Demand-Gen Report Interview on Need for New Sales Enablement Tools
1. Can you speak to how the changing buyer has increased the need for sophisticated sales enablement solutions?
First, today’s B2B buyer is more empowered than ever before. Before sales is even invited to the table, the typical buyer has already used the Internet and social media to research and prioritize opportunities, investigate potential solutions, reviewed relevant case studies, quantify potential benefits, investigate prices and analyze competitive offerings. Buyers are in control, with almost 70% indicating they don’t think sales is adding enough value-add to their engagements (Forrester 2011).
Second, although buyers are more empowered, under current budget constraints they have been forced to “do-more-with-less” and as a result, have less time than ever to fully understand their issues / opportunities, and research / deliver solutions. There is a greater need for consultative insight to help close this gap.
Third, continued and significant negative financial conditions have caused buyers to be more economic focused. Today, over 90% of B2B buyers require proof of bottom-line impacts / ROI on any significant investment, with over 81% expecting vendors to provide financial justification to earn the business (IDC 2011).
- Product Selling: The sales organization sold products based on "feeds and speeds". Technology solutions were new and exciting, and sales lived on the cutting edge of technology. Customers bought "products."
- Solution Selling: Rather than buying products, customers looked for solutions - usually a functional combination of hardware and software to solve a technical problem. Acronyms such as ERP and CRM were common, and the services industry exploded. Customers bought "solutions."
- Value Selling: The financial pressures of the recent and continuing recession changed customers. They now align business investments with technology costs. Customers want "outcomes."
Frugalnomics changes everything. All B2B solution providers must recognize that the sales and marketing landscape has fundamentally changed, and that customers are looking for consultative / outcome-focused partners to help them proactively uncover opportunities that many are unaware they have, quantify and drive bottom-line impacts, and deliver more value than competitors offerings.
The end of sales as we know it, this shift in buyer requirements will require a significant sales enablement investment in people (training), process (engagement methodologies) and technology (sales tools).
3. Can you explain in detail the problems and objectives your organization helps sales teams solve?
We help sales teams advance their value selling skills, with a library of value-focused diagnostic tools, value selling training and buyer facilitation methodologies. The process and tools work throughout the buyer’s journey to help facilitate the buyer’s decision making process:
1) Discovery: Early in buying lifecycle help buyers loosen the status-quo and understand potential solutions, by helping them to illuminate issues, and that there is a "cost of doing nothing". This is often best addressed using diagnostic assessment tools to survey current practices, benchmark versus peers and leaders, and intelligently develop improvement roadmaps based on highest priority issues;
2) Consideration: In the middle stages, to help justify the right solution, by quantifying the savings, business value, return on investment and fast payback. This is often best accomplished using ROI sales tools to help identify current costs and opportunities, intelligently recommend the right solution configuration and quantify potential benefits, investments, risks, ROI, payback and other key financials;
3) Selection: In the later stages, to help validate the decision, by proving that the selected solution competitively has the lowest total cost of ownership, best value and lowest risks. This is often best done using TCO comparison tools.
4. What are some of the key benefits of sales enablement technology?
Looking at sales enablement overall, shows how beneficial sales enablement programs can be. A recent IDC Sales Advisory Practice article indicates that a part of the growth issue is B2B companies' inability to get sales enablement "in gear", costing typical companies upwards of 10% or more of revenue per year. For example, this 10% sales enablement challenge is a $100 M incremental revenue opportunity for a $1B company.
To analyze the potential further, we have worked with IDC to specifically measure the impact that our value-selling approach has, with the following significant improvements. The survey revealed that the average Alinean-powered sales enablement program delivered:
These benefits were achieved with:
Yes, the Unified Communications market is extremely competitive, and in order to move the discussion forward with today's more skeptical / frugal buyer, ShoreTel needed to quantify and prove the head-to-head cost advantages and superior value compared to competitive offerings.