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5 Reasons Your Sales Portal Is Failing

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management

Do you love your sales portal? Can the people on your team find everything they need instantly, like they do on Google? We’ve asked thousands of people, and the way they usually answer … is to laugh. Almost everyone has a terrible experience finding the content they need at work to get their jobs done. Why do sales portals so consistently fail to deliver, even really expensive ones?

1. It’s too costly to make them good

A great sales portal has many features that are very expensive to implement. For example:

  • Rich support for many mobile devices.
  • Integration with cloud file systems like Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, and Google Drive. That’s where content is authored and updated, so it should be easy to publish and update from within those systems.
  • Integration with cloud applications. When a sales rep looks at an opportunity in Salesforce, they should see the content they need for that opportunity right in their Salesforce tab.
  • Automatic distribution of new versions of an item to the people who use it.
  • Analytics that show publishers what is landing across the organization.
  • Support for user collaboration via commenting and other social interaction.
  • Ability of non-technical users to organize and reorganize information at any level of scale.

Since it is hard to build all of those features, most custom sales portals don’t bother. They offer a poor experience that leads to low user adoption and engagement.

2. Teams can’t reorganize and remix

Teams often need their own “mini sales portals”. Maybe the sales team in Germany wants to mix official content (like the pricelist) with regional information. Or there’s a sales initiative to focus on health care deployments. The team wants a place to share guidelines, pitch decks, case studies, and deployment guides. Some of it is official sales content and some is custom tailored. All the official content on a mini-portal should automatically be updated whenever a new version is released. Custom sales portals usually make it difficult or impossible to build mini sales portals. Since teams often have very little access to IT resources, they need a solution they can create and manage on their own. So they cobble something together to get the job done, using whatever tools they can. The result is sales portal sprawl, with many small silos of information scattered across the company. These islands of content lurk mostly unseen, insecure and full of information that is often wildly out of date.

3. Frontier content never gets shared

There is official content that goes through a review process, and it’s crucial that employees can find it quickly and efficiently. But that isn’t the only valuable information in the organization – at the frontiers, people are constantly creating new content that they need to do their work. They send it in email, keep it on their machine, and share it in Dropbox .. content that is dynamic and alive, representing working knowledge that would be valuable for the whole organization. But it’s much too hard to get that frontier content onto the official sales portal. Would-be publishers have no idea how to get it approved, and probably wouldn’t bother even if they did. So it ends up living “off the books” where most people never see it .. and it never gets used to improve the official content so that everyone can benefit.

4. Custom sales portals are expensive to evolve, so they get frozen in time

When a sales portal is built, it reflects the needs of the organization at the time. Since it’s costly to change, mostly you leave it alone. But your business does change, constantly. Teams get reorganized and renamed, product lines evolve and change, competitors come and go. The way you structure your information needs to keep up with the speed of change in the business. Sales portals that are hard to evolve tend not to evolve. So they get more and more out of date, reflecting an organization that has become a distant memory. The real action sweeps onward, leaving them behind.

5. Custom sales portals get worse as they grow

Modern Web services like Google, Facebook, and Pinterest apply advanced machine learning to understand what users care about and how they relate to each other. The service gets better and smarter every day as more content is put into it and more activity happens on it. That’s why those services are so compelling. If your home page never changed on Facebook, nobody would use it. Search works so well because it constantly gets better at figuring out what people are looking for. But custom sales portals virtually never work this way – it’s too difficult to implement. They ignore what users are doing, showing everybody the same thing all the time. Search never works well and gets worse and worse, not better, as you add more content.

So what’s the answer?

It’s very hard for any custom solution to avoid these five problems. That’s why most people can’t find what they need at work. We believe companies would be far better served by a turnkey sales enablement platform with none of these five problems. Want to learn more? Call Highspot.