Thursday, January 23, 2014

Scale and Support a "Go-to-Customer" Selling Strategy

A market never bought anything from anyone. It's your individual customers (including potential ones) that sign contracts, and it's their needs that should be shaping the way you message value. But how do you keep your entire selling system that includes message creators (marketing, product development) and messengers (sales teams of all varieties) aligned with individual customer needs?

Know your Customer

Value is defined by the buyer, a value proposition by the seller. Your selling system needs to be flexible enough to accommodate the perspectives of your individual customers. Different types of buyers will want different things from your sales teams and different messages will resonate with each buyer. Your selling system should always include a qualification process that matches the type of message you are going to deliver (and the way you will deliver it) to the specific audience you will face.

Assess your customer's business needs and focus your efforts on defining a value proposition that is relevant to those needs and nothing more. Avoid the spaghetti/wall trap as this only confuses your buyer and dilutes your value proposition.

Money Talks

Technology is marvelous, but IT decision makers are ultimately judged on how the capabilities they deliver impact the bottom line. The single biggest hurdle for today's CIO is proving the value of IT to the business. So, if you want the CIO's attention, make it easy for her: quantify your value proposition by delivering a financial business case that explicitly describes how the investment you are asking your customer to make will pay dividends in the future.

Unless you are a commodity supplier, don't focus solely on infrastructure savings. Technology is about innovation, so try to describe the financial benefits of innovations a particular technology solution enables within your customer's business. This will likely include operational savings as well as increased revenues or margins.

Standardize and Scale

You don't need an army of consultants to carry out these strategies. Most likely, your top sales teams already do these things today - albeit in an ad hoc and decentralized way. If you want to enable the rest of your sales force to do the same, you need to create processes that empower them to do so.

Start with standardizing processes that qualify your customer buyer type and their organization's readiness to deploy your technology solution. How can they get short-term value from your solution while waiting for longer term, more strategic benefits to accrue?

Create a standardized process for quantifying your value proposition. Want to model metrics like TCO, ROI, etc? Great, just make sure that you do it consistently and according to financial best practices. And -- most importantly -- invest in your sales people by training them how to speak about these metrics - your credibility depends on it. Use standardized tools and training and institutionalize the practice of creating a business case as part of your selling motion.

Finally, make sure to also create an objective feedback loop. How will you know if the tools and training are effective and where you need to make adjustments? Look at this type of sales enablement strategy as an ongoing process. You will need to fine tune it as your peoples’ skills, your offerings and your customers’ needs evolve over time. 


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