The Financial Services Focus On Sales Enablement

Steven Wright

In the past few months, we’ve seen a big uptick in inquiries from financial services firms, including life insurance. They are becoming much more focused on sales enablement automation and sales enablement in general. At the same time, sales enablement automation vendors are highlighting their successes with financial services companies. Based on discussions with practitioners, financial services firms should keep in mind a few key challenges as they tackle better enabling their sellers:

  • Agents and advisors are both sellers. Many financial services organizations seem reluctant to use the terms “sales” or “sellers” when talking about those who sell to customers. This often slows awareness and understanding of how sales enablement automation can help them leverage content, better engage with customers, and ensure that sellers play by the rules in a highly regulated industry. The same applies to independent advisors. They are business partners — another part of the channel — and need the same kind of sales enablement, especially because they may also sell competitive offerings.
  • Managing seller-focused content in a highly regulated environment is complicated. Financial firms have dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of content creators. Those creators cover a wide range of content including promotional, marketing, and reporting. Some content, such as investment updates, require tightly controlled processes for creating and updating frequently. All of that content creation takes place in an environment where a strong need for tightly controlled processes exists to create, produce, and manage how sellers can and should use content.
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Collaborate With Finance To Prove Marketing's Business Value

The Data Digest: The Information Power Play

Anjali Lai

Recent incidents remind us that knowledge is power. Earlier this week, US President Trump shared classified information with foreign delegates — and by doing so, he potentially declassified it. When The Washington Post exposed the headline first, the article became the most viewed digital news story in the publication’s history. This comes only a few days after a sweep of global cyberattacks locked major corporations and governments out of their data and threatened to release stolen content (like a soon-to-be-released Disney film) in increments. These stories remind us that those who own and control information wield power — but also that the boundary between public and private information is becoming easier to transgress.  

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Congrats On Your New Car! But Before You Go . . .

Danielle Travaglini
If you’ve ever bought a car from an auto dealership, this story might ring true for you.
 
After weeks of test driving, researching, and debating prices, I finally settled on the exact car to buy. I felt relieved to make this decision and couldn’t wait to drive my new ride home.
 
But there was just one thing left to do: meet with the dealership’s “finance guy” to finalize everything. What should have been a quick and painless interaction with a dealership employee turned out to be uncomfortable and maddening. The employee was extremely pushy, attempting to use scare tactics to sell me additional warranties and insurance. I politely declined these numerous times, only to have my repeated “no, thanks” ignored and refuted with condescending comments. After begging over and over to simply sign my paperwork so I could leave, I managed to extract myself from this employee’s grip, feeling exhausted, annoyed, and disrespected to the point where I wondered why I was buying a car from these people in the first place. I was no longer excited and just wanted to leave and never come back. Not exactly a fairy tale ending to my car-buying experience. 
 
I’m not alone in feeling this way; one customer in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) Consumer Perspective Online Community says of her car-buying experience:
 
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B2B Marketers Need To Apply The Lessons Of Customer Obsession To Seller Development

Steven Wright

“We need to train the sales force!” comes the cry. Whether marketing or product management, sales ops or finance, IT or legal, everyone wants to train the sales force. The reasons are always good: efficiency, effectiveness, and excellence. But frequent and tactical training can distract sellers from and delay them in performing their most important task: selling.

My newest report, "Build A Seller Development Framework," updates Forrester’s Seller Development Framework (formerly Forrester’s Sales Training Solution Framework) to take a fresh look at how to plan for and evaluate the training needs of sellers to move beyond defining needs based on "Who's asking?" to "What’s the right approach?"

Sales enablement vendors have also taken note of the need to embed seller development within sales enablement automation. Brainshark has announced partnerships with Highspot and Seismic to leverage Brainshark’s solutions for sales mastery and continuous training as part of overall sales enablement automation. Allego, a mobile video sales learning platform, just announced a partnership with Wilson Learning to provide more continuous sales development. These announcements are in line with our predictions of increased partnering in the sales enablement and development market.

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Landscapes, Portfolios, And Point Solutions (Oh, My!)

Rusty Warner

If you’re a marketer struggling to decipher the complicated marketing technology landscape of more than 5,000 vendors – and show me a marketer who isn’t – then I have some good news for you. It won’t be as easy as following the yellow brick road, but you can begin to make sense of today’s seemingly infinite array of enterprise marketing technology (EMT) offerings.

Two of my research areas at Forrester are Cross-Channel Campaign Management (CCCM) and Real-Time Interaction Management (RTIM). I field myriad inquiries on both, as they are critical, confusing, and conflated in terms of technology and vendor overlap. While CCCM primarily focuses on automating marketing-driven campaign strategies for outbound channels, and RTIM primarily focuses on next-best-action strategies for customer-initiated interactions via inbound channels, both rely heavily on systems of insight (customer data and analytics) and systems of engagement (automated content and interactions). And both cover multiple inbound, outbound, digital, and offline channels.

CCCM is evolving as marketers strive to align highly personalized marketing campaigns with customer-initiated interactions to drive deeper levels of engagement throughout the customer life cycle. I addressed this evolution in The Forrester Wave™: Cross-Channel Campaign Management, Q2 2016, which featured 15 leading vendors. Since the CCCM space is much broader, earlier this year I also published the Vendor Landscape: Cross-Channel Campaign Management, and it adds a further 32 vendors to the mix, categorizing them as enterprise, small, or regional players, and reviewing capabilities such as vertical expertise or content management.

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The Missing Step To Maximizing Your B2B Content Marketing Investments

Daniel Klein

You hear this advice everywhere: B2B marketers need to do more with less. Nowhere is that more true than with your cornerstone content. Unfortunately, B2B marketers underutilize their cornerstone content studies such as whitepapers backed by data and ROI/business case analyses. 43% of marketers in North America and a staggering 69% of marketers in Europe who attended recent Forrester webinars said they create four or fewer content  assets from a single cornerstone study. This is a travesty. It is a lost opportunity to maximize the value you get from an existing content investment. Creating too few assets limits the reach of this important content, and your prospect base won’t find the content unless some of the key information is in a format they prefer to use.

Activating your cornerstone content using a range of formats that align with how your prospects want to consume it and how your organization can deliver it greatly extends its value and longevity. For example, let’s say you posted a report for download on your website based on a survey of 200 IT/LOB professionals about their digital transformation adoption priorities, challenges, and desired outcomes. Typically, we see marketers building some of the same data into a landing page, an infographic, and a webinar. But that only adds up to four content assets. The best practice among top marketers we work with is to repurpose cornerstone content into at least 10 or more different formats. Here’s a list of additional assets you can use to activate cornerstone content, with limited additional effort or expense:

  • Data points in executive keynote presentations.
  • Sales presentations.
  • Investor pitches.
  • Click fodder for online ads or social media.
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This Brand Is Your Brand, This Brand Is My Brand

Dipanjan Chatterjee

In my role as adviser to marketing leaders, I am often met with the question: “How do I figure out if it is better to invest in brand or to invest in something else?” To which I often respond with a perplexed, “Is there anything else?”

Brand is what keeps the lights on in my home and the bar stocked with Bourbon, so you will excuse my brazen partiality. But hear me out. Companies take products and services to market and create experiences for prospects and customers – these are “things” that they manage. Brand is an all-encompassing perception that holistically reflects how these “things” are viewed. When the organizational gods draw their charts, they more often than not drop brand in the domain of marketing. Indeed, there is an umbilical relationship between brand and marketing, but it would be entirely erroneous to view brand as circumscribed by marketing. Anything and anyone that shapes brand perception drives brand.

The brand does not belong to the CMO alone. It belongs to all, from the CEO on-high, to the front-line brand ambassadors. It runs from the fountainhead of marketing through every part of the business, from ritzy show rooms, through distribution warehouses, to IT data centers. If you listen hard, you may hear a Woody Guthrie variant reverberate off cubicle walls: "This brand was made for you and me." This is the anthem for modern marketing.

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Adaptable Teams Prevail Over Mythical Retail End Times

The press continues to highlight bankruptcies and store closings to support a theory that the entire retail market is in a death spiral.  However, neither bankruptcies nor store closings accurately reflect the state of the retail market.  In 2017 we see an actual Wikipedia page dedicated to the ‘retail apocalypse’.  Headlines span the past seven years touting the doom of retail:

Retail Apocalypse Headlines from 2010-2017

 
Bankruptcies Aren’t Proxies For Retail Market Health…
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The State Of Mobile Marketer Tactics 2017

Thomas Husson

I just published a new report to help marketers benchmark the mobile tactics and technologies their B2C marketer peers use and are planning to use in the next 12 months. The key findings are as below:

  • Marketers Misuse Mobile Marketing Tactics

B2C marketers often focus too much on piloting the latest mobile shiny object (see graphic below); unfortunately, they fail to adequately invest in the core mobile touchpoints — like email or search — that most consumers use to engage with brands.

  • Use Mobile To Transform Brand Experiences

Too few marketers think of mobile as an opportunity to transform the brand experience. To truly differentiate themselves, marketers should develop mobile-unique interactions delivering visible value with apps, messaging, and online-to offline tactics.

  • Insights And Constant Optimization Are Key To Unlocking Mobile’s Full Potential

To rethink how mobile could transform the customer journey, marketers should use ethnographic research and journey maps to develop a more holistic vision of their customer behaviors that leverage contextual data. Testing and learning will not be enough — the use of optimization techniques must be systematic.

Clients willing to know more can access the full report here.