The move to the cloud is a fundamental shift that makes business both easier and more difficult at the same time. Businesses must adapt to a new set of challenges and capabilities that simply didn’t exist before. Taking cloud products to market poses unique challenges that today’s sales leaders must address.
Cloud products present fantastic new opportunities for the business and for customers. They also present unique challenges for even the strongest sales organizations for the following reasons:
Product release cycles are shorter than ever. That means new features are constantly coming online. Sometimes sales teams know about them. Sometimes they don’t.
The competition is changing just as fast. Just because you knew how your solutions stacked up against the competition a month ago doesn’t mean that you know how they measure up today.
Training and readiness content can become obsolete almost as soon as it is created. If you’re still relying on traditional field readiness vehicles, you’re probably not moving fast enough.
Engineering teams are continually expanding and improving your cloud solutions to stay ahead of the innovation curve and ahead of the competition. The challenge is, the rate at which they move typically surpasses the rate at which readiness teams can generate content.
Be ready to win
Sales readiness programs have been around for a while. They are intended to prepare sales teams for tough customer questions. It’s a safe bet that if your teams have the right answers to tough questions, they will win more deals. But traditional readiness programs rely on point-in-time activities (e.g. hosting a class or publishing a piece of collateral). For your teams to keep pace in a rapidly changing environment, you will need to embrace an ‘always on’ approach to readiness programs. ‘Always on’ programs produce content that is concise, created by a cross-functional team, and current.
Field sellers don’t have a lot of time. They want information that is easy to consume and digestible. Valuable content includes information such as: your current product roadmap and that of your competitors, messaging and positioning statements, ROI data points, customer case studies, FAQs, etc. Creating content like this will require your organization to build a new information architecture for readiness that favors bite-sized content.
Product Management, Product Marketing, Incubation Sales, Engineering, and Professional Services teams all possess subject matter expertise. But these teams get bombarded by information requests from all across the organization. This can drain time and resources. The challenge is to build tight-knit relationships between these organizations so information can be quickly distributed to sales teams through efficient readiness channels.
In most organizations field stakeholders need to monitor many channels to stay current. To help them stay up to date, the enterprise needs to reduce the number of vehicles and optimize the ones they use. Here is how:
Corporate Websites. You need a team or an individual to actively manage your corporate websites. This is probably the first place your field sales teams and customers go for information. Your web content needs to be current and cohesive.
Mobile-First Vehicles. People use their mobile devices to find information, especially when they are on the move. Building mobile apps, mobile sites, and leveraging responsive design will help you deliver sales readiness content when and where it is needed most.
Social Communities. Your subject matter experts work all across your organization. Creating an online forum will facilitate discussions across functional areas and business units. This allows the best and most current information to flow freely throughout your enterprise. Before launching, make sure you seed the community with high-value content and actively promote and moderate the discussions.
‘Always on’ readiness programs deliver the most current, most effective deal support possible. With quick and easy access to bite-sized content, your sales teams will be armed with the information they need to stay ahead of the competition and win more deals.
In case you missed it: check out Chase Morgan’s blog post, Help! Why Aren’t We Winning in the Cloud?