Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Top 5 Helpful Improvements for Sales Engagement Software

While most front line sales professionals would say that they are getting much less out of Sales Engagement Software than they put in terms of time and effort. See my previous post on the problems that sales professionals have with Sales Engagement Sofware by clicking here  The good news is that there are some efforts that can improve the experience for front line Sales Folks. Here are my "Top 5" improvements that I have researched to date. These ideas will require some skin in the game from executive management, but the investments will pay off large.

Key Personnel Information:

Every prospect or customer that salespeople have to deal will have specific needs, likes, dislikes, and attitudes. Why not share this information if known. Some organizations build a contact database with key pertinent information and places to write comments like "This contact is totally cost focused" or "This person is a strategic operation focused person" or "This person hates to be smoozed". The corporate knowledge about your prospects or customers needs to be captured and shared. Sales professionals need to be armed with contact information even if it is unstructured information and they appreciate insightful tips.

Market Segmentation Information:

Every organization that exists lives within a context. How does the target organization compete within its market?  What are the management philosophies, culture, and corporate charter? Who are the likely competitors that might be circling to sell to competitive products and services? What's the history with this account over the last ten years? What are their planning and budget cycle seasons? Is this a learning institution and who do they feed trained people to? Information about the targets competition would also add value to sales efforts.

Product/Service Utilization Information:

For existing customers that you want to sell more to has used your organization's products or services. How often do they reorder? Is there a way to view the inventory to suggest that they might be getting low. What are the consumption and spin down rates of inventory? What are the organizations planning horizon for readiness? What are the real satisfaction scores (not just answers on rigged surveys)? What products are a real hit and where are the hotspots around lagging results with your products or services?

Integrated Sales Playbooks:

Your organization has some proven methods or playbooks that are representative of best practice for selling. If playbooks are even available, are they available through the sales engagement system? If not, can they be linked to in a convenient way? Are there patterns to these plays and how they might apply to the prospect or client? Are there success stories documented in the playbooks to encourage the sales staff, particularly when their managers are pegged for time and they are unavailable to coach in a timely manner.

Next Best Action Suggestions: 

Having smart software (AI / algorithms) to assist sales folks is a great help particularly if there are large amounts of data/information or the data is changing in near real-time from multiple sources. Can a sales professional decision assistant be built to take in the data and information to suggest some alternative next steps? These can be large scoped or spot advisors taking into account recent prospect/customer activity or emerging product/service offerings/features. These kind of decision advisors are starting to emerge out of the digital assistant movement.

Net; Net: 

Powering salespeople with Sales Enablement Software takes much more than buying software and demanding that sales just fill in data for management control. Sales folks want something back and assists to help them close new deals or expand existing footprints in customer organizations. I'm sure there are more ideas that would make sales professionals feel like they are getting something back from sales engagement software.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Sales Enablement Software Doesn't Help Sales Much

I hear it from all the sales representatives I know. They hate their organization's sales enablement (aka sales engagement) software. All they do is put lots of data into the software and they only get micromanagement from their sales managers in return. It's a real burden. Why should companies keep investing in building data stores instead of real customer relationships?  Why are sales and upper management so detached from reality? What's wrong with this picture?  There are at least three things really wrong here.

The Illusion of Control:

The Sales Department is one of the most expensive organizations in an organization and it drives bean counters and top management crazy. "This needs to be controlled," they say. By making the sales professional more responsible, they will get better and management will have a better handle on the real situation in the field. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your sales folks are more interested in the relationship with the customer and how their own organization is going to help them close sales. Sales folks will reluctantly fill in your data, but you will not have more control because they put in just enough to appease management. Sales enablement software doesn't help sell, but it can help train green sales folks.

The Illusion of  More Data:

There is a falsehood around collecting as much data as possible so that the big picture folks can make better decisions and direct sales. While some subtle data hints and senior experience can help in certain situations, most sales managers use the data against the sales representatives. You're most successful sales representatives do not need to be over-managed with data. Collecting data that would help the sales professionals would be better than collecting data for data's sake. Sales folks put in a lot of data and virtually get nothing back. When will the data be used to help the salesperson close?  It's pretty much a one-way street right now.

The Illusion of Understanding Customers:

Managers, equipped with masses of data, think they understand the customer. They like to insert themselves into getting results when the data collected rarely tells the relationship story. Managers would rather listen to the data entered rather than trusting their seasoned sales folks. I hear my sales buddies tell me that they keep telling management what the customer wants and make resonable requests for deaf ears to ignore or reject. When the account is lost, the sale person is rotated elsewhere, at best, and the mangers then come up with the very ideas the sales person was trying to communicate.

Net; Net:

Let's leverage the data in sales enablement software to give the front line sales folks an advantage instead of feeding the insecurities of management. The worm has to turn with the advent of smarter sales enablement software that builds trust with sale folks and management. Le'ts stop the illusions, sub-optimizing, and micromanagement and turn the sales data into a useful sales tool for the people that are on our sides and represent our customers to create customer excellence.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

PegaWorld 2019, Day 2: Pega Demonstrates Empathetic AI Solutions

This is big news! Organizations have been viewed, rightly so, as cold-hearted and only after their own goals. Now organizations can dial in empathy as needed with the addition of Empathetic AI. There was an actual demonstration by Dr. Rob Walker from the stage of variable warmth of customer service actions and offers considering the past history of individual clients. This is groundbreaking, but won't be released until 4Q 2019. If I ran a company that wanted to balance customer and organizational goals in a dynamic fashion, I'd be standing in line to get a chance to see if my organization could benefit from Empathetic AI. While organizations will have to learn how to tune the empathy switches over time, just having this feature should be a boon to organizations trying to balance great customer journeys with hardcore processes.

While there were presentations on leveraging innovation to become really digital and more digital heroes, Empathetic AI stole the show. Click here for Day 1 highlights of  Pegaworld Day 1. Lost in the shuffle was some proof points that organizations need to look themselves in the mirror when it comes to the reality of their customer service. Pega commissioned a survey of companies and clients to find out that 89% of executives think the customer is great while only 50% of their customer think so. This is a huge gap that can be closed by Empathetic AI embedded in a customer-focused solution like Pega has done. Get in line for a solution focused and embedded dial a heart. 


To watch this highly recommended session, click here

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Pegaworld 2019: To Infinity and Beyond with Digital Super Heroes

PegaWorld, here in Vegas, has great numbers again with over 5000 attendees from over 700 brands. So what's new this year? Actually quite a bit. The biggest announcement was around Pega Infinity. Alan Treflor excitedly described their new name for and the functionality of their digital platform. The strong claim was that Infinity could equally apply intelligence to the Customer Engagement and Digital Automation sides of any business. The secret to winning on both sides of the equation, that typically are at odds with each other, was to balance goals and suggest next best actions leveraging tunable and reusable micro journeys. These micro journeys can be used to overlay and differentiate both organizational and individual customers goals leveraging omnichannel capabilities.

Alan then went on to explain that Infinity was going to add empathy and highly contribute to true design thinking. I'm not quite sure I was able to grok how that was going to happen, but I think there are more announcements coming on the second day around how the customer is feeling at moments of truth or touchpoints.

As always Pega is always demonstrating it's potential through case studies on stage and at breakout sessions. Pega is now calling the outstanding organizations Digital Super Heroes. This is an effective way of getting clients to share a little of their digital success on stage. Don Schuerman announced the DX Heros and introduced Nicole Verburg of VodafoneZiggo who explained how they were using better customer experiences and intelligence to cross-sell products.

Next on stage was the ever-entertaining Karim Akgonul who introduced Moshe Pridan from Sirius XM who went on to explain how they were leveraging omnichannel and customer service to increase revenue. I still don't understand, as a former customer, how Sirius only knows my car and my billing address and not my household and how many cars I have for potential package deals. Anyways Karim went on to further explain Pegas new low code with guardrails approach for citizen developers and summarized the technical pieces that were being advanced or improved.

Lost in the shuffle was a small announcement of the recent "In Chat" acquisition which adds significant Digital Messaging (DM) capabilities. What was obvious was Pegas support for "Girls in Tech" with a fundraising effort of over 400K. The first day was a big hit for me with some compelling breakout sessions with more DX heroes. I am expecting big things on day 2.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Gaining Advantage by Combining Journeys and Processes

Processes have been a key contributor to operational excellence for decades and continue to progress with the addition of more automation, but the real secret to business success is to employ customer journey practices. This yields a balanced set of outcomes between the customer and organizational outcomes. Let's look at the advantages of aiming for customer excellence as a means of organizational progress in the digital age and beyond.  If you want to register for one of the first 300 copies of a new book on customer excellence click here.

The Progress of Processes for Operational Excellence: 

The use of processes for operational excellence is well known, documented and continues to progress with the addition of additional automation leveraging technologies like RPA, Process Mining, and AI. This allows organizations to visualize results and continually optimize for cost savings or efficiency purposes. The complaint of this approach has been that these processes are not friendly and are quite often too complex. To that end, organizations have been trying to make processes friendlier and less onerous. All of this is good but will be limited over time as your competition heats up with even more enticing approaches that appeal to customers.

The Progress of Customer Journeys for Satisfaction and Loyalty:

The use of customer journeys has been emerging for the past several years because of new models in industries that have tried to put the customer first. The assumption here is that a great customer journey that takes penalization into account and puts the pressure on the business and business systems will deliver better loyalty and new customers. This desire for customer excellence first will make the customer outcomes as important or more important than the business goals at critical points in the journey. In fact, the journey disciplines are even reaching to employee and partner journeys in the most enlightened organizations.

The Power of Combining Both:

While most organizations are not willing to change their business models to be completely customer driven, the gap between ugly system processes and personalized a pleasing customer journey is starting to narrow. Many organizations are starting to measure existing journeys and model target journeys figure out a way to bridge a great journey with existing processes. Adding chatbots and digital assistants in one approach for customer ease, but if your organizational silos still have to be managed by your customers, there is little gain. Taking your journey customer beyond the walls of your specific organization is the real way to come up with appealing journeys.               

Net; Net: 

There are real-world examples of combining process and journeys. There the pragmatic front ending efforts like you see with "Rocket Mortgage" and Amazon. There are examples of a complete rethinking of the journeys as exhibited by Uber and Lyft.  We even see big banks rethinking their experiences for attracting new customers. When many companies are able to personalize experiences while still keeping operational excellence goals intact, we know we have arrived. When new and innovative journeys that span multiple organizations become the norm, we will finally relax.

If you want to register for one of the first 300 copies of a new book on customer excellence click here.

Co-authored by Jim Sinur, Gero Decker & Mark McGregor

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Is AI Data Driven, Algorithm Driven, or Process Driven?

There are those that think that data is the oil of AI and the focus should be clean data, data science and deep understanding of what the data means. There are those that say data is meaningless without context that can be with other data, models/algorithms or processes. Let’s explore the arguments in a concise fashion to discover the advantage of each view.

The Case for Data Driven:

Data is the starting point as it is a very useful asset. True or not, it is assumed that data carries knowledge and that tapping that knowledge will give advantage to those that study data well. It just makes sense for AI to start with data and leverage an advantage can be had by learning from it. This is especially true in the age of big and fast data. It seems especially true when sensing signals and patterns that are occurring in emergent situations. Businesses have had a long history with business intelligence and a great deal of the effort surrounds data. Why would it be any different with AI?

The Case for Algorithm Driven:

Understanding the advantage that algorithms have over static data in the wild is important. In fact, organizations can gain the upper hand by having an algorithm that optimizes their business. In fact, finding the right formula, statistical model or projection that is appropriate for the situation is the real art of business. These algorithms are guarded by organizations and are often considered the secret sauce for success. While they are dependent on clean data, the rules implied in the math or the logic are the real differentiators for many industries. Where would the insurance industry be without actuaries and their prized algorithms? AI will be no different.

The Case for Process Driven:

The importance of sequence and president is crucial in doing the right steps or tasks in the proper order to obtain results. It makes no difference, if the process is static and repeatable or dynamic and emergent. Knowing the next best action is the key to getting the best business results. Bringing to bear the right data and algorithms at the right time is what process is all about. With the precision of process, business outcomes are sure to be on point and appropriate adjustments can be made with a transparent feedback cycle that employs various forms of monitoring.

Net; Net:

The real story here is that you need all three for long term success. You may start with one and add the other. AI is truly starting with data this time as machine learning ramps up to its power curve.  As AI progresses, it will have to cooperate with both algorithms and processes. Data based AI is working well today and it will likely lead to rule based AI again as the sophistication and scope of the problems expand.  A triangle needs all three sides.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Combining Digital Technologies for Success

We have enough experience in leveraging digital technologies to be able to add value with a great chance for success. While nobody can guarantee results, there is enough evidence in organizations that have emerged to say what digital technologies deliver and what combinations are particularly potent. This post will take identify these potent combinations, but I would suggest understanding the ingredients first by clicking here for a helpful blog post on the most common successful digital technologies employed today. Teaming technologies together is a secret that many have been using to their advantage.

Putting Powerful Pairs to Work:

There are some common pairings that have led to some interesting case studies and tangible or intangible benefits for several organizations. I expect these combinations to deliver for the organizations that pursue them.

    •CJM & BPM Delivers a balance of customer satisfaction & efficiency
    •BPM AI Delivers processes that enable smart resources and actions
    •BPM & RPA Delivers automation of boring or time-consuming tasks
    •BPM & PM Delivers reality-based incremental improvements
    •IoT & AI Delivers IoT management and recognition of actionable patterns from big and fast data

Teaming Up Teriffic Triplets:

There are some common triples of digital technologies that have proven to work well together and have delivered business outcomes consistently. Again, I expect these combinations to accelerate their collaboration.
    •BPM / PM / RPA Delivers targeted automation
    •BPM / IoT / AI Delivers intelligent actions at the edge
    •Arch / Low Code RPA Delivers incremental transformation of legacy
    •Workflow / Content / Collaboration Delivers team outcomes on cases
    •Unified Communication AI / BPM Delivers Improved Customer Sat

Net: Net:

While these combinations have proven to deliver, there will be more combinations that will emerge for a strong delivery. Eventually, these powerful combinations will aggregate to even larger digital platforms that may specialize. Examples of specialty platforms include Automation, Sales Engagement, Data Science, Digital Twin Transformation, Infrastructure Management and more