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What's Your ROI on Sales Tools?

by Tim Riesterer  |  
June 19, 2007

Marketers spend a lot of time and money creating messaging, tools, and training for salespeople.

Unlike lead-generation campaigns and demand-management programs, where you can track impact on suspect, prospect, and customer activity, our "sales support" investments are much harder to measure.

But, the day of reckoning is near. We are going to have to demonstrate an ROI for this big-dollar budget item. Especially when statistics like these continue to pop up:

  • Up to 90% of what marketing creates for sales support goes unused in the field (American Marketing Association).

  • Salespeople spend 40% of their time creating their own messaging and tools (CMO Council).

  • Salespeople forget 85% of content and skills within four weeks of training (ASTD Journal).

  • 70% of marketers give themselves a "D" or "F" for the quality of sales support (B-to-B Online).

Intuitively, we know that product launches and salespeople require a raft of coaching and customer-facing communications tools. But we are apparently creating the wrong messages and tools, according to these statistics.

What's the problem?

Over the past five years, we've been able to trace the problem with sales support ROI to four main causes:

  1. The messages and content don't reflect the conversations that salespeople want to have with customers and vice-versa.

    "Customers want to know what we can do to help them accomplish their goals, they don't want to know what we have to sell them." —Sales Manager, Manufacturing Company

  2. The sales tools don't work the way a customer decision process or sales cycle works.

    "There are moments of truth at each step of the customer decision-making process that require tools which are relevant to that interaction—not tools that fit some sort of marketing or brand guidebook." —Sales Operations, Professional Services Company

  3. Sales training is not provided in a way that busy, road-warriors who have to be "expert" in multiple products and markets want to learn or learn best.

    "Salespeople are just-in-time, opportunity-specific learners. They learn what they need to learn when they need to learn it, and they only want to learn as much as they need to learn for the specific opportunity. —Field Marketing, Technology Company

  4. Our online technologies (customer relationship management systems and intranets) are not centralized, clear, and intuitive in terms of helping salespeople quickly find the right content they need to advance a deal.

    "I need to uncover client needs and then respond with something that shows how I meet those needs. There's nothing in my CRM system that helps me do that and our sales intranet is a cesspool of information." —Sales rep, Financial Services Company

Is it worth fixing?

A recent survey and executive whitepaper produced by CSO Insights called "Optimizing Sales Performance with Consistent Message Management" took a stab at correlating company sales results with the ability to communicate consistent messaging to, and through, the sales force.

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Tim Riesterer is chief strategy and marketing officer of Corporate Visions Inc. He is the co-author of Customer Message Management and Conversations that Win The Complex Sale,

LinkedIn: Tim Riesterer

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