One of the high-value plug-ins to a Sales 2.0 collaboration framework is a (sales) knowledge management system. We had the opportunity to evaluate OutStart’s SellingEdge.com when it was launched last summer. As a result of our research and the preparation for a webinar that we delivered on the subject, the power of this technology quickly became apparent. (Full disclosure: OutStart subscribes to ESR’s research.)
We estimate that 80% of sales-oriented knowledge within a company is not documented. And what is documented changes frequently. In addition to that, experts aren’t always accessible, especially in the just-in-time pace of the sales world.
Here are some questions that sales people are asking (or should be asking):
- What (company, industry, customer, product, and competitive) knowledge do I need to effectively compete in this opportunity?
- Where is that knowledge within my organization?
- How can I access that knowledge quickly?
- Can I trust the accuracy? Are posts and information sources rated?
- Who are the experts in those areas and how can I most effectively and efficiently communicate with them?
- How can I best use that knowledge to gain and maintain competitive advantage?
Assuming a knowledge management system is deployed, managed and administered properly (buy-in from, and participation of, executive management, internal experts ready, willing and able to contribute, etc.) the quantity and quality of knowledge available to the sales rep in the field can be truly awesome.
We look at three dimensions to measure a knowledge management solution’s capabilities: Relevance (accurate information that answers the right questions), Accessibility (portability and speed of retrieving the right information) and Depth (not only one answer to one question, but multiple alternative opinions and references to other potentially related issues). If you’d like, you can view our Knowledge Management Maturity Model in full size.
Another expert in this field is Bob Schmonsees. He talked to me about the customer value slice of knowledge in a podcast. Listen, if you have time. It will bring you up to speed on some of the challenges and solutions that are available.
I’d certainly be interested in hearing about your deployment of a sales knowledge management system and the resulting benefits…