You've got business opportunities and relationships. And you've got great technology solutions that will meet the needs of your customers. Now you have a problem! How do you bridge the gap between possibility and closing a deal? And then making sure after the sale that your customer ramps up successfully?
The problem with a new technology sale is you have a double sales job! Someone has to sell the concept before you can sell the solution . (This double sales job accounts for some of the extra commission earned by "hunter" sales people.) The problem of selling new technology is an old one, well documented, and this website will pull together some of these insights elsewhere.
A Recipe For Bridging The Gap
For today, here's information about a successful Oracle SOA & BPEL sales program that pulled in 20 organizations, 40 people, in two full workshop cycles, and drove 2 deals immediately in Q4. Needless to say the other 18 organizations became strong pipeline forecasts.
What's the secret to selling new technology through this workshop program? There are two parts to the success of the program: (1) You have to accept the customers need for hand-holding to get over the knowledge gap and perception of risk, and (2) in order to justify your investment in the customer and to guarantee the customer's attention, you have to get the customer to commit substantial time to the process.
Remember the proposition at the beginning of this blog entry: "you've got business opportunities and relationships". And you're counting on the fact that "the technology", SOA and BPEL, is already "in the air". The only gap you need to close is the gap between the customer's business need and your customer's perception of your ability to meet that need. You do not, and should not, have to sell the idea of SOA or BPEL. At the time these workshops started running, the trade press, word of mouth and analyst communities had already established an agenda for these technologies. (Interestingly enough, two years later, BPEL and SOA technologies are much further along the technology maturity curve; license sales of advance process automation and integration products are moving along with comparative ease.)
Specific Components Move The Customer Forward
The goals of the workshop program were a minimum number of deals closed in the quarter, and these objectives were met. The program itself consisted of a one day business workshop, followed a two day technical workshop. These two workshops were conducted in group settings. The follow-along third workshop was conducted privately with an individual organization. And the pitch for the entire series was very explicit: "We believe you can meet your business needs with SOA and BPEL. If you are ready to move forward, we have a great program to help you."
As mentioned above, the program worked. The opportunity to sell BPEL and SOA was turned into a process. Individual sales people could plug into the process -- enthusiastically -- with ease. And the allocation of time for scarce, top-level sales engineering resources was spread over 20 organizations and 40 people. The deep understanding of the technical and sales organizations was focused into a successful process, which can and has been repeated.
Here are the templates you will see attached:
FILE No. 1 -- "Five Pages"
1. Business Breakthrough Program -- Overview
2. Business Breakthrough Program -- Map
3. Business Breakthrough Program -- Workshop No. 1 -- "The Business/Technology Interface"
4. Business Breakthrough Program -- Workshop No. 2 -- "SOA & BPEL Focus For Advantage"
5. Business Breakthrough Program -- Workshop No. 3 -- "Pilot Selection, Readiness, Planning, Execution"
FILE NO. 2 -- "Pilot Proposal"
6. Business Breakthrough Program -- Pilot Proposal
The Pilot Proposal in Item No. 6 made the opportunity for the customer to purchase very real, and allowed the customer from the very beginning of the program to begin planning their requisition.
What are your business/technology sales gaps? Can you get more customer commitment if you're willng to help over the gap? Can you make a process out of your new technology sales opportunities?