Many organisations’ access to sales opportunities is based on understanding IT managers or CIOs and what makes them tick. But as the main decision maker for purchases shifts outside the IT department to executives who concentrate on business outcomes, resellers must offer different types of offering and sell them differently too.
This trend comes alongside developing opportunities, such as big data, as well as changing markets such as BI and sales analytics. Understanding these new opportunities will become a critical part of the overall product mix.
Following this change in emphasis on what is sold, there is also the challenge of how it is presented to the customer. What does the sales approach require when you are selling to another sales person, or marketing to a marketer? Is it different when they know and understand all the same approaches and levers you are used to using?
The answer is that sales will have to hit two levers: the rational and the emotional. Rational sales are based on hard evidence: “What will this implementation save us, and how?” Emotional sales tend to be based on potential results: “How great would it be to do this? What if we could achieve that?” People in sales and marketing teams should understand these approaches; they use them themselves. However, that does not mean they will be effective.
It does mean that these rational and emotional sells have to be backed by a consistent approach across product, pricing and brand. The sales process should be shorter, but it makes the preparation period more important as well.
This puts the focus on what is being delivered, first and foremost. It can help channel sales teams shorten some of the information-gathering and education phases, as the audience should already be up to speed on using analytics or deploying systems in the cloud. Rather than travelling a traditional route of technology sales, based on data sheets and in-depth technology overviews, the emphasis has to be on how offerings support improved business results and deliver RoI.
In these cases, analytics will be applied to the sales process, as well as being what is sold to them. Being able to answer specific questions about supporting the sales process and reducing the cost of sale is therefore critical to this audience.
Sales and marketing staff used to be driven by “gut feel” and instinct about what influences customers to buy – but are becoming completely driven by analytics. The ability to see and track results from campaigns means investment is based more on data.
This is both positive and negative: it will be that much harder to convince them to spend where you cannot obtain numbers that will demonstrate RoI. Conversely, projects that do provide a return will be funded faster, as businesses look to boost that return.
Capitalising on this means looking at how customers will see value from their investments. There will also be less emphasis on discussing how and where infrastructure is hosted, and more willingness to use hosted or cloud-based systems. This means more opportunities to engage with customers about the size of projects and how they are deployed within business environments.
The IT team’s influence will be more on the integration with existing technologies and to check that all the compliance and security boxes have been ticked.
Rather than being based on traditional big-infrastructure projects, sales and marketing IT projects will be smaller and more targeted. This requires more agile offerings. Delivery options such as cloud can open up these smaller projects, ensuring the channel remains competitive.
Jason Bissell is vice president of international markets at Birst
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