It’s day two of CEB’s 2012 Sales and Marketing Summit. We’ve just had a hugely informative panel discussion on building a commercial insight engine with Lori Morell and Fran Walsh from Kimberly Clark-Professional as well as Keith Clements and Paul Brown from DENTSPLY.
Here’s a quick summary of the most practical advice shared on a) how to develop commercial insights and b) how to get sales reps to use your insights effectively.
How did you get started with commercial insights?
- DENTSPLY: “We deferred kick-off until we’d built the foundations – deeper knowledge about customers and their business, for example. Then we brought all divisions together to exchange knowledge, build a complete picture of the customer ecosystem and brainstorm insights.”
- Kimberly Clark-Professional: “We began with customer research and ran our first commercial insight workshop a few months later. We included Marketing, Sales and Innovation to bring as much knowledge to the table as possible and get broad buy-in.”
Are there any low-effort ways to come up with commercial insights?
- DENTSPLY: “We don’t always need new product claims or new research. We often take existing claims and look for external research that can extend those claims – and then we marry the two together.”
- Kimberly Clark-Professional: “We now do ‘messaging lite’ and create insights in just a few hours, test them with a few customers and then share what works.”
How did you roll out your commercial insight training for the salesforce?
- DENTSPLY: “We ran a pilot with a few reps from each section of the business (i.e., every region and product line, high- and low-performers, new and tenured staff) to gauge the effectiveness of both insights and training. This helped us work out what to refine versus scale and also created an early group of advocates.”
- Kimberly Clark-Professional: “We did a two-month pilot as a ‘disaster check’. It also taught us how high-performers and challengers would react.”
How do you keep up momentum?
- Kimberly Clark-Professional: “We run contests on Chatter for the best use of a commercial insight. Sales reps have to explain on Chatter how they taught, tailored and took control. Each week we select and profile a winner on our homepage. One winner a year goes on our annual top contributor trip. It’s increased best practice sharing and enthusiasm a lot.
How have you changed your collateral?
- DENTSPLY: “We used to start with features, benefits and metrics. Now we start with an insight about the customer’s business and end with our benefit.
- Kimberly Clark-Professional: “In many cases we took the first page of our existing presentations (all about us) and made it the last. And we often moved what had previously been the last page (all about the customer) to the front.”
Do you have any examples of insights that worked?
- DENTSPLY: “We discovered that patients spend 90% of their time at the dentist with the hygienist and explained to dentists that it’s that experience that really drives loyalty.”
- Kimberly Clark-Professional: “We sell hygiene products to universities. One of our sales reps recently had a great conversation with a school facilities manager. She started by saying that enrollment was up 33%, which meant 600 more students – something the manager didn’t know. Next she asked how the facilities budget had changed. It hadn’t. Then she explained that prospective parents and students look for cleanliness and that lower hygiene standards can hurt a school’s popularity. This helped the manager make the case for more investment. The result was that the meeting extended over lunch and in the afternoon the manager introduced the rep to a university colleague as a consultant who was there to help, not a sales person. That showed how much value we’d provided.
What are your top lessons for others?
- Kimberly Clark-Professional: “Don’t wait for a perfect insight; just get started. You can continually refine your insights once they’re out there.”
- DENTSPLY: “Don’t worry about buy-in too much. You’ll be surprised how hungry sales reps are for training, but they’re sick of price battles. And Marketing will be relieved when reps stop asking for a better price and start asking for a better insight. That should get them onboard quickly.”
Learn more about building a commercial insight engine in MLC’s toolkit on Marketing’s Role in the Challenger Sale.. And watch this space for more updates throughout the conference.