The true strength of any company is in the knowledge it has.
Transforming this knowledge into sales, overcoming lost opportunities due to a lack of follow-up or being too slow to respond to sales’ requests for data can drastically slow down a company’s ability to compete.
I’ve seen small but very technologically astute companies work very hard at coming up with databases that have everything imaginable in them for their sales teams. From unstructured content organized through the development of semantic search, through highly structured content in enterprise-wide content and knowledge management systems, these solutions run the gamut of automation.
Yet all of them have failed in serving the sales force. Why?
When you look at why such Herculean efforts on the part of IT departments to equip their sales forces with the best possible tools and knowledge fails, it’s clear that automating already-efficient processes is not enough. Here has to be more, and the “more” includes the following:
- C-Level skin in the game. This is critical, and the C-level executives (CEO, CIO, and CMO) have got to present a unified, consistent and even passionate pursuit of change for the new systems to make a difference for the sales force? Why? Because if you think of a company like a series of watch gears, all department interlocking like watch gears, it just takes one department or even one individual to think change does not apply to them to bring it all to a grinding halt. C-level skin in the game sets the example, pace of change and clearly communicates that this strategy of knowledge sharing is critical.
- Freely sharing knowledge and making sales happen is the best job insurance there is. Every company lives and breathes by the salesforce and their accomplishments. More companies have to equate the speed they share information at was the speed they make sales happen. Share more, sell more, it’s clear in the services businesses I’ve been a part of. Hoard more and everyone loses. Company management must attack this problem head-on and the insecurity that breeds information hoarding. To hoard is to kill sales, to share is to grow them.
- The more knowledge you provide customers the more trust you earn, the more opportunities to keep that trust by performing well. Excellent selling is more about teaching prospects hope you can solve their problem first, and closing the deal second. Look at Accenture and the many problems they had trying to create an enterprise-wide content and knowledge management system. This is an organization with legions of brilliant people yet no one was sharing information. What happened? The company allowed portals to proliferate, and needed to completely re-architect their knowledge management strategies to put sales and the customer engagements first. It took exceptional effort to create a shared base of knowledge that was based more on creating cooperation, not competition between Accenture divisions.
Bottom line: The quickest path to being a trusted advisor is to be the most knowledgeable one. Equip your sales force with the knowledge they need to win now.