HomeBlog Why Do I Keep Hearing, “Play it Again, SAM”?

Why Do I Keep Hearing, “Play it Again, SAM”?

November 06, 2018 | By Peter Ostrow

  • Sales asset management deployments often fail to meet buyer expectations – why?
  • Too often, shiny object syndrome motivates misguided sales enablement technology purchases
  • Replacing a failing sales technology with a new product isn’t a panacea

No, the title of this post does NOT refer to the classic film Casablanca – from which the famous Ingrid Bergman phrase was misquoted. It refers instead to sales asset management (SAM) solutions, and the alarming propensity we’re seeing among sales enablement teams in our customer base to rip-and-replace one SAM solution for another. When we ask these clients “What’s wrong with your old system?” or “What problems are you trying to solve?”, too many of the responses fall into these four buckets:

  • We’re trying to solve the wrong problem. Let’s be clear, a new SAM solution can accomplish a lot of things. But buying one won’t achieve any of these goals: turning B players into A players, reducing new rep ramp time, shrinking the sales cycle or increasing the organization’s average deal size. There are ways to address all of these aspirations, but a new SAM solution should be deployed for different reasons: improving rep productivity, reducing content creation inefficiencies, raising the bar on guided selling and streamlining asset governance. If you focus your SAM initiative on solving problems that are actually central to SAM-specific outcomes – saving time and money, and reducing friction – you’re attacking the right issues.
  • We embrace the myth of plug-and-play. Buying enterprise software is not like downloading a new travel app on your smartphone, and yet vendor reps often paint a rosy picture: “All your content and data can be automatically found, meta-tagged and machine-learned over the weekend!” The science behind many SAM solutions can accomplish many things, but we’ve yet to see a deployment that met such an unrealistic expectation. Don’t buy a new SAM because it’s easy. Take the plunge because implementing a great SAM solution is actually pretty hard. Do it when you’re ready to embrace the challenge and do the heavy lifting.
  • We fell in love with the shiny object. This one may be the most frustrating, because when folks see sparkling demos or slick trade show booths – often with dummy data and heavily rehearsed pitches – they are essentially comparing apples with oranges. Interactions with potential providers are never the same as with current vendors. I regularly hear, “We are using SAM brand A, but want to switch to brand B or C, because we need to have XYZ functionality”…when brand A actually offers it, and the client just wasn’t aware of this. Maybe some providers are too busy searching for new logos to properly take care of the old ones.
  • We just keep failing to launch. “Nobody is using the old system, so we need a new one.” Breaking news: salespeople are very discriminating and intuitive consumers. If they’re ignoring your last shiny object, the definition of insanity says…well, you know. Most internal technology rollouts fail due to under-planning, under-resourcing and under-communicating, and they are executed with far less savvy than the external campaigns that target our buyers. If you want a SAM solution to succeed, think about whether your deployment capabilities are up to speed. And remember, once systems are deployed, the assets in them still need to be managed: old and non-performing assets moved out; winning ones updated and promoted; and governance to ensure assets in the system remains fresh, viable and impactful.

None of this means that many SAM environments don’t need to be upgraded. Certainly, the hyper-competitive market continues to innovate and upgrade at a remarkable rate. Just be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and in the right way.

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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


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