge for yourself.
Your premise is interesting, but how does anyone initially find content without some sort of tagging mechanism? Machine learning is great, but you have to gain adoption and suggest content before people will use it to begin with.
Hi Alex. Thanks for the question. We believe that a robust sales enablement platform must support all three ways sales reps find content: (1) search, (2) recommendations, and (3) browsing. To support a great browsing and filtering experience, content publishers will indeed want to curate and organize the content. But a global set of tags applied to each piece of content is simply not sustainable. I imagine you have seen this issue with your own deployments. The alternative to tags is to use an entirely different metaphor for organizing the content. Our approach at Highspot is inspired by consumer experiences like iTunes where people can successfully manage large music libraries. We have deployments with 1000s of reps, 1000s of pieces of content, and publishers distributed across multiple geographies. Happy to chat more. Best, Robert