Monday, October 29, 2012

Your Sales Cycle Dilemma in 2013

With more financial constraints, more stakeholders, and more scrutiny on each purchase, buying cycles have been extended by almost 10% over the past three years.

As a solution provider, the lengthening decision cycle can be frustrating and costly to you, as deals stall and critical sales revenue is delayed.

In our recent ValueStory™ roadshows, attendees have indeed confirmed lengthening decision cycles. This despite many of the participants now selling solutions that are easier to purchase and deliver, particularly Software as a Service and Cloud Computing solutions. The reasons provided most often for the sales cycle lengthening: more financial scrutiny on each proposal and more stakeholders involved in each decision.

The good news is that your customers are likely just as frustrated with increases in purchase decision delays. According to IDC, buyers would like to reduce the decision making time by 44 days if they could, from 5.4 months to just less than 4 months.

So what is holding up the decision-making process? IDC indicates that buyers perceive about two thirds of the decision-making process as being consumed by the buyer’s internal processes. As a solution provider, you could help reduce the internal process by arming your customer with the right content and tools to help internally sell your solutions to executives and financial decision makers.

An even greater opportunity for solution providers is that buyers indicate the remaining 36% of decision delays are attributable to the vendor’s sales process – the inability for solution providers to deliver the right resources and content at the right time to help facilitate the buyer’s decision-making process.

So, the big question:
  • Do your sales professionals have the right tools and content to help them facilitate and streamline your buyer’s decision-making process?
  • Can your sales professionals answer key buyer questions:
    • Why Change? - quantifying your buyer’s pain
    • Why Now? - justifying proposed gain
    • Why You? - proving you are not the same.

If you think your sales teams could do better, here are some important guides that will be vital for addressing the Sales Cycle Dilemma in 2013:

ADP TotalSource Conversation Guide

ADP recognized that many organizations struggle with maximizing HR resources, with research indicating that up to 45% of HR's time is spent on administrative tasks versus what matters most. But how to prove to today's more skeptical and frugal prospect that not addressing this issue could be costly, and that it should be a priority?

Alinean worked with ADP to create the ADP TotalSource Conversation Guide, a Benefits Estimator that can be used to quickly diagnose HR issues and provide a personalized analysis as to the current cost issues and potential benefits from leveraging ADP TotalSource.

Friday, October 26, 2012

ValueStory Mobile Value Selling Roadshow Gets Purple in Seattle

We had a great turnout for our Mobile Value Selling Roadshow session at the hip Purple restaurant in Bellevue this past week.

The audience was treated to some great wine and food, as we reviewed the latest IDC buyer trends  and gave hands on demonstrations of our new ValueStory(tm) mobile engagement App.  The discussions were fantastic as we reviewed what impact the research would have on sales and marketing strategies for 2013, and the ways in which mobile engagement Apps could help overcome some of these challenges.

We want to thank the great folks from Microsoft, HP, Parallels and OpenText who came out to enjoy the evening with us!

For those who missed us in Seattle, you can get a taste for the session in our on-line webcast Oct 30th,  or join us in Austin TX for our last roadshow event for the year on November 6th. Sign-up Now 

More Stakeholders = More Sales & Marketing Complexity in 2013

As you engage with prospects, it is clear that each sale is becoming more complex.  One of the key factors for the recent increase in your sales complexity is the significant rise in the number of stakeholders for each purchase decision – growing 40% compared to just three years ago according to IDC.

For the typical IT decision, the average number of stakeholders has risen steadily from five per average decision in 2010, to over 7 in 2012. And the increase shows no signs of abating.

In our recent ValueStory™ roadshows, attendees have confirmed a dramatic increase in not just the number of stakeholders involved, but the variety. Decisions that used to involve a limited set of technical decision makers now include several business group leaders, finance and procurement at the table, and more executive reviews and layers of approvals in the background.
As the numbers of stakeholders have increased, attendees indicated a proportionate increase in selling complexity, with significantly more sales time needed per deal, more stalled deals and longer sales cycles.

Complexity is driven by the different goals and challenges, and different needs and requirements of each of your buyer’s stakeholders. Each stakeholder expects your sales professionals to deliver just the right information they need to help them make a decision, and each perceives the value of your proposed solutions uniquely.

How different are your stakeholder’s needs? IDC surveyed just over 200 organizations in the annual 2012 Buyer Experience Study, indicating that Financial Justification /ROI is by far the most important content for C-Level / Financial Executives and LOB stakeholders. For IT stakeholders, Financial Justification  / ROI is important, but is slightly eclipsed by Product Features, Product Demos or Proof of Concept and Product / Service Reviews and Test Results.

 Value is indeed in the eye of the beholder, but many of your sales professionals have not stepped up to deliver the unique value messaging and quantification that each unique stakeholder demands. In fact, according to SiriusDecisions, the inability to deliver value messaging remains the number one challenge for sales making quota – this for the second year in a row.

To address the issue, you have to arm your sales professionals with the tools and content to make communicating and quantifying your value to prospects, and to do so for each unique stakeholder.

So, the big questions:
  • Do you have the right value messages and quantification relevant to each stakeholder?
  • Do you make it easy for sales professionals to communicate and quantify the unique value per stakeholder?
  • Can your sales professionals credibly quantify your buyer’s pain, justify proposed gains and prove you are not the same?

If you think your sales teams could do better, here are some important guides that can help you address the Stakeholder Complexity Dilemma in 2013:

·       SiriusDecision SiriusIndex 2011-2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Rolling in Boston with the Mobile Value Selling Roadshow

This past week the Mobile Value Roadshow hit Boston, introducing sales and marketing execs to some important new mobile selling best practices, and our new ValueStory(tm) App.

A full house of seventeen attendees joined Randy Perry, the VP of Business Value Strategy at IDC, and I for a great dinner event at NakedFish in Waltham.

We are back home for only a short time, then heading out to Seattle for next week’s live event. After that, we are visiting with folks in Austin, TX the first week in November. 

I hope we can meet up at the next live event for great wine, dinner, and interesting best practices sharing and conversations.

For those unable to attend these live events, we will be conducting an online session October 30th.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Financial Justification / ROI – The Most Valued Content for 2013

Did you know that according to CEB, 53% of surveyed buyers indicated that customer loyalty goes to those firms not with superior brand perception, product and service delivery, or even the value-to-price ratio, but overwhelmingly to those firms that provide the Best Buying Experience?

And one of the most important elements to providing the Best Buying Experience is for your marketing and sales professionals to provide the right content and consultative engagements to help your buyers overcome challenges, make the right purchase decisions, and drive competitive advantage.

So what do your Customers think is the most valued sales and marketing content?

According to IDC’s annual 2012 Buyer Experience Study, it was not Product Information, Peer/Customer References, Industry Trends, Competitive Comparisons and Case Studies, but by a large margin, Financial Justification / ROI.

Why has Financial Justification / ROI moved upwards this year to become the most valued content?

In our recent ValueStory™ roadshows, this has been a great discussion topic, and the reasons discussed seem to be focused on:

  • The Rise of the Economic Buyer – CFOs and financial executives are “large and in charge” of more groups and more purchase decisions, putting in place more financial scrutiny and hurdles to any purchase decision. With economic diligence front and center, even non-financial executives now are more focused on the business metrics and bottom-line impact of purchase decisions.
  • More Stakeholders – the average number of stakeholders involved in purchase decisions has risen a hefty 40% over just the past 3 years according to IDC.  And each stakeholder sees value differently – value is truly in the eye of the beholder. With more stakeholders, demand has been boosted for Financial Justification / ROI, in particular aligned to individual stakeholder’s perspectives.
  • The Value Gap – Sales and marketing often falls way short in providing the key financial justification content buyers need to make timely and favorable purchase decisions. In sales, this is such a big issue that SiriusDecisions indicates the “Inability to Communicate Value” is the #1 issue why sales has failed to meet quota, this for the second year running.
So, the big question:
  • Do you have the Financial Justification / ROI marketing content and sales tools buyers now demand?
  • Can you help buyers easily and credibly quantify their pain, justify proposed gains and prove you are “not the same”?

If you don’t, here’s some important guides to help you develop the right Financial Justification / ROI strategy that will be vital for your success in 2013:


Monday, October 15, 2012

Mobile Powered Value Selling - the ValueStory Roadshow

This past week we kicked off a series of Roadshow events to introduce potential new and existing customers to the latest research  on the changing buyer, discuss mobile selling best practices, and to launch Alinean's new ValueStory(tm) App

Attendees share best practices at Zabbibo in Palo Alt
Participating with us in the roadshow is long time partner Randy Perry from IDC, VP of their Business Value Strategy consulting practice.

The first events were held in San Francisco and Palo Alto, and included great wine and dinner, a quick presentation and demonstration, and lively best practice discussions.

The roadshows are continuing with Boston, Seattle and Austin, and I hope I can see you at our next event. For those unable to attend these live events, we will be conducting an online session October 30th.

Click here to sign-up for one of the events.

Click here to read our ebook on ValueStory

Friday, October 12, 2012

Free eBook: 2013 – The Year of Mobile Value Selling?

Many executives are evaluating how tablets can be used to drive a much-needed boost in selling effectiveness for 2013.

But providing the same old presentations and marketing content on a tablet won't necessarily advance sales engagements, or do the trick to drive revenue growth.

Click here for a Free eBook, delivering the research and best practice advice you need to develop a winning mobile-powered selling strategy for 2013.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Microsoft Cloud Security Readiness Tool (Powered by Alinean)

Microsoft recently commissioned a study revealing that security and regulatory concerns are holding back cloud adoption, but that companies that have overcome these concerns and adopted a solid cloud strategy are realizing significant business and security benefits.
In the study, respondents revealed that their top barriers to cloud adoption were concerns about the ability to deal with industry standards (61%), transparency (59%) and security concerns (44%).
However, those that had overcome these concerns and implemented a cloud solution gained more time and money to focus on their core business (57%), and  believed that cloud services provided better security than the company was capable of on its own (54%).
To help organizations understand their current cloud readiness, and help build a solid strategy to overcome fears, Microsoft leveraged content from the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and worked with Alinean to develop the Cloud Security Readiness Tool.
Based on the CSA’s Cloud Controls Matrix, Microsoft’s Cloud Security Readiness Tool is an online diagnostic assessment, consisting of 27 questions that are used to analyze a company’s security practices, highlight issues, and make solution agnostic recommendations for what improvements can be realized by moving to cloud computing. 
As a result of running the tool, an IT executive receives a comprehensive assessment report in each of the 27 areas, including information on the potential benefits of cloud computing and the implications of specific and personalized industry sector regulations .
Announcing the launch of the tool, Adrienne Hall, general manager of Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft, told the RSA Conference Europe 2012 in London, “The aim of the tool is to simplify the process and cut through the clutter to help organizations take a step-by-step look at cloud adoption based on their environment”.
Click here to run the Cloud Security Readiness Tool (powered by Alinean) for yourself.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Empower Your Mobile Sales Teams with New Value Selling App

We are excited to announce six live events to introduce our new ValueStory™ App, which is designed to change the way your sales teams leverage iPads to provocatively engage prospects with the unique value proposition of their solutions.

The events, conducted in conjunction with leading research firm IDC, are designed to provide you with exclusive research, best practices and mobile tools to reshape your 2013 value selling capability and effectiveness.

The event locations, schedule and sign-up can be found at:

According to IDC research, B2B purchase decisions now involve 40% more stakeholders, and now take close to 10% longer than just three years ago. Buyers want help with reducing the complexity and length of purchase decisions, relying on sales professionals to help accelerate the decision process. 

At the same time, buyers have become more frugal, indicating the need for financial justification / ROI content as the most important factor in their decision making, topping product reviews, demos, customer references, case studies and all other content by a large margin. However, sales professionals remain challenged to effectively communicate and quantify value to ever more frugal buyers, making this the single most important barrier to 2013 selling success.

ValueStory specifically addresses this challenge, arming your sales professionals with the right value storytelling and quantification tools, especially leveraging new mobile technology to interactively engage with today’s more empowered, overloaded and frugal prospects.

“Delivering the same old fluffy value messages using traditional PowerPoint presentations or whiteboard sketches just doesn’t cut it anymore,” says Tom Pisello, CEO and founder of Alinean. “This is why ValueStory is so important, leveraging mobile selling tools to interactively engage prospects with compelling insights, diagnostic assessments, provocative benchmarks, and credible value justification.”

In exclusive live roadshow events, Alinean’s Tom Pisello is accompanied by Randy Perry, VP of Business Value Consulting for IDC, to discuss the latest research as to why value communication is such an important issue to tackle, present what best practices will be required to succeed in 2013, and introduce the Alinean ValueStory App.

“Enabling sales to evolve from product to value selling has been a challenge,” says Randy Perry. “ValueStory represents the first mobile value selling platform, to make delivering your value proposition easy to quantify and ultra-effective to deliver.”

Five live events are designed for sales executives and sales enablement professionals, and scheduled for:
  • San Francisco – October 10th
  • Palo Alto – October 11th
  • Boston – October 17th
  • Seattle – October 23rd
  • Austin – November 6th

Early registration is suggested, as space is limited for each live event. A webcast will also be conducted on October 30th for those unable to make the local events.