HomeBlog The Sales Asset Management Gold Rush

The Sales Asset Management Gold Rush

June 20, 2013 | By Edge Coble

Growth and competition are good. Competition speeds development and innovation within an industry, while lowering prices. But it can also be unnerving for the buyer. See how in this post.

During the video game craze of the late 1970s and early 1980s, there were over a dozen home video game platforms from a variety of companies – Fairchild Semiconductor, Atari, Magnavox, Mattel, Milton Bradley, Emerson Radio Corporation, Coleco, and even Bally Technologies, known for pinball and slot machines. Everyone wanted a piece of the video game gold rush.

In the past year, we have seen a number of vendors enter the sales asset management (SAM) space. This market, once the domain of only a few players, has seen explosive growth. Some of the companies now offering SAM systems are not new, but are new to the space. Many are better known in the marketing community for content management, while others have a track record in specific verticals (e.g. banking, insurance).

Growth and competition are good. Competition speeds development and innovation within an industry, while lowering prices. But it can also be unnerving for the buyer, in the following ways:

  • Competition gives buyers choices. Choices create confusion. An Internet search for sales enablement software returns dozens of vendors. We identify at least one new SAM vendor every month.
  • Competition leads to winners and losers. One of our clients’ biggest challenges is not what to look for in a SAM system, but how to figure out which companies will be around in a few years. We advise all clients to conduct due diligence, since every company has a different threshold for risk. Take a common sense approach, including a carefully crafted request for proposal designed to select a solution best suited to your company’s current needs and growth targets.
  • Competition leads to consolidation. This invariably happens; just look at the marketing automation platform space. Oracle purchased Eloqua in December 2012 for over $870 million. This will happen in the SAM space as competition increases. This can be difficult for user organizations to navigate, but not impossible with the right plan in place.
  • Competition leads to standardization. We love standards, whether in software (e.g. the “print” icon) or common hardware (e.g. an electrical socket). In the SAM space, we are seeing common themes, including mobile apps, integration with popular sales force automation applications and tighter security protocols. Although they help the user, these common features are still not fully standardized. For example, while all SAM providers offer search capabilities, the algorithms are vastly different and produce different results. What appears as a standard across all SAM providers must be scrutinized, and the right questions must be asked.
  • Competition leads to differentiation. While standardization is great for buyers, it is not good for SAM providers. Standardization results in the commoditization of a product. Once this happens, price drives the buyer’s decision, and providers are forced to lower their margins. All companies fight commoditization by creating differentiation. For a SAM, this can be something as simple as offering a better way for content providers to tie assets to your sales cycle with robust metrics that measure what is working and what is not.

Vendors’ attempts to differentiate their offerings can add to purchasing confusion. What is an actual differentiator vs. a repackaging of current features and functionality? Take the home video game market as a cautionary example. None of the companies mentioned earlier ever built a gaming console, and most have exited the video game market. Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft dominate the market today. Any emerging market is difficult to navigate, but with a proper risk plan in place that addresses the concerns listed above, sales organizations can reap the benefits of a SAM system without experiencing the negative effects of changing conditions in the industry.

Edge Coble

Edge Coble is Research Analyst, Sales Enablement Strategies, at SiriusDecisions. Throughout his 15 years of experience, Edge has focused on optimizing operational processes, improving personnel effectiveness, and implementing change management strategies to bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams. Follow Edge on Twitter @gecoble.
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