Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Win the Bake-Off?

 I don’t know about you, but the Food Network seems to be on all the time in my house, and with two young girls, it’s no surprise that “Cupcake Wars” is one of their favorites.

The show pits four aspiring bakers in a head-to-head contest to see who can create the most inspired cupcakes for a specific client event. A winner-take-all bake-off.

So what do cupcakes have to do with your IT sales and marketing? Everything.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Goodbye My Dear Friend Dan

Last evening we said goodbye to my dear friend and mentor Dan Friedlander, a great technology and clean energy entrepreneur, activist, and artist.

Over 200 of his family, friends and Boulder, CO community were in attendance, and I was honored to present at the event, trying to provide a brief glimpse into the incredible contribution Dan had to my life. Here is that speech:

Let me tell you a story, of a young man and his mentor, and how 25 years of ridiculous patience from the Teacher, helped take the Student to new heights:
  • From geeky engineer to entrepreneur,
  • From Tom Clancy and Steven King to Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Friedman,
  • And from George W to “Recovering Republican” … Better known as:  a Democrat.
The teaching occurred, not with lectures or criticisms, but by leading through example, such as when the Teacher worked out every day for almost 10 years without fail, put his foot down about not shipping a product that didn’t quite work, abandoned consumption of bottled water, or refused car rides when a bike or bus would do.

And the teaching occurred through caring, where a simple series of questions – not to find out just “What” was going on in the student’s life, but probing to get to the “Why” things were the way they were:
  •  How happy are you (on a scale from 1 to 10)?
  • Why do you think you feel that way?
  • How can you make it better?
My name is Tom Pisello, and this of course is the story of Dan, my mentor, best man, dear friend – and the influence he had on my life and on my family.

And I know many of you know this same story well. Likely you too evolved a better understanding of community, commerce, conservation, creativity, causes and compassion as a result of knowing Dan.

Some of you might also have had the pleasure of going on hikes with Dan. One-on-one for miles, this is really where some of the best lessons occurred, and as well, where I learned the most about what made Dan so unique.

For example, Dan could not tell time … “Let’s do this hike – Bear Peak. It’s close, short and easy, and it should only take us 2 hours” – 7 hours later Dan and I are still hiking, by now on our way down the mountain, but in the pitch dark, a moonless night, practically sliding down the entire way on ice covered trails. Diane was not amused with our 10pm return home.

Or on more than one high country hike, where Dan just couldn’t help himself - stripping naked and jumping in the icy cold waters of a glacial lake.  I can still picture Dan, carefully walking his bare feet over the rocks, the sun blinding as it reflected off his winter white skin, and diving in without a care, as if the water were a heated resort pool. 

As an entrepreneur, he molded companies and mentored future leaders to cross chasms while creating caring citizenship As an energy conservationist, he enticed many to challenge convention and embrace alternatives.
And as an artist; many of you came to love Dan best for his sculptures. A courageous creativity to turn simple clay into textured titillating timescapes.

I too think Dan should best be remembered for being a sculptor. Not just for molding clay, but  for shaping the people and communities around him to fit his Bohemian principals of Peace, Love, People and Purpose.

In his last days, in the defining moment for the man I loved, as he looked deeply into his wife Diane’s eyes, Dan confessed:
“I don’t believe in God, there is no heaven waiting for me.
I am not spiritual, so I don’t believe my soul will be reincarnated.
There is no next place. This step is unfortunately a final one for me.
But I am a humanist. It’s people, and relationships; these are the most important things. This is what defined me, defined my life, is all that matters to me now, and all that should matter to us all.”

Humanism – A philosophy and world view, putting human values and concerns above the divine.

Dan, thank you for being a humanist and a sculptor. We are grateful you put People - us, your family, your friends, your community - above all else, and invested so much creativity, shaping our lives and making our world a better place.

Two of the organizations Dan helped start could always use more support and donations: Earth Vision Trust, funding the climate change education and outreach efforts of James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey, 4780 Sterling Dr., Boulder, CO  80301; and Clean Energy Action (CEA), accelerating the transition to a post-fossil-fuel world built on clean energy, Leslie Glustrom, P. O. Box 1399, Boulder, CO  80306.

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.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Logic + Emotion = Yes

You have two options:
1.       Receive a sure $800 that I am offering you
2.       Take a chance with an 85% chance for you to win $1,000
Which do you choose?
If you are like most, you selected 1, the sure bet, but mathematically, choice 2 and taking a chance is actually worth more. So why do most select the sure bet? Emotionally the chance for loss is weighed higher than logic would dictate, and most have a cognitive bias to avoid the risk and choose the sure bet.

Decisions are a combination of Logic + Emotion. Understanding how the mind uses both, and the inherent biases involved, can help you create better marketing content and sales presentations, drive better engagements and win more favorable decisions, faster.

There is an exciting set of new research to help you understand the way purchasing decisions are made, and new ways you can leverage this science to create better content and tools to drive faster, more favorable purchase decisions.
The research uses fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) machines and brain sensor devices (such as EEG and MEG) to monitor the human brain when it makes decisions, peering “inside” to see how the brain responds when exposed to marketing content and sales presentations for example.
The concepts that are being studied have been around for some time, but the imaging research is relatively new and is substantially changing the thinking around how we make decisions: from what was thought to be a more Logical process, driven by what most call in evolutionary terms the "new" brain (the cerebral cortex), to a decision making process that is perhaps more subconscious and laced with more emotion than most would think, driven by the “reptilian” brain, the cerebellum, and the mid-brain.

The duality of decision making is revealed in books such as “How We Decide” by Lehrer, and a series of important books such as “Buyology” and “Brandwashed“ by neuromarketing expert Martin Lindstrom. Whether you know it or not, you are exposed to the results of this research every day, as neuromarketing techniques have been shaping the world of consumer products for at least the past 20 years, and refining them as new learnings emerge. Coke, Kellog’s, General Motors and others have been leveraging these techniques in incredibly clever ways to get you to make consumer purchase decisions that go their way.
Now, these same techniques are being leveraged by B2B firms to great effect, combining emotional and logical content to achieve more favorable decisions and accelerated decision cycles.

Sweet Emotion
The more emotional-oriented part of the brain is one we share with all other animals, and is primarily tasked with your survival – fight or flight.

One of the ways I like to think about this part of the brain is that it serves as a “gateway”: Stimulate the emotional brain and you have an engaged audience that will absorb and most importantly, remember you long after you are gone. Fail to stimulate the old brain, via a death-by-PowerPoint sales pitches for example, and you are immediately tuned-out and lost from the buyer’s mind soon after you leave the room.
So how do you stimulate the emotional brain?  Let’s take a quick look at several of the best ways several of the experts recommend you engage:
1)     The emotional brain is focused on survival, and as such, it continually scans the environment looking for risks. Illuminate the risks and the old brain springs to attention. In fact, studies show that on average, we are 2x more likely to avoid risk than pursue gains (remember the earlier example of a sure bet). Yet, most times we create marketing content that messages to the gains, the value of what we provide. To win over the old brain, clearly quantify the pains and risks, such as the “cost of doing nothing” and not just the savings and benefits to make a more emotionally charged impression. 

2)     The emotional brain tends to embrace “do nothing” versus change – a condition called “status quo bias”. When making a decision, our mind naturally weighs the costs and risks of change significantly and often illogically more than perceived benefits. In order to break the bias, you need to show how the costs of change are decisively outweighed by 2 times greater potential gains. 

3)     The emotional brain is stimulated not by text, but by visuals (as well as the other senses – hearing, smell, touch, etc..). The more pictures, especially simple hand drawn imagery, the better.

4)     The emotional brain is self centered, caring most about its own survival. Buyers don't care about what you have to sell, or what it might mean for others, they need to clearly know what’s in it for them . One-size-fits all content just doesn't work any more, and buyers need more relevant, concise and personalized deliverables that speak directly to them - their industry, location, size, role in decision cycle, business objective and challenges. 

5)     The emotional brain is stimulated by contrast. This is best illustrated by a great story from the book Neuromarketing:  If you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water it’s brain quickly recognizes the difference in temperatures and the frog quickly jumps to safety. However, if you put a frog into a room temperature pot of water, place the pot on the stove and bring it up slowly to a boil, you have frog soup. Our "old" brains are no different, and we too need to see contrast in order to “get it”. Clear pictures and quantification of “Before vs. After” , for example showing conceptually the costs and risks of business as usual versus the improvements and benefits of the proposed solution work well.

6)     Finally, the human emotional brain relies on social relationships for survival. We are pre-wired to be attracted by similarity with other people who are "just like us", and to engage socially in groups (one of the reasons social networks are so popular).  Leveraging pictures or testimonial videos of similar buyers, enabling social sharing of content, and promoting social interaction and groups, all help stimulate the "old" brain emotions to help drive purchase decisions. 

The neuromarketing pundits reveal that emotional content and presentations will help you connect and engage buyers more effectively, and help make your messages and value proposition more memorable. Consumer products companies have been funding research and leveraging emotional decision making to great effect. It's time we in B2B embrace some of these techniques to create better sales and marketing engagement and effectiveness.

Solid Logic
With today’s tough economic climate, however, emotion is not enough. Buyers are more overloaded, skeptical and frugal than ever before. Frugalnomics is in full effect, clearly making it harder to connect, engage and sell. However, leveraging logic in your marketing content and sales presentations, you can Fight Frugalnomics and drive success:

1)     First, to break through the noise, you need to be provocative - presenting hard facts and logic that spur the “do nothing” buyer into action, and help prioritize your proposal over everything else the buyer has on their plate. 
2)     Second, to win the business, each and every purchase decision is scrutinized by more stakeholders than ever before. Many such as Finance and Procurement have little on their minds but avoiding spending and saving precious budget. If you don’t have a strong logical business case for purchase, you won’t get the deal approved.
As we discussed earlier, you do need to create an emotional connection to get through, but you need logic to cement and seal the deal. Using logical content to help the buyer make the most favorable and quickest decision, you should help the buyer:
1)     Quantify the current costs and risks, proving that the cost of doing nothing is extreme.
2)     Use diagnostics and comparative benchmarks to help buyers identify issues of which they might not have been aware, or help prioritize known opportunities via comparative urgency.
3)     Tally the benefits, assuring that they are 2x or more greater than the investments and risks (to overcome status-quo bias).
4)     Deliver the ROI justification financial decision makers need to rally approvals amongst a plethora of stakeholders.
5)     Differentiate the competitive advantages of proposed solutions, quantifying the incremental value and lower total cost of ownership (TCO) versus the competition.
Appealing to the “new” brain is about you presenting the evidence needed to reach the logical conclusion that the issue is worth addressing, it’s a top priority, and you represent the best choice.

Best Practice: Logic + Emotion = Yes
 For B2B decisions, you can’t get to “Yes” without a healthy combination of Emotion and Logic to help buyers make better, faster and more favorable decisions. You have to both stmulate the senses, so your messages get through and are remembered, while at the same time, making a logical case for your solution across all the stakeholders involved in the decision making process.

Our recommendation, and one we embody in our latest generation of customized value selling marketing tools, is to combine the best logical business case elements with the emotional attention-getters, leveraging a three step engagement process to:  Personalize , Challenge and Engage.

Personalize - First, Alinean tools personalize the content, leveraging the customer’s profile to completely personalize and customize the analysis, research and messaging. Typical personalization tunes these elements for the buyer’s industry, location, size, role in decision process, stage in decision making, current solutions and assets, current practices and business objectives and challenges.
Challenge - Leveraging this content, Alinean’s tools challenge the buyer to justify:
  • “Why Change?” via quantifying the Cost of Doing Nothing,
  • “Why Now?” via performance benchmarking, peer comparisons and the benefits and value in change
  • “Why You?” via quantifying the differentiating value and competitive cost advantages of your solution versus competitive offerings.
Engage - Lastly, the justification won’t engage the buyer if it’s an endless presentation of text and numbers. You need to stimulate the buyer’s emotions both on-line and in printed reports. Alinean tools do this by:
  • Leveraging more visuals and less text, especially including graphics to highlight the advantages of your solution, and embedding more links to videos and customer success stories
  • Social stories are included, to highlight user success stories and promote social sharing of the document – proven ways to drive more credibility.
Combining just the right mix of logic + emotion. Personalize, Challenge and Engage – an Alinean-recommended three step process to driving faster and more favorable customer decisions, and better sales and marketing tools and success.

Sources (and recommended reading list):

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom and Paco Underhill (Oct 21, 2008)
How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer (Feb 9, 2009)
Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom and Paco Underhill (Feb 2, 2010)

Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy byMartin Lindstrom (Sep 20, 2011)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Case Study: IBM PureFlex TCO Analysis

IBM wanted to make it easy for customers to understand the total lifecycle cost advantages of IBM’s PureFlex versus a more traditional dedicated or virtualized IT infrastructure

Alinean, the value selling and marketing tool provider of record for IBM, worked with IBM subject matter experts, leveraging the Alinean XcelLive platform, proprietary IT cost databases and TCO models to build the IBM PureFlex System TCO Analysis tool.

Used by sales professionals and channel partners in workshops, or self-service by prospects via the web, the tool collects information about the current computing needs and then projects the TCO for the two alternatives using industry research for a company of similar type and size. Default configuration assumptions can be reviewed and changed, ultimately delivering a compelling analysis report.

The tool quantifies the high costs of traditional approaches and potential savings with IBM, helping to drive new sales opportunities and accelerate decision cycles.

Click here to see the tool in action

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gartner’s IT Spending Forecast Heats Up For Summer

In their just released outlook, Gartner raised annual IT spending growth predictions, from a cool 2.5 percent, to a much warmer 3 percent. This puts worldwide IT spending at $3.6 trillion this year, up barely from $3.5 trillion in 2011.

Even with weak business confidence and consumer sentiment in the past quarter, eurozone crisis, weaker than expected U.S. recovery, and a slowdown in China providing significant headwinds, Gartner indicates that the outlook is not great, but at least “stabilized”.

The better forecast was boosted by enterprise spending on public cloud services, projected to more than double over the next four years, from $109 billion in 2012 to $207 billion by 2016. Public cloud spending grew 20% in 2012, up from $91 billion just last year.

According to Gartner’s press announcement touting the survey results, "Business process as a service (BPaaS) still accounts for the vast majority of cloud spending by enterprises, but other areas such as platform as a service (PaaS), software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are growing faster," said Richard Gordon, research vice president at Gartner.

However, even with the indicated rise in public cloud spending, and what Gartner indicated as high demand due to the complexity of environments for global business and technology leaders, growth in IT Services spending lags dramatically, with less than 2.3% growth in 2012, and continued underperformance comparatively into 2013.

Telecommunications equipment and enterprise software remain the best spending growth sectors, with bright spots also including a rise in:
·         Tablet and mobile computing,
·         Replacing obsolete enterprise software with SaaS,
·         Virtualization and scale-out servers  vs. scale-up architectures,
·         Analytics and big data,
·         New net telecommunication connections in emerging markets, and mobile driven demand in established regions.
Even with the predicted increase in spending, the growth rate remains extremely low. With little on the horizon to clarify the economic picture, the drag on IT spending may continue well into 2013.
Frugalnomics remains in full effect, with IT executives tasked to carefully innovate, get more out of each and every dollar invested, and do-more-with-less. Buyers will remain more overloaded, skeptical and frugal than ever before.

This remains a golden opportunity to implement value selling and marketing to fight Frugalnomics, and gain a competitive edge. Especially enabling customers to self-assess their objectives and sales to provocatively challenge do-nothing buyers into action by:

1.       Quantifying the “cost of doing nothing”,
2.       Calculating the benefits, return on investment and payback of proposed solutions,
3.       Assuring superior value by quantifying competitive & total cost of ownership advantages.
Click here for more information on how to Fight Frugalnomics.