Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New eBook: Product, Solution or Value - You Decide

Joe, Sally and Greg are three sales professionals with a great sales opportunity. See how each one proves their worth, leverages marketing and gets the deal, in this fun and important story.

Product, Solution or Value - You Decide!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Top Blog Posts of 2011

We wrote over 100 articles on Frugalnomics and B2B Selling and Marketing last year. So what was tops in 2011?

Here's the roundup of your favorite articles:

Predictions 2012 Roundup

The fall of the mighty traditional white paper? The end of sales as we know it?

We have made some bold B2B sales and marketing predictions for 2012, and have rounded them up here so you can be ready:

  1. The Economic-Focused Buyer Drives Need for New B2B Sales and Marketing Strategies for 2012
  2. How will the Economy Affect the Buyer’s Decision Process in 2012?
  3. CFOs are Large and in Charge of Buying Process in 2012
  4. Recovery Makes Selling IT Much Easier into 2012? Fahgettaboudit!

Will the Return to Good Times Bring an End to Frugalnomics?

With economic uncertainty still in play, it should come as no surprise that Executives’ top priority remains cutting costs / improving business efficiency versus growth.  The research by the Financial Times and Doremus indicates that the focus on cost savings is significant, and even higher for larger organizations, where frugality ranks twice that of any growth priority.

This got me thinking, not about the current pessimistic economic outlook, but about a potential recovery and what it would mean for B2B sales and marketing strategies. After all, as the European debt crisis resolves, and the US election cycle unfolds, a recovery could indeed be in the cards. This would likely swing the priority from cutting costs back to growing revenue, opening new markets and launching new products. Or will it?

Indeed, as the economic recovery takes hold, innovative companies will be in a great position to potentially lead and catch the next wave, while agile companies will jockey for ways to capture early growth opportunities and execute on growth plans. However, as a result of the Great Recession, technology and several other factors, the world has changed. Even though the recovery will place more emphasis on growth initiatives, we predict that Frugalnomics, where businesses maintain a focus on costs and the bottom-line, will remain in effect.

The impact is that not just in the short term, but for a long time to come, buyers will remain more cost conscience, status-quo biased, price-centric and bottom-line focused. While B2B sales and marketing will face continued pressure to prove the cost of doing nothing, justify the superior ROI and quick payback on investments and quantify competitive value.

So why won’t the return to good times bring an end to Frugalnomics? There are a few reasons that we feel Frugalnomics will be a permanent part of B2B purchase decisions, and a continued sales and marketing challenge for years to come:

·         The world is flat according to Thomas Friedman, and as a result, global competition makes it easier than ever to source quality solutions from lower cost / better providers, regardless of where they might be located worldwide. This continues to evolve the competitive cost structure of different businesses, business models and supply chains. As a result, an organization can no longer rest on current efficiency levels in such a competitive world, and must seek year-over-year to drive out costs and inefficiency. Efficiency is not just a near term requirement to achieve bottom-line performance in the face of revenue challenges, but a permanent challenge to be competitive in an ever flattening world.

·         When trying to improve bottom-line performance, an executive can achieve this two ways, by increasing the top-line revenue, or by cutting costs. However, each dollar of incremental revenue earned is not the same as each dollar in cost savings as to how it contributes to the bottom-line. For every dollar of incremental revenue, there is a cost of good / service as well as variable SG&A that comes into play. So if you grow revenue by one dollar, it has a cost associated with it so is not worth that full amount, but instead the costs and margin needs to be factored. Typically this reduces the bottom-line impact to 30% or less of the incremental revenue. Improving the bottom-line with incremental revenue requires 3 to 5 times more revenue when compared to each dollar of savings / efficiency improvements. This fact alone means that cost savings will always be in vogue.

·         When considering a new proposal that has many different types of benefits, such as revenue and cost savings, stakeholders view these benefits differently. In business case after business case, regardless of the macro-economic environment, we see that hard cost savings are viewed as more tangible and reliable in making the case than revenue focused benefits. Stakeholders want benefits they can count on, and history has shown that tracking and realizing revenue driven benefits is often difficult. As a result, even for revenue focused projects, the value of hard cost savings in any justification proposal outweighs the value of revenue improvements in almost all cases.

·         As organizations are more risk adverse from the Great Recession, Finance has become more involved in procurement, both at the strategic and tactical level. In some organizations this has resulted in CFOs taking over formal control of several business groups including IT, HR, operations, marketing and more. Financial involvement has increased the level of economic diligence and justification on every proposed investment. As the recovery takes hold, Finance will likely remit some control, but is expected to remain more involved formally and informally for years to come. With the majority of financial executives focused on cost savings opportunities in good times and in bad, the cost consciousness, status-quo bias, price-centricity and bottom-line focus are here to stay.

Although a recovery may emphasize growth oriented value propositions vs. cost savings, a more cost-competitive world, the superior bottom-line value of cost savings and increased financial control and oversight means that buyers will remain empowered, skeptical and frugal, and Frugalnomics will remain in effect.

Therefore, it is relevant not just in the short term, but for long term success, that B2B sales and marketing teams develop and leverage provocative, value-focused content and tools. Oriented to help facilitate the buyer’s journey, these tools can be used directly by customers, or in sales-led workshops to help successively:

1.       Diagnose opportunities and illuminate priorities
2.       Overcome the status-quo bias, proving there is a cost of doing nothing
3.       Justify change
4.       Prove competitive value

The facilitation is best done via interactive tools, especially: provocative white papers, benefit estimators, diagnostic assessments, ROI justifications, and TCO competitive comparisons.

The Bottom-Line
A measurable and sustained economic recovery will be a welcome relief down the road, but our predictions are that it will not mean an end to Frugalnomics.

Buyers will still be challenged by worldwide competitive pressures to be more efficient, with permanent risk aversion, and more financial accountability. B2B sales and marketing will remain challenged connect, engage and sell to a more empowered, skeptical and frugal buyer. Imperative in such an environment to fight Frugalnomics by proving to the buyer that there is a tangible cost-of-doing-nothing, and justifying the superior ROI, quick payback and competitive value of proposed solutions.

When the economy changes, vendor proposals will need to evolve to help convince buyers that the proposed solution can help address the strategic need to grow revenue, launch new products and open new markets. But there will be a continued and important need to quantify, for permanently frugal buyers, the expected hard cost savings, efficiency improvements and bottom-line impacts for each and every significant proposal.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Ready for Continued Frugalnomics? Cutting Costs Remains Top Buyer Priority for 2012

For those who thought 2012 might offer some much needed relief, a new survey uncovers Executives’ pessimistic sentiment going into 2012, indicating significant economic concerns and a strong focus on cutting costs and improving efficiency versus driving growth.

This latest survey of over 600 senior executives worldwide, published by Doremus and the Financial Times in December 2011, confirms that Frugalnomics, a business focus on reducing costs and the bottom-line, is increasing for the New Year.

Tracing the percentage of those expecting improvements for the coming year in the global economy, local economy, their industry and for their individual company, Executives reported a significant drop in positive outlook, returning to pessimistic levels similar to those of 2008 and the beginning of the Great Recession.

Respondents indicate that the current negative outlook is driven by persistent low consumer confidence, the European debt crises, potential impact of US debt and unemployment.

As a result of continued uncertainty and negative economic outlooks, nearly half of the respondents indicate that cutting costs and improving efficiency remains their top priority, especially among the largest companies, where cost cutting / efficiency is cited by more than twice as many Executives as are any growth priorities.

If the research is any indication, Executives will struggle with increased Frugalnomic pressures into 2012. More overloaded and risk adverse, Executives will struggle to find the time and stomach to consider new investments. And even when there is a will to make a new investment, there might not be a way, as budget constraints and more financial oversight drive increased justification requirements and higher hurdles.

Frugalnomics Requires New B2B Sales and Marketing Strategies
Over the past several years we have seen the impact of Frugalnomics on B2B sales and marketing, making it more difficult to connect, engage and sell to more overloaded, skeptical and frugal buyers. This has resulted in longer sales cycles, stalled deals, increased discounting and more competitive deals.

These are all serious issues to overcome, and with every challenge there are borne new opportunities, especially for those solution providers that can help fight Frugalnomics. Executives must deliver bottom-line results, and buyers need ideas on how to improve efficiency and drive success. The solution providers that can proactively help buyers diagnose and prioritize opportunities and justify the value of proposed purchases will be the clear winners in 2012.

To succeed, B2B sales and marketing should provide new diagnostic and value-focused content and tools to help facilitate the buyer’s decision making process:

·    Help Overloaded Executives See the Light – most Executives have experienced cutbacks, and have been forced to do-more-with-less.  As a result, there are fewer resources than ever to uncover new opportunities, consider new project proposals and assess purchase options. Proactively and provocatively diagnosing and prioritizing cost saving and other business issues and consultatively recommending the right solution can help make the Executive a cost-savings hero, and help your team get the deal.

·    Break the Status-Quo - With limited funding for new projects, and higher perceived risks due to the economic uncertainty, for many it’s easier to forgo new projects / investments and maintain the current status quo than to commit to a new investment. With the right content and tools however, you can challenge the Executive that there is a “cost of doing nothing”, to outweigh the potential risk of a change and get the buyer to commit to and prioritize the proposed project.

·     Prove Cost Savings – With the focus remaining on how to reduce costs, it’s crucial to show how your solutions can help the frugal buyer further drive savings and improve business efficiency. With financial considerations taking center stage on every purchase, it’s crucial to quantify the bottom-line impact, significant return on investment and fast payback of proposals to economy-focused Executives.

·    Quantify Competitive Value – Today’s Executive remains cost conscious, and wants the lowest price / best value from each dollar spent.  It is imperative to migrate the discussion beyond price and sure discounting demands by proactively proving lower total cost of ownership (TCO) and greater value than competitors.
The Bottom-Line
Economic gloom and doom is back, with Executives entering 2012 almost as pessimistic as they were at the start of the Great Recession in 2008. Low consumer confidence, the European debt crisis and other concerns drive Executives to remain focused on cost-savings versus growth, with Frugalnomics in full-effect.

For B2B solution providers, this means buyers remain challenged, more overloaded, skeptical and frugal than ever before.

Successful B2B sales and marketing, recognize that buyers are uniquely challenged and will deliver new marketing content and sales enablement tools to buyers diagnose and prioritize issues, quantify the cost of doing nothing, justify proposals and prove competitive value.

Implementing specific programs to fight Frugalnomics is essential for B2B solution providers to achieve better connections, engagements and sales performance, despite continued economic and buyer challenges into 2012.

Source: Decision Dynamics Report (Doremus and the Financial Times) –December 2011

Friday, January 06, 2012

Happy New Year! Maybe not for IT Sales & Marketing

The New Year’s cheer didn’t last long for IT, as Gartner was quick to lower its global technology spending forecast, barely a week into 2012. With the financial crisis in Europe dragging on, natural disasters in the Pacific Rim disrupting component supply chains, and a Presidential election cycle  in the US dampening any hope for optimism, Gartner lowered earlier forecasts to 3.7%, down almost a full percentage point from initial 4.6% growth forecasts.

Looking beyond 2012, Gartner also estimates continued headwinds, lowering future forecasts for 2015 downwards to 5% growth from earlier 5.4% predictions.

To put this in perspective, last year  global technology spending grew at 6.9%, making 2011a standout year compared to earlier, and if you believe the forecasts, later years.

For IT executives, budgets will remain constrained, an environment of do-more-with-less. Frugalnomics is in full effect, leaving fewer resources to evaluate new opportunities and the organization risk adverse to change. More control is in the hands of finance, requiring more economic justification on each proposal. Serious budget constraints make even high ROI projects hard to get approved. Addressing the growing backlog, satisfying business needs, and justifying new projects will remain challenging for IT execs.

For IT solution providers, 2012 promises to be a challenging year, with buyers more overloaded, skeptical and frugal than ever before - making it tough to connect and engage to discuss new opportunities, and when engaged, making it more difficult to break the status-quo, justify purchase decisions, and close more competitive deals.

In every challenge though is a great opportunity, whereby the solution providers that can help facilitate this ever more difficult process will have a distinct advantage in 2012 and beyond.

So how can IT solution providers succeed in the face of Frugalnomics? The best way may be for IT solution providers to optimize their marketing content and sales engagement practices to help facilitate the buyer’s journey, working hand-in-hand with today’s more overloaded, skeptical and frugal buyer to break through the status-quo bias to identify and address important opportunities, justify investments and make valuable purchases.

Facilitate the Economy-Focused Buyer’s Journey with Right Content and Tools
The Buyer’s Journey represents a set of steps an organization needs to go through in order to make a purchase. These steps may vary based on the organization’s decision making processes and the type or size of purchase, but typical process steps include three different phases: Discovery, Consideration and Decision.

You can think of the journey as a complex change management process, a set of steps that can be difficult, frustrating and time consuming for the buyer to navigate.

The more facilitation provided by the solution provider to streamline and remove friction from the process, the better. And with the buyer having fewer resources than ever, consultative facilitation becomes crucial to winning deals.

Discovery Phase
In the first part of the buyer’s journey, decision makers need to be convinced that the current way of doing business is not ideal, and that the status-quo should change. Making this more difficult, the buyer must convince not just themselves, but many other stakeholders that the change is beneficial and worthy. And in today’s economy, finance is playing more of a key role in setting strategy and budgets – a risk adverse bunch that will need extra convincing.

With a current do-more-with-less environment, most organizations are doing all they can to keep the lights on, much less consider new projects. In such a stressed environment, buyer’s might be feeling pain, but not have the resources to address, and in many instances are not self-aware of what ails them.  For those that are aware of issues, convincing the multitude of stakeholders in the organization and finance to make the necessary and precious investments can be a challenge.  After all, for most organizations it is easier and less risky to do nothing, than to change from the status quo.

At this critical stage, defining the vision for the project, most buyers are researching options on their own, and not involving sales in the process. However, it is during this early phase that buyer’s indicate establishing strong provider preferences, with Forrester indicating that 65% of vendors who create the buying vision during these early phases of the journey getting the deal. For many solution providers, lack of engagement means a “failure to launch”.

Solution providers can help facilitate the decision making process during Discovery in a number of ways, including:

·         Diagnosing issues – Through self-assessment tools and sales-led workshops, helping illuminate important issues of which the busy buyer might not have been aware, and helping the buyer to confirm that the known pains they are feeling are real and should be a priority to resolve. Helping buyer’s recognize important issues is often done via research and case studies, communicating that others are experiencing similar pains, that these issues should be a priority to resolve, and that solutions exist to meet the challenges. Diagnostic Assessments are even more provocative, surveying the buyer on spending, goals and priorities issues, capability and maturity to understand where they are currently, benchmarking them to best practice leaders and peers to identify and prioritize issues, and prescribing specific solutions to remedy the highest priority opportunities.

·         Quantifying the cost-of-doing-nothing – many organizations won’t change unless they understand that maintaining the status-quo has a cost that greatly exceeds the investment / risks of change, and the cost-of-doing-nothing is high enough to make the project a priority.  Research papers and case studies can be used to help convince buyers that not changing has significant cost, TCO Calculators can be used to quantify the current costs in comparison to costs post change, and Benefit Estimators can be used to quantify the savings and incremental value available, but not being realized.

Consideration Phase
Once a buyer has committed to change and prioritized the project, the decision makers need to research possible solution approaches and create a short-list of specific providers.

Empowered by the Internet and social media, but overloaded, it is difficult for buyers to wade through the copious amounts of research and marketing materials to understand the various advantages and benefits that each solution approach might provide.

Solution providers can help facilitate the Consideration phase, providing content and engagement tools to help:

·         Provide Solution Demos and Trials – spoiled by consumer “try-before-you-buy” options, prove the capabilities of your solution versus others with demos and trials.

·         Deliver Solution Guides and Comparisons – helping customers properly consider various solution considerations, options and competitive differentiators.

·         Quantify the incremental benefits and TCO of various solution options – to help buyers understand the differences amongst various solution approaches, vendors should provide research, case studies and analysis tools to help buyers understand the various competitive options and advantages of different approaches, quantify the total cost of ownership (TCO) differences, and illuminate the incremental benefits of the solution compared to other solution alternatives.

Decision Phase
In the final stage of the buyer’s journey, the procurement team must reach consensus on a particular proposal, and gain selection approval from the many stakeholders involved in the decision making process. Finance in particular has become more involved in economic justification and the final vendor selection process, providing more price pressure and financial diligence.

The final Decision is a best-value bake-off, where Forrester indicates that 35% of vendor selection decisions are made. Even though the earlier phases drive 65% of decisions, many deals get stalled at this phase, with vendors failing to overcome objections and driving consensus, making it vital to effectively address.

To make it easier for stakeholders to grant approval, risk must be mitigated and justified, with the solution provider providing content and engagements to: 

·         Provide financial justification – providing the research, case studies and ROI tools to help quantify the required investment, benefits, ROI, payback and other key metrics that financial executives need to make the case for change.

·         Quantify price / value trade off – delivering comparisons that prove competitive advantages of the selected product / service, especially quantifying the total cost of ownership (TCO) advantages, incremental benefits, and lower risks.

The Bottom-Line
Gartner indicates that IT buyers will continue to be challenged by the economy in 2012, making it more difficult to make investments and drive change.  Buyers are looking for solution providers who can help facilitate the buyer’s journey, helping uncover and prioritize important opportunities for improvement, recommend the right solution options, justify decisions and deliver superior price / value.

Although the spending growth slowdown will be a challenge, solution providers have a unique opportunity to help facilitate this ever more difficult buyer’s journey with content and engagement practices to help facilitate and shorten cycles. Throughout the journey, marketing and sales engagements can provide content to help facilitate change and the decision making process, especially research insights, case studies, diagnostic assessments, benefit estimators, demos and trials, ROI business case and TCO comparison tools.

Source: Gartner Says Worldwide IT Spending to Grow 3.7 Percent in 2012, Eurozone Crisis and Hard-Disk Drive Shortage Impacting Spending


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Is there a Way to Improve Sales Tool Adoption?

In 2011 you worked hard to produce new value-focused tools, empowering your sales team to meet the growing challenges of today’s more empowered, skeptical and frugal buyer.

And you are not alone, as SiriusDecisions reports that the average company now spends a whopping $43K on marketing content and sales tools per salesperson per year. Yet, despite such enormous investments, results are mixed, as the American Marketing Association reports an amazing 90% of marketing deliverables are not used by sales professionals, squandering an estimated $38K per salesperson per year.

With such low adoption, it should not be a surprise that even though you’ve had some good wins, your new value-focused sales tools might not be garnering the anticipated usage.

So how do you get the much needed sales tool adoption to occur in 2012.

The More Things Change, the More they Remain the Same
When asked to change a certain behavior or practice, science tells us that people tend to resist change naturally, even when there is a compelling and logical reason to change.  This is not imagined, but proven by research, and called the Status Quo Bias - a cognitive pre-disposition for maintaining the status-quo. As the results indicate, business-as-usual is a more comfortable state of mind, because we all tend to outweigh potential downside risks higher than significant and compelling upside rewards - a risk aversion that causes a natural resistance to change.

Most sales professionals will readily admit that buyers have taken control of the buying cycle, and are demanding a different more value-based sales approach. Yet we see time and again that sales professionals are having a difficult time abandoning their old product or solution focused sales methods, and adopting new strategies and tools remains difficult even when there is significant and compelling evidence that change is needed.

Is there a way to get sales to overcome this status-quo bias?

The answer is “Yes”, and the following nine status-quo busting practices are presented to help drive sales tool adoption success:

Step 1: All Sales Sees Is All There Is
The strategy of “Build it and they will come” might work as the basis for a movie, but rarely works in real life. So the first key question to address: Are the sales teams even aware that new sales tools exist? After all, if they don’t know about the tools, how can you expect the sales tools to be adopted?

To help improve awareness, a series of attention grabbing programs should be implemented to make sales cognizant that new tools are available. This can include:

·         Scheduled introductory training sessions (no more than 30 minutes recommended) and on-demand recorded training sessions

·         Introductory briefs in sales newsletters and e-mails

·         Listings as a resource in sales portals and playbooks

·         Road-show training to regional or national sales team meetings
The awareness building should include specific content to help drive initial usage and adoption, including:

·         General description of the sales tool and its purpose,

·         Information on when to apply the tools in the sales process, specifically where the tools best help facilitate the buyer’s decision making process,

·         Basic overview of the tools operation, so that the sales team sees that it’s not hard to use and apply in the sales process,

·         Links to access the tool, especially posting them in sales portals and into sales playbooks to make them easy to access.
However, there are a lot of new tools being introduced each week, so awareness building is only the beginning of the journey towards successful sales tool adoption.

Step 2: A Change is Gonna Come
As the science indicates, there is a status-quo bias to overcome, and, sales folks are not going to adopt change without being presented with significant and compelling reasons to overcome the more heavily weighted perceived risks of change.

Transformations, such as those you are trying to accomplish via the new sales tools, are never achieved when people don’t understand why the change is necessary. Although it may seem obvious to marketing why the old sales tools and techniques won’t cut it with today’s buyer, sales teams need to hear and understand the “why” behind the initiative.

It is important therefore to inform the sales folks as to why and how buyers today are different, more overloaded, skeptical and frugal than ever before (a condition called Frugalnomics), and how these changes have:

·         Impacted when sales is being invited into the decision cycle,

·         Elevated what buyers see as the value-add sales needs to provide in order to facilitate the decision journey,

·         Made the decision cycle more complex and longer with more executive and financial scrutiny, more business stakeholders, and stiff competition from competing projects,

·         Made each decision more competitive, driving more intense bake-offs and increased discounting.
It is important for sales to understand, as do you, that buyers need help fighting Frugalnomics, with sales using tools to facilitate the decision process, especially:

·         Helping to uncover and prioritize opportunities,

·         Proving there is a “cost of doing nothing”,

·         Recommending a solution that can deliver significant ROI and fast payback,

·         Quantifying superior price / value and competitive advantages.
It is for this reason that you have introduced new interactive white papers, benefit estimators, diagnostic assessment, and ROI /TCO tools, to fuel value-focused sales engagements and meet new buyer expectations.

Step 3: Where we are Going?
Understanding the “why” is important, but sales pros also need a clear vision of how the tools can be used to change the process, and deliver the desired outcome. Getting sales folks to visually understand how their lives will be improved via the sales tools is important.

Starting with the end in mind, paint a picture for the sales team as to how their customer engagements will evolve using the new sales tool. A connection, engagement and presentation scenario can help bring clarity to the necessary steps, and bring into focus how the sales tool can be easily used to help facilitate and drive the value selling approach.

As contrast is a powerful mechanism to promote change, demonstrate just how antiquated the current product-oriented speeds and feeds approaches are in reaching today’s buyer, and do so side-by-side with the prescribed value-based sales tool driven approach, for easy head-to-head comparison. This contrast can clearly illustrate how the old techniques just don’t work any longer, and the superior value-added nature of the new approach.

Step 4: Lean on Me
Many studies indicate that, more than any other factor, the key to sales success is coaching, yet how many sales enablement programs include a formal coaching plan and commitment to drive adoption, usage and change? For a program this important, formalized sales tool coaching is a requirement.

The sales tool coaching plan can utilize field sales managers and / or champions to work hand-in-hand with sales folks to guide them specifically on when the sales tools should be used, how customer engagements should be conducted, and how resultant analysis proposals should be presented.

While coaching provides guidance as to the when and how the sales tool should be used, support is also important. Much like you wouldn’t send a salesperson out to discuss technical details of a solution, you need to provide sales with diagnostics and justification support. This should include:

·         Remote Support – to answer questions about the application and use of the sales tool, particularly around the questionnaires and data collection, calculations, defending and presenting analysis results.

·         Deal Desk – for the larger deals, having an expert to assist directly in the customer engagement can be critical to success, and a deal desk can be called upon to provide on-line meeting or face-to-face sales tool engagement advice and support in customer meetings and presentations.

Step 5: Show Me the Money
The longstanding reputation is that sales folks know where the money is, and know how to get it. Misaligned incentives can surely lead to lower than expected adoption, so take advantage of this real or perceived reputation by making sure incentives are properly aligned with sales tool use.

To make sure tools are used, some organizations require sales tool usage on each and every deal, discounting deal incentives if the tools are not used and results presented as part of the sales cycle. However, tying tool usage directly to incentives may be too extreme for many, and the sales tools may not be appropriate for each and every deal.

A lighter approach would be to quantify what’s in it for the sales pro, so they know exactly how much sales tool usage could increase their success rate and incentive pay. Quantify the business case to the salesperson, proving that usage can drive tangible results, including how the sales tool usage can help:

·         Engage higher and earlier with decision makers (where 85% of decisions are made),

·         Shorten sales cycles,

·         Increase deal size / reduce discounting,

·         Increase win rates.
Some incentives are not tied to money, but instead relate to company goals, objectives and directives. Executive sponsorship and recognition (or the lack thereof) can be just as important to tool usage and can often be incentive enough to get reluctant sales folks to adopt and use the new sales tools and value-selling approach. Getting an executive to communicate that not using the tools is unacceptable, and impart that their job depends on it (because in the end, if they don’t change it really does).

Step 6: Birds of a Feather
When communicating the why, the vision, coaching and incentives, would the message be better coming from marketing, or perhaps from a respected and vibrant member of the sales team themselves?

After all, sometimes it’s not the message, but the messenger that can make all the difference in whether the communication is able to connect and engage the audience.

Utilizing a member of the sales “tribe” to help drive awareness, explain the why / vision / incentives and share success stories can be the best medicine to cure ailing adoption. Although marketing team members might think they are part of the same tribe, often they are seen as outsiders, and not part of the sales family. The tribe member is often best a respected sales professional or leader. Sometimes it can be a closely related teammate, such as a key sales support or enablement professional.

Step 7: Try It, You’ll Like It
When sales folks are presented with a new sales tool, it’s not too different than putting a different meal in front of a finicky five year old. You are guaranteed to hear, “I don’t like it”, even before they take a bite.

Not too dissimilar, sales teams often dismiss new tools with just a glance.

So it’s important to get the team to try it, not unlike getting that five year old to take a bite.

“Try it, you’ll like it” needs to be the mantra.

Step 8: Address the Naysayers
We all have them on our teams. The ones who say it can’t be done. The ones who always find something wrong in all that is right.  More subtle are the helpers, those who say it would be perfect if it only had this one more benefit, or one more calculation, poking at the tools and being a cynic.

Get enough vocal naysayers and helpers and the perceived risk of the program gets elevated even more, making it almost impossible to overcome status-quo bias.

It is important to classify the criticism and rally the sales professionals on everything that is right with the tools and program, versus focusing on what is wrong and can be improved.

Step 9: Mission Accomplished?
With sales finally adopting and using the sales tools it’s easy to declare Mission Accomplished. However, experience tells us not to declare victory too soon.

There is a continuous need to drive awareness, and educate, after all sales turnover is higher than for many other groups. There are new sales team members joining all the time, many without the awareness, why, vision,  and incentives needed to motivate value-focused sales tool adoption and use.

Even without turnover, continuous reinforcement via shared success stories and best practices helps to keep the team sharp, driving proper sales tool usage - in turn, driving superior sales performance.

The Bottom-Line
A new sales tool often represents a change in method and approach for most sales professionals, and change is not easy for anyone. Science tells us that when change is presented, the risks are amplified, while compelling benefits are heavily discounted, leading to a status-quo bias.

Overcoming this bias is important to increase sales tool adoption and usage, vital to meet evolving buyer expectations, facilitate buying cycles and fight Frugalnomics.

Applying these 9 status-quo busting tips can dramatically help overcome the resistance to change, and drive success:

1.       Raise awareness

2.       Sell the “why”

3.       Lay out the vision

4.       Implement coaching and deal support

5.       Align incentives

6.       Communicate success via members of the tribe

7.       Try it to like it

8.       Handle the naysayers

9.       Don’t claim success too soon
Following these nine steps can help lead to better sales tool adoption, usage and successful return on investment.