Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Qvidian & Alinean Announce Strategic Partnership to Deliver Comprehensive Sales Execution Solutions

Partnership Helps Companies Overcome Their Selling Challenges to Close More Business Faster     

CHELMSFORD, MA and ORLANDO, FL – June 24, 2014 - Qvidian, the innovator in sales execution solutions, and Alinean, the leading creator of interactive B2B value selling and marketing tools, today announced their strategic partnership to help companies overcome the sales challenges of better communicating value during the selling process in order to accelerate their revenue growth.

According to SiriusDecisions, the number one reason sales teams fail to meet quota is their lack of effectively articulating value to prospects. Unfortunately, only 1 in 10 sales reps have made the transition from pitching products to engaging prospects with value according to Forrester Research, and 60 percent of buyers disengage with sales because reps do not communicate compelling value according to Qvidian’s recent Sales Execution Trends report.  In an environment where leaders want to drive profitable revenue growth, increase win rates, and improve overall quota attainment, organizations are struggling to close this important sales execution gap and achieve their goals.

“In our research, when we asked sales executives to share their top sales challenge, 71% of sales executives indicated it was their reps "inability to effectively articulate value", said Jim Ninivaggi, Service Director, Sales Enablement Strategies SiriusDecisions. “Ensuring salespeople have the right knowledge, skills and tools to maximize every buyer interaction is the heart of sales enablement. Combining Alinean's value actualization offerings with Qvidian's playbook capabilities can provide sales organizations an effective sales enablement solution to help address that top challenge.”

“This partnership joins two integral components for sales leaders – a dynamic guided selling system to drive successful sales behavior and captivating tools to better present value,” stated Qvidian President and CEO, Lewis Miller. “This is a game changer for organizations seeking to help transform their sales teams and make them more agile and efficient in an ever changing selling environment.”

Qvidian provides sales execution solutions, including a cloud-based guided selling system and a personalized content engine, designed to help sales organizations succeed faster by ramping new sales reps faster, helping sales teams exceed quotas, and increasing overall sales efficiency.  Alinean helps sales teams communicate value to today’s more informed, skeptical, and frugal buyer through effective value messaging and interactive online and mobile sales tools.

“Sales leaders know there is a value communication gap between buyer expectations and current sales capabilities, but continue to provide the same content, tools and support while expecting different results,” stated Tom Pisello, CEO and founder of Alinean. “This partnership will provide sales teams with the real-time guidance needed to have more provocative value-focused conversations, improve selling effectiveness and achieve revenue growth goals.”

Click here for the press release announcement from Qvidian: http://www.qvidian.com/about/news/qvidian-alinean-announce-partnership

Thursday, June 19, 2014

SiriusDecisions Research: Longer Sales Cycles Drive Need for Change

Sales cycles are taking longer than ever, lengthening by 24% over the past two years, this according to research by SiriusDecisions.

Just two years ago, the average sales cycle was 6.4 months, but deals are now taking much longer to close, extending to just over 8 months. Why the longer sales cycle?

First, buyers have changed, now more skeptical and frugal, a condition we have term Frugalnomics. Regardless of will, today’s buyer finds it difficult to evolve current practices / solutions, sticking with the status quo unless there is overwhelming evidence that the issue they are faced with is costly enough to immediately address, the benefits of your proposal are significant and the risks are low.

There are also many more decision makers involved in each purchase, driving a more complex review / approval process and longer sales cycles to gain consensus. According to research by IDC, 43% more stakeholders are now engaged in each decision compared to just 3 years ago; more than 10 decision makers in deals greater than $500K.

And even when the decision makers are convinced that your proposal is worthy, they are woefully short on budget and resources, delaying commitment even further.

However, the sales cycle delays are not just because of a changed buyer and Frugalnomics. According to IDC, almost 40% of decision-making delays are due to vendors not providing the right decision support information or requested deliverables on a timely basis. Now some of this may be bellyaching or excuses on your buyer’s part, but there is likely some merit to this feedback.

Therein lies a great opportunity to shorten the sales cycle, by up to 4 months according to IDC, by empowering sales reps to ignite and better facilitate buyer’s decision making.

The recommendation, proactively guide the process by answering three key buyer questions:

1)  Is the issue worth addressing as a priority? - There are many challenges competing for your prospect’s time. Often your prospects are not even aware of the severity of the issues you are trying to address, leading to stalled deals and way too many “no-decisions” in the pipeline (up to 60%). Proactively helping them to diagnose new issues, and quantifying the cost of “do nothing” is key to ignite the decision cycle and get deals from status-quo to “Yes”.

2)  What’s the value of the proposal to each stakeholder? – Getting all of the stakeholders on-board with the purchase decision is difficult for your champion, but you can provide them with the fuel for consensus by providing the value messaging and quantification for each relevant decision maker – presenting each with a unique point of value relevant to their challenges and key business drivers.

3)  What’s the financial justification / ROI? – 95% of decisions now require a business case in order to gain approval, however, less than 20% of your prospects are able to do this on their own, causing delays of 1 month or more per decision. Proactively delivering a CFO ready business case is key for you to gain project approval.

In answering all three of these key decision making questions, your ability to improve value communication and quantification is the key.

The Bottom-Line

With Frugalnomics still in effect, your sales cycles have likely extended over the past few years, but you don’t have to settle for deals taking longer than ever to close. By facilitating the buyer’s decision-making process and proactively providing the answers to three key buyer questions regarding the value of addressing key challenges and your proposed solution, you can indeed accelerate buyer decisions.

So, what is the tangible impact of accelerating your sales cycle? If you are able to implement the recommended practices to drive a 1-month reduction in the sales cycle time you can generate over $4M in incremental sales revenue for every $50M in sales territory / quota.

And what about improving the ability for your sales reps to ignite stalled decisions? You can generate an additional 8% of sales revenue, or $4M for every $50M in territory is possible.

What would you be willing to invest for a 16% sales revenue increase?  Improving your sales reps ability to communicate and quantify value in order to ignite buying decisions and accelerate sales cycles is clearly an opportunity worth addressing.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

It’s all Greek to Me

Your sales and marketing investments are intended to persuade and move buyers to action?  However, 60% of your pipeline is likely not moving towards closure, instead stalled at “Do Nothing”. 

With this "Do More with Less" economy, where frugal buyers reign, the majority of your prospects are choosing to remain with their legacy practices and solutions versus saying “Yes” to your proposal.

So what can you do to ignite buyers to take action?

Believe it or not, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle documented the perfect way to ignite buyer cycles over 2,300 years ago.  The secret lies with Pathos, Logos, and Ethos:

Pathos – appeal to the emotions. To make a more emotionally charged impression, clearly quantify the pains and risks of the status quo, such as the “cost of doing nothing”.  Make it visual and personal.  Show contrast.

Logos – appeal to logic and reason. Address the strategic and financial benefits that can be gained, including the ROI, key performance metrics and quantified improvements within reach.  Make it specific, relevant and measurable.

Ethos – appeal to credibility. Provide proof points with evidence that the benefits are tangible and achievable.  Include 3rd party validation of data and success stories.

Persuasive sales and marketing needs to challenge current thinking, convincing buyers to abandon the status quo and take action on your proposal. In order to do the convincing, you should follow Aristotle – delivering a combination of emotion, logic, and credibility – Pathos, Logos and Ethos is the guide.

The Bottom Line

“There's two kinds of people: Greeks and everybody else who wish they were Greeks (1)”.  

To ignite buying decisions and deliver a winning sales and marketing strategy, you indeed need to be Greek, or at least think like one!

Thanks to Mark Schlueter for contributing to this article!
(1) My Big Fat Greek Wedding –Gus Portokalos

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Alinean and Sales Enablement Group Launch Free Sales Enablement Assessment Tool

Empowers Sales & Marketing Executives to Quickly Benchmark Sales Enablement Maturity Versus Peers

Alinean and the Sales Enablement Group, an online thought leadership resource and community for Sales Enablement professionals, today announced the release of a free Sales Enablement Maturity Assessment Tool.

The SEG Sales Enablement Assessment Tool provides a quick way to determine the current level of sales enablement maturity, and compare current practices and gaps versus peers.


Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Value Gap: SiriusDecisions Summit Reveals Top Sales Challenge for 2014

If you were able to attend SiriusDecisions’ Summit, the Woodstock for marketing and sales enablement held this year in our hometown of Orlando, you were treated to significant research results as to the biggest challenges Sales faces over the next year.

The top challenges were not what most expected: Not the need for more leads, the ability for sales to find more content, new social selling skills, or more sales training.

Instead, the study results revealed that the Value Gap is by far the top challenge, indicated by a whopping 71% of execs as their top issue for 2014.

In the research, SiriusDecisions indicates a clear inability for Sales Reps to effectively articulate the value of their solutions.

Unfortunately, sales reps are not transitioning quickly enough from pitching products, to selling value - how recommended solutions solve top business challenges. The majority are struggling to connect their offerings to client business issues and quantifiable benefits. Clearly something needs to change, as the research reveals a clear Value Gap, between: 
  • A new breed of buyer, ever more empowered, skeptical and frugal, demanding a clear understanding of the business value a solution will bring before making a purchase, 
  • The majority sales approach that remains “in-to-out” focused on pitching products, features and price versus “out-to-in” focused on buyer challenges and the benefits / ROI of proposed solutions.  
Frugalnomics is still in effect, and this requires a new investment focus and approach from sales executives, sales enablement and marketing  to "mind the Value Gap" and improve sales effectiveness.

The Sirius recommendation: B2B solution providers need to invest in the right value messaging, sales tools, training and coaching / leadership to evolve from pitching products to a value-focused sales approach:
  1. Assessing and diagnosing business issues
  2. Quantifying the "cost of do nothing"
  3. Recommending and aligning solutions with business issues
  4. Proving the tangible value the solutions can deliver
  5. Measuring and assuring realized benefits post sale.
This is the FOURTH year in a row that the Value Gap issue remains the top challenge, as the focus and investments remain insufficient to evolve sales reps to meet buyer expectations for a value-focused approach.

According to Jim Ninivaggi, Sales Enablement Practice Director for SiriusDecisions, “Simply put -- if you want to grow revenue, your sale reps have to evolve from pitching products to clearly articulating and quantifying the value your solutions deliver.”

Are you focusing your attention and investments enough on this critical issue, or will it be a top challenge for you in 2015 and beyond?

Access the On Demand live interview with Edge Coble, Research Analyst for SiriusDecisions, to discuss this new research: