Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why Renew?


If you sell SaaS solutions or service contracts, you know the importance of recurring revenue streams, and that getting a renewal now takes more than just “show up and sign”.

Each of your proposals is under more scrutiny than ever before, with procurement, finance, business groups and IT all frugally weighing in on the decision. So when it comes time, each stakeholder is going to be asked as to whether precious budget should be spent on your renewal. Of upmost importance, have you provided the team with the justification to definitively answer “Why Renew”?


To Renew or Not Renew, That is the Question

With Frugalnomics in full effect, there is not enough budget to invest in everything your customer’s organization needs to be successful, and with less headcount, fewer resources to invest the time to figure out whether your proposal is “investment worthy”.

When it comes time for your renewal, you need to lay the groundwork to make the saying “Yes” easy for your customer. To do this, you should provide clear proof that the recurring license or contract has tangible value, delivering on your pre-sale promises of cost savings, business benefits and bottom-line impact, while providing evidence of ongoing rewards.

This means collaboratively working with your customer to prove that expected pre-sale value has been achieved. This means getting agreement from your customer that key performance indicators where positively impacted, helping to generate predicted cost savings and avoidance, drive labor productivity improvements, and deliver anticipated business performance improvements.

For certain renewals, you also may want to tally the costs of failing to renew, especially for certain service and support contracts.  This often includes estimating the impact of not having the service / support contract in place, especially increases in self-support costs, repair and spares costs, support related travel expenses, mean-time-to-repair, and costly downtime. 

With “value in the eye of the beholder” and often multiple stakeholders who must approve the renewal, it is important you translate the realized value and justification into terms relevant to each of the decision makers. For IT stakeholders, this might mean quantifying your IT infrastructure total cost of ownership (TCO) savings compared to the legacy solutions. For the business groups, this may mean tallying the process and productivity improvements, and expense avoidance your solution generated. For finance and procurement, it often means summarizing how the investment has delivered significant ROI and already paid for itself with realized savings.

It is important to remember that the justification is not difficult, but will take some time, working with the customer to reach agreement on the measurements they need to tally, researching and tallying the realized value, and gaining consensus and buy-in from your customer. With most customers having less resources and time than ever, waiting to the last minute to provide the justification is not advised. The best companies put in place quarterly or semi-annual value workshops, and even integrate ROI reporting into their solutions, to help promote visibility into realized value and provide the proof needed for easy renewals.

Realized Value Tools in Action

One of our customers was struggling with hardware service contract renewals, seeing year over year declines in renewal rates. The terms of each service contract were all stored in a database, which documented renewal dates, and key profile information. Alinean worked with this customer to create a Value Realization Renewal Tool that, several months prior to renewal, leverages the profile information to automatically create and e-mail a Realized Value Analysis Report to the customer and sales representative. This 3rd party report provides multiple dimensions of value justification for each expected stakeholder, creating a significant increase in renewal rates, plus helping the sales reps save precious sales time and cycles in driving service contract renewals.

Even though most customers would admit that the solution was valuable, a SaaS customer was having a hard time getting renewal approvals and achieving target renewal rates. Working with Alinean, we created a Realized Value Renewal tool to help sales prove the achieved value and ROI post-sale. The tool collected information about key performance indicators before and after the solution was implemented, and translated the progress into tangible cost savings, process and productivity improvements and business benefits. The quantified benefits were compared with service costs in credible 3rd party reports, helping customer stakeholders “sell” the realized value to frugal executives, finance and procurement, helping to streamline the justification process and drive renewal rates to goal.

The Bottom Line

Justifying SaaS recurring fees and on-going service contracts is a requirement in order to Fight Frugalnomics, making it absolutely vital you provide solid evidence of value realization prior to asking for the renewal. 

You have to proactively put in place the analysis sales tools and methodologies to quickly and easily engage, calculate and produce credible value realization reports needed for renewal success. Success includes:
  • Tallying the realized cost savings, purchase avoidance, process improvements, productivity increases and other business benefits
  • Quantifying the on-going value of renewal
  • Communicating the value in terms relevant to each stakeholder
  • Proactively justifying the renewal on a regular basis, or months prior to renewal.

Realized value tools are a great way to automate the engagement, collaboration and analysis process, helping create proactive marketing and sales programs, so that the justification of renewals is not left to chance.

Click here for more information on financial sales tools

Friday, August 17, 2012

Build It, They Will Come?


With the “boys of summer” in full swing, it’s easy to reminisce about some all time great baseball movies, like Field of Dreams, where Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) is urged by a voice to “build it, he will come” and after building a baseball diamond in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, miraculously the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the seven Chicago Black Sox team from 1919 appear, along with hundreds of fans.

But if you’re hoping the same strategy, “build it, they will come” will work for driving your value marketing tool campaign success, you will quickly find that hope as a strategy might work for Kevin Costner in a movie, but rarely works in the real world.

The good news is that you are already off to a great start, engaging your frugal buyers with the  interactive white papers and financial calculators they need to help justify “Why Change?, “Why Now?” and “Why You?”.

But just developing these tools and posting them to your website is not enough. Post deployment, there are still some key things you need to deliver the expected number of leads, drive engagements and create significant sales-ready opportunities.

So what are the secrets to the best value marketing tool campaigns?

We’ve studied the best, and compiled the findings into a straightforward set of recommendations - using the 4-Ps as your roadmap to success: Position, Push, Pull and Proactive.



Position

Many marketing tools unfortunately are buried deep within a websites’ navigation, with no easy way for buyers to find the asset when they need it most. If you don’t place the tool where users can find it, how do you ever expect to achieve campaign success?

So the first secret to tool success is rather easy and straight forward – be sure to place the tool where it can be easily found, so it is readily available at the right time to facilitate the buyer’s decision making process.

Centrally, you can use the tools as the foundation for a Resource Center, creating a portal where users can see which interactive white papers, benefit estimators and assessments are available based on their stage in the buyer’s journey.

For each solution, you can create special and consistent icons to promote the interactive and personalized value-add analysis tools, and special launch pages that include a compelling description of the tool and what makes it valuable for the user, screen shots to show how the tool is interactive and delivers compelling insight, sample reports and success stories.

Push

Now comes the provocative promotion, letting prospects know that you’ve created a valuable interactive tool to help them discover and prioritize opportunities, tally the “cost of doing” nothing, quantify the benefits of change, and competitive value of going with your solution.

Promoting the tool in company newsletters, and creating custom syndicated e-mail campaigns to opt-in communities can help make users aware of the tools and drive visitors and leads. These programs have proved so successful at meeting demand-gen goals that we now included syndicated e-mail campaigns (in partnership with IDG and Enterprise Buyer’s Guide) with every value marketing tool we build, as part of our ROI Guarantee program.

The tools can be used to fuel social media campaigns, with blog articles, tweets, LinkedIn group notices and other posts pointing users to the value added analytics and benchmarks they can receive.

In any of the campaigns, it is important to differentiate the tool from traditional content, so they know the on-line analysis and resultant white paper deliverable from using the tool will be more personalized and relevant, helping them understand their opportunities and drive the right investment decisions. In newsletters, advertisements and blogs, a picture of the tool and report, so the user can visualize the personalized analysis and results being offered is often a great way to differentiate and promote.

Pull

Marketing strategies are changing,  with many indicating that the most successful campaigns are driven less by what is promoted to prospects, but more by providing valuable content that users find and leverage on their own, and share with each other.

When users search for information about the opportunity you address or solutions, what do they see? Tool launch pages and the tool access links themselves can be optimized for, and provide the needed rich content for search engine success.

Done correctly, users can easily find the value marketing tools in response to specific keyword searches. Including sample report links, videos about the tool and tagged images on the landing pages can help optimize search engine rankings. Moreover, enabling and promoting social sharing on the launch page and within the tool can promote sharing and back-linking.

Pull campaigns are all about providing tools that prospects can easily find, and leverage to help them become more competitive, efficient and effective.

Proactive

How are you leveraging the value marketing tools in your lead nurturing programs, Recommending the right value marketing tool at the right point in the process can dramatically improve relevancy, education and engagement, helping to challenge the “do nothing” buyer into action by:
  1. Identifying and prioritizing issues of which they might not have been fully aware
  2. Quantifying the high “cost of doing nothing”
  3. Providing benchmarks proving that they are falling behind the competition
  4. Estimating the potential benefits and competitive value of proposed solutions.

 

The Bottom Line

Hope is not a strategy. You can’t just build a value marketing tool and expect automatic success. The good news is that by following a simple guide, you can achieve your lead generation, sales-ready opportunity and engagement objectives without too much extra effort.

Coordinating  with your value marketing tool provider, internal web team, marketing automation professionals and a few others within your organization, you can assure that the 4-Ps are leveraged to:
  1. Properly position the tool so it can be found
  2. Implement provocative push campaigns to drive awareness
  3. Drive pull success with SEO optimization and social sharing
  4. Proactively leveraging the tools in lead nurturing campaigns.