HomeBlog Five-and-a-Half Questions to Ask SAM Providers

Five-and-a-Half Questions to Ask SAM Providers

March 15, 2017 | By Peter Ostrow

  • The number of SAM offerings available can be mind-boggling
  • This is good news for sales enablement, because competition drives innovation
  • These table-stakes requirements are must-haves for any short-listed provider

The sales enablement space is all abuzz about sales asset management (SAM) these days. It seems that every week, a new provider surfaces with the Next Big Thing to automate and streamline the b-to-b selling process based on a cooler algorithm than the week before. Customers constantly ask “How do I decide which providers to consider?” Beyond the table stakes of library-oriented capabilities (great storage, retrieval and tagging to make content findable and usable), here are some questions to help narrow down the wide vendor landscape to a reasonably short list: 

  • Can I create content on my terms? Flexibility in content creation is the hallmark of organizations that effectively leverage a high degree of departmental interlock. This means that the SAM environment should allow any stakeholder – marketing, enablement, learning and development – to create content within the application, as well as seamlessly import assets created on other platforms. The latter scenario entails, for example, the ability to drag-and-drop PDFs, Microsoft Office documents or video files directly into the SAM.
  • How much modification ability do reps need? Smart sales enablement practitioners recognize that providing quota-bearing reps with powerful buyer-facing assets involves walking a fine line with content control. On one hand, it’s crucial to maintain brand equity and messaging consistency by limiting how much individual contributors can customize content; this is particularly important in highly regulated industries such as financial services or healthcare, where the wrong selling verbiage can create serious governance headaches. Great sales reps, however, aggressively leverage the chance to personalize and adapt corporate-produced assets to their individual buyers’ needs. Your SAM provider should provide administrators with a simple dashboard to allow any blend of these two needs, for every individual asset they manage.
  • How much does the platform integrate with a rep’s daily workflow? If you’ve ever conducted a time-and-motion study among your reps, you’re keenly aware of the need to minimize non-selling time by automating every possible activity that is predictable and repeatable. This should include the analytics-based guided selling experience that drives assets to where reps live. This means that when a trigger event occurs – a rep composes an email message, a sales force automation (SFA) opportunity changes status, a prospect engages with activation content – the SAM suggests a wizard-driven next step based on the organization’s historical selling data. Ideally, the analytics engine will continually improve based on which assets most successfully impact sales wins and receive the strongest internal reviews. Not all SAMs can support this process, nor do they all incorporate the machine learning capacity to continuously refine and improve recommendations to reps around the activities and assets most likely to drive winning deals.
  • Can I integrate everything? To successfully bid on your business, SAM providers should already have customers who have integrated their solution with the same email and SFA platforms you have. If the learning management solution and marketing automation platform fall into the same status, even better. The outcome of these integrations means seamless cross-pollination of data around sales opportunities, buyer engagement with assets, and the ability to associate empowerment activities with rep performance.
  • Can I nerd out with tons of analytics? No technology or process implementation is worth pursuing if not supported by plenty of data to gauge ROI on the program itself, as well as on individual components. All SAMs provide enablement with basic insight into which assets are downloaded by reps; this is a good start, considering that 65 percent of marketing-produced content is unconsumed by sellers. However, you deserve more advanced SAM capabilities. This means data on which activation assets are opened and consumed by buyers, and for how long, and even engagement metrics on the colleagues they forward content to.  Finally, your SAM should allow content creators, learning leaders and first-line sales managers to directly correlate reps’ performance with asset-driven activity data.
  • Can I deliver content to anyone, anywhere, on any device? It’s 2017. This really doesn’t need explanation, does it?

There are a lot of fish in the SAM sea, so while the landscape can be confusing, the tide is rising a lot of outstanding ships. If a potential provider doesn’t already support all the above with referenceable customers, find others that do. 

Need more help?  We have great SAM acquisition resources in “The Sales Asset Management Implementation Toolkit,” available to SiriusDecisions clients.

Peter Ostrow

Peter capitalizes on 20+ years of revenue growth leadership in sales enablement, sales talent management, and operational expertise. Finding a better, faster way to help B2B sales teams beat quota drives just about every topic, company, rep, and channel partner he engages. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterOstrow