We’ve been through a 3-month lockdown, and hopefully starting to come out of it. It has never been a more important time for a Sales Enablement Platform—an SEP—for salespeople who have never needed more enabling than they do today. There’s only one problem: Just what is a Sales Enablement Platform?
Depending on which vendor you reference, a SEP sounds an awful lot like a CRM. But at least one vendor I found goes well out of their way to say that their product, this SEP, was most definitely not a CRM. Yet that same vendor stated that their SEP had “CRM characteristics.” Another SEP calls itself, “The Sales Enablement CRM.” Other SEP vendors spell out benefits that sound exactly like those of a CRM application. What gives?
I don’t know if they realize it, but whoever came up with this brand new term is causing considerable confusion in the marketplace, just by not specifically stating what a SEP is.
Going into a whole other field, if someone uses the term “SUV,” you would immediately know what they were talking about. It’s a specialized kind of motor vehicle. It is not a sports car. It’s not a luxury sedan. Because the automobile industry clearly defines “SUV” they can easily compare one manufacturer’s SUV with another, feature-to-feature.
But in the CRM industry, we don’t have that same luxury. Suddenly there is this new thing called a Sales Enablement Platform, that apparently isn’t a CRM–and we don’t have a clear idea of what it actually is.
Because nobody has taken the time to clearly define a Sales Enablement Platform, and because sales enablement has always been the fundamental principle of my product, I am going to take the next few articles and clearly define what a SEP should be, and what it should do.
As An Example…
Pipeliner CRM is not at the moment categorized as a SEP, but it has always had as its primary mission the empowering of salespeople and greatly succeeds at it every day. This empowerment comes about through our complete visualization—our UI—which is a total expression of how salespeople think, making it easy to follow and engage. We know our concept is correct simply because salespeople love it and adopt it.
This adoption is vitally important on a sales management level as well. Sales managers not only must provide their teams with a working tool but one which salespeople will actually enter data into and use. Traditionally utilization and therefore data entry into CRM was a constant problem. “CRM sucks” was the mantra about CRM, which I knew from the beginning would be a challenge in creating Pipeliner CRM. We, therefore, worked to enable salespeople right from the start. Therefore Pipeliner is, in our opinion, the best SEP out there.
Part of our thinking on Pipeliner has been to alleviate the repetitive tasks salespeople must regularly undertake, which has been especially evident in functionality such as our recent Automatizer. Automatizer makes it possible to automate routine tasks.
Another aspect of the sales job that salespeople hate is data entry. We, therefore, created the Web Clipper for Google Chrome, which assists in immediately importing data from the web into Pipeliner.
A Complex Undertaking
A corporate viewpoint is often taken that sales is a “simple” job, and that salespeople aren’t truly knowledge workers. It is often said that “people who don’t succeed elsewhere end up in sales.” It’s an incorrect characterization because we know that a third of the world’s population is engaged in sales-related jobs.
When you really take it seriously and understand it, sales is actually a very complex job. It’s not just the technology salespeople must understand, but the sales processes. Additionally, there are many factors a salesperson must fully learn: human beings, communication, presentation, and negotiation.
Salespeople must also learn to overcome the regular rejection that just doesn’t exist in other professions. It can often happen that opportunities on which a salesperson is working for considerable time are lost. Dealing with rejection is something salespeople must thoroughly learn, in addition to the knowledge of the job.
If we really identify salespeople as who they are—knowledge workers—they would gain a different status in society. They are not viewed this way currently, often viewed as greedy, pushy people who couldn’t have a career anywhere else.
Helping Through the Transformation
The enormous transformation spoken of by Austrian School Economist Fredmund Malik and myself for many years is now happening. The pandemic has pushed the digital world 5 years ahead all at once. We need more knowledge workers who understand how to work with remote teams and processes. Our aim is to help salespeople get there.
All of this is impossible without digital hubs and communication tools. I would even predict that, in the future, it will be impossible for a company to survive without a sales-enabling CRM tool.
What Is It?
The question then becomes, what should be the capabilities, functionalities, and aims of a SEP? Why do we believe we have created a system that really guides the selling process, and is logically deeper than others?
Just as a side note, since some of these new “SEPs” are AI-based, I should say that I honestly believe that the claims being made for AI in this area are, plainly, nonsense. AI, to succeed, must be able to precisely deal with enormous amounts of data. The “state” of AI is clearly not all it’s cracked up to be when Mark Zuckerberg must hire 20,000 people to manually identify and remove harmful content from Facebook, because AI tools aren’t capable of it. If Facebook, with almost unlimited resources, cannot accomplish such a thing with machine learning and AI, AI certainly cannot be counted on for more complex sales situations.
Stay with me as we go into this series, and discuss real sales enablement.