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Preview: Tom Pisello: The ROI Guy

Tom Pisello: The ROI Guy

Improving B2B Sales and Marketing with Value Messaging + Tools

Updated: 2018-04-19T02:28:12.152-07:00


Helping to Overcome the IT Innovation Dilemma


IT wants to dedicate more resources and budget to support innovation, but struggles to do so, thisaccording to to survey results from 650 IT Decision Makers (ITDMs) working at organizations with 1,000+ employees.According to the study, 63% of respondent’s time is spent on “keeping the lights on” versus time spent on innovation and development projects that are designed to transform the business.The lack of time and budget for innovation places a significant constraint on IT leaders, who want to be perceived as more strategic, but who can’t shift quickly enough to deliver what the digital transformation innovation which the business wants and needs.Solution providers can address this continued IT Innovation Dilemma, positioning solutions to help overcome this continued challenge, and quantifying the value delivered. This means proving how your solution can help lower costs, free resources, and deliver innovation on a budget.Lower the TCOWhen existing solutions cost too much to run and support, this leaves less budget for innovative new projects and developments. Many solutions have a high ongoing total cost of ownership (TCO), with expenditures of 3 to 5 times the original purchase price to effectively operate the asset or function over the useful lifetime. And then, there’s the rip-and-replace cost on a three to five-year interval to also consider.ADVICE: Helping the buyer to understand their current TCO for key assets can help uncover areas where precious resource and budget are being consumed. Providing options and tallying the economics of replacing the costly systems and assets in order to lower the ongoing operating and support costs can help free precious resources and budget.Showing the TCO savings of moving to an “as a service model” could help provide more predictable costs, without the expensive rip-and-replace interval.Do more with LessWhen existing administration, support and maintenance consumes IT resources, there are less team members available to work innovative digital transformation projects. Mundane manual tasks, error handling and inefficient processes are often the norm.ADVICE: There is a high cost of “do nothing” continuing with the current practices and processes, but most prospects don’t realize how much they are wasting each year. Start by helping the prospect uncover and tally wasted productivity and resources.Next, show specifically how you can help overcome the process and practice shortfalls, improving IT and Dev Ops productivity, and freeing these resources to migrate from the mundane to the modern. Tally the savings opportunity in full time equivalent (FTE) headcount to show just how significant the innovation reallocation impact can be.Innovate on a BudgetSay “innovation”, and many immediately picture a big, expensive project. With so many organizations struggling to allocate enough resources and budget, it’s important to change the perception of what innovation really means. Think “innovation on a budget” .ADVICE: The most innovative and successful digital transformation projects:1) Find ways to leverage and integrate with existing systems and data, adding functionality and leveraging existing data versus a wholesale rip-and-replace.2) Significantly rely on an an agile development model, with consistent daily scrums to review and guide progress, address risks and prioritize efforts, and optimize user experiences. Quicker sprints provide incremental and usable deliverables.To deliver innovation on a budget you should prove how you will leverage existing systems and data where possible and practical, and demonstrate an agile development model for development, delivery and incremental evolution. Quantifying the costs and risks for other, less effective innovative methods can prove “Why You”.The Bottom LineIT is often perceived as too tactical, with most CIOs and IT leaders wanting to elevate to be more strategic. Standing in the way are resources and budgets consumed by “keeping the lights on” versus innovative digital transformation and other vital deve[...]

Software Buying Has Changed: Are You Ready?


When it comes to purchasing software, a significant 43% of your prospect's buying efforts were ad hoc, and not part of any established purchase plans. This according to Gartner’s latest research on tech buying trends.Regardless of whether a budgeted purchase or the decision was less planned, the research goes on to say that a hefty 1 out of every 3 purchases ends in no-decision.So as a sales and marketing professional, what impact should these findings have on your strategy and efforts?Be First to Add ValueFirst, since a large part of the software buying efforts are not planned, it is vital to proactively engage with buyers to help them diagnose issues, prioritize challenges and budgets, and collaboratively set the buying requirements. Unfortunately Gartner says vendors are missing the mark, with 70% of buyers saying they want less pitch and more diagnostic and prescriptive advice.ADVICE: To be successful, you can’t wait for the RFP. You need to proactively engage earlier, and higher to ignite the buying journey.This means helping the buyer clarify the priority of known challenges. Here providing peer comparisons and benchmarks can illuminate which issues are the highest priority. Better, if you can uncover unmet needs”, educating the prospect on challenges they should be addressing, but of which they may have not been fully aware.From this foundation, prospects can them be educated about potential solutions and your unique services and value.Think “earlier and higher” isn’t important? According to Forrester a full 74% of the deals go to the first sales rep that adds value.Create UrgencyWith so many deals ending in no decision, during the entire sales process, Gartner advises to constantly assess the customer situation and connect with or create urgency.ADVICE: To motivate the purchase to “Yes”, we turn to neuroscience indicating that buyers move away from pain more than gain.Urgency starts with helping the buyer quantify the high cost of “do nothing”, with a focus on helping quantify the “pain” versus pitching the “gain”.Quantify Business Value and ROISecond, the budget part of BANT is no longer a key qualification criteria, as today purchases are almost as likely to be unbudgeted vs. a designated line item. As a result, you need to help the buyer justify the purchase to allocate or reallocate budget.Spending options will be viscously competed for by equally motivated internal stakeholders, meaning that you are not just competing with other providers, but against other projects. Only the most worthwhile and justified proposals will garner the attention of executives and budget approval from finance, making the financial business case a requirement.ADVICE: You can’t leave financial justification to chance, as your proposal won’t get the budget allocation you know it deserves. In fact, 95% of buyers require financial justification on any significant purchase ($75,000 or higher).However, even though required, 65% of stakeholders can’t produce the ROI analysis on their own, making vendor delivery of a personalized, thorough and credible business case a requirement.Collaborating with prospects on the metrics and results they need is key, to assure that the analysis is competitive, not just against other providers, but especially versus other internal projects and budget allocation options.The Bottom LineWith more unplanned purchases and many purchases stalling at “no decision”, software sales and marketing needs to evolve to follow suite.As a result, you need to change your content and sales methods / tools to drive earlier and higher engagement, create urgency and quantify business value and ROI.SOURCE: Gartner: The Disappearing Opportunity -[...]

Measuring ROI / TCO Sales Tool Success


You’ve launched your interactive ROI / TCO Tool to your sales team. So what should you look for to tell if the program is working and your launch is a success?Here are three successive steps you can take to measure and prove your program’s success:Step #1: Validating Awareness First, you have to measure if you’ve successfully gotten the word out about the Tool, and your getting the sign-ups you anticipated.In order to do this, you should validate that your sales reps are registering for access and have logged in to check it out. Check this out across all regions to be sure its been introduced properly worldwide. Anything north of 50% means they are aware and following your lead, but short of 100% access means you have work to do in order to get everyone aware and registered.Step #2: Assuring AdoptionSecond, after the word is out and awareness has been validated, it’s time to assure successful adoption. Checkout Tool activity reports to see how many analyses are being created for prospects, and more importantly, the number of analysis reports being generated.  For most organizations we work with, 1 or more analyses reports per sales rep per month is the target.Step #3  Measuring Business OutcomesFinally, as the Tool adoption accelerates, it’s time to validate the positive impact the ROI / TCO Tool is having on sales success, to prove and improve outcomes.Here, its important to have the Tool integrated with your Salesforce, to tie key account metrics directly to Tool usage without having to guess at usage or survey sales reps as to the impact in key opportunities.In order to tie usage to success, the Salesforce application should track and validate in which accounts and opportunities an ROI / TCO analysis was performed, and where a report has been generated and delivered to the prospects.With this in hand, you can run Salesforce reports for specific time periods to understand where ROI / TCO analyses have been leveraged, the:1. Total proposed value of opportunities2. Total value of closed deals.Going further, you can also compare the opportunities where the Tool has been leveraged to those where it has not, to see if key expected outcomes are being achieved. In particular, we recommend examining and comparing:1. Win rates2. Deal cycle times (duration from qualified sales qualified lead and win)3. Discounts applied4. Deal size.At one account, the business value (BV) team was able to for validate a direct improvement, comparing deals where the Alinean ROI Tool was used to those where it was not, to prove a dramatic outcome improvement, including:• Use in 1/3rd of total opportunity value / deal flow• Increasing win rates to over 52% (from the low 30%s)• Acceleration of deal cycle time by 26%• Reduction in discounts offered by half.In comparing deals with and without, they commented rightly so that there can definitely be other factors besides the ROI Tool involvement, such as differences in sales reps who use the Tool versus those that don’t. But that the correlation was strong that at the least it was one of the most important factor differences between top performing apps and “middlers” / laggards, and at the most, the reason for the significant performance boost.Another great measurement is to correlate ROI / TCO Tool usage versus Sales rep performance. Is there a difference in performance between those who use the Tool frequently and quota performance? How about for new sales reps, with those who adopt seeing faster ramp up times to competency and success?The Bottom LineThere are few enterprise programs that aren’t accountable and where measurement is not key to garnering continued support and investment. And your ROI / TCO Selling program and tool are no exception.As a result, as the program is launched and takes flight, you’ll need to successively prove that the program is working, and that it is delivering the expected selling effectiveness improvements.Progressively validating awareness, assuring adoption and measuring re[...]

Account-Based Value Marketing


Many companies are implementing Account-Based Marketing (ABM), targeting their outreach
campaigns to select personas at specific prospect organizations.

Research indicates that once you have the right personas and targets identified, the key to successful ABM is being able to to cut through the noise. To do this best, providing personalized provocative content that will strongly resonate with the target persona’s challenges and needs is vital.

(image) Recently we helped one of our clients do just this, to create a provocative personalized value-focused ABM campaign.

Each month this cloud-based software company targets several hundred target companies and specific persona-based contacts. For each target, they have a set of basic account profile information – like company name, industry, location and size, all in a spreadsheet, with each row representing a target company and persona.

Using their customized Alinean ROI Tool, the client uploads the ABM Campaign Spreadsheet into the Alinean Administrative Console using a new Campaign Mode feature.

The Alinean Campaign Mode processes the account profile information, one by one for each target company and persona, using the profile information to proactively produce a provocative pro-forma Business Value analysis report. This means the Alinean ROI Tool automatically loads in the profile data, crunches the numbers, and creates a PDF report specific to the prospect.

For each target, a link is produced to the personalized pro-forma Business Value analysis report, which is provided to each sales rep account owner who then shares the report with the prospect and promotes a consultative review meeting.

Leveraging the personalized pro-forma Business Value analysis, the sales reps are able to meet with higher level executives in the organization, and when they meet, are able to provide consultative advice, versus just pitching products. As a result of the reports being pre-generated, value is introduced into almost every deal, and early where it can help inspire change and a buying journey.

Why ROI / TCO Spreadsheets Don’t Work


Many organizations like yours have developed spreadsheet-based ROI / TCO tools 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 or distributed to value / sales specialists, reps and channel partners to use in engagements, and even share with customers.These spreadsheet-based ROI / TCO tools are meeting a great need, to help you deliver formal business case justification to financially-focused buyers that now demand bottom-line proof on almost all deals. However, although easy to share and transparent, your ROI / TCO spreadsheets may not be the ideal platform to support and advance your value marketing and selling efforts.Here are some key questions you should consider about your current ROI / TCO spreadsheets:1. Development and Maintenance Costs – How much time do your precious and expensive value experts waste on developing and maintaining your spreadsheets, especially having to develop macros just to make Excel do what you need to do? Is this the best use of their time and efforts?2.  Adoption – How difficult are your ROI / TCO spreadsheets to use? How much is adoption with sales, partners and customers is constrained as a result?3.  Version Control and Security – How much are your spreadsheets shared, and where is your IP ending up? With competitors, who can easily crack Excel password encoding?4.  Usage Reporting – Do you know who is using, or moreover not using your spreadsheet tools, so you can drive adoption?  5.  Customer Intelligence – How much intelligence gathered in each engagement where the spreadsheets are used is never captured because your spreadsheets are not centralized or database enabled?6.  Integration with MAP and CRM – When customers download and use your spreadsheet tools, are you capturing key customer intelligence and a copy of the report to enable nurturing and proper sales follow-up. Do your spreadsheets integrate with your CRM system to streamline access, enable collaboration and prove outcomes?7.  Third Party Validation – Will your customers trust your in-house developed spreadsheets without third party validation and toolkit?8.  Value Storytelling – Are your spreadsheet tools and resultant customer deliverables communicating not just the numbers, but your differentiating value story, to break the status-quo and improve decision-making effectiveness?Checkout the full comparison and assessment of how you can advance your value marketing and selling programs beyond spreadsheet tools:[...]

Winners Do Differently


New research highlights that winning sales reps do things quite differently, especially when it comes to discovery, financial justification and collaboration.This, according to a new survey of over 700 B2B purchases by The Rain Group analyzing what distinguished the winning sales reps from the runner-ups.The analysis found that the best sales reps won deals by engaging differently, having advanced their winning maturity through three different levels: Connect, Convince and Collaborate.Level 1 – ConnectFirst, Winners connect better with their clients, performing better discovery, with an ability to connect the dots between customer needs and their company’s solutions much more often and effectively than the second-place finishers.In fact, the Winners demonstrated that they understood the buyer’s needs 2.5 times more often than the second-place finishers.For the Winners, it all came down to better discovery and proper alignment: Investigating, understanding and documenting the buyer challenges and aligning specific products, services and features that deliver to solve these needs.Click here to see learn more about the importance of discovery and how it can be improved in this article Better Discovery is Key to Selling: 2 - ConvinceSecond, Winners convince buyers that they can achieve maximum returns, that the risks are minimal, and that the seller is the best choice among all options.In order to become Winners, your sales reps need to be enabled to:1.  Communicate and quantify business value benefits the buyer can achieve with your proposed solutions, including cost savings, productivity improvements, business risk mitigation and revenue improvements.2.  Compare the required total investment in your solution verses the business value benefits over time, calculating return on investment (ROI), payback period / breakeven, and net present value (NPV) savings3.  Communicate potential risks to implementing your proposed solution and risk-adjust the financial justification for bankable results, including: factoring adoption curves on all best practice improvements, scaling soft benefits (only accounting for a portion of potential gains), and applying discount rates to predicted cash flows.4.  Prove you and your solutions are the best choice by comparing and contrasting total cost of ownership (TCO) and incremental business value versus the competition.The ability to go beyond a solution or challenger selling approach, a canned POV or PowerPoint, to discovering and articulating value is vital to convincing, and this means you have to tell a better personalized value story, quantify the value and competitive advantage uniquely, and de-risk the decision for your prospect.Click here to explore additional research practices in this article: To Challenge or Not to Challenge, that is the question >>> 3 - CollaborateIn addition to connecting and convincing, Winners showed a greater collaboration with buyers, offering the decision makers new ideas and educating them about their challenges and solutions. At the same time, they didn’t sit back and wait for requests, but were better at communicating and quantifying proactively.Too often, the losing reps “show up and throw up”, blindly pitching a challenger point-of-view or a canned solution without regard to where the prospect is in their decision-making process, what challenges they think are their top priority, and what the prospect truly needs solution wise.In order to produce Winners, sales enablement must help improve collaboration to aid discovery, assure mutual understanding, facilitate education, alignment, prove low risk and generate outcome commitment.Enabling sales reps with interactive tools can help them be more collaborative with prospects about thei[...]

To Challenge or not to Challenge? That is the Question.


Anyone in technology sales who’s implemented or is considering the Challenger approach worries about how sales reps could be perceived by prospects. Do they like being challenged, or do they see the approach as presumptuous and rude?Research of 230 technology buyers from the USC Marshall School of Business indicate that Challenger approach works for some, but not all buyers.So what selling style is most effective?The research indicated clearly that most buyers, 40% of participants, prefer a salesperson who listens, understands, and then matches their solution to solve a specific problem, a more traditional Solution Selling approach. And the buyers who prefer this approach jumps to 50% when you are selling to the IT and marketing departments.Another 30% of buyers value ethos, wanting a trustworthy sales rep who they feel addresses long-term needs versus a one time transaction.This leaves the remaining 30% valuing a salesperson who challenges status quo thoughts and perceptions, and then prescribes a solution that they may not have known about. When selling to HR and sales departments, the challenger approach is a little more effective, with 33% preferring this approach (meaning an equal split across all methods). But if you are selling to IT or accounting departments, only 1 in 5 like the Challenger approach (20%).For many who have met with a Challenger trained sales reps, the practice in action feels like the rep is not listening to client needs, with the seller perceived as a presumptuous know it all focused on their own views versus the real challenges that need to be solved.Why is this? You sit down with a friend to catch up on a problem they are having, and before they have a chance to tell you what they are troubled by, you are telling them all about the challenges they are experiencing and what they need to do to solve the problem. How well do you think this will go over?If you listened first, asked great questions and confirmed you understood your friend first, you've earned their trust that you are listening and understand. Once you show alignment and empathy, then they'll be ready for your new insights and potential approach, your point-of-view. Unless you already have tremendous authority, you have to earn the right to Challenge versus blindly launching into the approach.Does a doctor blindly diagnose and challenge the patient without any tests? Does a therapist tell you what your challenges are just by looking at you, or do they ask questions about what you perceive are your challenges and underlying causes? Unfortunately, most who leverage this technique challenge first and discover second, which doesn’t work for the vast majority of buyers.*The Bottom-LineAlthough the Challenger approach can be effective, and the research indicates that this approach is respected by some buyers, it is important to temper this approach as one-size does not fit all.Launching into a Challenger pitch without proper discovery may not be best depending on who you are selling to.Asking the right questions and understanding your buyer’s challenges first could be the key to winning the business. Proper discovery remains a key to effectiveness, and helping the buyer understand more about their current challenges and ways to solve them is a key first step.  To assure the buyer that you are listening and understand.In order to break status quo, you likely need to go beyond the challenges they are aware of already, or of the solutions they are considering. A point of view is still important, however based on this research, you really should discover and listen first BEFORE you challenge or prescribe.Source: HBR article by Steve W. Martin, University of Southern California Marshall School of Business: Heavy Hitter I.T. Sales Strategy: Competitive Insights from Interviews with 1,000+ Key Information Technology Decision Makers.[...]

Better Discovery is Key to Selling Success in 2018


Proper discovery is vital to winning deals. In fact, research shows that almost 60% of sellers who win competitive deals demonstrate that they effectively understand their buyer’s needs (with losses showing the exact opposite).Despite the importance of discovery to winning more deals, buyers clearly feel that their sales reps aren’t doing enough discovery to understand their needs, with:•  Only 43%—less than half of the over 10,000 interviewed buyers—rating their sales reps as “excellent” in understanding their business needs.•  One in five buyers rating their sales reps as having a “poor” understanding of their business needs.How can you get your sales reps and channel partners to perform better discovery, such that you assure you understand your buyer’s needs right from the start?What if you had a Discovery Tool for your sales reps, to better gather and assess your buyer’s needs?We addressed this for our own sales reps, creating an interactive Discovery Tool to automate the gathering and analysis of needs for our own prospects (developed using our Alinean Value Cloud platform).Here are a dozen ways the Discovery Tool helps us every day to improve needs analysis and alignment:1) The Discovery Tool helped us codify common questions we really need to know for each of our customers.  It doesn’t cover every question a sales rep needs to ask, or all the “open ended” questions to spur conversations and design-think brainstorming, but it does cover all the key baseline questions we need answered, and especially those that show we understand buyer needs. As a result, we develop proposals that specifically cover these needs and are perfectly aligned.2) Based on the answers to these key questions, the Discovery Tool intelligently guides our sales reps to the next best set of questions, shepherding the needs analysis and discovery process.3) The discovery questions are centered, not around our solutions, but around the buyer’s challenges and required outcomes, helping our reps uncover and prioritize the issues the prospect may be having with their business, current technology / practices and personal goals. Think mini-diagnostic assessment.4) As the customer answers the questions, particularly around the challenges they have or around key performance indicators, the Discovery Tool reveals unique and personalized commercial insights / peer comparison benchmarks. Which challenges are the buyer’s peers also experiencing, how mature and capable are they at overcoming these, and how far are they falling behind? All of these benchmarks are collected and leveraged from prior discovery sessions and prospect responses, so that the Discovery Tool and process (as well as our sales reps and buyers) get more intelligent with each engagement. And these insights are delivered uniquely to each prospect, creating a value-add discovery session.5) The comparisons to peers responses and benchmarks (averages, leaders and laggards) helps our sales reps and prospects collectively uncover new pains, confirm priorities, create urgency, and make the discovery process less tedious and much more consultative.6) Based on the responses and peer comparisons, we can help the buyer identify the top challenges and prioritize next steps, as the Discovery Tool automatically guides solution recommendations, and even estimates the cost of “do nothing” and value of change.7) A discovery document is created automatically from the Discovery Tool, and can be easily shared with our prospects to provide the assessment and benchmark results, confirm mutual understanding, and document the solution recommendations, with the content easily, incorporated into subsequent presentations and proposals.8) The Discovery Tool is accessed and launched from within our Salesforce instance, making it easy for our sales reps to find and leverage[...]

Top Two of Three Sales Barriers for 2018 are Business Value Challenges


Sales still lacks the ability to effectively communicate and quantify business value, this according to new research from consultancy Sales Mastery.

This new study indicated business value related barriers as two of the top three challenges impacting the ability for sales organizations to achieve their 2018 revenue objectives.

This included:
•  Improving differentiation from the competition (31.5%) – the ability to effectively communicate and quantify the business value and TCO advantages of your solution versus the competition.

•  Better establishing the “full” ROI of products and services (26.9%) – quantifying the complete business value of proposed solutions to ever more frugal prospects.

These two business value deficiencies exceeded many other sales challenges, but currently don’t receive nearly the attention or investments of other much less impactful issues in alignment, sales process, CRM and sales training.

The Sales Mastery research indicates clearly that more budget and resource allocations need to be made to improve business value training tools, practices and skills.

So, what are you doing in 2018 to help overcome these top Business Value priority sales barriers?

Source: 2017 Sales Enablement Optimization interview of several hundred sales execs.

Value Selling from within Salesforce


When rolling out Value Sales Tools, for better discovery, benchmarking, assessments, ROI /TCO analyses, assuring the tools are tightly integrated with your Salesforce instance could mean the difference between success and mediocrity.Here’s a couple of big reasons why:1) Increase AdoptionLast year, a stunning 41% of sales reps failed to meet quota goals. And no wonder, as buyers say 74% of sales reps are still too focused on features and price and more than 55% say they’re doing a poor job at communicating unique business value.It is essential you get sales reps to actually use the tools you worked so hard to develop. But adoption is not assured. Any barrier to find and access the Value Sales Tools can hamper results, so its key to place them right into the workflow and playbook of the sales reps to promote access and drive usage.By having your Value Sales Tools integrated with Salesforce you can:a)  Avoid having another username and password for the sales reps to remember –Launching the Tools directly from Salesforce and having the application authenticate in the background.b)  Prompt the creation of new discovery, benchmarking, assessments, ROI and TCO analyses from right within the Account and Opportunity viewsc)  Access prior analyses from within the Account and Opportunity views, to promote iterative analyses with the prospect.2) Improve Forecasting and CoachingA sales rep forecasts a $1M+ deal but hasn’t done a discovery / assessment up front, or an ROI business case to help the champion justify the purchase. Are the odds good the deal will close?And do you even know which deals have valid discovery / assessments and ROI business cases?If your Value Sales Tools are integrated with your Salesforce instance, your sales managers can see which deals haven’t had the right Value analyses performed to assure success, and coach the team early and often to get the requisite engagement elements completed with the prospect..This means that your sales managers can:a)  Assure that up-front discovery and assessments are completed and shared with the prospectb)  Validate that a credible business case is not left to chance, but developed and delivered to the prospect to quickly gather executive approval and financial sign-offc)  Know which deals, especially critical larger ones, are forecast more accurately – because proper discovery, assessments and ROI / TCO analyses have been developed and delivered to assure success.To further help in coaching efforts, your discovery, assessment, ROI / TCO tools all collect a wealth of customer insights and intelligence as your sales reps use them interactively in engagements with prospects. This discovery and assessment / value results data can be “mined” and leveraged to assist in knowing more about each account, where to focus and how to shape the approach based on deep profile and opportunity knowledge.As you innovate, experimenting with AI in your Salesforce instance, the integration of your Value Sales Tools can provide the necessary customer intelligence to fuel the insights these programs need to drive improvements.3) Prove Value Selling EffectivenessWith your current non-integrated Value Sales Tools, it’s likely you’re manually tracking where the tools are used and comparing this usage to closed deals, to see where the tools might have had an impact. Or you may be surveying the field to determine the usefulness and attribution of the tools in driving success. Not only does this consume a lot of your precious time, but neither of these measurements pass muster with frugal executives when it comes time to justify more investment and resources in your value program.With a tight Salesforce integration, you can specifically track and correlate the use of your Value Selling Tools directly with key sal[...]

Getting Prospects to Engage: Its all about the Metrics


We were on a call with a value engineering leader the other day, and he was telling us how his sales reps were getting pushback from prospects when engaging with ROI.The prospects require the ROI analysis, to build consensus and elevate priority with the buying committee.  And the need for financial justification is clear in order to get executive approval. However, this long time ROI expert highlighted three challenges he wanted help in overcoming to gain better adoption and selling effectiveness:1) Prospects don’t have the data needed to populate the analysis – Often key metrics you need to help the prospect understand their “do nothing” costs and to calculate potential business value impacts are not known or readily available, yet the prospect would still like to see an ROI analysis. We estimate that prospects have less than 10% of the data needed to perform an ROI analysis on-hand, and that collecting all the data can often take weeks. No-one has time for these kind of delays.Our Advice: It is key to provide prospects with a default value on all of the key metrics needed for their ROI analysis, so leveraging this as a starting point the prospect can quickly gauge their current costs and potential business value benefits with just a few easily gathered data points. From here, the sales rep can engage iteratively as needed to collect actuals and refine the analysis to the point where the prospect takes ownership and is satisfied with the integrity of the analysis results.For each default metric, we recommend providing a benchmark, particularly in a spectrum chart, visualizing the value for the leaders, laggards and peer average for each metric. This way, as the sales rep performs discovery and the prospect reviews the defaults and gathers the actual metrics, they can see how they fall versus their competitors.2) Prospects are reluctant to share the data they do have – Prospects are concerned that any data they provide to sales reps might be used against them in the selling process. Our Advice: Providing an analysis using industry average benchmark data fine tuned to match their particular size is a good starting point, so you can still produce an ROI analysis for them without them having to provide any confidential data.This pro-forma estimate may be enough for some deals, but on most others, you’ll have to do more. We suggest providing the prospect with direct access to the ROI analysis tool in order to confidentially enter their own data and perform their own analysis.3) They don’t always trust the results – Prospects often have a hard time believing the results of a vendor provided ROI analyses. In fact, less than 15% of prospects currently trust vendor provided ROI. Our Advice: There are 3 proven ways to boost the trust factor with your prospects:a)  Results have to pass the “sniff test” – One of the quickest ways to loose credibility is to overstate your ROI results. An ROI of less than 500% is credible, but one of 1,000% or more certainly will bring scrutiny, and cause your sales rep to lose credibility and be on the defensive.In your ROI model, it is important to scale the results, to account for the benefits not occurring immediately, but to be less in the beginning, until adoption is achieved and processes can be optimized. Applying a realization curve can help make the results more realistic.It is also good to scale the softer, indirect benefits when compared to more tangible direct benefits. Often when downtime avoidance, boosts in user productivity or customer experience improvements are tallied, the value of these benefits can overwhelm the rest of the calculations. As every hour of downtime savings or productivity improvement, and every uptick in customer experience doesn’t always tr[...]

Research proves Financial Justification is a Requirement for Selling to Executives


Executives require financial justification in order to gain consensus and feel comfortable with a purchase approval, however most vendors struggle to help these executives make a compelling case for change. This according to research of 312 executive participants from Corporate Visions.Did you know …61% - of executives lack confidence in their ability to build a meaningful business and financial case to justify a decision, meaning that you as a provider need to close this gap56% - believe their salespeople are “50-50” or worse at connecting your business value to executive-level needs and initiatives39% - are confident in their sales reps’ ability to build a meaningful business and financial case that creates the urgency for a decision. Clearly there is a Value Gap, between buyers need for financial justification and making a compelling case for change to the ever larger decision making team, and solution providers inability to consistently and credibly articulate and quantify unique business value and provide this in a solid business case proposal. And this Value Gap has an impact, leading to stalled deals, delays and more deals lost to “no decision” than to the competition.In the research, different scenarios were simulated to understand what elements make for the most compelling business case. The research revealed a single set of content, presented in succession, that is the most effective:Presenting a business issuePropelled by a series of unconsidered needs Before providing a solution value story With heavy ROI justification. We too believe this is a great outline for more effective engagements, following a storytellers’ arc: providing the ability for sales reps to build urgency while providing executives with the content they need to better understand and communicate your unique value story more effectively to the buying committee. The difficulty is getting your sales reps and partners to leverage this roadmap for better business cases in a consistent manner, and have the quantifiable content to deliver for each unique prospect. Sales training is a start, to get the right mindset, effect a shift from pitching products to selling value, and a foundation for change, but education alone can’t provide what your team needs.This is where interactive Value Selling Tools can be applied right in prospects engagements, launched right from and guiding the right questions and analytical results to dynamically create the business case with buyers.These interactive Value Selling Tools can directly reshape each client engagement, not just guiding, but intelligently collecting and delivering the unique insights, benchmarks and analytics needed to helps sales reps best articulate your unique business value and personally quantify financial justification for each unique opportunity.Through each step in the recommended most effective business case content, mapping to our CLOSE methodology, this should include:1. Business issue (Challenge) –prompting the right Discovery questions dynamically and intelligently to help uncover the highest priority business issues, including helping buyers compare their business issues and priorities with their peers (collected from prior engagements using the sales tool).2. Unconsidered Needs (Loss) – assessing current challenges and capability / maturity to help uncover hidden needs, helping the prospect to understand the gaps in their legacy solutions and current practices, and providing benchmark comparisons to peer scores (also collected from prior engagements using the sales tool), providing peer pressure urgency. As well, leveraging the discovery information to quantify the cost of “do nothing”, so important because more than 70[...]

Customer Intelligence: The Hidden Power of Interactive Content


You download that white paper, and because it’s gated, you’re required to fill out a lead capture form – your name, email address, Company, title, location, phone number, name of first born…Worse, you know you’re immediately going to get that lame phone call or email follow-up: “I see you downloaded our white paper, want to talk?”. Today you need more than “digital body language” from your marketing automation platform (MAP) to effectively engage with prospects. You need “intelligent understanding”: insights into a specific prospect’s challenges, what they need, and what value your proposed solutions can really deliver. You certainly can’t get this from a lead capture form, or discerning from site visits and view / download actions. So what can you do to improve your understanding, so that your engagements have real meaning, and aren’t viewed as a waste of buyer’s time or a one-size-fits-all sales pitch?Interactive Content to Improve Customer IntelligenceInteractive content can help overcome the engagement challenge – using value-added dynamic content to capture more intelligence from your prospects. Think diagnostic assessments, benchmarking tools, solution prescriptions, and ROI / TCO calculators.These Interactive tools provide prospects with a personalized assessment, analysis and content in real-time based on intelligent prompts and responses. Unlike the dread of a lead capture form, your prospects want to interact and provide the requested information from your interactive content, because they get valuable, personalized insights, benchmarks, analysis and prescriptive advice in return.Using interactive content, your prospects can learn more about the hidden challenges they face, which they should prioritize, how their strategy and performance compares to peers, the cost of “do nothing”, prescriptive solution recommendations, and business value outcomes which could be gained. All of this personalized insight is available on-line, but can also be downloaded by the prospect in a customized assessment report, and easily shared with other decision makers (enabling your mobilizer / champion to do more to help accelerate a favorable decision for you).But its not just the buyer who gains insights. Vital information is captured by the interactive tool in each and every interaction:What are this prospect’s specific top challenges? Where are they falling behind their peer performance? What is the status-quo costing them each and every day they fail to act? What are the specific identified opportunities for improvement? What unique business value can they derive from recommended solutions?All of this customer intelligence can be fed to your MAP solution in real time along with a copy of the personalized report, adding significant fuel and decision points to your nurturing process and empowering intelligent follow-up dialogue to get that appointment or advance the deal forward with urgency.Leveraging the personalized assessment report and captured customer data points and results for each unique prospect, when follow-up occurs, you can improve the engagement and conversation. The reach-out is no longer about downloading a white paper or viewing a video, but specific and insightful regarding each prospect’s unique challenges, solutions and business value benefits.Further viewing the captured customer intelligence in aggregate, across all prospects, can help better understanding buyer motivation and value, to improve positioning and even in creating derivative content – like insight / benchmark comparison white papers based on the collected metrics.The Bottom-LineIt is clear that in order to more effectively convert prospect digital inter[...]

The 3 Things I Learned at the Sales Enablement Society Conference


Alinean’s Dan Sixsmith recently attended the annual Sales Enablement Society Conference in Dallas, with a wealth of other sales enablement experts and practitioners.  These are the top 3 top things he learned, all involving ways to improve your sales conversations for maximum effectiveness:It’s Not Me, It’s You!Buyers are looking for sales reps to be strategic partners and trusted advisors, yet prospects rate only 18% of sellers as measuring up to this new standard (USC, 2017). With these low ratings, buyers are clearly telling sales enablement that selling needs to change. That its high time to move from a sales pitch monologue to a more interactive engagement and conversation. Its time to center on the buyer’s challenges and outcomes not on the product or service. For 2018, selling needs to be about assessing, prescribing and deriving outcomes versus product pitching and hard sellingTo help address this need, many society members indicated the big need for new personalized customer-centric messaging and discovery tools, to enables sales reps to ask better questions and assess the prospect and illuminate buyer challenges, as well as guides and tools to assist in prescribing the best solution to meet the identified challenges and needs.Can You Sell Change?The best sellers need to be able to justify change. They need to get the Buyer to think differently. In many cases, Sales is up against the status quo, the Comfort Zone. But according to a new article in, the status quo is rapidly becoming the most dangerous place to be today, as disruption becomes the biggest risk to any business: needs help showing prospects the risk of standing pat. The most effective way to do this and to sell change is to quantify and demonstrate the risk of the status quo - the real cost of "do nothing".  Those reps that can overcome status quo and sell change are more likely to be successful in the digital economy.But this is easier said than done. Sellers will need tools to analyze the impact status quo is having on the organization, and communicate and quantify the risks and tangible costs.The Difference Between Knowing and DoingDespite the amount invested in new sales methodologies, particularly ones aimed at breaking the buyer’s status-quo, most sales reps struggle to put the newly learned methods into practice. It’s not enough to know what to do, but you need to put it into practice to be AND do. The most effective new methods are less about process, and more about engagement. To change the engagement, sales reps have a hard time doing this on their own. They need “fuel” in order to situationally change the conversations (based on buyer challenges and their role in the organization at least). And beyond direct conversations, sellers need content to arm mobilizers / champions so they can sell internally, to a wealth of decision makers the sales reps will never meet but are key to the buying decision and approval process.Society members identified a huge need for the right messaging, content and tools that can guide sales reps in putting these new client engagement methods into practice, and directly evolve the conversation.Learn MoreHere’s a collection of interviews from the Conference, with several key Sales Enablement thought leaders and practitioners:Chris Kingman, TransUnion (podcast version) McCormick, Pegasystems Thatcher, RingCentral O’Brien, Sage Payment Solutions to Dan’s popular podcast series: Sales Is Kin[...]

CSO Insights: The ROI / Business Value Justification Gap


ROI / business value justification is not getting the emphasis it should, and remains a challenge for most organizations. This a finding from over 1,000 surveyed as part of CSO insights annual Sales Enablement Optimization Report for 2017.According to the research, ROI / Business Value Justification Training and Enablement are in aggregate need of a major redesign and improvement for the majority of respondents (almost 60%). This skills and capabilities gap is much less for on-boarding, value-messaging, methodology or product training, all receiving much more focus and investment by sales enablement groups today.ROI / Business Value joins Social Selling and Customer Journey skills and training as the top three shortfall areas all requiring renewed focus and increased sales enablement investment.With ROI / Business Value as the top training, capability and skills gap, organizations may struggle with:1) More stalled deals – not creating urgency with prospects as to the substantial “do nothing” costs and business value opportunities2) Longer sales cycles – customers have to work on their own to create justification business cases, with 81% lacking the skills / capabilities to do so (IDC)3) Increased discounts – focusing on price versus business value, sales reps are quick to lower prices to get the deal4) Inefficiencies and scale challenges – with sales reps taking an inordinate amount of time, tapping exhausted value consultant teams, or struggling to even deliver requested financial-justification business cases to prospects.           So what are you doing to close the ROI / Business Value Justification Gap in 2018?Source: [...]

Expand Selling: The Requirement to Prove Realized Value


If you are in technology sales, especially with a legacy solution provider, you know the struggle. Over 70% of established technology providers are now facing flat or declining product revenues, this according to the latest research from the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA).Purchasing has moved from IT to the business, who only control the budget for their functional areas rather than the enterprise. Price wars and discounting reign. As a result, product revenues have dropped 20% over the past 4 years. Although there is a bright spot in cloud and services helping to overcome some of the revenue decline, companies that have moved to subscription and consumption-based pricing, have faced other issues, with a substantial business model shift and initial contract value for new customers decreasing. Growing Revenue with an "Expand Selling" StrategyThe solution, according to the TSIA, is to not invest ever more sales and marketing budget on new customer acquisitions, but rather to focus on up-sells and cross-sells to existing customers. This has been termed Expand Selling, and according to TSIA’s research:Expansion revenue from existing customers is 3 to 4 times less expensive to acquire than revenue from new-logo customers.In nearly all market segments, the fastest growing companies are “the ones who drive the largest percentage of their revenue from their existing customer base”. To make the shift and grow existing customer revenue, many firms pitch an ever increasing collection of new features, trying to entice more sales via add-ons. However, this won’t deliver the desired outcomes with today’s more conservative and risk averse buyer. Pitching more features is often interpreted as adding complexity versus delivering value, and is not always better at motivating buyers to procure more, faster.It is clear that if you are going to overcome the revenue challenge, especially via Expand Selling, it is key to move beyond add-on product pitches and prove the value you have already achieved from prior products and services. TSIA reports that even though it is real value and not more features, that customers crave, it can be difficult for salespeople to make this shift, and to quantify the unique value that their company’s products and services create for each prospect. New sale quotas remain the focus and consume most of the sales reps time. Product pitches reign while financial acumen and value selling lag. And even when the time and skills are there, sales reps aren’t provided with the business value tools to make it easy to assess the value actually achieved, especially versus pre-solution and proposed ROI targets.For those trying to implement best practices, TSIA reports business value consulting groups helping to interviews customers and assess realized value. However, this is less than scalable and cost effective beyond just a select elite group of customers.Splunk Realized Value SuccessAt our Business Value Summit last Spring, David Caradonna and Doug May from Splunk discussed the importance of renewals to Splunk’s amazing growth success, from its founding in 2003 to a $1B+ annual revenue generator today.As part of their customer success and value consulting groups, Splunk engages with clients, leveraging an interactive Realized ROI tool (powered by Alinean). On a regular cadence, targeted quarterly, the sales team collaborates with the client to analyze and assure that the customer is achieving and exceeding the expected ROI from their investment in Splunk.The sales team usually has a benchmark ROI analysis, developed pre-sales (also developed using an Alinean p[...]

Executive Conversations: Evolving from a Sales Pitch to Prescriptive Advice


Executives don’t want a sales pitch, however, research indicates that is just what they are getting most of the time.According to Forrester, 80% of sales conversations are still about selling products and services, with only 20% focused on the executive buyer's challenges and initiatives. It’s no wonder that only one in four salespeople ever get to meet with the executive again.Your typical PowerPoint pitch about your latest solution falls flat with today’s executive. When asked what they would like instead, the research indicates:95% of buyers want more benchmarking insights to help measure effectiveness against industry standards and compare to peers81% of buyers want benchmarking tools to guide future investments. 97%want more prescriptive content, helping to highlight issues and providing advice on what to do next (Demand Gen Report).Executives are seeking a 3rd party view on how their doing. They want insights and competitive intelligence. They want help uncovering issues they should be addressing, and they want to know how you’ve solved similar issues for others just like them.Certainly not a casual conversation, and a big challenge to enable your sales reps to have the right executive conversation, and scale this effectively across the team.What if you could make delivery and scale easier with Peer Comparison, Assessment and Benchmarking Tools, arming your sales reps, specialists and partners with a structured way to discover key performance indicators, and review how well the organization you are visiting is performing versus their peers? Financial Peer ComparisonsThe Alinean Financial Peer Comparison Tool delivers one such tool, empowering your team to quickly compare any prospect with up to six of their closest competitors. The tool leverages high quality financial data from Compustat S&P from over 60,000 worldwide firms to help you quickly analyze and compare performance across 30+ key financial metrics.Leveraging the analysis and report presentation, you and your executive prospect can quickly visualize how they compare to the peer group, highlighting clearly who the leaders and laggards are for each metric, where the peer average lies, and where they sit within this spectrum.As the financial metrics can sometimes be confusing to some sales reps and partners, In-line guidance and help is provided for each metric and comparison, providing intelligent advice on what each metric is and what it means to the business.To help determine the value of potential improvements, the value of “move the needle” is calculated, allowing the seller to model how small advances to a metrics, provided by potential solutions from your organization, could drive big business value benefits.With the Financial Peer Comparison Tool, your team can have better executive conversations, helping the executive better compare their performance, understanding where they are doing well, and obtaining from you the prescriptive advice they need to drive tangible improvements.Signup for your free trial today: Interactive Assessments and Benchmarking ToolsA customized interactive assessment and benchmarking tool can be designed and delivered to help your sales reps, specialists and partners discover key insights about prospects, and compare these to industry / peer benchmarks.The tool presents key qualitative and quantitative discovery questions, designed to help learn more about the executives needs around your potential solutions, and automatically tuned for each opportunity (based on responses to key questions like industry, role,[...]

The Accelerating Death of the B2B Sales Rep?


Two years ago, I was sitting amongst a shocked audience, listening to analyst Andy Hoar pronounce the “Death of the B2B Sales Rep”.  In this session, Forrester boldly predicted that 1 million B2B salespeople would be displaced by 2020, as B2B buyers by-pass reps who just take orders or pitch products, instead favoring digital self-service and more value-added interactions with a select group of more capable, consultative sales reps.Now, two years on, the forecast from Forrester is even gloomier, with faster than anticipated disintermediation.  Unfortunately, too many sales reps and enablement groups haven’t gotten the memo, and remain entrenched in their old ways.In fact, Forrester indicates that:Just 20% of meetings with sales pros focus on their specific needs, with a mere 36% of B2B executives believing that reps understand their business problems and offer clear solutions for them80% of sales conversations are still about selling products, and only 20% are about the executive buyer's challenges and initiativesAs a result, 68% of B2B buyers prefer to research online on their own today, up from 53% in 2015.So how can you best address these changing buyer trends and add more value to each and every prospect engagement? According to the research, here's two important investments you can make today:1) Interactive and Prescriptive Content Marketing – As buyers prefer to do on-line research on their own, investing more in digital content marketing is tops on Forrester’s advice list. In particular, you should be spending more on interactive, prescriptive content such as diagnostic assessments, benchmarking tools, product advisors and ROI / TCO calculators. All of these tools are designed to help advise buyers about their challenges, how they compare to other customers, what solutions would help them most, and how they can derive the most value from proposed solutions.2) Fueling Consultative Sales Rep Conversations – Although the headlines might indicate otherwise, the research shows that certain sales reps remain important and valued, especially when it comes to “high-consideration purchases” when solutions are complex and reaching internal consensus amongst more stakeholders is required.When it comes to these complex solutions, buyers have high expectations, demanding the sales rep do their homework, know their business, help uncover challenges, understand the competitive context, and define specifically where they can create immediate value.Those sales reps who are able to deliver on these buyer expectations are vital, so instead of declining, the number of consultative sales reps is actually predicted to grow 10% by 2020.So how do you find, up-skill and enable enough of these consultative reps? According to Forrester, it is vital these consultative sales reps have and leverage the right tools and technology to move from a traditional ineffective sales pitch to instead create customer intimacy: to better discover and diagnose, benchmark, make product recommendations and deliver financial justification — all dynamically and in real time.The Bottom LineWhether you agree with the 1 million rep disintermediation predictions or not, there is certainly a huge shift in buyer preferences.In order to make your prospect interactions more effective, the migration to digital, especially early in the buyer journey is real, and one that will require interactive and prescriptive content marketing investments to meet buyer needs, differentiate from the competition, and motivate the purchase decision forward.When it comes to sales reps, proper enablem[...]

SaaS / Cloud Renewals: Quantify Realized Value or Perish


Many Cloud / SaaS businesses talk a good game when it comes to renewals, but when it comes right down to it, most aren’t doing what they need to in order to retain their precious subscribers.Did you know ...A 15% customer churn rate is the average performance for over 50% of current SaaS / Cloud providers (Pacific Crest 2016)It costs a hefty $1.13 to acquire $1 of annual contract value for a new customer, compared to only $0.13 to retain $1 in contract value for a renewal (Pacific Crest 2016)The probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%, while the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% (MarketingMetrics)80% of future revenue for a SaaS / Cloud provider will come from 20% of your current subscribers (Gartner / CMO)The average SaaS/ Cloud provider leaves 15% of additional annual contract value on the table each year by not effectively up-selling / cross-selling to existing accounts (Pacific Crest 2016).For most SaaS businesses, the research proves the better way to grow as via improved customer retention, and leveraging success within these accounts for up and cross-sell opportunities. However, when you examine sales and marketing investments, the typical enterprise SaaS provider remains too focused on recruiting new customers, and as a result, churn is higher than anticipated, with detrimental results on profitability and performance.And if you think you can paper over the retention challenge with new customer acquisitions, you could be dead wrong. The TSIA indicates that: “a churn of more than 20% will ultimately prove fatal. To be a profitable, we think churn really needs to be kept to single digits, with top SaaS / Cloud performers experiencing less than 5% per year". (TSIA)Assuring Retention through Realized ValueSo how do you assure these lower churn rates and better capture of existing customer upsell opportunities?At our recent Business Value Summit, David Caradonna and Doug May from Splunk discussed the importance of renewals to Splunk’s amazing growth success, from its founding in 2003 to a $1B annual revenue generator today.As part of their customer success and value groups, Splunk engages with clients, leveraging an interactive Realized ROI tool (powered by Alinean). On a regular cadence, targeted quarterly, the team collaborates with the client to analyze and assure that the customer is achieving and exceeding the expected ROI from their investment in Splunk.The team usually has a benchmark ROI analysis, developed pre-sales (also developed using an Alinean powered interactive tool), and compares the current performance against this baseline to prove that the expected ROI has been achieved and that the investment to date has been a success. Any shortfalls can be triaged quickly with this awareness, and success can be touted by the customer to their executives in order to continue support and assure renewals. It is from this factual value report that renewals are justified.Moreover, the Splunk value team looks for additional ways it can help clients leverage the solution to drive better ROI. Often, Splunk’s clients are ingesting just a few data sets and analyzing these, there are usually many more data sets available that could be leveraged to drive improvements. Splunk uses interactive tools (powered by Alinean) to help highlight these additional data sets and use cases, and quantify the incremental business value that could be achieved by the customer.The Splunk value team is onto something, fueling growth not just by leveraging business value to build the business case in pre-sales engage[...]

Gartner: Are You Ready for More Buyers and the IT to Business Shift?


More stakeholders than ever are engaged in enterprise buying decisions. According to Gartner, the average enterprise technology buying team now includes more than 13 people!This includes seven to eight who are actively driving the buying effort, and five to six people who occasionally get involved, particularly in validation checkpoints, reviews and approvals.And to make it even more of a challenge, these active participants can shift depending on the stage in the buying journey. This means connecting, engaging and convincing different stakeholders during the earlier exploration phases, and then doing it all over again for others more heavily involved in the evaluation and selection process.Who’s in Charge: The Business or IT?Back in the day, technology purchase decisions were more complex and as such, IT used to own the majority of the budget and lead almost all of the decision making process. Now, Gartner research indicates that a meager 1 in 5 of the decisions are led by IT people. Nearly 3 in 4 of today’s enterprise purchase decisions aren’t driven by IT, but from C-level executive management or the business unit taking the lead.When we look at today’s sales and marketing, most content and conversations remain too focused on technology and IT decision makers, missing the mark on what matters most to executives and the business.The Result: Long Delays and “No Decisions”More people involved in each decision and a shift in decision leadership from IT to the business has had a significant impact on Technology Solution Providers and selling effectiveness:First, deals are taking longer to close. According to Gartner, enterprise buying efforts often take 12 months or more. It is most common for buying teams to spend between three and six months in each major area of the buying cycle.Second, more deals are being lost, not to the competition, but to “No Decision”. According to Gartner, in the past 12 months, 94% of the respondents have participated in a buying cycle where the effort was canceled before the purchase was completed. In today’s budget constrained and risk averse environment, not every project gets the funding or the resources it needs to succeed. The top four reasons Gartner found for “No Decision” were: Lack of satisfaction with potential solutions or providers (35%), Project or solution costs exceeding the budget (34%), Business and/or technical risks deemed too high (31%), and Concerns over ROI (30%). Three Ways to Meet the “13 Buyers” ChallengeAs an enterprise marketer, enablement professional or sales rep, what can you do to be ready for more than 13 decision makers in each account, so you don’t experience the resultant wave of delayed cycles and “no decision” losses?Here are our top three recommendations:#1:  From IT to the BusinessFrom another Gartner survey, this one featuring responses from 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.So job one needs to be to shift from the old habit of Pitching Products to IT, to now Better Communicating and Quantifying Unique Value to the Business.#2:  From On-Size-Fits-All to Business, Functional and PersonalWhat each buyer cares about most can differ wildly amongst the dozen plus committee members. For some, cost avoidance and budget impacts may [...]

Interactive Content for Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Selling (ABS)


Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Selling (ABS) methodologies are becoming more popular, with almost 40% of B2B solution providers now leveraging this strategic approach to better target and more personally engage with prospects.When we examine these ABM and ABS programs, most are leveraging the method to better identify and reach the right customers and people within the target organizations.However, we find these targeting efforts falling flat with buyers. Unfortunately, sales and marketers are leveraging the same old one-size-fits-all traditional white papers / content in reach-out / nurturing campaigns, and stale company / product-centric pitches to power sales conversations.There is likely a content and conversation gap in your ABM and ABS program that you need to address, with the current content leading to less than successful connections and engagements.We recommend the “three Ps” to help close this gap and create the right content and conversation to fuel ABM and ABS connections and engagements:1) Personalized – Delivering only the relevant content and conversations, personalized to specific prospects’ industry, location, size and role, and even the specific business objectives they need to achieve and challenges they are facing. Generic doesn’t cut it any longer, as you have to pivot and filter to just the right content, right away.2) Provocative – Focusing on content and conversations that will get the buyer to take action and break the “status quo” malaise. This means focusing not on your company / products, what you do, but “Why Change?” and “Why Now?”. The content should focus not on the “gain” from your solution, but the “pain” the buyer is experiencing, educating the buyer with research insights and quantifying the cost of “do nothing”.3) Persuasive – Leveraging the right content and conversations to recommend and align your specific solution and differentiators to the specific challenges the buyer has, communicating and quantifying the business, functional and personal value you can deliver. As well, providing evidence that the proposed solution and value is achievable, with relevant case studies (at a minimum aligned to the targets specific industry, location, size and role, as well as solution / value examples).Why Interactive Content is the best Engagement Fuel?When you think about all the pivot points and variations, industry, location size and role at a minimum, it is difficult to produce all the right variations you need of all the content using traditional PDFs and PPTs.What if you could pivot, tune and produce the right content and conversation guide dynamically?What if you could make this customer facing, so you can tune it dynamically and interactively with the prospect, particularly when you want to discover business objectives / challenges and align to just the right solutions?This is where interactive content and sales tools come into play, providing customer-facing applications that help buyers personalize the content precisely to address the three-Ps, and dynamically guiding sales conversations based on intelligent discovery and dynamic content creation.Workday uses interactive content / sales tool from Alinean to spark a “reason for engagement”, and help fuel more compelling and consultative sales conversations.  The Value Impact Tool collects information about the prospect’s industry and role, and then provides specific diagnostic assessments and benchmark insights to help uncover challenges, educate th[...]

Gartner: The Importance of Value versus Benefits


According to Gartner, survey data obtained from technology buyers – both from IT and lines of business – indicates that "value assessments are among the most important sets of information within a buying process”.The key is to paint a clear and concise picture of what success looks like after the deal closes. The research shows that “contextual explanations of value delivery must be part of a salesperson’s arsenal”, and needs to be weaved into the content and tools they use to articulate value, develop compelling and credible business cases, and with today’s “decision by committee”, arm customer champions with the right content as well.It’s now wonder that many IT solution providers like you have put together value messaging or financial justification spreadsheets. The task usually involves listing all of the features, and trying to figure out the potential benefits that the buyer can achieve by taking advantage of each.Your internal groups are extremely proud of their products and services – and rightly so, as they live and breathe your solutions every day, and know the features and capabilities better than anyone on the planet.But as a result, this inside-out perspective is overcomplicated, listing each and every feature, often overestimating the benefits that can be achieved, and not placing the benefits in a context that the buyer can understand.For example, your service has an important feature with the benefit of reducing the amount of time it takes to deploy a new application, in days versus weeks. This value might manifest itself in context differently for the business unit delivering revenue-generating client applications (delivering faster sales growth) versus those applications supporting back office applications (getting to process effectiveness and productivity more quickly). Or different value based on supporting a bank (adding more customer accounts this quarter vs. next) versus a retailer (launching a new buying experience feature more quickly to generate sooner incremental sales). When it comes to benefits, its about the features, but when it comes to value, we can see from this example that its all about the buyer’s context.“When tech providers create their messaging, there are often the inevitable “features vs. benefits” authoring tasks in which product or content marketers attempt to wrest IT or business benefits from sets of product features….However, the sheer number of competitors in any given market, as well as the inability of many to be able to differentiate their products (or services, but I’ll continue with “products” henceforth), often makes it hard for customers to determine how and when they will obtain value from those features and benefits in their contexts.” – David Yokelson, Research VP GartnerIt is important to remember: Rather than a solution with great features and benefits, a buyer sees a project with costs and risks. As a result, the Feature-Benefits based approach is not as effective as it could be in getting buyers to “Yes”Buyers have a decidedly different perspective on Value. Their day begins and ends with their business challenges, and how these issues are manifesting as pains: costing them money, productivity, time-to-market, revenue or increased risk.Instead of a list of your features and benefits, they need help identifying pain points, how your solution aligns to help solve these issues, and the unique business value you can deliver in solving these. An outside-in [...]

Live Webcast: Financial Peer Comparison and the Value of “Move the Needle"


Presented by: Betty McNeil, SVP Solution Specialist, Alinean
Thursday, May 18, 2017 11:00 am EDT

It's more important than ever to engage earlier and higher but this can be a challenge.

Executive buyers indicate that a paltry 20% of the salespeople they meet with achieve expectations and create value. As a result, only one in four salespeople ever get to meet with the executive again.

Executives want competitive insights and consultative advice, not the same old sales pitch.
How can you fuel more compelling executive conversations?
How can you empower your salespeople to get more executive meetings, and deliver the unique insights and competitive advice these executives want?

In this session, Betty McNeil, SVP will introduce you to the Alinean Peer Comparison application, your ticket to sales rep financial acumen and early business value engagement.

The Alinean Peer Comparison Tool can help your consultants, sales reps and channel partners deliver important executive conversations with an easy to use interactive application that:

  • Empowers your sales reps to engage earlier and have poignant financial conversation with prospects
  • Compares the prospect to the competition to help uncover issues and drive improvements
  • Proves how a small improvement using your solutions could directly impact their competitive position and drive significant business value improvements.

Sign up for the event, or see the deck / recording post event (on-demand) >>>

Three Value Perspectives: Business, Functional and Personal


I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Maluso, Research Director from the analyst firm Sirius Decisions in our webcast” What a Buyer Wants, What a Seller Needs. In the session, Nancy and I discussed the importance of value storytelling and quantification and its correlation to sales effectiveness.

When it comes to value, many think its all about financially quantifying the ROI impact of proposed solutions. But that is not enough for today’s more skeptical buyer and complex decision making process. You also need to communicate and quantify the value of your solution in more tangible terms to ever more decision-making stakeholders.

The highest performing sales reps definitely do things differently when it comes to Value. These top reps recognize that there are three different value perspectives each prospect may have, and expertly leverage each of these to influence the purchase decision:

  1. Business Value – What your solution means to the business top and bottom-line in its ability to drive incremental revenue, reduce business risk, improve operating efficiency and save / avoid costs.
  2. Functional Value - How you help the users of the solution do their job better and faster. This can include customer experience and performance improvements, process optimization, time savings and risk / error reductions.
  3. Personal Value -  Simply put, “What’s in it for me”, how your solution makes the champion and other key stakeholders lives better on a personal rather than business basis. For example, helping gain awards or accolades from executives and peers, going home early to be with family and kids, getting a promotion, and  reducing risk of job disintermediation or disruptive job loss.

High performers know the impact of value storytelling and financial justification early and often, communicating and quantifying value across these three perspectives to motivate champions and gain consensus from ever more complex purchase committees.

To make this easier, especially for middle performers and newly hired reps, Nancy recommended Value Actualization tools, to help structure the discovery of needs, and to guide the value storytelling and financial justification across these three value perspectives.

Checkout the On-Demand webcast and Presentation.

Why Renew? Quantifying Realized Value is Required


When you sold the original solution, you had to answer key buyer questions: “Why Change?”, “Why Now?”, “Why You?”.Now, that you have won the business, the big question you are getting with more frequency is likely: “Why Renew?”As more businesses move to providing Cloud solutions and change to a renewable services model, renewals are more important to solution providers just like you.If customers don’t renew and churn, you’ll have to work that much harder to hit your revenue growth goals, spending more and more time replacing customers and revenue you already had, instead of adding net new accounts.The good news is that Cloud / SaaS providers do a pretty good job retaining revenue, with the average firm churning just 10% of their customers each year. The bad news, this is up significantly from just 8% in 2014, a 25% increase in turnover.As well, the revenue impact of these losses is rising. This past year, 8% of annual gross revenue every year was impacted by churn. This was just 6% in 2014, a 33% increase in revenue impact in just two years.The churn rate and revenue impacts are rising due to:Increasing competition for services, as there are more and more choices every year,Rising risk aversion, as all investments whether new or recurring come under more scrutiny,A sharpened focus on measurement and metrics to justify all investments.To drive better renewal performance, you can’t just show up a month before the renewal is due with invoice in hand and expect the approval to just happen.You have to provide a clear answer to the question “Why Renew?” – communicating and quantifying the value of what you have already delivered, the Realized ROI, and quantifying what would be lost with non-renewal.And the best way to do this is engage regularly with the customer in measuring and proving the Realized ROI – quarterly or semi-annually.Splunk drives record revenue growth with Realized ROIAt our recent Business Value Summit, David Caradonna and Doug May from Splunk discussed the importance of renewals to Splunk’s amazing growth success, from its founding in 2003 to a $1B annual revenue generator today.As part of their customer success and value groups, Splunk engages with clients, leveraging an interactive Realized ROI tool (powered by Alinean). On a regular cadence, targeted quarterly, the team collaborates with the client to analyze and assure that the customer is achieving and exceeding the expected ROI from their investment in Splunk.The team usually has a benchmark ROI analysis, developed pre-sales (also developed using an Alinean powered interactive tool), and compares the current performance against this baseline to prove that the expected ROI has been achieved and that the investment to date has been a success. Any shortfalls can be triaged quickly with this awareness, and success can be touted by the customer to their executives in order to continue support and assure renewals. It is from this factual value report that renewals are justified.Moreover, the team looks for additional ways it can help clients leverage Splunk to drive better ROI. Often, Splunk’s clients are ingesting a few data sets and analyzing these for business benefit, however, there are usually many more data sets available that could be leveraged to drive improvements. Splunk uses interactive tools (powered by Alinean) to help highlight these additional data sets and use cases[...]