Tech Solution Solves
Sales Messaging Problem
June 1, 2006
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
the Tom Hanks movie, Apollo 13 in which Hanks says, “Houston,
we have a problem”?
Hanks plays astronaut Jim Lovell, who captained the ill-fated
lunar mission that survived an oxygen tank explosion because of
split-second thinking and immediate access to a world-class knowledge
base on the ground in Texas.
met Lovell once at a small corporate dinner years before the movie
was released. People told me Lovell was a famous astronaut. There
was no way I could “Google” Lovell. The Internet didn’t
exist. I just smiled and listened to Lovell and made small talk.
me speechless, Lovell simply joked about not knowing what to do
with the toothpicks from the hors d’oeuvres. He laughed
and said he always puts them in his coat jacket pocket. There
I was, face-to-face with one of the heroes of the Space Age, and
I’m talking about toothpicks.
only I had had the right information, known whom I was speaking
with, and had put together the right messages to share at the
right time. I could have learned so much about an historic event.
Lovell didn’t mind. He’s a wonderful guy, but it was
my loss for being unprepared.
Benioff, CEO of San Francisco-based Salesforce.com,
wants to be certain none of his sales executives ever is stuck
like I was with Lovell. Benioff wants his sales executives to
have access to the right sales materials and the right sales messages
whatever the situation, at the moment they need them. He wants
his team to have access to a knowledge base like the one Lovell
had in Houston, guiding his crippled space capsule home.
and Salesforce.com are
the global leaders in the red-hot space of sales automation tools.
Yet Salesforce.com doesn’t
offer access to an online library of sales collateral. Salesforce.com
doesn’t provide the opportunity to customize PowerPoint
presentation templates so that sales executives can be prepared
regardless of what products or services they are selling.
to two Chicago-based entrepreneurs at SAVO Group, a 60-person
venture-backed startup that’s built a technology product
called Sales Asset Manager (SAM). SAM is an on-demand sales enablement
platform that companies use to organize their sales materials
and make them more accessible to their reps.
was founded in 1999 by John Aiello, 37, and Drew Larsen, 38, two
University of Illinois graduates who sought to use technology
to improve sales-force execution through more consistent delivery
of the right messages, and by making the best-selling materials
Says Aiello, “Our tools let customer-facing professionals
quickly access the most current, consistent and customer-relevant
selling materials. Our platform, our messaging and our content
development services are making us a leader.”
Adds Brett Queener, senior vice president for business operations
for Salesforce.com, “Salesforce.com
selected SAVO after a thorough evaluation of the marketplace.”
clients include a leading cast of companies that offer a complex
matrix of products and services. They serve ADP, FedEx and SPSS,
to name just a few.
Nystuen, executive vice president of branding and communications
at Chicago-based LaSalle Bank says, “SAVO helps us streamline
our business development process. We began working with them in
2001 as a way to share product information across our network
quickly and effectively. Today, the platform has evolved into
an online, one-stop marketing toolkit that does everything from
housing sales materials to helping our relationship managers share
best practices. For an organization of our size, such a technology
is critical to meeting customer needs.”
likes to quote statistics. He says, “Some 85% of messages
are delivered to the market through a sales team. Yet less than
25% of heads of marketing and sales think their sales teams are
doing a good job accurately and consistently communicating targeted
messages to their customers.
much as 40% of a typical sales rep’s time can be spent creating
presentations, customizing messaging and getting ready to engage
the customer,” Aiello adds. “Meanwhile, only 10% to
20% of salespeople are creating the ‘best’ message
for their prospects.
we talk about in the marketplace is a math problem,” he
goes on. It’s a problem he’s rapidly trying to solve
once saw a presentation from a banking industry executive who
was struggling with his IT department. They were trying to give
all of their customer relationship managers access to detailed
information about all the bank’s products. That information
was like gold. It was a real corporate asset--money in the vault--but
hard to reach.
access used to mean developing a customized software system. The
software development work is daunting and difficult for one lone
company to tackle. Aiello and Larsen recognized the problem, raised
venture capital and built a technology solution that’s working
to unlock those communications assets.
just wish I’d had SAM before that dinner with Apollo 13
mission commander Lovell. I might have sold him on getting me
a trip to visit NASA headquarters in Houston.
Krauss is a partner with Marion Consulting Partners based in Highland
Park, Ill., and can be reached at Michael.Krauss@Marionpartners.com