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:

Win Magic: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Value / ROI Selling

What if you had the secret sauce to win more than half of all your forecasted deals?

A recent study by CSO Insights says you can increase win rates almost 40% by elevating your Value / ROI Selling capability to Great. This means significantly less deals lost to “No Decision” or going with the competition.

So how do you accomplish such a competitive advantage and sales performance boost?

Click here to see our article in Smart Selling Tools: The seven things you should be doing now to elevate your sales performance from Good to Great:

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Alinean recognized as a Top Sales Tool of 2016

Alinean is excited to announce recognition, for the third year in a row, as a Top Sales Tool from Smart Selling Tools.

The review highlights our unique ability to helps sales rep overcome the top selling challenge - communicating and quantifying unique value to ever more frugal prospects.

Alinean was especially proud to be the sole award winning provider in the Value Selling and ROI category, cementing our leadership as we create a new and vital sales enablement capability.

See Alinean's review and award recognition 

Checkout the ToolSkoolReview w/ Nancy Nardin from Smart Selling Tools, reviewing Alinean and our value selling / ROI tools 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Is ROI Selling your Ticket to a 51% Win Rate?

Is a win rate of over 50% possible?

Recent research by CSO Insights says you can achieve this performance if your organization has a “superior ability to build a solid business case / ROI”.

CSO Insights uncovered that Win-Rates increase dramatically, and Competitive / No Decision losses decline greatly as your ROI selling capability grows. 

Those meeting or exceeding expectations with their ROI selling programs do much better than those needing improvement or redesign. In fact, moving your ROI program from basic to excellent can result in Win-Rate gains of 40% (to over 50% of deals) and reduction in Competitive and “No Decision” losses by 30%.

And the benefits don’t stop there. Those with superior ROI selling programs have:
  • A dramatically higher percentage of sales reps meeting / beating quota: 69% vs. 47%, almost a 50% increase.
  • An incredible improvement in sales reps achieving revenue plan attainment: 87% vs. 77%.
These gains are driven by increasing demand for ROI from buyers, which CSO Insights indicates has grown more than 50% over the past five years.

If you are able to meet this demand and step up your ROI game, the benefits are so dramatic, CSO Insights says value / ROI selling programs are one of the best investments a sales organization can make to improve performance.

Unfortunately, most admit that their ROI programs are underfunded and in need of improvement. Despite the overwhelming gains possible, almost 60% indicate their ROI programs need a major redesign or improvement.

Why do so many companies lag in their ROI selling performance? CSO Insights thinks it’s a lack of urgency, with ROI selling taking a backseat to other initiatives (which their own research indicates may not be nearly as effective).

Perhaps you have prioritized on-boarding, new product launches, sales asset management (SAM) or other apparently urgent programs? Our advice: stack up the impact of these programs against these metrics and see which could drive more revenue and growth.

Perhaps it’s seen as too complicated or difficult? Our advice: give us a call and we’ll show you how to cost effectively elevate your current efforts to capture these dramatic benefits.

The Bottom-Line
After seeing the incremental sales effectiveness and revenue performance, it’s hard to believe value consulting / ROI selling is getting so little attention and lackluster investments from so many.

For those who have invested in your ROI selling programs, you are realizing the benefits and competitive advantages in significantly higher win rates, accelerated sales cycles, reduced discounting and greater deal sizes.

Perhaps the time has come to take your ROI program from good to great, to realize these significant sales performance improvement and revenue gains.

Decoding the Decision Dynamic, MHI Global 
The Frugalnomics Survival Guide - How to Use Your Unique Value to Market Better, Stand Out and Sell More