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Do You Sell Shoulder-to-Shoulder?

by Tad Travis  |  November 24, 2014  |  Submit a Comment

I’ve been evaluating digital content solutions for sales processes lately.   Amongst the (fairly) recent capabilities coming from these vendors, there are some functions that stand-out:

  • Real-time activity alerts, informing sales representatives when content has been downloaded by a contact
  • Recommendation engines, driven by preditive analytic engines
  • Dynamic content creation that allows representatives to build and deliver content as an interactive application, not merely a document
  • Instant virtual meetings for content presentation

What the technology does isn’t as meaningful as how the technology is used.  I’m seeing an essential difference in how content is shared with customers and prospects.  I call the first method virtual-delivery and the second shoulder-to-shoulder delivery.  The first method is well known to any sales representative who’s presented the First Call deck via WeEx or run a “we-show-you-your-future” presentation in a conference room.  The message is sequential, heavy on Powerpoint messages, delivered to an audience, and is calculated to produce a specific outcome.   

The second delivery method– shoulder-to-shoulder–  is more common to pharmaceuticals, CPG, and financial services, but it’s relevant in other industries too.  Representatives who engage in 1:1 conversations (such as a CPG agent talking with a store owner) are increasingly using digital content to drive the conversation with their prospects.  They use tablets to deliver highly dynamic content and short rich-media presentations.  The content and the form-factore are well suited to the non-linear pathway that these sales coversations often take.  This method is better than the traditional method because it engages prospects immediately, which helps to secure agreement faster.   It also gives our prospects the chance to direct the conversation in directions that they require. 

Having delivered, and received, my share of sales presentations in the past, I like these new shoulder-to-shoulder technologies.    Not of us are content consumption machines, able to internalize long presentations.  The new technologies help turn the meeting from merely being a presentation into a conversation, which benefits all of us.

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Tad Travis
Research Director
1 year at Gartner
15 years IT Industry

Tad Travis is a Director in Gartner Research. He is responsible for managing the Sales Performance Management (SPM) sector of Gartner's CRM research practice. His research focuses primarily on SPM tools and capabilities to drive sales effectiveness and efficiency in all industries. Read Full Bio




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