Monday, July 18, 2016

Get a $120M revenue boost from partnering with customers on Value Selling & ROI / TCO? Splunk tells you how.

David Caradonna is the Director of Global Business Value Consulting (BVC) for Splunk, and with his team, they’ve achieved some incredible results from their value selling programs.

David was recently interviewed by the not-for-profit Value Selling and Realization Council, and the results of their Splunk BVC program are amazing.

With just a handful of resources, the Splunk team leverages the Alinean platform and analyst services to deliver a simple self-service catalog of ROI/TCO Tools. The program has resulted in sales reps engaging more often and partnering with customers and prospects on value analysis and delivery, with:
  • Over 1,500 business cases to prospects last year
  • 730 business cases in this last quarter alone
  • Influence on over $120M in annual new business wins each year.

The tools have been essential to get the company value-focused, with the Splunk BVC team able to quickly educate and train 150 sales reps and 300 field resources each quarter. The adoption has been incredible, with David reporting a whopping 60% adoption not just in sales, but across ALL employees.

Where most value engineering organizations have ratios of 24 sales reps for every value engineer, the Splunk BVC team runs lean and mean, leveraging the self-service tools to achieve an astounding 50:1 rep to consultant count.

David when asked about the top critical success factor for the BVC program at Splunk, indicated that “the vendor you choose to work with is vital to the program, turning your innovative ideas into a reusable tool that is going to be accessible and adopted by the masses in a self service mode so you can drive as much adoption as possible.“

David indicated that “In our case, we chose to work with Alinean, an amazing small company run by Tom Pisello.  They really understand value consulting; they live and breathe that. It was a no brainer to use these guys."

Discussing why the choice of Alinean was so critical, David adds: "You cannot succeed without a platform t that is not just to be used internally, but used with customers who are exposed to the process – one that is extremely simple yet creates and delivers comprehensive and credible deliverables.”

Developing and delivering this program with Alinean over the past three years, David and team have some poignant advice to assure a good rollout, adoption, usage and outcomes.

See David’s on-demand session here (from the VSR Council) to see what best practices he recommends >>>

SiriusDecisions Reveals Sales Content Research and Secrets to Success

The importance of sales content remains strong, with 79% of b-to-b buyers reporting that the content provided by a rep is very to extremely influential in their selection of one vendor over another.

New research results from SiriusDecisions show the significance of Sales Content to winning more business, revealed by Heather Cole, Services Director of Sales Enablement with SiriusDecisions, in a compelling interview with Alinean’s own Tom Pisello.

In the interview, Heather indicated that more sales content was being leveraged by sales reps throughout each stage of the buyer’s journey, with the research tallying an average of 6.3 pieces delivered to buyers in the Education phase, 6.1 in Solution, and 4.9 in Selection,

But more content does not guarantee accelerated decisions, greater deal size or more wins. The  
research quantified for the first time that all content is not created equal, with a decided difference in the assets used more often by the highest performing sales reps compared to low performers and middlers. 

Most importantly, the research uncovered and ranked content as to perceived value to buyers.

Interpreting the results, Heather Cole exposed how today’s B2B buyer isn’t valuing product videos and glossy brochures as high as one might think. Rather, decision makers want relevant insights and transformative advice, perceiving 3rd party research and articles as most valuable, as well as valuing solid ideas and proposals based on identified needs.

Three key sales content challenges

The discussion turned to getting sales content “right,” which is easier said than done. Clearly more-is-more doesn’t work. Despite more content being produced and leveraged, three key sales content challenges persist:

1) Better Identifying challenges and needs - 80% say uncovering buyer needs is critical to sales success, however 2/3rds of solution providers struggle to understand those needs. Many lack the right content to help guide discovery and discuss challenges / needs.

2) Overcoming one-size fits all content - With buyers getting 32% more content from solution providers compared to two years ago, fatigue is setting in, with many growing tired of look-alike white papers and canned product pitches.

3) Closing the value gap – For the sixth year in a row, the number one reason sales reps didn’t achieve quota is the inability to articulate unique value, partially fueled by a value content deficit.

To help solve these challenges, Tom Pisello demonstrated how storytelling, interactive content and ValueStory® tools could be leveraged for better Sales Content success.

Dynamically exploring buyer challenges and needs, personalizing value-centric messaging, delivering buyer specific business benefit calculations and elevating success stories is always a challenge, but Tom showed how this can all be automated with some great new client examples.

You can checkout the research and advice here:

You can listen to the compelling on-demand webcast here:

Monday, June 20, 2016

From Challenger to Transformer

Even though business conditions remain challenging and budgets are constrained, executives are investing significantly more in digital transformation initiatives.
According to new research, half of the CEOs surveyed by Gartner expect to see substantial digital transformation in their industries, or for their industries to be almost unrecognizable within five years.
This has led digital transformation to become a core business strategy, with more and more CEOs leading digital transformation efforts personally. If delegated, the CIOs as next in line to take primary responsibility for the transformation strategy and efforts, according to Gartner.
Digital Transformation Hierarchy, a progression from information governance, to digitization, to business process transformation, and ultimately business model disruption.
Competitive fears are certainly a motivator, as companies realize entire industries can be disrupted. Think Uber or AirBnB. 
However, digital transformation is also seen as an enabler, with 84% saying they expect digital change to bring higher profit margins. CEOs perceived the value of digital in their products & services is already 30% on average, and will rise to almost half (46%) within 3 years.

Sales and Marketing Implications

As you engage with customers, conversations that were once about incremental business improvements have evolved, replaced with urgent requests for advice on revolutionizing processes, improving customer experience, and implementing new business models.
Once all the rage in sales and marketing methodologies, It is not enough to just challenge the status quo.
The executive conversation has permanently and fundamentally changed, to the point where effective engagement, alignment and purchase motivation requires a digital transformation engagement model.
Digital Transformation is so strategic and essential to your executive prospects, we recommend evaluating your marketing messaging and sales approach: from Challenger to Transformer.

The Bottom Line

Challenging business as usual with Insights and education is important, but must follow with a more collaborative transformative approach: helping prospects diagnose opportunities for digitization, collaboratively engaging to rapidly uncover challenges, reimagine processes and customer experience, while identifying potential new business models and disruptions before an upstart or competitor does.
What is your strategy to evolve your messaging, tools and training beyond Challenger to Transformer?
  • Gartner CEO and senior business executive survey of 400 senior business leaders in user organizations worldwide -
  • The Hackett Group’s 2016 IT Key Issues research, “The CIO Agenda: Balancing Risk, Cost, and Innovation” executives from nearly 180 large companies in the US and abroad -

Sunday, May 29, 2016

3 Big Takeaways from SiriusDecisions’ Summit 2016

Chock full of research reveals and best practices sharing, the annual “Woodstock” for sales and marketers, SiriusDecisions’ Summit just wrapped up in Nashville last week.

Here are our three big takeaways:

1)  One size Doesn’t Fit All
The need for sales and marketing personalization has never been higher, according to SiriusDecisions analysts, and this personalization is not isolated to just early marketing or sales engagements, but critical through all stages of the buyer’s journey.

Your prospects are now receiving 32% more vendor communications than just 2 years ago, and as a result, drowning in a sea of look-alike content.  Sending out more white papers (the crack cocaine of marketing) or relying on canned PowerPoints won’t provide the differentiation needed to effectively engage today’s “short attention span” customer.

What can you do to stand out from the crowd, and most importantly, be more effective?

Our advice: Migrate beyond static white papers, to Interactive Content, personalized based on a quick discovery of prospects’ unique industry, size, role, needs and challenges.

Tools can include Interactive white papers and dynamic infographics – personalizing content dynamically for each prospect and delivering the content on-line and in completely customized downloads.

Customization pivot points include providing industry specific insights, personalized storytelling, “do nothing” cost calculations, specific solution recommendations, specific TCO advantages and business value estimates.

2)  What a buyer wants, What a buyer needs
According to the latest SiriusDecisions survey results, 80% say understanding customer needs is critical to success, yet over 2/3rds of solution providers struggle to understand those needs.

This gap comes at a critical time, when the analysts reveal message resonance increasing substantially with insights focused on customer needs.

According to analyst Marissa Kopec, it’s not about pitching the latest products, but giving the buyer a competitive edge, by helping uncover and prioritize needs. She went so far as to call this important shift the “Age of Enlightenment” in B2B, an evolution from a classic inside-out product-centric approach, to buyer-focused needs and outcomes.

So what’s the best way to connect with buyer needs?

To be perceived most strategic and valuable, you can help prospects uncover hidden issues, often called unrecognized needs, the challenges that your buyers should be focusing on, but haven’t realized are a real challenge yet. Here, you act as advisor and teacher.

More tactical, you can help illuminate and clarify the issues your prospects already know about, but were having trouble prioritizing with other stakeholders and executives. With this approach, you are perceived as a partner, earning the right to provide valuable advice on how to best solve their most pressing challenges (which you helped prioritize).

So how do you best fuel your marketing and sales with needs?

Our advice: Leverage two important tools to help your prospects, sales team and channel partners uncover, illuminate and prioritize needs:
  • Benchmarking Tools – helping your prospects understand how their current financial, business, IT and other key performance indicators stack up against leader / laggard and average benchmarks. 
  • Diagnostic Assessments – helping your prospect measure, score and compare their capability and maturity to help advance their practices across a set of key categories to achieve competitive advantage.

The best, both of these tools build up more unique and proprietary insights the more they are used.

3)  Why Renew?
With more solution providers moving more business to on-going subscriptions, and relying less on new accounts, instead up-selling / cross-selling to existing accounts in order to grow more cost effectively, it is no surprise that customer experience and success were big topics.

More organizations are realizing that the selling doesn’t stop post sale. As a result, more emphasis and investment are being put towards improving customer experience, as well as measuring and documenting customer success.

Your customers won’t just blindly renew, or buy more without measurement and proof of key success metrics.  With today’s more frugal buyer focused on outcome metrics, that renewal or add-on sale isn’t so much about relationship and emotion,. For many, it’s all about the Benjamin’s.

Assuring customer experience and success needs to include proving the value and ROI you actually delivered. But you have to instrument your customer success team with the equipment to reliably and consistently measure progress and success.

So how do you best prove the value you delivered? 

Our advice:  Invest in a Realized Value / ROI Tool – structuring the discovery of key performance metrics, how they are improving over time, and quantifying the business value derived and ROI.

The Bottom-Line

Each year we learn much from the SiriusDecision conference, and this year was no exception, providing a roadmap for sales and marketing success: 
  1. Personalize content throughout the buyer’s journey, moving beyond one-size-fits all to interactive content
  2. Empower sales reps to evolve from product-pitch to needs / outcomes, helping to better uncover and prioritize customer needs.
  3. Assuring customer success by proving and quantifying value realization post-sale.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

On-Demand Webinar - From an ROI Business Case to a Value-centric Case for Change

Despite the growing need to convince buyers as to the unique value you can deliver, the traditional ROI Business Case - long a staple of value selling - may be losing its luster in driving sales success.
Why? The Traditional ROI Business Case is often too inside-out (vendor-centric), focused too much on the solution and what it can do. Most are overloaded with too many numbers that clients have difficulty connecting with.
Neuroscience has revealed just how important it is to not just quantify the value of your solution, but to spark attention, build trust and tell your value story.
In this on-demand recording, Tom Pisello, the ROI Guy and CEO / founder of value tool provider Alinean and Shimon Abouzaglo, Founder and President of the Value Selling & Realization Council revealed the latest research and specific techniques for moving from a traditional numbers centric ROI Business Case to a Value-centric Case for Change, and how this can boost forecasted win rates beyond 50%, increase deal size and accelerate sales cycles.
See the slide deck here:

View a recording of the session here, including a live demo of a great example:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Enabling Sales for your next Event? What FIS did for their FinTech 2020 Event Series

Your prospects drop by your booth at an event. Are they:
a) Disappointed by the empty sales pitch they just got
b) Impressed with the conversation, provocative advice and personalized next steps roadmap?

Unfortunately “a) an empty sales pitch” is all too common, and unacceptable when you think of how much you invest in time, travel and expense for each event.

FIS had this concern as they launched an exclusive worldwide roadshow, FinTech 2020, to discuss compelling trends and digital transformation in Financials.

Instead of a sales pitch, FIS wanted their sales reps to interview prospects and provide value-added conversations and personalized takeaways.

FIS chose Alinean to quickly develop an interactive assessment tool and have it in time for the worldwide kickoff of the event series. The FIS Fintech 2020 assessment tool helps reps learn about each prospect’s challenges, obtain sentiment on future trends, and compare responses with benchmarks from prior participants.  

At each event, the assessment is run from tablets and laptops to collect responses, show comparisons, spark engagements and fuel consultative discussions.

At the end of each interview, the sales rep uses the tool to creates and e-mail a personalized takeaway – a 6-page report, providing the prospect with their unique assessment results, benchmark comparisons, solution recommendations and next step advice. This is great, as it allows the prospect to be a mobilizer, sharing the analysis and advice with other key stakeholders and decision makers.

The assessment tool is also being leveraged for post-event marketing follow-ups, to keep customers engaged in the FinTech 2020 dialogue, and get sales reps more follow-up meetings.

What are you using to help sales engage better at your events and in follow-on meetings?
If your not taking advantage of tools like Alinean developed for the FIS events, you aren’t optimizing your event investments.

You can see the FIS Fintech 2020 Assessment Tool in action and try it for yourself at: