Thursday, January 24, 2013

Where Does the Money Go? Take the TCO Challenge

A video by John Pickett - Global Mainframe Alternative Program Lead with HP Enterprise Serrvers, Storage and Network - discussing the Alinean-powered TCO Challenge tool.

This tool can help IT Execs determine if they are paying too much for aging infrastructure, quantify if there a better & less expensive alternatives, and produce a roadmap to reduce the cost of legacy applications whilst maintaining reliability & stability.

See the TCO Challenge Tool in action - Click here to learn more


Click here to see other HP TCO Tools (powered by Alinean) on the HP TCO channel.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why Spreadsheets Don't Work for ROI / TCO Tools


Many organizations have developed spreadsheet models to help financially justify solutions to frugal buyers. Often these spreadsheets are developed by a field subject matter expert, out of necessity based on one or more client requests, and then shared / distributed to other sales professionals and channel partners for use.

These spreadsheet-based ROI / TCO Tools are meeting a great need, to help fight Frugalnomics and implement value-based sales / marketing campaigns, but are not the ideal platform to support sales / marketing success.

Here are a few of the most common issues we see with most spreadsheet based tools:


1.   Expensive to develop, maintain and support the macros , reports and other features to make the spreadsheets marginally functional and usable,


2.   Creating robust printed Word or PPT reports from spreadsheets are not impossible, but often a challenge,


3.   Controlling distribution and usage access to spreadsheets is difficult, and although the spreadsheet engine can be password protected, it’s too easy for the tool to fall into competitors hands,


4.   Distribution and version control is an issue. Hard to get sales and channel to retire and replace old versions , keep the field up to date,


5.   Spreadsheets are not good for collecting and centralizing the analyses inputs and results, wasting incredible engagement data and results insight / case study opportunities,


6.    Hard to track usage to understand who is using / who is not using the tool, and where / when they are applying it in deals,


7.   Third-party tools, research and validation reign supreme with skeptical buyers. Most spreadsheets are home-grown and lack this third-party credibility.


Spreadsheets are a good start towards fighting Frugalnomics and implementing a value-based sales / marketing program, but need to be advanced to overcome the important issues discussed here, driving more engagement and selling effectiveness, and improving management efficiency / lowering program costs and headaches.

How Can We Help?
Alinean is unique in that we can DIRECTLY take, enrich and publish the spreadsheet into our on-line platform DIRECTLY. No reprogramming is necessary, as the spreadsheet serves as the tool’s engine, but with a much more usable and powerful on-line interactive front end, identity and access control, enhanced reporting, database and credibility.
Initially, we take the spreadsheet, and with some special enrichment by an analyst, and a press of a button to publish the engine into the Alinean XcelLive platform, the spreadsheet is transformed into a dynamic, interactive rich on-line ROI / TCO Tool and database application. To update, enhance and maintain the tool is as simple as editing and updating the spreadsheet engine, with no software programming needed – making initial development and evolution extremely easy and cost effective.

The Bottom-Line
Spreadsheets are a good start, but there is a much better way to leverage more advanced technology and empower customers and sales to more easily and effectively create ROI / TCO business cases, and manage value selling / marketing programs. Alinean has the only platform, XcelLive, to directly take spreadsheets and convert them into powerful and credible on-line interactive tools.

Click here to see Tom Pisello's video on this important topic:




Friday, January 18, 2013

Sales Enablement: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for 2013


According to a recent study by IDC’s  Sales Advisory, the majority of sales reps are not able to effectively engage with today’s more empowered, skeptical and frugal buyer.

Michael Gerard, VP of IDC ‘s CMO and Sales Advisory Practice indicates in a recent presentation that it now takes more than 650 targets just to get one deal, and each deal is taking longer to close than before, some 19 months for the marketing and sales cycle to complete.

This is a good news / bad news story from IDC.

The Good News:
It’s not just the vendors that are frustrated by a lengthening decision process. Buyers indicate they too would like to reduce the time it takes to arrive at a purchase decision, by some 25%.  

The Bad News:
Although buyer’s admit their own internal processes are more complex than ever, they attribute a hefty 36% of the decision delays 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.

The Good News:
Much of the long decision cycle and poor close ratio could be reduced with better sales enablement – delivering the right in the right format and in the right time / place to move a specific sales opportunity forward.

The Bad News:
Most companies are not getting Sales Enablement right, and this is costly. For a typical $1B firm, a lack of good Sales Enablement is resulting in:
  • $14M of wasted sales and marketing expenses, generating leads that are not effectively engaged, or investing in tools and content that are not used or not effective,
  • $100M of lost revenue opportunities, some 10% of total annual revenue.

The Good News:
Buyers indicate that content is vital to their decision making process and still highly valued. The solution provider who delivers the right content and the right stage in the buyer’s journey can overcome most of these sales enablement issues.

So what is the most valued content when making a key purchase decision? It’s not Product Information (17%), Product Demos (17%), Reviews and Test Results (13%), Peer /Customer References (7%), Industry Trends (6%) or even Competitive Comparisons (5%).

The most valued content is “ROI / Financial Justification” by a wide margin, indicated as the top decision support content by 28% of respondents; More than double or triple the value of most other content marketing.

And effectively delivering ROI / Financial Justification content and tools has a tangible impact, according to IDC’s business value consulting practice, helping to kick start 5% of stalled pipelines to close, reducing sales cycles by 10%, reducing discounting by 30% and improving competitive win rates by up to 60%.

ROI / Financial Justification content is now highly in demand, with CFOs and Finance large and in charge – more deeply engaged throughout the decision making process, and certainly wielding more power over approvals. These stakeholders demand financial scrutiny and require ROI / Financial Justification in order to grant approval. In fact, Randy Perry, VP of IDC’s Business Value Practice, indicates that more than 90% of deals require a financial business case in order to garner approval.

And the justification is not just isolated to the quants. There are now 40% more stakeholders involved in each purchase decision compared to just three years ago, growing from 5 to 7 for the average purchase decision. Each of these stakeholders has a unique set of challenges, and subsequently, a unique perspective on the value that can be achieved from proposed solutions. Unfortunately two out of three struggle to justify what’s in it for them without vendor help.

The Bad News:

So how long does it take for a sales rep to find the ROI / Financial Justification information customers so desperately need to make a purchase decision?

Unfortunately, IDC indicates that ROI related assets take almost 3 days (2.8) on average to find and deliver, with 1 in 4 indicated it could take weeks to produce.

If ROI is the most important content for making decisions, why is it so difficult for sales to find and deliver this content to eager buyers?

Analyzing marketing and sales enablement spending, most organizations significantly underinvest in the ROI / financial justification content and tools that today’s buyer demand, and that could make sales professionals more productive and effective – delivering what buyers value most in making purchase decisions from weeks to minutes. And when the ROI / Financial Justification is made available to sales, it is often not able to be used quickly to produce the personalized and relevant content buyer's need.


The Bottom-Line

Sales enablement is key to get sales professionals effective at engaging with today’s more empowered, skeptical and frugal buyer. Yet most organizations are not properly enabling sales to engage in this tough environment where Frugalnomics reigns.

The right content and tools can help, but organizations are not getting this “right”, resulting in 12% squandered marketing and sales enablement investments, and a significant 10% lost revenue opportunity impact

ROI / Financial Justification is now the most valued content / sales enablement tools to help support purchase decision making, however most organizations are not investing enough in this area, and not delivering the role-based value messaging and quantification today’s multi-stakeholder decisions demand.

To investigate further:






Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sales and Marketing Alignment in 2013? Not so Fast!


Executives continually point to the need for Sales and Marketing to align, with 90% of Senior Marketers indicating to Forrester that indeed alignment is a high or very high priority.

Although there is a desire for alignment, where the rubber meets the road, the story is quite contrary.

Sales leaders currently rank Sales Enablement as their number one requirement from Marketing, besting the need for more Demand Creation, Solution Marketing help and Channel Support in studies by SiriusDecisions.

Sales execs are now more pleased with the number and quantity of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) going to sales, and now are indicating they need help to better engage, sell and close.

However, the story is quite different when Marketing is asked about their own priorities. The most telling, if Marketing were given 10% more budget, where would they spend it?

It’s not on Enablement. By a wide margin, SiriusDecisions indicates that Marketing would rather spend the incremental 10% on their bread-and-butter, Demand Creation (35%), followed by Brand (17%).  Enablement ranked fifth in priorities for the incremental spend, with only 1 in 10 indicating that this would be their priority.

2013 - The Year for Sales Enablement?
The demand for better Sales Enablement has increased dramatically over the past three years. With the Great Recession, Buyers have changed – more empowered, skeptical, and frugal than ever before – a condition we call Frugalnomics.

Because of Frugalnomics, Sales is being invited later and later into the purchase decision process. In fact, CEB reports that 57% of the buyer’s journey has been completed prior to the customer engaging with a sales professional. At this later stage of engagement, it’s usually a Bakeoff between vendor offerings– a vicious shootout on features, function and especially price.

The result:
  • More competitive losses, as Buyers don’t properly frame your differentiating value and commoditize the offerings,
  • Longer decision cycles as Buyers struggle to properly understand the “cost of doing nothing” and value of change,
  • More discounting, as purchase price becomes the key differentiator.

Sales is now challenged to:
  • Deliver the provocative value story and quantification to make today’s more skeptical and frugal Buyer engage sooner, the tools and content to convince the buyer as to:

a.     “Why Change?” – Quantify the Pain
b.    “Why Now?” – Justify the Gain
  • When invited late into the discussion, the tools and content to help

a.     Reframe the discussion towards new / different pains that the Buyer might not have been totally aware of,
b.    The unique competitive value of proposed solutions,
c.     Total cost of ownership (TCO) advantages to transcend purchase price pressures.

How challenged is Sales to deliver the provocative tools and content without Marketing help? According to a recent DestinationCRM article:
  • The average sales rep spends 24% of his time preparing for sales calls,
  • 82% of sales reps are challenged by the amount of information available and the time it took to wade through it all,
  • 15 different data sources were leveraged in the sales call preparation.

 Many Sales reps feel the pain of Sales and Marketing misalignment, indicating that they need a “mini-van” to hold all the content needed to go on each sales call, but at the same time, don’t have the relevant, compelling value-focused content to uniquely engage with each prospect.

The Bottom-Line
As a key enabler to achieve revenue goals, your Marketing team should investigate how aligned your Marketing investments are with Sales needs, determining if you are focused as much on Sales Enablement as required.

Review the current Sales Enablement tools and content to determine if it provides sales with the provocative value story and quantification needed to engage, sell and close today’s more empowered, skeptical and frugal buyer.

Leverage new technology and Tablets to eliminate the mini-van of content needed and advance to a more provocative, data-driven, interactive, intelligent and relevant customer engagement.



Sources:

The Evolved CMO – Forrester 2012 - A Joint Research Project by Forrester Research CMO Group and Heidrick & Struggles – global survey of 200 CMOs

Marketing Organization Design: The Sirius View - John Neeson , Managing Director and Co-Founder, Marilyn Reap Research Director, EECMO - May 2012

The End of Solution Sales – CEB 2012, survey of 1,400 B2B customers

How will CRM Evolve – Brian Kardon Nov 30, 2012, DestinationCRM 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Gartner says 2013 will be a Better Year for IT Spending Growth?


According to Gartner’s latest estimates, the reigns on worldwide IT spending are loosening, with annual technology spending growth increasing to 4.2% for 2013. 

This represents a significant uptick in spending growth from the anemic 2012 rate of only 1.2%. Gartner highlights that “business uncertainty is nearing resolution”, and that this is one of the key reasons for increasing their spending outlook.

But is Gartner being overly optimistic?

First, Gartner’s latest outlook mirrors similar rosy predictions from analysts at the beginning of the past three years. In fact, Gartner predicted that 2012 growth was going to be 3.7% before economic conditions in Europe and US uncertainty stymied expected technology spending increases. Unfortunately, as each year has progressed, new macro-economic hurdles appeared and the growth outlooks were summarily reduced.

Second, even if the growth tops 4%, this growth will still be 1/3 less than the prior decades’ 6% growth rate average.

Third, rather than expand, many areas of IT spending are actually seeing growth contract. Most of the true spending increases are focused on select strategic initiatives, especially in Enterprise Software, the Cloud, Mobile Computing and Big Data.

So will Gartner’s rosier IT spending growth predictions ring true into the New Year, or will the figures again be discounted as the year progresses? Although I too am more optimistic about 2013 compared to last, there are clear and immediate challenges that deserve action regardless.

2013 Challenges for IT Solution Providers
Revenue growth is extremely important for IT solution providers, as this growth is required to sustain high valuation multiples. As a result, IT Sales and Marketing will again be tasked to deliver incremental revenue regardless of challenging market conditions and despite the historically low spending growth.

But delivering incremental revenue is a challenge, as tech-purchasing decisions have fundamentally and permanently changed.

Even as the economy improves, buyers remain more skeptical and frugal than ever, demanding quantifiable proof that each investment delivers a quick payback and significant bottom-line impact. As a result, Financial Justification / ROI is now the most important content buyers rely on to make purchase decisions (greatly exceeding the importance of case studies, product demos and thought leadership content), and that over 90% of IT purchase decisions now require a formal business case for approval (IDC - 2013).

IT purchase processes are ever more complex, with IDC reporting 40% more stakeholders involved in the average purchase decision compared to just 3 years ago. Not only are more scrutineers at the table, but the demographics of the participants have changed. With the continued consumerization of IT, according to Gartner, by the end of this decade almost 90% of tech purchase decisions will be controlled not by IT, but by business groups. 

Solution providers may be caught unprepared by this Teutonic shift - the complexity of ever more stakeholders and the significant shift from technical driven purchase decisions to control of the process by the business buyer.

We have termed these changing Frugalnomics, with todays’ buyers more empowered, skeptical and frugal than ever before, and sales and marketing needing to evolve in order to meet the challenge.

The 3 Things You Must Do Now to Win in 2013
To help meet the challenge and Fight Frugalnomics, we recommend three “must do” programs for 2013:

Engage Frugal Prospects with Provocative Marketing
Todays’ buyers are more overloaded and risk averse than ever, and as a result, 58% are choosing to “Do Nothing”, to remain with “Business as Usual” versus considering your solution.

Prospects will ignore you messages and choose to “Do Nothing” unless you can proactively and provocatively quantify that they have a pain worth addressing.

And the leads you thought were such great sales opportunities will stall unless you can help convince the prospect that the issue is a priority and that your solution represents a unique competitive advantage.

In order to connect and engage with “Do Nothing” buyers, through their decision making journey, you need to help them realize:

  • Why Change? – the Prospect has a pain worth addressing and a significant cost of “Do Nothing”.
  • Why Now? –the Prospect should not wait to address the issue because they are leaving good money on the table (significant bottom-line impact, ROI and fast payback), and they are falling behind competitively (illustrated through peer comparison benchmarks).
  • Why You? – that your solutions can deliver unique value at a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

So how well do you do at answering these questions for your buyers in a compelling and quantified way?

Developing and deploying the right interactive Value Marketing Tools is the key, to provide Prospects the personalized, relevant and provocative answers to these key questions. Click here to learn more.

Empower Sales with Value Storytelling and Quantification
According to SiriusDecisions, the number 1 reason why sales professionals fail to meet quota is their “inability to effectively communicate the value of proposed solutions”.

Sitting in on the majority of sales engagements and you can see that most are still empty product pitches or pseudo-solution engagements with a few cursory questions and canned “death by PowerPoint” presentations. According to Forrester, less than 12% of sales engagements are focused on customer value.

Despite the changing buyer, who needs to understand the bottom-line impact of any proposed solution, the consistent need for value selling in order to meet quota, and the millions spent on solution / value selling messaging and training, less than 12% of sales professionals engage with “value”.

So how well do your sales professionals and channel partners engage with value?

There is a way to overcome the value selling adoption challenge … to better institutionalize and effectively deploy your solution / value selling methodology to sales professionals and channel partners so it actually gets used in sales engagements. To empower sales professionals to engage with powerful value storytelling and “back of the napkin” value quantification. Click here to learn more.

Close the Deal with a CFO-ready Business Case 
CFOs are large and in charge of many IT purchase approvals. According to a Gartner and Financial Executives Research Foundation research survey, the CFO is becoming the top IT decision maker in many organizations, with:
  • Over 75% indicating significant decision making involvement,
  • 41% indicating being the main decision maker for IT investments.

 For the CFO, most we talk to highlight that proposals:
  1. Won't be considered a priority without a business case, and the larger the proposal, the more detailed and formal the case has to be.
  2. Won't be approved unless you show that the issue being addressed is a priority with a high cost of doing nothing, and can deliver quantified savings / benefits, significant ROI, fast payback, all with low risks / resource requirements.
  3. Won't be signed off unless you can prove your solution has a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) / better value than competitive offerings.

With Finance playing such a key role in IT decision approvals, it is imperative that proposals contain the business case content that CFOs need to provide approval, otherwise your deals will be stalled or delayed in the final stages, and you may be losing critical deals to competitors who make the better CFO case.

So how well do you deliver the business cases that CFOs demand?

There is a way to easily develop and deliver CFO business cases for your solutions. Click here to learn more.

The Bottom-Line

Gartner’s more optimistic IT spending growth estimates for 2013 are good news, but don’t change the fact that Frugalnomics will remain in effect even as technology spending improves.

If not addressed, deals will continue to stall, sales cycles will get longer, and heavy discounting will prevail.

For 2013, IT Marketing and Sales Enablement professionals should consider three initiatives as a top priority to help Fight Frugalnomics:
  1. Engage Frugal Prospects with Provocative Marketing
  2. Empower Sales with Value Storytelling and Quantification
  3. Close the Deal with CFO-Ready Business Cases

This entertaining e-book is a great resource to explore further: Product, Solution, Value – You Decide

Sources:

  • IDC 2012 Buyer Experience Study (a survey of 204 IT buying organizations)
  • Forrester Sales Enablement Conference 2012
  • SiriusDecisions SiriusIndex, results from 2011 - 2012