Keith January 18th, 2007
As mentioned in the previous post here, my current role is all about making it easy for our business sales people to access the knowledge they need to sell our products, services and solutions. I lead a small team that is engaged in assisting our product managers and marketers to share this knowledge with sales. We use a wide range of tools to assist us in this task.
The team, originally known as “KnowHow”, commenced as part of a specialist sales team in 2000. I came into the team from my previous role as a telecoms consultant, where I worked as part of the sales force. Two of my former colleagues had already joined the team. The rest of the team had a wide range of experience, including sales, marketing, education and media backgrounds.
We put together a kit of knowledge sharing tools. A major part of this was the document library, called the “iStore”, which continues to be a major activity of the current team. Over the years we have also used web-based newsletters, a range of e-learning and multimedia tools, audio CDs, and an online quiz. One of our current tools is a weekly audio and web-conference briefing session. We record and edit the audio, and make the files available via the iStore for downloading. As the iStore also includes a subscription service, this is effectively a form of podcasting.
The team started in sales, and having some of us with a sales background was critical. Placing a major emphasis on understanding the needs of our target audience has always been a key to our success.
As the organisation has changed over the years since, the team has gone through a number of changes as well. We have at various times been located in sales, marketing and operations areas. We are now in a sales support area, and we have become an increasingly important part of the operation of our sales force. Some of our recent initiatives have been given strong endorsement and recognition by Telstra’s senior management.
Another secret of our success is a “middle-out” expansion. We weren’t strictly bottom-up or top-down. While it has sometimes been a rocky road, by gradually increasing our scope, building our tools into standard business processes, and gaining management endorsement we have achieved a good level of recognition and effectiveness.
Finally, the principal behind the “toolkit” approach is that we make no distinction between content, communication and training. We see each as just a different medium to achieve the same end – an informed sales force.
This does not touch on some areas of our activity – how we “collect” the knowledge and keep it current. These topics are for another day.
What’s the next step? Watch this space!