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In recent years marketing has gone through a revolution driven by HubSpot, Marketo, SAP, Salesforce and others.  With prospects guiding themselves through 50% of the research before contacting a sales rep, this has become an essential part of maximizing sales.  But what about the other 50% of the journey from prospect to customer?

Below is a graphic I’ve been using to illustrate the key functions within a company.  At a high level, there are two activities that make a company successful:  building and selling.  Sure there are many other departments — HR, facilities, legal, finance, and procurement — but if people in these roles can’t articulate how they contribute to building or selling, there’s a problem.

The left quarter or yellow area of the square is the self-guided, in-bound discovery and awareness phases of marketing.  This is where the current CRM and marketing automation systems excel.  There are now very sophisticated tracking, lead scoring, trigger-based communications and other automated features designed to pull prospects through the first few stages of the sales funnel.

The upper section (green area) reflects the in-person aspect of sales.    Once a prospect gets to the point where they really want to dig into details and talk business terms, they need to talk with a person.  There hasn’t been much innovation in this area with the exception of reporting, tracking, and inward-facing systems (also known as drudgery by most sales reps).  For the most part, sales reps still make phone calls, walk people through demos or PowerPoint presentations and then follow up with email and phone calls.  These activities aren’t much different than they were ten years ago but that’s starting to change.

 

approach-graphic

 

We’re entering the new era of sales enablement in which sales reps have more sophisticated tools to manage their interactions with prospects and customers.  One such company is Crushpath.  Sam Lawrence, the former CMO of Jive Software and founder of Crushpath repeats the mantra “power to the revenue generators.”

With Crushpath, sales people are able to created “Pitch Pages” that include customized content including videos, white papers, and other data tailored to that prospect’s business.  The rep can handle requests quickly and guide prospects through the pipeline.  Crushpath is aiming reinvent the pitch letter and more static communication that typically takes place through email.   The early adopters of Crushpath and Pitch Pages are small to mid-size businesses, but it will be natural for the service to extend to team sales within larger enterprises.

That is not to say that sales and business people cannot benefit from the numerous streams of information in and around companies to assist in figuring out where people are in the sales cycle and how best to construct their offers. This is particularly true in team situations where the last thing you really want is to be stuck trying to assemble a series of email threads involving people, many of whom may be irrelevant to the deal but whom you dare not miss out. Crushpath allows teams to be built organically, in the moment, for individual deals. When you think about it, that is part of the future of work where expertise is brought in and out of projects or deals as the use case demands.

From Rethinking Team Sales Engagement and Enablement by Dennis Howlett of ZDNet

Here are a couple examples of Crushpath Pitch Pages:

Pitch Page 1 Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 11.09.26 AM

 

As you can see, the sales process is much more personal and within the sales rep’s control. He or she receives real-time feedback from customers and maintains the relationship through the point of closing the sale — or more importantly, follow-on sales.  The goal of marketing automation is to provide content and resources that are available whenever a prospect is interested in learning more about the company.  With Crushpath and other innovations in sales enablement, the reps can better scale their activities — and close more deals.

Added 2/20:  related article by Christopher Penn of Shift Communications – “Changing your B2B PR Approach for Selling”