In my previous blog I outlined 21 different sales technology categories for the Sales Application Stack . These categories were consolidated from various industry analysts research. That blog highlighted the difference between data integration and application embedding and highlighted the benefits of application embedding and selecting software vendors who have strategic partnerships with other software providers in the CRM application space.
The concepts of application embedding needs to be expanded with the concept of “application in context”. “Applications in context” is applications working “in context” with applications to solve a series of problems in a consistent and cohesive manner without derailing the users thought process.
They allow the entire problem to be solved “seamlessly” rather than only solving part of the problem. In the examples later in this blog, coaching, training and content are served up in the context of the sales process and sales pipeline.
Applications working “in context” are of higher value to the customer because they don’t require the customer to stop and restart their thought processes as they shift to different applications and make mental translations between the applications.
Also, continuing the theme about stories I heard in kindergarten that persist through life, I find the story of Blind Men and an Elephant fits in this discussion. In the story, each blind man feels a different part of the elephant and uses that brief experience to define what the overall elephant looks like. We do this with software a lot. Industry analysts define application categories and then marketers try to figure out how they can fit into as many categories as possible by focusing on a limited purview of the application category[elephant]. Ultimately it isn’t about how we skew the definition to fit our software offering but it is about how our software offering solves as many problems as possible for the customer. In many cases software offerings provide part of the solution because the problems are much bigger than a single application, but by creating an environment of applications in context, the complete solution can be implemented.
Applications “In Context” Requires a Broader Perspective
This blog focuses on three application areas of the 21 applications identified in the previous blog. These applications should be combined and applied “in context” to the overall sales forecasting, sales pipeline management and CRM process. Those applications are:
- Coaching and appraisals
- Sales Training
- Sales Content
Industry analysts combine them and classify them as sales enablement. The overlaying technology to apply consistently to those applications beyond an embedded user interface is artificial intelligence.
Sales coaching and appraisals and sales training go hand in hand. As sales reps are coached, they also need to be provided with training to implement what they are coached on. They also need micro level training “in the moment” based on the current sales situation on each of their opportunities.
Sales content is a logical extension of sales training. Instead of offering “in the moment” training and content internally to sales reps to sell better, you are offering up “in the moment” solution content to educate the customer.
One approach to solving these three challenges is to have three separate applications solving these problems. A second approach is to have a comprehensive solution with an overlaying AI solution, facilitated by an “in-context” environment. There is more value in a comprehensive solution.
Example of an “In-Context” Solution
We partner with Brainshark to deliver a comprehensive solution. We embed key elements of Brainshark in our solution and they embed key elements of our solution in their product. No matter which solution you start with, you have an “in-context” experience to solve the problems and eliminating the friction points of using different stove pipe solutions. We provide:
- AI-Powered Performance Based Coaching Insights and peer to peer and stage to stage analytics for consistent coaching across the organization.
- AI-Powered Foundational Learning - to pinpoint areas to improve - to win more and win faster
- AI-Powered Activity-Based Coaching - to help the sales reps “in the moment” when they need it based on the different scenarios they are facing.
- Integrated measurement across both sales pipeline process and buyer journey, in context to the training metrics and buyer engagement analytics.
AI-Powered Performance Assessment Based Coaching
AI-Powered performance assessment based coaching helps the sales team focus on the proper learning and coaching path and monitor their performance growth and impact of the training.
The screen above shows the Sales Rep Coaching Screen for Joe Smith. In addition to peer to peer and stage to stage insights show in the bottom of the screen, there are insights recommending two Brainshark training videos because of:
- Loss rates at late stages in the sales cycle are high
- The number of pushes compared to the total number of opportunities are high.
These videos can be launched from inside of TopOPPS to keep the context on the coaching metrics and objectives of the training.
The upper right of the screen has statistics on overall changes in opportunities that impact the forecast as well as a status report on where the training completed by the sales reps.
AI Powered Activity-Based Coaching and “In-The-Moment” Training
This helps the sales reps with specific training resources for specific sales situations they are in “right now”. It is designed to help the sales reps with training when they need it, “in the moment”.
Activity-Based coaching is based on the sales cycle and individual sales rep sales patterns. It can raise AI generated alerts. In this example it is recommending a coaching video because the rep has a meeting with the CEO and the recommended video reviews how to prepare for a sales call with the CEO. Going beyond the alert, the sales rep can take action on the alert and watch the Brainshark video, in-context to the TopOPPS application.
In our example TopOPPS + Brainshark in-context application methodology unites the sales enablement functions with sales forecasting, sales pipeline management, guided selling and an overarching AI engine to enable sellers and other customer-facing resources to engage with buyers and provide a better buyer/customer experience, and improve sales results.
It also provides capabilities for tracking, measuring and optimizing engagement with the buyers, skills proficiency with sales methodology, and a means for measuring sales rep adherence to best practices in sales execution.
My next blog will focus on the benefits of in-context integration with the sales application stack with the office of the CFO.