Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Value is in the Eye of the Beholder!

IT decisions have become more complex, with more stakeholders than ever before.  In order to get the buyers to “Yes”,  sales and marketing must understand each stakeholders role in the buyer decision and deliver the relevant  value proposition to each.

According to IDG Connect, the average mid-to- large enterprise now has ten individuals involved in the average IT purchase decision.  This is double the number of stakeholders compared to 15 years ago.

These stakeholders include representatives from IT, Finance, Executives, Business Unit Representatives and Procurement. And while the business stakeholders individually can’t say “Yes”, they can exert a definitive “No” on key purchase decisions.

Many IT sales professionals know this all too well, having won over the technical team, but losing the deal in the later stages by failing to secure business unit, executive or finance approval.

What’s a Solution Provider to Do?

Although part of a joint business decision, you can’t blame individual buyers for being a little selfish: caring most about what’s in it for them. And if you look at the diversity of the team, you can see that what matters to IT is going to be very different than what matters to a business unit like Manufacturing or Product Management, which in turn, will be dramatically different from what Finance and  Procurement ultimately care about.

For IT, the value of the solution might be to address high IT operating costs and improve IT support productivity. For Product Quality it might be high quality failure rates, generating a reduction in reworks, returns and spares. For Finance it might be reducing days-sales-outstanding and days-to-close. Each stakeholder has their own unique set of business objectives, challenges, current costs and risks, KPIs, perceived value and competitive criteria.

To be successful in driving faster, more favorable decisions, it’s key to understand the role each plays in the purchase decision, and present what matters one-to-one to each stakeholder.

We recommend arming sales and the buyers with personalized answers to the three key questions:

·  Why Change? - An understanding of the buyer’s unique objectives, challenges and KPIs, and delivering a quantification of the “cost of doing nothing” as it relates specifically to these.

·  Why Now? - The relevant KPI improvements, cost savings and business benefits the stakeholder’s group can derive from your proposed solutions, and how this is greater than what they could achieve from other high priority initiatives.

·  Why You? - How your solutions uniquely deliver more relevant value and cost savings than competitive offerings.
To best deliver this vital content, we recommend providing self-service value marketing tools such as Interactive White Papers and Benefit Estimators and value selling ROI / TCO Analysis Tools for sales professionals. These value marketing and selling tools can collect customer intelligence about the specific stakeholder’s role in the purchase process, objectives and challenges, and intelligently select, quantify and present the right content value content to drive “Yes”.

This should include:

·  Profiling the stakeholders to understand the role they will play in the decision making process.

·  Querying the stakeholders as to their individual business objectives, challenges and KPIs that matter to them most.

·  Quantifying the “cost of doing nothing” unique to the stakeholder’s role, and prospect’s current KPIs and practices.

·  Estimating the potential savings and business benefits relevant to the stakeholder, and prospect’s current opportunity for improvement.

·  Tallying the competitive value and TCO advantages aligned to the objectives, challenges

·  Presenting the results in a special analysis report specifically designed just for the stakeholder’s direct use, or by the champion to present upwards and cross functionally to each relevant team member and group.

The Bottom-Line

As the buying process evolves to include more stakeholders with unique decision drivers, it is more important than ever that IT sales and marketing understand the role these players have in the decision making process, and specifically deliver the content the stakeholder needs to justify a “Yes” decision.

To do this, we recommend leveraging interactive tools that can automatically provide the quantitative and qualitative value-focused content each role needs to logically and emotionally connect with and justify the purchase decision.

In turn, this assures that decisions don’t get derailed, and help to drive faster, more favorable purchase decisions. 

Click here for more information on how Value Selling and Value Marketing tools can help drive role-based purchase decisions.
Source: Digital Content and the IT Purchase Process - Business Functions Influence the Ever Expanding Buying Team – Bob Johnson IDG Connect , survey of 400 decision makers / recommenders.

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