In this series, we ask tech executives to describe the why and how of their solution. We call it Sales Tech Simplified.
Nancy: Why does the industry need your solution?
Pete: Most every sales team wants to improve sales productivity, and this is exactly what Accent’s sales enablement solution does. It’s like having a good sales assistant with you all the time.
Accent helps sales teams sell more efficiently in several ways. We reduce the time reps spend locating and customizing content and materials for buyers, and reduce the manual CRM data entry reps love so much—giving them more time to sell. We monitor follow up cadence and send reminders when reps need to follow up with opportunities and buyers—keeping them on a healthy track. And we notify reps when buyers are viewing the materials reps have shared so they can efficiently follow up with buyers showing interest.
In addition, we make reps and managers more effective in several ways. We graphically visualize the traditional tabular-based opportunity data so reps and managers can quickly understand the sales situation and form effective strategy and next step actions. We score and qualify opportunities so maximum effort is placed on the most attractive deals. We automatically diagnose opportunities from a number of different dimensions and offer recommendations on content, subject matter experts, and possible next steps. We enable better, more relevant coaching by letting managers leave coaching tips for reps right in-context of the actual situation.
And, we offer these capabilities–this assistance–right within the tools reps use everyday like CRM, Outlook, and mobile.
Nancy: Why should it be prioritized above other options?
Pete: There are few things more important to sales teams [and business leaders] than increasing sales productivity, and Accent’s sales enablement solution directly impacts and improves sales productivity.
Nancy: What are the symptoms that indicate an organization would benefit from your solution?
Pete: Reps spending lots of time locating content to use with buyers—having to go too many places to find it.
Limited visibility into what content reps are using in the field—what’s working, and what’s not.
Poor sales activity visibility from low CRM adoption—making it harder for managers to forecast, coach, and manage their talent.
Bloated pipelines with long sales cycles. A symptom of too many deals in a rep’s pipeline causing a lack of focus on the right opportunities.
Slow follow up with buyers. A killer in today’s highly buyer-centric sales engagements.
Nancy: Where does your solution fit in the Hierarchy of Revenue Needs™?
Pete: Accent’s solution is fairly comprehensive, so it covers the majority of the hierarchy segments.
Developing, Coaching & Onboarding
Accent enables in-context coaching and micro-training to help new and less experienced reps reach higher productivity levels quickly. We also offer learning libraries and sales reinforcement training to maximize the productivity benefits of expensive training programs.
Managing, Forecasting, and Analyzing
Managers and sales leaders gain a much more complete view of the fundamental sales productivity value chain: sales rep activity levels, the effectiveness of those activities [meeting generation and milestone achievement], and the results [wins]. This drives better management and coaching by continuously measuring and reinforcing rep behavior based on standard activity models and metrics specified by the firm. More accurate forecasting is now possible through empirically-based, more complete opportunity and pipeline visibility. With a more complete set of activity and effectiveness data, sales teams can conduct deep analysis of the activities and behaviors that produce the best results.
Knowing Who to Sell to
Accent’s prioritization engine gives reps clear visibility into their most attractive opportunities—encouraging them to spend time on the deals most beneficial to pursue. The follow module helps reps stay on cadence by monitoring activity and reminding reps when and who to follow up with.
Engaging with Prospects
Accent lets reps launch instant online meetings and present, and share content through private buyer portals. The portals differentiate reps by improving the engagement experience with buyers. Buyers don’t have to dig through email inboxes to view materials from sellers, and sellers can track and follow up with buyers as they view materials. Reps can pre-schedule email and content delivery and create campaigns to revive dead or stalled prospects.
Accent enables sales reps to manage each buyer’s pain points and objectives individually so reps can target specific buyer needs necessary to build consensus. The Recommendation Engine surfaces content and next step ideas for each persona on the buying team. Reps can also view and manage the buying team consensus level using the Buying Room visualization tool. The Communication visualization lets reps and teams see exactly which sellers are talking to which buyers and to what level.
Accent’s Buyer Portals are perfect for managing contract workflows and the back and forth nature of closing activities. Both parties are notified when changes are made eliminating wasted time in the contracting and closing process. Accent document building capabilities includes a Proposal Builder, allowing reps to enter just the vital information and proposals are generated automatically.
Repeating & Up/Cross Selling
Accent’s Account Management capabilities allow reps or relationship managers to monitor and visualize communication activity, diagnose risks, and visualize satisfaction levels. The eCommunication module lets reps or RMs schedule nurturing campaigns to existing customers prospects—keeping buyers informed of news and events, and sellers top-of-mind with buyers.
Nancy: How mature is a typical organization’s sales stack before adding your technology?
Pete: Sales stack maturity certainly varies quite a bit. Most organizations have CRM, or some method of managing contacts, opportunities, and sales activities. We now see a lot more teams with Marketing Automation, or are in the process of implementing. And then you will see an assortment of point solutions to do one or two particular things. LinkedIn is also prevalent. So, to answer the question, sales technology stack maturity is typically below average. Sales is behind marketing, HR, and other business functional areas in terms of using technology to assist, improve and standardize the sales function.
Why? Not sure exactly. The most likely answer is that standardization has never really emerged in sales. By standardization I mean a common “best practices” operating system like GAAP in accounting, or Six Sigma in manufacturing. Without standardization, it becomes harder to apply technology. This is why so many CRM implementations fail to deliver the results—the underlying sales process is overlooked and leaders think applying technology will fix the problem. It doesn’t.
CRM should probably come first [as long as there is a role-based sales process in place] followed by marketing automation [because you need leads to work on]. Some tools combine the two.
Sales enablement should follow to give reps content and sales guidance that CRM doesn’t address.
Comprehensive sales enablement tools, like Accent, can bring a ton of value and should definitely be one of the first 5 tools a sales team adds to their technology stack. In fact, if there is no structured sales process in place, I would put a content delivery-capable sales enablement solution ahead of CRM in the stack. This is mainly because giving sales reps one place to go with easy access to content can improve sales productivity even where teams are very loose on sales process.
Nancy: In what ways is your solution complementary to others that might be in someone’s sales stack now or in the future?
Pete: Accent’s sales enablement platform definitely complements Marketing Automation systems because it picks up where MA systems typically drop off, after the sales engagement begins and buyers begin earnestly engaging with sellers. For example, Accent uses the lead scores from Marketing Automation to drive better prioritization early in the engagement.
Accent fills gaps left by CRM, like access to content and SMEs, active recommendations, coaching and training materials. Accent fixes a huge problem typically found with CRM—reps don’t use it. Accent automates a great percent of the data entry and gives reps more reason to use CRM by making CRM more value. So, in that light, Accent definitely complements CRM.
Nancy: What are some of the challenges your solution solves for Marketing/Sales?
Pete: The Accent platform brings better alignment between Marketing and Sales, and raises the productivity of both functional groups.
- Content not centralized–content spread all over different repositories
- Limited control over content updates—who’s updating and when
- No visibility into what content is actually used by sales in the field
- No way to see what content reps are searching for
- No visibility into how buyers respond to content—what’s working to move deals forward
- No efficient and effective delivery of content to the field—so sales can get to what they need quickly making it more like to be used
- No easy way to enable reps to tailor content for buyers
- No easy way to control how much reps customize content
- No efficient way to manage content—updates, retirements, need versioning and archiving
- Hard to determine what content gaps exist, and what to produce next
- Poor CRM adoption
- Low visibility into what activities reps are actually performing
- Low visibility into how effective reps are in moving deals forward
- No way to determine or predict what reps will make quota—have to wait for actual results
- Time consuming, difficult pipeline reviews—hard to determine the actual sales situation
- Inaccurate forecasts
- No easy way to coach reps without meeting in person
- Difficult to locate the right content to use with buyers
- No easy way to create personalized content for buyers
- No visibility into how buyers respond to content shared by sales
Nancy: What are some good resources if someone wanted to learn what questions to ask, what others are doing, or purchase considerations?
Pete: One good article that may be helpful is one on our blog that provides some clarity on sales enablement and sales assets.
We also put together our complete guide to sales enablement software vendors.