Thursday, December 22, 2011

Product, Solution or Value - You Decide! ( Feature Article)

A sales team has learned that three prospects are in immediate need of tools for a critical building project. It’s been some time since such an opportunity has been available, and the sales team springs into action with three different strategies.

Read this story to find out which one succeeds and how all three learn a valuable lesson!

The Spotlight of Enterprise App Stores Can Help Fight Growing Shadow IT ( feature)

If centralized IT departments think they are losing control, they are. Central IT budgets have been constrained for the past four years, resulting in a backlog of business projects. This has propelled business units to work “outside the system” to procure the applications they need to succeed, boosting what is commonly known as “Shadow IT.”

Fueling the rogue spending are the ease with which SaaS applications can be procured and delivered, and the proliferation of mobile devices, which have proven more difficult to govern.

How big is the problem, and how can IT fight back?

Click here to learn more>

Monday, December 12, 2011

Infographic: Technology an Alternative for Business Travel?

This time of year business travel is more painful than ever, especially with weather related travel delays, packed flights and holiday travelers.

Monica Liming-Hu from AT&T ponders some good questions about technology as an alternative for business travel.... Have you had a challenge convincing your boss that there are still ways to meet effectively face to face with a client, while staying in the office? Are you considering this an effective way to get the job done and still save the company money? Have you found yourself wanting to do the right thing and “do your part” by helping to reduce the production of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from your business travel?

Working with Alinean, we developed a tool for AT&T to help businesses quantify the value of technology which can provide a better solution than travel in many cases. The tool helps predict and measure savings both in terms of money and GHG, to help you convince your boss that staying grounded, yet still being able to meet face to face with technology, could indeed be a better option. Today’s technology can give the ability to collaborate, meet with important people and get the job done without all the traditional travel which uses a lot of time, money and effort, and this tool helps to build a quick, yet credible and comprehensive business case for reducing business travel with the right technology.

To get an example of some of the calculations in the tool,  calculating the average savings you can expect, checkout the new AT&T Carbon Impact Assessment Infographic.

If these infographic results are compelling, go one step further and figure out what the savings could mean specifically for you by using the Alinean powered AT&T Carbon Impact Assessment Tool.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Content Investments Effective When Aligned to Facilitate Buyer’s Journey

Marketers continue to invest a substantial portion of their marketing budget on content, with new research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs indicating that content currently consumes 26% of marketing budgets on average. According to the study of over 1,000 marketers, this spending is not only significant, but expected to increase for 60% of the respondents over the next year.

The large and growing investments highlight the important role content continues to play in the marketing mix, being used by most to fuel purchase decision making.

However, marketers do indicate that even with substantial and increased budgets in 2012 to support content development and distribution, their number one challenge remains producing the right type of content that effectively engages prospects and customers (41%).

And the challenges don’t end there. Results indicate a continued and decided crisis in confidence with content marketing, with close to half of marketers indicating that some of the most popular tactics are perceived as less effective or ineffective, including social media (50%), articles (49%), microsites (44%), and blogs(42%).  The good news is that some tactics are perceived worthy, including tactics that involve direct interaction with buyers such as in-person events (78% effective) and webinars / webcasts (70%). More personalized and relevant content also ranked as more effective, including the use of case studies (70%) and videos (61%).

Is the lack of effectiveness due to the newness of content marketing compared to more traditional ways to connect / engage buyers, the challenges of producing enough relevant and compelling content, a lack of measurement and proof-points that the content is being used by prospects and customers and having an impact on purchase decisions, and / or a change in the target audience, with today’s buyer, being more empowered, skeptical and frugal than ever before?  The research did not probe the answer to this important question, but did highlight the characteristics of best practice performers.

So what were the differences between average/ low performers and best in class? the results indicate that best-in-class marketers invest more of their budgets on content marketing (31% vs. 26% on average), and secure executive commitment and buy-in to support their efforts. Of greatest importance, the most successful marketers develop and segment their content based on the buying cycle (45%) to help facilitate decision makers along each step in the process. In this case, the content is designed to answer three key successive questions: Why change? Why now? Why the proposed solution?

Sources: 2012 B2B Content Marketing Benchmark, Budget and Trends Report – Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs

9 Cloud MythBusters: ROI, TCO and More

Survey after survey of IT executives indicates that Cloud computing ranks as one of the top strategic technologies. This prioritization makes it important for IT decision makers to quickly and clearly understand the available Cloud solution options, design considerations, deployment requirements, economic impacts and more.

Cloud computing is also one of the most hyped new technologies, leading to a decided lack of clarity. Certain bold statements making the case for Cloud computing, like “The Cloud will definitely reduce your IT costs!” or making the case against Cloud computing, like “The Cloud is not secure” should not be taken at face value.

Like most dramatic statements, these are likely to gain attention, even headlines in the media, and then rise to the status of truth.  Most likely there are some facts and more than a fair share of hot air behind these claims. In fact, many of the claims are baseless unless effort is made to create accurate research and economic-justification models, test them in the real world and prove when they are true and false. 

A bold, unsubstantiated, widely publicized statement is a myth. This paper will explore a number of Cloud IT myths and shed some light on them.

Read the rest here:

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Economic-Focused Buyer Drives Need for New B2B Sales and Marketing Strategies for 2012

Frugalnomics makes it harder to connect, engage and sell without the right content and tools
Alinean, the leading creator of interactive content marketing and diagnostic sales tools for business to business (B2B) solutions, today announced its annual sales and marketing predictions for 2012 with serious implications. The much-sought economic relief in 2011 never arrived, setting the stage for a budget constrained, frugal 2012. This condition, termed Frugalnomics, means that buyers are overloaded and forced to do-more-with-less, uncertain about their budgets, and required to financially justify new investments. As a result, sales and marketing must quickly evolve engagement techniques to meet economic-focused buyer demands.

"Frugalnomics defines 2012, with buyers requiring that each investment deliver tangible bottom-line impact, superior ROI, and faster payback," according to Tom Pisello, the ROI Guy and Chairman / Founder of Alinean. "Successful B2B sales and marketing groups recognize the continued buyer's woes, implementing improved content strategies and tools to help facilitate purchase decisions and help buyers overcome these challenges."

Alinean predicts that the following five challenges will dominate buyers in 2012, with specific recommendations on how B2B solution providers can best capitalize on each opportunity:

1) Overload is Epic - Forced to "do more with less," buyers are currently consumed with maintaining and supporting on-going operations, which gives them less budget than ever to address issues and research potential solutions. At the same time, vendors are inundating buyers with irrelevant campaigns, with the average buyer receiving upwards of 15 sales calls per day and 200 marketing related emails from solution providers each week.

Advice: Position solutions to specifically help alleviate on-going operations costs, helping buyers shift spending to more innovative investments. At the same time, don't add to the overload with irrelevant cold calls and marketing messages. Instead implement better targeting, align content to facilitate the buyer's journey, and improve content relevance with intelligent and interactive personalization.

2) Budget Uncertainty Grows – The majority of buyers are allocating the same, or even less to new projects than in 2011, and of the meager new project allocations, only one in every four dollars is being pre-allocated at the beginning of the year. Buyers are in a wait-and-see mode about the economy, allocating on-the-fly for projects that are identified, prioritized, and justified based on needs.

Advice: Since allocations are not preordained, there is an opportunity to be provocative, proactively convincing a buyer that:
  • The status-quo won't do, and that there is a "cost of doing nothing"
  • A need for change exists, and the proposed project can help solve the issue and should be a priority
  • If the project is implemented, it could deliver tangible bottom-line impact, significant ROI and fast payback
3) Discount Demands Increase – With less budget allocation available to each project, initial purchase price dominates the decision-making process for over 64% of B2B buyers.

Advice: Discounts can be used to win business, and low-price providers will have an inherent advantage. However, most B2B providers are not discount-focused, and will have to defend higher purchase prices, best accomplished by using:
  • Total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis to quantify how much it costs to own the asset or service over multiple years vs. just initial purchase price
  • Benefit analysis to prove the incremental business value of proposed solutions
4) Skepticism Reigns – Buyers are taking more time to make each decision and are using a wider variety of sources to help drive decisions compared to just 12 months ago. And while vendor content is one of the key sources being used in this lengthened decision making process, buyers are three times more likely to trust content from peers and industry analysts.

Advice: Instead of just providing vendor generated content, sales and marketing should leverage content developed / contributed by industry pundits, research analysts and peers. As well, adding social sharing capabilities to all content can help, making it easier for buyers to share, comment, discuss, and even contribute to the content.

5) Economic Justification Required – Each proposed solution is subject to more financial scrutiny by senior executives, raising the level of financial justification required. Formal business cases are now a requirement for over 90% of purchases.

Advice: Buyers need help preparing financial justification for planned purchases, and vendors need to provide tools to help quantify investment requirements, savings and business benefits, return on investment and payback in order to win the business.

To help B2B solution providers understand the research behind these challenges, and implement best practices to address these opportunities, Alinean has created the Fight Frugalnomics™ Resource Center at: