So what did Mark and his team do to get this TCO sales tool well adopted and used so effectively?
The effort started with the design of the tool itself, including:
- Having Alinean convert a complex legacy TCO spreadsheet into an online tool making it easier to use, produce CFO ready business case reports, manage versions, and protect IP.
- Commissioning of a worldwide end user TCO study with Aberdeen to ensure benchmark data is robust, credible and 3rd party validated.
- Inclusion of real world pricing and costs for the latest solutions and competitor configurators in the TCO tool to ensure total cost estimates are as accurate as possible.
- Ensuring the TCO Tool is configurable in all cases for each customer’s exact circumstances.
- Explicit linkage of the TCO outcomes to differentiating solution features / functions and associated value messages.
- Public promotion to make everyone aware of the TCO tool including launch of the tool at annual user, sales and partner conferences and press releases.
- Creation of a TCO tool data sheet and promotion of the tool on the corporate website and channel portals (almost all sales are via the channel)
- Mandatory TCO training and certification for Sales reps.
- Partner training including annual face to face, hands on training / certification on the TCO tool for channel partner reps, with on-going on-line training available on a weekly basis.
- A significant, industry-first TCO guarantee, requiring an analysis and assuring realized savings / benefit results, available for all channel partners and customers
And finally, a good evolution, incorporating field experiences to shape the tool and awareness / training programs to assure use is sustained through changes in sales and channel programs and personnel. This included:
- Regular updates to the TCO tool with new products and updated research metrics
- Regular follow-on training for sales reps and partners with each update.
- Constant reinforcement of TCO in all marketing messages, from earnings calls through to product sheets and presentations.
- Development of TCO case studies where customers compare outcomes with TCO predictions.
- Abundant and up to date TCO newsletters / emails to partners and customers, communicating updates and reinforcing all the above.
Using a proven program as our guide, this includes:
- Designing with Sales Reps and the Channel Partners in mind,
- Assuring executive and marketing commitment
- Building awareness
- Implementing training and certification
- Assuring results outcomes with customer performance “guarantees”
- Evolving the tool and programs from real field experiences