Collaborative Market Insight Using Smartsheet

Web based market mapIf you are part of a team-selling environment, there is a role for sales people, applications engineers, product managers and executives. Still, it can be challenging to have to have a full view of customer projects that may be a fit, to track activity in key market segments or quickly access the current sales plan for your company’s major account customers.

Smartsheet is a collaborative web based tool that can provide an easy-to-use way to gather and share information for insight that goes beyond what’s practical for an individual Product Marketing Manager or Field Sales Representative to gather and report.

You can think of Smartsheets as sharable cloud based spreadsheets. A $14 per month license provides 3GB of Smartsheet storage that supports a single author along with multiple editors and viewers.

Smartsheet Customer Project Tracking Example

In this example, Sales Representatives and Applications Engineers have a place to add fragments of information about customer projects as they are gathered. Marketing Managers can add information from research reports. Project visibility becomes richer over time.

Smartsheet is a good way for a field team to share knowledge about markets and potential customer projects

Each team member that is granted access rights always know they’re looking at the most current Smartsheet. An executive meeting with a customer counterpart at a conference now has rich context for a more meaningful discussion. Each person on the team becomes just a bit more effective in their interactions with customers.

Smartsheet is Simple to Set-up and Use

The application is easy to use without any special training. Authors can set-up a customized Smartsheet in about an hour and data can be structured to guide team members to enter information in a consistent way.

Smartsheet is straight-forward to setup and use

Even very occasional collaborators will find it easy to make contributions to the shared Smartsheet. In this example, a simple pick list is created for the semiconductor fab that is the likely primary target for each project. Having a pick list avoids variations in spelling and gives a prompt as information is added.

Smartsheet Conveniently Stores Related Documents

In this example, major account plans and account-specific contact lists are attached to the Smartsheet entry for each major account. The paperclip icon lets team members see that there have been documents added relating to these major accounts.

Even very large documents can be "attached" to Smartsheet

Many companies ask their Sales Representatives to develop major account sales plans to be presented at an annual meeting. Let’s be honest, those plans often aren’t updated again and they fail to become the living guides they could be. Smartsheet can provide a good place to store major account plans for quarterly updating. This way, a Product Marketing Manager who is planning visits to key customers can be aware of the company’s business growth initiatives and related projects.

Similarly, many organizations ask Sales Representatives to track contact information inside a CRM application such as Salesforce.com. Often Applications Engineers and Product Marketing Managers don’t have access to the CRM system. In such a case, an administrator can run a quarterly Excel report of the contacts for each major account and append it to the Smartsheet.

Understanding Your Serviceable Market Opportunity

I was talking with an executive last week for a company with a total available market that consists of 400 semiconductor projects. Of this, about 200 constitute the serviceable market. Smartsheet could be a great place to track the fragments of information gathered over time about these 200 projects. In a year, the organization could not only know which of the 200 candidate projects turned into closed business but which companies ended up creating their own in house solution, decided going to a competitor or canceled the project. Market segment patterns will emerge that are supported by data rather than assumptions. This knowledge will be invaluable as a guide for future strategic market planning, outbound marketing campaigns and product development prioritization.

Building a comprehensive market view can be kick-started by a Product Marketing Manager but the true leverage comes from creating a culture where information is efficiently gathered, added and refined from day-in, day-out market touch points.

“Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork”

I didn’t come up with the line “Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork” but I love it. It’s the title of a 2002 book by John Maxwell. Individual effort is always important. Still, building a culture of great teamwork can produce richer insights, inspire individuals to do better and help organizations effectively scale. If you care about teamwork, Smartsheet can help.



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