• This Blog Is Inactive!

    On of May 8, 2009, I moved my blog over to a new domain: DaveSteinsBlog.ESResearch.com

    I will no longer be posting on this URL. Comments will not be moderated. More information.

  • ESR’s STVG

    Here is ESR's highly acclaimed Sales Training Vendor Guide, Third Edition.

I’m Presenting At The Sales 2.0 Conference In Boston. Join Me.

boston_7000_feet3I’m delighted to be both presenting and participating in a panel discussion at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston on May 21st.

Using recent research from ESR’s Sales Training Vendor Guide, I’ll talk specifically about technology-enabled learning—how technology is changing learning and why today, effective sales learning requires technology.

I’ve not been shy in voicing my concerns about the some of the hype and lofty expectations around Sales 2.0 and the distraction that it causes for some of our client companies struggling through the kinds of sales challenges that Sales 2.0 approaches and tools can’t immediately overcome.

At the same time substantive progress is being made on the technology front.  ESR has given credit to those companies who are making real contributions to sales effectiveness through technology-enabled learning and technology-enabled selling—companies like Kadient, Richardson, The TAS Group, SPI, Holden, White Springs, Primary Intelligence, The Brooks Group, Miller Heiman, LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Jigsaw, Lucidera, and many more.

As a researcher and analyst, I’ll be in learning mode at the conference as well.  I’m looking forward to understanding more about the approaches and solutions of the companies presenting and sponsoring this event, and learning from those sales leaders who will be attending it.  Please introduce yourselves to me.

Hope to see you there.  If you can’t attend, I’ll keep you informed through Twitter.

Photo credit:  (c) 2008 Dave Stein — Boston from 7000 feet
Donate $25 or more to the human rights charity Witness.org, email your receipt to me,
and I’ll send you the full-size jpg of this photo.  dave.stein @ ESResearch.com
Make sure your credit card number is not on the receipt, please.

An Authentic Sales 2.0 Killer App for Selling Competitively

Last June I wrote a post containing my Sales 2.0 Competitive Knowledge Wishlist.  I’d expect that any salesrep or manager who really knows how to employ advanced competitive selling strategies and tactics would love to have the Sales 2.0 capabilities in that list.  We’ll, we are apparently closer than I thought to realizing that dream.

I spent some time once again with Ken Allred, CEO of Primary Intelligence (listen to my podcast with Ken).  Ken, whom I hold in high regard for all the fine work he and his company have done in the area of competitive intelligence, has produced what I see as a legitimate killer app.  Actually, it’s a “killer suite” of three applications, all designed to help the sales reps be much more strategically competitive.

First, Sales Explorer enables salesreps (and their managers) to strategically plan competitive sales scenarios by identifying the unique differentiators for themselves as well as the competition’s differentiators based on the deal characteristics they’re working on (industry, deal size, deal type, region, etc.)  Based upon historical data collected during Win/Loss analyses, the software presents: the main reasons why specific prospects are looking for solutions, key decision factors from the view of the prospect, the level of difficulty you face in completing a deal, a road map to overcoming obstacles, top product strengths and main product weaknesses in the eyes of the prospect, resources to others who excel in similar situations, advice from prospects on how previous losses could have been avoided, advice from prospects on how wins could have been stronger, and accurate competitive pricing. 

Competitive Navigator provides unprecedented capability to compare your performance versus your competitor’s performance in every area that affects purchase decisions (Sales, Company Image, Solution and Marketing). It allows salespeople to narrow their focus to just the competitor, or competitors that they’re most concerned with and review their specific differentiators (see screenshot to right). Additional comparisons available in Competitive Navigator include:

  • Pricing
  • Product strengths and weaknesses when you win versus the competitor
  • Product strengths and weaknesses when you lose versus the competitor
  • Missing features as identified by decision makers

Horizon is the competitive intelligence forum, which is integrated with Sales Explorer and Competitive Navigator, so all of the content in the forums is available in the other applications.  The system automatically captures all the comments coming from decision makers on why they selected, or didn’t select a competitor, what that competitor’s specific strengths and weaknesses are, what pricing strategies the competitor utilized, what they did well and what they didn’t do well. Sales reps, executives, marketing, product managers, CI (competitive intelligence) professionals, and product development can then discuss, advise and leverage this competitive intelligence, along with additional ad hoc CI that the users will add to the system, in a message board setting that is archived and makes searching for specific competitive information very simple and fast.  So a sales rep joining the company six months from now will have access to all CI and conversations about a specific competitor and could be up to speed VERY quickly on what they need to know about a competitor they are competing with. I see this as a powerful Sales 2.0 tool that will provide sales teams with a tremendous amount of value.

The smart guys at Primary Intelligence are connecting all this to the standard CRM platforms, with Salesforce.com being first.