Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
This week Alinean was in San Diego with 1,500 of the best marketers and sales execs to network, and hear SiriusDecisions present their latest research and best practice findings.
Here are three important findings that I believe will have a profound impact on your strategy and success:
1) The number one issue for achieving sales goals remains the “Inability for sales to effectively communicate value messages”, the third year in a row that SiriusDecisions reports this as the top issue. Importantly, SiriusDecisions indicates that the value messaging can’t be generic, and must be personalized, specific and quantified.
Your prospects have fundamentally changed, now more empowered, risk averse and frugal than ever before – a condition we call Frugalnomics. As a result, your prospects don’t really care that you have new features, or even a new product, but how you can boost their bottom line.
However, if you are like most, your sales reps continue to struggle with articulating and quantifying the financial value your solutions can provide.
2) Tangible value / ROI must be communicated earlier in the buyer’s journey – more prospects than ever, some 60% or more in a typical pipeline, are choosing to “Do Nothing” versus saying “Yes”.
In this “Do More With Less” economy, your prospects have less resources, risk appetite and budget than ever. In a world of constant firefighting, they often have difficulty uncovering issues, and properly quantifying / prioritizing their pains. As a result, the research points to how much help your prospects need help in identifying “Why Change?” and “Why Now?”, leveraging marketing content and earlier value selling engagements to facilitate change in the early stages of the buyer’s journey.
3) High performing reps are different than mid-tier / low performers in that they deliver:
- Persona specific value messages - each buyer has different goals and challenges, a unique “point of value” as to what you can provide. For example, if you are trying to communicate the value of a web conferencing solution to different stakeholders, the value is completely different:
- For a sales executive, the value is in the ability to reach more customers, open new territories and cut back on travel wear and tear
- For marketing, it’s the ability to reduce the cost to acquire new leads
- For product development, it’s the ability to improve team collaboration and reduce time to market
- For operations, it’s the reduction in travel expenses
- For IT, it’s the ability to reduce licensing and support costs
- Leverage tools that quantify the business conversation – Sirius Decisions refers to these as Value Actualization Tools, the use of diagnostic assessments, benefits estimators, and ROI / TCO calculators to identify and prioritize issues, quantify the cost of “do nothing” and deliver business case justification.
The Bottom Line
It is clear that buyers are demanding more value-focused content and engagements, and that there remains a significant gap between these demands, and what sales and marketing is effectively delivering. Addressing this value gap, delivering the persona specific value messaging, storytelling and quantification, needs to be a focus for us all between now and next Summit.
Friday, April 26, 2013
A stall in flight is often experienced when an airplane pilot tries to climb too fast, experiencing a sudden reduction in lift as the upward angle of the airplane reaches a critical point where the wings no longer provide sufficient lift.
This is not a good situation to be in. As a claxon sounds off that the stall is occurring, the pilot must react quickly and properly in order to avoid a disaster. This often means backing off on the steep climb, and adding power.
In your pipeline there are likely more stalled deals than ever, as your prospects stick with business as usual, choosing “Do Nothing “versus proceeding with you proposal and saying, “Yes”.
This is understandable in the face of Frugalnomics, with your prospects having less resources, budget and tolerance for risk. Making matters worse, 40% more stakeholders are involved the purchase, with procurement and finance playing more prominent roles, adding to the complexity and duration of the buyer’s journey (IDC).
As a result, the chances of experiencing a stall are greater than ever, with Sales Benchmark Index indicating that the biggest threat to growing your business is not the competition, but that 58% of deals are now stalled in the average pipeline.
As you review your pipeline, does any of this sound familiar? The customer just won’t call me back….. They just went dark on me ….They just keep rescheduling our meetings ... All signs of a stall.
How can this occur? Depending on the stage in the buyer’s journey perhaps:
• Your prospect may not believe they have the issue you are selling?
• Your prospect knows they have the issue, but they have a lot of issues, and this one is way down in the stack?
• The rest of the decision-making stakeholders may not sympathize with the issue and think the issue is a priority worth addressing?
• The stakeholders don’t believe that any solution really exists to successfully solve the problem?
• In this “do more with less” economy, your prospects just don’t have the time, or the resources, or the budget to commit to the proposal?
• Your prospect perceives the proposal as too risky?
• Your prospect thinks a competitor might offer better value than you do?
When in a stall what do you do? Just like a pilot, you have to recognize that you may be attempting to “climb too fast”, getting ahead of the progressive steps your prospect’s team must go through in order to arrive at a purchase decision.
You can do two things at this point, reduce your angle of attack and slow down until the buyer’s process catches up to where you would like them to be, and/or provide more fuel to increase power and overcome the loss of altitude. And what is the fuel that can help power through the stall? Personalized, provocative and insightful content your prospects need to help facilitate the decision making process.
The Right Content to get from “Do Nothing” to Yes”
In order to avoid or recover from a stall, you must facilitate your prospects’ decision making as they attempt to answer key concerns along their decision making journey. And this facilitation must be delivered with Frugalnomics in mind:
- Why Change? - There are important issues to address, some of which your prospect might not have even been aware of. At this early stage, you have to illuminate the “Cost of Do Nothing” and “Quantify the Pain”.
- Why Now? – The issue is a priority compared to everything else they have on their plate, failing to address the issue will cause competitive harm, and that addressing the issue could deliver a quick payback and significant return on investment. Here, you have to “Justify the Gain”.
- Why You? – That you are the best provider with the most cost effective, low risk and high value solution. In the final bake-off phase it’s key you “Prove You’re Not the Same”.
In the past you could facilitate the buyer’s journey with more traditional content, but unfortunately your prospects say this won’t cut it any more:
1. White papers are still leveraged by your prospects to help make decisions, usually early in the cycle, however over the past 3 years there has been a steady decline in their effectiveness to generate leads, and more importantly real sales opportunities.
2. PPTs are likely used by your sales reps in the middle of the cycle, but prospects can’t stand these presentations – with 1/3rd having fallen asleep during a PPT presentations, and 1 in 5 rather wanting to go to a dentist than sit through another.
3. TCO / ROI spreadsheets are likely used by reps or specialists later in your sales cycle, and even as demand for financial justification has dramatically increased, adoption remains a significant challenge.
So if traditional content is less than effective, what can you do to avoid the stall? The good news is that dynamic content can be leveraged to deliver the personalized, provocative and insightful engagement buyers need to facilitate their decision making process.
Dynamic content can include:
- Interactive White Papers and Benefits Estimators – replacing traditional white papers and used early in the engagement process, these tools collect some intelligence from the prospect about their profile and challenges, and use this information and benchmark insights to provide a more concise, personalized and provocative thought-leadership and analysis to convince buyers as to “Why Change?” and “Why Now?”.
- ValueStory – replacing PPTs with an interactive iPad App to more intelligently present targeted value messaging, visual storytelling, provocative data-driven surveys and assessments, and financial justification calculators.
- ROI / TCO Tools – replacing complex calculation spreadsheets with an easy to use, 3rd party validated on-line business case application.
Stalls are all too common in your current pipeline, and likely represent your biggest opportunity for growth, and greatest issue for a potential “crash and burn.”
Just like an airplane pilot, you need to heed the signs of a stall, acting quickly and effectively to decrease the angle of attack and increase the air speed.
To provide the fuel and throttle up to address the stall, dynamic content can be used to help the buyer answer the “Why Change?”, “Why Now?” and “Why You?” and keep the journey progressively moving forward.
The key: Stay Calm & Dynamic Content On!
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Dell needed to prove to frugal IT executives that it’s ChangeBase solution, providing fast compatibility assessments, automated testing / remediation and seamless virtualization, could help reduce application and Windows 7/8 migration risks.
Dell turned to Alinean to create the ChangeBase Value Estimator, providing a quick assessment of migration challenges and the value of ChangeBase in reducing migration time and risks.
The tool was leveraged in significant email marketing and telesales campaigns to drive incremental sales opportunities and revenue.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
In order to better understand customer’s challenges, SAVO Group developed a comprehensive Maturity Benchmark framework to analyze current Sales, Marketing and Operations practices, uncover and prioritize key issues, and make consultative improvement recommendations.
In order to better connect and engage with prospects, SAVO wanted to create simpler versions of the full consultative benchmark, offered to clients on a self-service basis from savogroup.com.
Alinean converted the benchmarking framework into a powerful on-line diagnostic assessment tool to fuel on-line marketing campaigns and nurturing. The first set of these self-service assessment tools is now available at www.savogroup.com/benchmarking.
To help Consulting scale to support the increased demand, Alinean also developed an advanced online version of the Maturity Benchmark tool to scale consulting’s capability to deliver more maturity benchmark workshops.
Alinean’s CEO and Founder, Tom Pisello, will be presenting with Matt Guido, VP Alliances and Business Development for SAVO, on the importance of these diagnostic tools at the SAVO Sales Enablement Summit on Tuesday April 30th in the session: Driving Smarter Engagement and Nurturing Through Dynamic Content.
A significant 43% of B2B companies indicate that sales cycles have lengthened over the past three years, this according to a recent survey of 243 solution providers by B2B Magazine.
Confirming lengthening B2B sales cycles, SiriusDecisions indicates that durations have increased an average of 22% over a similar period. As a result, sales cycles that were once 10 months have now extended out past a year, making it more difficult to hit revenue and growth targets.
Longer sales cycles are occurring despite some significant trends that should be generating much shorter decision timeframes:
- Today, buyers are more empowered with a wealth of online and social resources to better research you and your competition
- Many solutions are now sold as a service, making them easier and less risk to purchase and deploy
- Try before you buy is more common, making it easier to evaluate and compare competitive offerings.
So with a more empowered buyer and simpler solutions, why are your sales cycles still lengthening? In this “Do more with less” economy, Frugalnomics is in full effect:
- Your customers have less staff to research issues, evaluate solutions and collaborate on purchase decisions
- Less budget to invest, means that there are more proposals than funding, as a result proposals are re-prioritized often, slowing down purchase decisions
- Decision makers worry more about each investment – as a wrong decision can literally cost a buyer their job.
Your customers are struggling with fewer resources, less budget and minimal risk tolerance. But its not just “less” that you are facing, its “more” too, as in more stakeholders involved in each purchase decision. According to IDC, stakeholder counts have dramatically increased by 40% over the past 3 years.
A typical B2B purchase that used to involve five decision makers just a short time ago, now takes convincing seven instead. And the team members that are involved have changed too, with finance demanding bottom-line impact on every investment, and business / user groups taking a more prominent role. Gaining consensus takes more time than ever, further delaying your sales cycles.
In the face of these challenges, what can you do to accelerate your sales cycle?
- Quantify the value of “Do Nothing” to “Yes” – In the face of Frugalnomics it’s easy for your customers to stay with business-as-usual versus taking a risk on a new investment. As a result, a whopping 58% of deals are now stalled in the typical pipeline (Sales Benchmark Index). In order to get these stalled buyers going again, you have to provocatively facilitate the buyer’s journey with engagements, content and tools to provide the compelling insights and consultative advice to answer three key buyer questions:
- Why Change? – Quantify the pain, helping to uncover new issues, prioritize opportunities and quantify the “cost of do nothing”
- Why Now? – Justify the gain, proving that your proposed solution can deliver a good return on investment (ROI)
- Why You? – Prove you are not the same, differentiating your solution from the competition, but quantifying total cost (TCO) and value advantages
- Reduce the Risk – Your customers are wary of wasting precious resources and making any mistakes. It is vital that you prove that your solution can deliver, requires minimal upfront investment, has a quick payback, and can truly deliver bottom-line impact (perhaps even implementing an ROI SLA)
- Value is in the Eye of the Beholder – Each stakeholder has different goals, priorities and perception of your value, however, too often sales and marketing applies a one-size-fits-all approach to value messaging and engagement. Your engagements, content and tools must uniquely communicate your value messaging and quantification to address each stakeholder’s unique value perspective.
Sales cycles are continuing to lengthen for a significant number of B2B companies, making it more difficult to achieve quota and revenue growth goals.
To help overcome this challenge, marketing and sales can work to improve engagements, content and tools in order to facilitate a quicker buying decision. Quantifying the value of “Do Nothing” to “Yes” to ever more frugal buyers, reducing the inherent risks in the investment decision, and being sure to message and quantify each stakeholder’s unique value perspective are all address today’s sales cycle challenge.
For more information, click here.