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Disruptions Driving Change


According to leading market intelligence groups, 2016 will be a pivotal year of continued changes and market disruptions in the technology sector. Hi-tech firms should anticipate major mergers, acquisitions and restructurings driven in part by key technology innovations involving mobile, cloud computing, Big Data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

There are many factors that keep technology sales and marketing leaders awake at night. All the worries can be summed up in one bottom line concern: ‘Meeting quota on time’. Despite the latest marketing tools like social media and automated lead nurturing, quota attainment in the midst of major market disruptions will be harder in FY16. Acquiring new customers and expanding business with existing accounts will prove to be challenging.

No longer can misalignment between sales and marketing be allowed to hinder growth or weaken an organization’s ability to adapt to rapidly changing market conditions. This critical misalignment continues to gridlock the sales/revenue cycle and frustrate sales organizations across the entire technology industry.

Marketing stakeholders are demanding more accountability from sales, and in certain cases require service level agreements (SLA). Sales teams are razor-focused on retiring quota. Therefore, when sales leaders are being held accountable for low conversion rates on marketing qualified leads, it creates a high level of frustration for the entire sales team.

Traditional approaches to marketing are costing technology companies millions with no clear ROI. Non sales-ready leads and appointments are a source of frustration for both sales and marketing organizations responsible for meeting quota..”

The misalignment between marketing and sales lies in the caliber of opportunities that are being generated...


Navigating through Change


What barely worked last year will hardly help this year. Therefore, changing the status quo is critical. Navigating through change can be highly political. In fact, the biggest hurdle facing revenue-focused executives who want to fix this problem will be dealing with the status quo.

Many executives reading this document should begin to reflect upon their situation and what must happen to evoke changes and begin the process of helping marketing gain alignment with sales..

Step 1: Ensure the marketing ecosystem is geared toward producing sales-aligned opportunities.

A lead generated by outbound cold calling, attendance at an event, or a response from a social media outlet is just the starting point on a journey of engagement and relationship building with a potential customer. Only bluebird opportunities uncovered from these activities, where the prospect has already begun to align their needs to your solution, should be forwarded to sales for engagement.

Selling complex technology solutions to new “white space” accounts requires a successful solution selling process that puts the prospect’s needs first. If this process is circumvented, it is unlikely that a trusted advisor status with the prospect will be attained.

Sales should only receive business opportunities where the customer/prospect has demonstrated an alignment of their needs to your solutions. The highest level of success will be with those opportunities that come with clear visibility into the related business drivers, challenges, roadblocks and the decision making process.

Step 2: Base engagement on business volume.

Define customers in terms of your share of their wallet, or via their business potential: as either an ‘install base’ account or a ‘white space’ account. If your share of wallet is less than desirable, then they must be engaged accordingly.

Customers providing a company with a solid share of their business are approached primarily as part of a retention strategy. You seek to maintain your volume of business through renewals and cross-sell/upsell activities. Sales teams are the ones best suited to handle customer cross-sell/upsell responsibilities. This explains why it is highly likely that most inside sales centers focus on their top install base, run-rate customers.

White space accounts, on the other hand, require a more elevated initial engagement to foster a trusted advisor relationship. Earning respect from a white space account may lead to serious consideration for your offerings and could result in an eventual migration from the competition..

Step 3: Look closely at current vendors.

Some of the largest technology companies are facing serious questions as to why limited marketing dollars are continually poured into traditional call centers with very little return. The reality is that the truly competitive alternatives to the status quo often face immense barriers and hurdles to prevent them from being considered as superior options. This type of status quo thinking is costing companies millions of dollars.

Even the best vendors should never be allowed to own the vast majority of business. A dual or multi-vendor environment should be established and maintained with procurement taking an active role to monitor the balance of spend across vendors. Operations and senior executives must put checks and balances in place to ensure monopolistic single-vendor situations are avoided.

Frequently the status quo is well entrenched via preferred vendor sponsorship by key inside executives. These executives aggressively bulldoze peers and subordinates to ensure that funds are funnelled to their preferred vendor. Political pressure tends to outweigh any consideration for alternative vendor solutions.

Executives must take an honest look at the composition of their marketing spend along with the tangible ROI to determine if their organization suffers from a status quo condition. This exercise may be politically difficult. However, once real ROI is assessed and presented to executive management, the resistance to change will begin to dissipate and the status quo can then be challenged in an objective, effective manner.

Customer Centric Approach If you are selling complex technology solutions, the successful process must involve a solution selling tactic that puts the customer’s needs first. A lead generated by outbound cold calling, attendance at an event, or a response from a social media outlet is just the starting point on a journey of engagement and relationship-building with a potential customer that may convert to won business. 

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