03 Abr La importancia de compartir el conocimiento en nuestra economía
La importancia de compartir
el conocimiento en nuestra economía
The importance of customer-relevant knowledge that can easily be applied to different and com
plex buying situations is growing rapidly. Sharing knowledge and best practices goes beyond teaching the entire salesorganization to
mirror the behaviors used by World-Class Sales Performers. The knowledge shareconomy is a holistic concept that empowers sales leaders to drive transformation in a learning organization. The knowledge shareconomy is based on a collaborative consumption model that is supported by a number of guiding principles, strong leadership and enabling technologies.
These days, it’s not necessary to own a car to drive a car. The sharing economy, a new business model, allows people to have access to tangible assets like a car without the need to own them. The knowledge shareconomy works in a similar way. Sales professionals don’t need to “own” all there is to know about their products, markets and customers. When they need information or resources, the knowledge shareconomy, powered by technology, provides a platform for them to connect and access the knowledge that others have.
Levels and Types of Knowledge
When salespeople gain experience, attend training or receive coaching from their frontline manager, they are building their knowledge, skills and competencies. Knowledge acquisition also builds the sales professional’s perception, communication and reasoning capabilities. Ultimately, knowledge acquisition leads to understanding, a deeper level that helps salespeople apply what they have learned to a specific customer situation in a way that is valuable and relevant.
Value lies in the eye of the beholder, and the only value assessment that matters belongs to prospects and customers. For the sales professional, knowledge can be broken down into two types: capability and situational. Capability knowledge covers the capabilities of products, solutions and services and is often the focus of training programs. But only situational knowledge — a thorough understanding of the customer’s context, stakeholders’ concepts and the buying team’s decision dynamic — allows a sales professional to turn capability knowledge into something relevant and valuable for prospects and customers.
Another often-overlooked but important aspect of knowledge lies in its nature: implicit or explicit. Implicit knowledge involves knowing how to do something, such as to swim or to sell, so well that you do not even have to think about the steps involved. Explicit knowledge is the theoretical understanding of a subject gained through the written or spoken word. For explicit knowledge, such as product information, to be applied successfully in sales, a sales professional must build a broad foundation of implicit selling knowledge.
For related research on building knowledge, see MHI Research Note Buyer
2.0: The Knowledge Advantage.
Shareconomy = Collaborative Consumption
The term “sharing economy” describes several economic models in which individuals can use products and services without the need to own them. Sharing economy models are inspired and powered by technology that allows the two sides of the market to find each other on a sharing-economy platform. The “knowledge shareconomy” is a collaborative consumption model designed around the sharing of intangible assets. Collaborative consumption models have three guiding principles:
Sharing Over Hoarding: Content and learning assets, such as internal enablement content, best practices, win/loss analyses and client-facing content, are shared on a collaborative social platform. This sharing is the opposite of hoarding content on a personal laptop where it is only accessible via personal connections in a “black market”
exchange. This sharing principle sounds easy, but for most organizations, it is hard to achieve. To become a sharing and collaborative organization, many sales professionals need to change their deeply ingrained attitudes toward sharing knowledge.
Changing attitudes toward sharing requires sales leadership to create a compelling transformation story that shows the sales force how they can achieve more when they share knowledge and best practices instead of hoarding them. Getting salespeople to share content developed or contributed by others is a first step. The next level involves
participating in and adding value to discussions. The pinnacle is when salespeople voluntarily contribute their own stories and best practices in an effort to help others
Authorship Over Ownership: For many people, owning a car is less important than the mobility derived from having a car available when needed. The same is true for intangible knowledge assets. When recognized for their contribution, many sales professionals place more value on authorship than ownership. Honoring content creators and their expertise ensures that the shared value is credited to the authors. In turn, giving credit where credit is due encourages others to share.
The principle of authorship and the related personal recognition is an important enabler for the knowledge shareconomy. Over time, the platform will guide people to the relevant experts. Those experts who are top contributors and also recognize others’ expertise build their own shareconomy brand. Reflecting the principle of authorship over ownership in performance management systems and commission plans can be of tremendous value as an organization transforms to the knowledge shareconomy.
Knowledge Flow Over Knowledge Stocks: A car-sharing program only works if you have an automobile available when you need it. Likewise, knowledge is only valuable if it can flow to where it is needed. If it is kept locked away where few can access it and even fewer know about it, its value is wasted. Social and collaborative technologies are the engine behind the knowledge flow principle, empowering people to share, re-use, exchange, enhance and evolve knowledge in various forms and shapes. To be successful, knowledge flow has to be an intrinsic part of the sales professional’s working environment. That is why platforms such as Chatter, which are embedded in CRM (customer relationship management) systems, are so successful in helping salespeople share knowledge to improve outcomes for everyone.
The collaboration frameworks that support the technology provide the foundation for these guiding principles. This sequential relationship between the framework and technology is important. Having a collaboration framework in place before implementing a collaboration platform allows the technology to create value for users. When an organization implements technology without a collaboration framework in place, it rarely sees the expected return on the investment. Technology by itself cannot transform a noncollaborative sales force into a sharing and learning organization.
Embracing the Knowledge Shareconomy
As already stated, transforming the organization toward a knowledge shareconomy can only be successful if the sales force’s attitudes toward sharing and collaboration change. In most cases, that requires strong leadership and a commitment to the collaborative consumption model as demonstrated by completing three very important steps.
Removing Barriers: To create a cross-functional collaboration model, sales leaders must first define the collaboration goal and remove collaboration barriers that may exist due to challenges such as budgets, competing responsibilities or dysfunctional compensation models. Then, it is crucial to reflect the desired behaviors in development plans, performance management systems and in the frontline sales managers’ coaching approach.
Creating a Future Vision of Success: Once the foundation for cross-functional collaboration is in place, sales leadership must communicate a compelling vision of the future state. This requires demonstrating to the sales force and the entire organization how the knowledge shareconomy will help them achieve performance goals and create more value for customers.
Connecting the Dots to Training and Coaching: Finally, leadership must understand that explicit knowledge is the only type of knowledge that can be shared via technology. Applying this knowledge in selling situations requires salespeople to build their implicit selling knowledge in parallel with explicit knowledge such as product and market knowledge. Sales leadership must foster a close alignment between the knowledge shareconomy and sales enablement’s training on skills, competencies and methodologies.
In any transformational journey, leading by example is vital to success. If sales leaders want their sales force to share and exchange knowledge and best practices, they have to do the same.
Related MHI Research Notes:
Buyer 2.0: The Knowledge Advantage
Business Awareness: The Competitive Advantage
Sales Enablement: Strategic Issues 2015
Sales Enablement: Enablement Services
Social Sales Collaboration: Creating a New Culture
About CSO Insights
CSO Insights is the independent research arm within Miller Heiman GroupTM, dedicated to improving the performance and productivity of complex B2B sales. The CSO Insights team of respected analysts provides sales leaders with the research, data, expertise, and best practices required to build sustainable strategies for sales performance improvement. CSO Insights’ annual sales effectiveness studies, along with its benchmarking capabilities, are industry standards for sales leaders seeking operational and behavioral insights into how to improve their sales performance and to gain holistic assessments of their selling and sales management efficacy. Annual research studies address sales and service best practices, sales enablement and sales performance optimization.