Friday, May 25, 2012

Sales Enablement Gets Sirius - 3 Key Research Findings You Need to Know

I had the pleasure of attending SiriusDecisions Summit in Scottsdale this past week, as Alinean was once again a Platinum Sponsor. Some of my favorite sessions at the event were about sales enablement – where the current practices are, and how they can be improved to drive sales productivity (efficiency and effectiveness).

Presented by SiriusDecision analysts Jim Ninivaggi, John Neeson and Pat McAnally, the sessions revealed three important findings, and I’ve included our take on what the metrics mean:

The #1 reason CXO's see sales people? To make them more competitive – Executives don’t want a sales pitch. Instead, they demand insights about how competitive their company is now, and advice on what specific high-value changes can be made to improve their competitive position.  

Are you enabling sales with the tools needed to make clients more competitive - providing diagnostic competitive assessments and consultative improvement advice?

Two out of Three Cx level decision makers want to engage digitally versus in person with sales – Executives don’t see enough value in meeting with sales, and instead prefer to do their own research independently, leveraging the Internet and social media, specifically self-service content and tools from vendor web sites, analyst firms, and peer groups.

Do you have the on-line content and tools to credibly connect and engage with “in-control” executives, specifically assets that can help customers become more competitive and answer “Why Change”, “Why Now” and “Why You”?

Are you arming sales professionals with the provocative content to abandon the traditional sales pitch, challenge the status-quo, and proactively deliver the compelling insight executives demand?

The #1 reason sales does not make quota? Continues to be “Failure to communicate/ quantify value” – sales realizes that buyers have changed – more skeptical and frugal than ever before, and demanding bottom-line impact and superior value from every purchase. Sales professionals struggle to meet these new frugal customer expectations, challenged to communicate and quantify the value of proposed solutions.
Are your sales professionals able to quantify the “cost of doing nothing“, to challenge prospects to start moving, and the value of proposed solutions, to justify purchases and prove competitive advantage?

To learn more about strategies you can use to address these sales enablement challenges, click here.

Are CFOs “large and in charge” of technology decision making? Gartner says Yes!

Quick on the heels of a similar study, Gartner reports that CFOs are large, and in charge of technology investments, continuing to increase their control over IT decision making over the past 12 months.

The joint study, by Gartner and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), surveyed 255 CFOs to uncover IT investment sentiment and decision making practices, uncovering that as economic uncertainty continues, CFOs are gaining more control. The highest response, 44%, indicated an increase in influence over IT investments during the past year, while a mere 9% believe their influence has diminished.  

The role of the CFO in this frugal environment: to assure that precious investments are low risk / high reward and are perfectly aligned with realizing business objectives. Survey results were split in that 41% of CFOs are now the leader of the group responsible for IT investments, while 41% indicated were part of a stakeholder group responsible for collaborative IT decision making.

For IT solution providers, the expanding influence of the CFO means that engagement is more difficult, involving more stakeholders with expanding control, but also critical in order to influence early strategy and budget justification, answering key buyer questions of “Why Change?” and “Why Now?”, and vendor competitive selection and financial approval, delineating “Why You?”.

As CFOs tend to be more risk averse logical thinkers, they require financial proof points and tangible justification in their decision making process. Our advice: to engage CFOs sales and marketing needs to clearly quantify:

1.       The high cost of “doing nothing”

2.       Expected benefits, investments and risks

3.       Bottom-line impact
Value-based tools can be used to directly engage CFOs, who currently prefer to independently leverage on-line content vs. in-person sales engagements, as well as arming sales with the provocative content needed to successfully get the CFO meeting.  And because getting to the CFO is not always possible the justification is essential for “selling up” in the organization, arming stakeholders with the credible analysis and research to justify investment plans with frugal CFOs.

To explore how Value Marketing and Selling tools could make a difference, click here.

Additional information is in the Gartner report "Top 10 Findings from 2012 Gartner FEI CFO Technology Study" available at

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Are you Targeting the Right IT Decision Makers?

It’s not CIOs, but CFOs and business units who reign supreme in the financial decision making process for IT investments, this according to a recent survey by CFO Research Services and SearchCIO.

The research on CIO / CFO alignment surveyed 382 senior finance executives and 300 senior IT executives working for a wide variety of $100M and larger worldwide companies, revealing that:

1) Economic diligence is an important element of the decision making process,

2) Business groups as much or more responsible than CIOs in developing the ROI justification business case,

3) CFOs are large and in charge of approvals.

Show Me the Money
CFOs and CIOs both understand that in this current environment of Frugalnomics, it is vital to provide cost justification on any significant IT investment. The survey indicated the priority business impact elements similarly for finance and IT, as clearly defined improvements in business results, payback / ROI, impact on customer experience and impact on business growth.

Advice: Business case justification remains a vital element of your customers’  decision making process. However, if your customers are like the majority, they struggle to develop the financial models and metrics proof points on their own (2/3rds according to IDC).

As a result, to free up stuck deals and reduce sales cycle delays, your content marketing programs and sales professionals must engage with ROI / financial analysis tools and business case justification reports.

It’s Called a “Business” Case for a Reason
Business users and groups are much more involved in developing the business case for IT investments than you would have thought.

According to the survey, 51% of respondents report that business unit management is most responsible for preparing the justification case, compared to 48% indicating that CIOs were responsible.

Advice: Your content marketing and sales professionals must transcend the technical messaging, and engage with business unit execs, to help quantify the specific tangible benefits and justification that matters uniquely to the business users and groups.

Finance Large and in Charge
On the question of funding for technology investments, the survey results “left little doubt that the CFO is decider-in-chief”, with 65% identifying the CFO as the person in charge of approving technology expenditures.

Advice: Implement the tools needed to stimulate engagement with finance early and often in the decision making process, and arm customer stakeholders with the business case justification needed to “sell” the program upwards to frugal CFOs.

The Bottom Line
The way IT investment decisions are made is quickly evolving, and it’s vital that your content marketing and sales strategies keep pace in order to avoid stalled deals, reduce sales cycle delays, and improve win rates.
Based on the research, our immediate advice:

1) Invest more in value marketing and selling tools to satisfy the justification needs of both financial and IT buyers,

2) Engage beyond IT, to the business units with tools to quantify unique benefits to individual stakeholders, particularly business and user groups, who are playing a more dominant role in business case justification,

3) Engage upwards, directly or via your champion, to financial executives and CFOs, with the analysis tools and reports to help them verify economic impact and garner financial approval.

To learn more about the need and value selling and marketing strategies for improving IT engagements, click here.

Source: Uncrossing the Wires: Starting—and Sustaining—the Conversation on Technology Value  by CFO Research Services and SearchCIO, May 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Value-Focused Content Marketing a Requirement

Marketers need to focus more on the value proposition and less on the sales pitch, this according to a new DemandGen Report on B2B Content Preferences.

Based on a survey designed to better understand the preferences of today’s B2B buyer, the report had some important insight for marketers who are developing content marketing strategies:

Show Me the Money - 75% of buyers would like marketers to “curb the sales messaging and “focus less on products and more on value”. Today’s more skeptical and frugal buyers want marketers to reevaluate their content strategies, focusing more on the value proposition and how the solutions can help buyers achieve business objectives and overcome challenges.
Short Attention Span Theater - 48% of buyers would like content to be more concise, taking less time to consume.  The ideal length for consuming content:
·         Webinars – between 30 to 60 minutes,
·         White Papers and Case Studies – between 10 and 20 minutes,
·         Videos, Interactive Presentations / Tools, Blog Posts –between 5 to 10 minutes,
·         Infographics and Podcasts – less than 5 minutes.

Only a Matter of Trust - 60% of buyers are placing a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the content, particularly as to the source that created the content. To gain more trust, 52% trust content more when it includes peer reviews and user generated feedback, while 33% indicated that they trust content more when it is created by 3rd parties / analysts.

It’s Personal - Content personalization is important, with buyers wanting to see vendor content more personalized by business role (46%), by industry (42%) by vertical (33%) and by all of these in combination (31%). Location as a content personalization preference lagged dramatically, with only 3% having location based preferences.

The Bottom Line
Buyers remain more in-control, overloaded, skeptical and frugal than ever before as Frugalnomics remains in full effect. The DemandGen Report highlights that it will take a more refined content marketing approach to win – focusing more on value, relevance, trust and personalization.

For more information on how Alinean tools can help reshape your content marketing to meet this challenge, click here to learn more.
Source: DemandGen Report - B2B Content Preferences SurveyMay 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Informatica Data Integration Maturity Assessment (powered by Alinean)

Do You Know If You Are Maximizing Your Return on Data?

If your company is like most, you have plenty of data. You spend money gathering it, storing it, and maintaining it. But are you really getting all that you can out of it?
See if you are maximizing your return on data to increase your competitive advantage. Take this 14 multiple-choice Data Integration Maturity online assessment to:
  • Assess your data integration maturity in eight different dimensions,
  • Compare your maturity against your peers and industry benchmarks,
  • Receive a detailed PDF report that provides concrete recommendations to improve the maturity of your data infrastructure.

Click here to get your Data Integration Maturity Assessment:

Mobility Value Estimator (powered by Alinean)

A mobile application platform provider needed to prove a better return on mobility strategy for frugal web and application decision makers - making the case for using a build once / deploy many platform versus current device centric strategies.

The marketing team turned to Alinean to develop the Mobility Value Estimator, an on-line value selling and marketing tool, which in 10 minutes could build a compelling case for a better mobile strategy.

The analysis tool includes a quick profile, maturity assessment, and value estimate – resulting in a compelling PDF analysis report – empowering prospects with the important value story and credible metrics to motivate and prioritize a better mobile solution.
Click here to see the Mobility Value Estimator

A Better Way to Go Mobile – Interactive White Paper (powered by Alinean)

A mobile application platform provider had an urgent requirement to generate a wealth of qualified leads, particularly connecting and engaging with enterprise web and application managers seeking to take their apps mobile in a timelier, more cost effective manner.

To fuel the demand generation program, Alinean developed the Better Way to Go Mobile Interactive White Paper, which unlike traditional static white papers, leveraged the prospect’s profile to completely personalize the white paper content, creating a customized analysis as to the prospect’s return from mobile strategy.

The Interactive White Paper fueled an Alinean crafted email marketing campaign to select prospect communities, promoting the Better Way to Go Mobile Interactive White Paper. Leveraging the embedded prospect profile data already in the e-mail link, one click from the prospect was all it took to completely personalize and deliver the interactive white paper to the prospect. And as a guaranteed Alinean leads program, success of the campaign is ensured.

The Interactive White Paper was also leveraged as a priority engagement resource to help fuel other online campaigns, and enable sales and marketing to better engage with economic-focused customers.

Click here to run the Better Way to Go Mobile Interactive White Paper for yourself.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What Can You Accomplish Integrating MAP and CRM solutions with Alinean Value Selling & Marketing Tools?

I am often asked what key workflow or functionality you can enable if you integrate Alinean tools with Marketing Automation (MAP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions.

As many of you already know, integration of various sales and marketing tools is essential, especially to enable your tools to:

·         Work seamlessly into lead nurturing and sales processes, to automate the development of more personalized and relevant customer deliverables,

·         Capture important customer profile and opportunity information, leveraging this intelligence to aid in the lead nurturing and sales engagement process.
As you may also be aware, Alinean Value Selling & Marketing Tools do support robust integration with sales and marketing automation solutions and processes. As part of the Alinean XcelLive tools platform, value selling and marketing tools are enabled by Interactive Content Connectors (ICCs) to help you support:

·         Data In: having the tool called by your marketing E-mails, Web Registration Forms, MAP or CRM applications and having your prospect / customer profile data fed into the tool to pre-populate key values, and even automatically prepare and deliver an Assessment, ROI analysis or TCO comparison report to your prospects.

·         Data-Out: capturing key user input and analysis results from your prospects / customers, and passing the customer intelligence to your MAP or CRM applications.

This all sounds like good functionality that Alinean supports, but how does it work in practice?
Let me share some success stories ….

Automating Value Analyses for Prospects
Tony, a marketer of mobile applications, was on the hook to generate 1,000s of new leads over the next couple of quarters. He knew this was going to be a heck of a challenge, but he did have some good value oriented white papers to start with.

We quickly converted a key traditional economic impact white paper into interactive form -  From a couple of prospect data points, the economic impact analysis information in the Interactive White Paper would be completely personalized for the prospect by the Alinean platform, delivering a a more provocative, personalized and relevant deliverable.
Next, we worked with one of our lead partners to create an email marketing campaign to their proprietary community of qualified prospects , using the value of an interactive white paper to entice interested prospects to respond.

And respond they did … When a user clicked on the e-mail offer, the Alinean powered interactive white paper tool was called, and provided with the prospect profile from the e-mail integration, in the background completely personalizing and delivering to the prospect an economic impact white paper.
All with one click, the interactive white paper was generated, prospect engaged, and lead captured, helping Tony fulfill his lead generation goals.

Improved Intelligence for Sales Engagements
Alinean  created an important Benefits Estimator for Kerry, a product marketing director, arming prospects with an analysis of the current limitations and costs of traditional desktop computing, and the incremental value of virtual desktops.

Prospects interacting with the tool from the corporate website would share valuable information about their current profile and challenges, in exchange for receiving a personalized analysis report. The tool was generating much interest, and producing over 100 new leads / analyses per week.

However, when a prospect ran the on-line tool, the profile information that the benefit estimator would collect was not being leveraged to improve the nurturing process. Worse, sales was not consistent their follow-up with prospects who tool the time to run the tool and receive the analysis report. More than many other leads, these prospects were often very interested and well qualified.

Alinean worked with Kerry to improve their nurturing and engagement process, integrating the Alinean Benefits Estimator  with her marketing automation system, Eloqua, to capture the lead and important profile information into their lead nurturing process, and also, to capture a link to the PDF report that the tool generated for the prospect, appending this to the opportunity in Eloqua. As the opportunity was qualified and passed to sales for engagement, the PDF report followed, to help improve prospect intelligence and engagement.

With the profile and report URL, sales professionals could now follow-up with the prospect with the analysis profile and PDF analysis report in hand, improving both the follow-up consistency with the wealth of opportunities generated by the tool, and add value during follow-up engagements.

The Bottom Line
These examples highlight how important it is to integrate your value selling and marketing tools to help improve sales and marketing effectiveness.

Using Alinean’s Interactive Content Connectors, value selling and marketing tools can easily be integrated with your Marketing Automation (MAP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to fuel lead generation and nurturing programs, improve sales processes, and capture and leverage customer intelligence.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Value Selling & Marketing with the iPad? You Betcha!

The iPad is perceived as a great new business tool, to potentially empower your sales to deliver more provocative interactive presentations, and enable your marketing to provide engaging content to ever more mobile buyers.

And the perception is becoming reality, as:
  • 30% of sales professionals are now using iPads and other tablets in their sales activities (CSO Insights) with 47% of 8,500 sales professionals worldwide reported accelerated sales cycle as the tablets’ greatest advantage (Huthwaite),
  • 23% of buyers are using tablets for research on purchases, according to an upcoming DemandGen Report research study, and as a result, "The desktop computer is becoming nearly obsolete as a primary research channel".

Enabling Challenger Selling with the iPad

For your sales professionals, the iPad represents a new tool with great promise, and this cannot come soon enough as:
  • Less than 1 in 3 sales professionals are perceived as adding any value to the sales process, and only 13% of buyers think sales meetings are valuable. (Forrester)
  • The “Inability to communicate value messages” remains the number one inhibitor to achieving quota (SiriusDecisions)
With the iPad and the right interactive applications however, you can indeed overcome these challenges.

What if you could replace the traditional PPT sales presentation, empowering sales to evolve from ineffective product / solution selling to more provocative value selling?

One way you could do this is with iPad value selling applications, which can help you present challenging and compelling insight to more skeptical / frugal buyers, including interactive needs analysis, diagnostic assessments, solution recommendations,  "cost of doing nothing" calculations, benefit estimates, ROI analysis and TCO competitive comparisons.

Think about being able to sit down next to a buyer with your iPad, answer a few simple interactive questions, and receive a customized configuration, cost comparison recommendation and business case.

An Alinean powered Benefits Estimator on an iPad, interactively helping to custom configure and cost justify supply chain / shipping solutions.
The mantra for your sales team should be, forget "death by PowerPoint", and instead completely personalize your sales presentation, justify the purchase, prove competitive value and win the business.

Connect and Engage Better via the iPad
For marketing, the ability for traditional content to generate leads and engagement has been declining steadily as buyers become more overloaded and demanding. If you are like most, your traditional pitch and marketing vehicles are challenged to work as well as they used to.

Your buyer wants content that is shorter in length, more personalized, 110% relevant, and can help them justify "Why Change?", "Why Now?" and "Why You?".  And the demands don't stop there, as your prospects also want the content optimized for whatever channel they happen to be using, especially tablets like iPads.

The gap between high buyer expectations and  current content marketing tactics is revealed in Content Marketing Institute survey results, with 41% of marketers indicating that current content marketing investments are currently ineffective

What if there was a way to for your to leverage interactive content and the iPad to personalize and shorten the content, improving relevance, answering key prospect questions, and drive better connections and engagement?

One way to you could do this is with iPad enabled Value Marketing tools. Imagine being able to generate more leads, while creating deeper and more meaningful engagements - advancing from traditional to interactive white papers, diagnosing issues with simple assessment tools, and quantifying the "cost of doing nothing" and value of change with benefit estimators.

An Alinean powered Interactive White Paper, developing and delivering a completely personalized PDF white paper to an engaged buyer via the iPad.

The Bottom Line
Your prospects have changed, now more in-control, overloaded, skeptical and frugal than ever before. As a result, marketing and selling the same old way just won't cut.

To be effective, you should dump the traditional PPTs and marketing materials, taking advantage of new devices like the iPad and new interactive value selling and marketing tools to be more relevant, provocative and challenging.

Contact us today to get a demo and learn more about these iPad optimized value selling and marketing tools.