Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Is ROI Selling your Ticket to a 51% Win Rate?

Is a win rate of over 50% possible?

Recent research by CSO Insights says you can achieve this performance if your organization has a “superior ability to build a solid business case / ROI”.

CSO Insights uncovered that Win-Rates increase dramatically, and Competitive / No Decision losses decline greatly as your ROI selling capability grows. 

Those meeting or exceeding expectations with their ROI selling programs do much better than those needing improvement or redesign. In fact, moving your ROI program from basic to excellent can result in Win-Rate gains of 40% (to over 50% of deals) and reduction in Competitive and “No Decision” losses by 30%.


And the benefits don’t stop there. Those with superior ROI selling programs have:
  • A dramatically higher percentage of sales reps meeting / beating quota: 69% vs. 47%, almost a 50% increase.
  • An incredible improvement in sales reps achieving revenue plan attainment: 87% vs. 77%.
These gains are driven by increasing demand for ROI from buyers, which CSO Insights indicates has grown more than 50% over the past five years.

If you are able to meet this demand and step up your ROI game, the benefits are so dramatic, CSO Insights says value / ROI selling programs are one of the best investments a sales organization can make to improve performance.

Unfortunately, most admit that their ROI programs are underfunded and in need of improvement. Despite the overwhelming gains possible, almost 60% indicate their ROI programs need a major redesign or improvement.

Why do so many companies lag in their ROI selling performance? CSO Insights thinks it’s a lack of urgency, with ROI selling taking a backseat to other initiatives (which their own research indicates may not be nearly as effective).


Perhaps you have prioritized on-boarding, new product launches, sales asset management (SAM) or other apparently urgent programs? Our advice: stack up the impact of these programs against these metrics and see which could drive more revenue and growth.

Perhaps it’s seen as too complicated or difficult? Our advice: give us a call and we’ll show you how to cost effectively elevate your current efforts to capture these dramatic benefits.

The Bottom-Line
After seeing the incremental sales effectiveness and revenue performance, it’s hard to believe value consulting / ROI selling is getting so little attention and lackluster investments from so many.

For those who have invested in your ROI selling programs, you are realizing the benefits and competitive advantages in significantly higher win rates, accelerated sales cycles, reduced discounting and greater deal sizes.

Perhaps the time has come to take your ROI program from good to great, to realize these significant sales performance improvement and revenue gains.

Sources:
Decoding the Decision Dynamic, MHI Global 
The Frugalnomics Survival Guide - How to Use Your Unique Value to Market Better, Stand Out and Sell More

Monday, March 28, 2016

Forbes Insights: Value First

Although helping sales reps consistently find the right content for each selling situation is deemed important and is garnering much attention / investment, it’s not the top way to create higher performing reps and drive the most revenue.

A recent study by Forbes Insights indicates that top performing Sales Enablement organizations are distinctly different in their ability to:
1) Create content that is relevant to the needs of the customers they call on (67%)
2) Communicate the company’s value story (63%).


Because it is easier for buyers to research online before they meet with a rep, salespeople are ever more challenged to go beyond the easily available content and have high-value conversations, to help the buyers on topics they haven’t already learned on their own. 

As a result, the report indicates a distinct Value Gap between a typical sellers’ standard product pitch, and buyer expectations to have consultative guidance in uncovering challenges, getting competitive advice and understanding the unique value of proposed solutions.

“A key characteristic of a high-performing salesperson is an attitude to create value for customers,” says Tamara Schenk, research director at CSO Insights. “It’s a mindset. High performers have a need and desire to help a customer solve a problem, to create value for them. The business follows from that approach.”

In this new environment the research is clear: top performing sales reps are enabled to connect with buyers using more personalized content, to help interactively diagnose and assess challenges, and communicate and quantify differentiating value

“Content has got to be used to build credibility and open up a rich and meaningful customer conversation,” says Dan Smoot, executive vice president of market readiness at Salesforce.com. “If you are heavily competing, you want to be aggressive. But you fail if you are just talking about yourself. Customers want you to understand them.”

In the Forbes Insights study, over half (52%) of top performers say that “working closely with marketing to better support value selling with content is the top way that sales support (sales operations) can drive sales productivity”.


The research highlights the importance of value consistency, where sales enablement can have a big impact with tools and certification. “Value messaging and value conversations have to be consistent from end to end, so the salesperson tells the same story as marketing, but tuned to the buyer’s needs,” says Stephen Diorio, chief analyst, Forbes CMO Practice.


The Bottom-Line

When developing your Sales Enablement plans, don't forget that it's not just about helping Sales find the right content and investing in Sales Asset Management (SAM), but having better content and tools to help guide sales to better communicate and quantify your unique value.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Gartner: Buyers Demand Less Pitch, More Value-Story

According to a study from Gartner, most solution providers are not providing what buyers need when it comes to content and sales engagements.

From the survey of over 350 decision makers:

> Almost three quarters (74%) say Providers focus too much on their product features and technology, rather than the benefits.

> Nearly half (48%) don’t think Providers do a good job of communicating the business value (outcomes) that their technology and services provide.

> Customer stories and case studies are the best way that providers can communicate differentiation that buyers trust, this according to 70% of the decision makers surveyed.

Buyers have changed and are now more numbers centric, demanding more financial justification, as well as being risk averse, wanting assurances that other customers have achieved significant value and are willing to shout about it.

The challenge: Reshape your marketing content and sales conversations from
pitching-products to better communicating and quantifying your unique value and customer story.

Here are a couple of resources to help:

1) The definitive guide on how to shape your content and sales conversation from product to value: The Frugalnomics Survival Guide: How to Use Your Unique Value to Market Better, Stand Out and Sell More - http://www.amazon.com/Frugalnomics-Survival-Guide-Unique-Market/dp/0692350926

2) Schedule a value consultation so we can show you specific examples of how other sales and marketing innovators are better communicating their value and customer success stories - http://alinean.com/contact-us/


Monday, March 07, 2016

Value Summit Keynote - The Importance of Getting Value Selling Right

Last week we were incredibly proud to help launch the Value Summit (#VSRSummit) in Dallas, a
first of its kind gathering of over 160 of the best value consultants and sales enablement leads.

The two day event included great presentations and panels by industry analysts, thought leaders and consultants.

I was honored to be recognized as one of the three original founders of this new group (the VSR Council), and lucky to share the keynote stage with my good friend Jim Ninivaggi, ex- Sales Enablement practice lead from SiriusDecisions, now Chief Strategy Officer with Strategy to Revenue (STR).

In our keynote, we analyzed some of the top value selling challenges and discussed some key trends that are sure to shape value consulting and sales enablement over the next few months:

  1. The vital importance of getting value selling right. How buyers have changed and trends are driving more involvement from vendors to better communicate and quantify unique value. 
  2. Key research showing that although most organization's are investing in value selling programs, the investments may not be right / enough.
  3. The need for value consultants and sales enablement to justify their programs, to get more of their justified share of the enablement pie even at a time when enablement investments may be tightening.

You can checkout the research and presentation here >>>
http://www.slideshare.net/Alinean/value-selling-realization-vsr-summit-the-importance-of-getting-value-roi-selling-right-keynote-w-jim-ninivaggi-siriusdecisions

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Frugalnomics in Effect - Gartner predicts low IT spending growth for 2016

Gartner recently published their latest worldwide IT spending forecasts, and with a likely economic slowdown on the horizon, are projecting an anemic 0.6% YoY increase from 2015.

If you’re marketing or selling technology, this decline could have a significant impact, with buyers becoming even more cautious and economic focused.

Frugalnomics in Effect
IT spending has significantly changed, and you need to know these trends in order to succeed:

1) Do More with Less – Because of the Great Recession, companies learned how to cut expenses to improve the bottom-line, and have learned to permanently “Do More with Less”.

2) Central IT is Irrelevant? - Most technology spending decisions are now driven and controlled by business groups vs. formal IT. In fact, According to IDC, 48% of IT spending is controlled or influenced by the business. And Gartner is predicting that by 2020, as much as 90% of IT spending could be driven by the business.

3) Buyers are “Cold as ICE” - Purchase decision-making is now driven by a different kind of who is more:
  • In-Control - Highly empowered by access to incredible amounts of solution research and information via the Internet and social media, buyers have taken control of the decision making process with sales reps being invited later to the game, and ever more competition for each deal.
  • Cautious – buyers are Risk averse, afraid of making a wrong decision, not willing to spend as much per project, and more often than not, choosing to remain with business as usual / status quo rather than considering projects they view as too risky.
  • Economically Focused – today’s IT buyer is more frugal, with over 95% of technology purchase decisions now requiring a formal business case, with quantifiable ROI and fast payback (IDC). Financial justification is the new language of IT selling, where CFOs are more involved through all stages of the purchase decision, and procurement is there to demand a discount if you lead with product and price vs. value.
So how do you end up in the Winner’s Circle? - You need to factor Frugalnomics prominently into your sales and marketing strategies and investments.

Surviving Frugalnomics - The 3 Things You Must Do Now to Win in 2016
To help meet the challenge and Survive Frugalnomics into 2016 and beyond, we recommend three “must do” programs for this year and beyond:

#1 – Break the ICE - Engaging Prospects with Provocative Content
Todays’ buyers are more risk averse and frugal than ever, with 58% choosing to “Do Nothing” versus considering your solution (SBI).

Prospects will choose to stick with the status quo unless you can proactively and provocatively quantify that they have a pain worth addressing. 

And those opportunities you thought were progressing through the waterfall / sales process to “wins”? They stall unless you can help successively convince the prospect that the issue you can help solve is real, that it is a high priority worth addressing over all other issues on their plate, and that your solution / services represents a real low risk / superior value solution with unique competitive advantage.

In order to connect and engage with “Do Nothing” buyers, helping them through the decision making journey, you need to leverage content to help them realize:
  • Why Consider a Change? - the Prospect has a pain worth addressing and a significant cost of “Do Nothing”.
  • Why Change Now? – the Prospect should not wait to address the issue because every day is costing them, 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 Your Solutions?– that your solutions / services can deliver unique and superior value at a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
So how well does your current content marketing help answer these 3 key decision making questions, in a compelling and quantified way?

#2 – Empowering Sales with Value Messaging and Quantification
According to SiriusDecisions, the #1 reason why sales reps fail to meet quota is their “inability to effectively articulate the value of proposed solutions”. This past year reported by 71% of respondents. Unfortunately, despite best efforts, this is the 5th year in a row this has been the top quota issue.

Sitting in on typical sales presentations and you can see that most are product pitches or pseudo-solution selling, asking a few questions and then jumping into canned “death by PowerPoint” presentations. According to Forrester, prospects indicate that less than 12% of sales engagements are focused on outcomes and customer value.

And its not just your direct sales reps that have the issue. Many organizations are relying more and more on channel partners and inside sales to drive growth. And if it was hard to get your direct sales reps to become more value-focused, imagine how hard it will be to enable channel and inside sales to evolve from product to value.

Making the situation more complex, there are more stakeholders than ever – 43% more in each decision (8 for the typical technology decision), and many of these buyers are not who your sales reps are used to engaging. Each has a unique point of value, what matters most to them and what drives value.

So how well do your sales reps and channel partners communicate and quantify your value to a diverse set of decision makers?

#3 - Seal the Deal – Delivering 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.

From the CFOs we talk to, they indicate that proposals:
  • 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,
  • Won't be advanced unless you show that the issue being addressed is a priority with a high cost of “doing nothing”, quantified savings / benefits from the proposed solution, and a significant ROI and fast payback,
  • Won't be approved unless you can prove your solution has a lower total cost of ownership (TCO) / better value than competitive offerings.
Although IDC indicates that 95% of proposals require an ROI business case, the research indicates that 2/3rds of your prospects don’t have the metrics, research, knowledge, tools and time to prepare the business case themselves, leaving it up to you to stand up and deliver if you want their business (or have your proposal approval significantly stalled and delayed). The research shows that 81% expect your sales reps to deliver a credible business case in order to win the deal.

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 financial business cases / ROI that CFOs demand?

The Bottom-Line
It is likely there will be anemic or even  more likely negative IT spending growth forecasts for the next several years. With Frugalnomics in full-effect , technology solution / service providers need to implement a more value-focused approach to their sales and marketing strategy, content and tools.

If value marketing and selling are not accounting for Frugalnomics, the majority of your deals will stall, sales cycles will get longer, and heavy discounting will prevail.

If however you are able to implement a successful value marketing and selling program you will be able to create a significantly unique and more effective selling experience, and as a result, a competitive advantage to win more than your fair share of the challenged IT market.

For 2016 and beyond, IT sales and marketing professionals should consider three initiatives as a top priority to help Survive Frugalnomics:
  • Break the ICE - Engage Frugal Prospects with Provocative Content
  • Empower Sales with Value Storytelling and Quantification
  • Close the Deal with CFO-Ready Business Cases.
To learn more about our suggested best practices get the book: Frugalnomics Survival Guide – The definitive guide on using your unique value to market better, stand out and sell more (available now on Amazon).

Sources:
IDC 2014 Buyer Experience Study (Oct)
Forrester Sales Enablement Conference 2014
SiriusDecisions SiriusIndex, results from 2011 – 2015