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Product Marketing Creates Value! And Bridges The Gap Between Sales & Engineering!

Did you know there's a secret to selling software?

A secret that is all too often overlooked? 

Take those two words: "software" and "sales". There are few modern occupations aside from sales and software engineering that have as high regard for themselves as these two demanding and hard-driving careers. 

But sales people and software engineers aren't successful in a vacuum.  For starters, they have to talk to each other!  The successful software vendor must be an organization where software engineering and sales are effective as part of a team.

That's the topic of this blog post: How software engineering and software sales talk to each other. 

Interestingly that dialogue between sales and software engineering doesn't work very well if it is attempted directly.  The worlds of software engineering and sales are too far apart to bridge face-to-face.  But there is a catalyst that will support dialogue between software engineering and sales.

Two Criteria For Assessing Sales & Marketing Technology -- Logistics & Story Telling Support

        There are only so many times that you can use the metaphor of "drinking from the firehose" before the metaphor "runs out of steam".  And yet in the past week, another of my B2B sales friends has spontaneously used the phrase to describe his working environment.

But if we are to escape from the deluge of emails and tweets and video conferences and more, we'll need some great tools to help us.  And not only do we want "secretarial" or logistical help in organizing the deluge, we'd also like some help making sense from" too much".

So, is there a secret to building great tools to manage human communications?  And especially for that most overloaded of professions, the B2B sales person, is there a foundation for software that will help ensure that communications are seen as "valuable" as opposed to "overwhelming"?

There are two objectives for any sales and marketing system, one logistical and one related to meaning.  A good sales and marketing system should:

How Not To End Up On A Level Playing Field With The Competition! Part II

In Part I of How Not To End Up On A Level Playing Field , we briefly mapped the mantra of sales professionalism:  "the benefit."  The concept of benefit is the foundation stone on which the edifice of sales stands.  Both the successful sales professional and the organization to which the sales person belongs, depend on the existence of benefits to customers from acquiring the seller's wares.  But the sales professional does not rely merely on the existence of benefits, but the profession itself is dedicated to matching vendor to buyer around benefits to the buyer.  A top sales professional speaks to benefits. But as we learned in Part I, benefits may be ante to play, but they are not winning hands, because all good sales people are adept at benefit talk, and therefore the hard-one skill of "thinking of others first" is not much of an advantage.

New Technology -- First ebXML B2B Sale -- Oracle Reference

Not every great deal gets a big write-up.  But Oracle's ebXML B2B win at a leading distributor of agricultural chemicals got just that in the online Web Services Journal.  This deal was a competitive win for one of Oracle's first ebXML deployments.  And as you can see from the write-up, the win turned into a very nice reference!  And the customer continues to enhance the environment. 

From a sales perspective, the win was particularly sweet, coming at the end of Q4.  (The win actually became "deal of the week" in Oracle's North American sales system.)

Coming Later: Clayton Christensen, Business Models & Technology

Harvard prof. Clayton Christensen has written the business bible for technological innovation, The Innovator's Dilemma, and he has added to that foundation with The Innovator's Solution and a proliferating fractal of other texts. 

In the December 2008 issue of the Harvard Business Review, along with his co-authors Johnson and Kagermann, Christensen offers additional insights on the importance of organizational business models.   Business models are not as widely studied as one might expect.  My interest is in understanding how a library of business models can be an important sales tool for guiding new technology sales.  Obviously this is a big topic; I'd like to start with a few practical notes.

Here is the website from Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor:

Actionable Insight For Technology Sales:  Customer business modeling is not just for often maligned corporate strategy types, but can be directly useful for sales management and front-line sales people.  A good understanding of customer business models will give you the sales match to your products.  And from that you can derive the compelling benefits and sales tactics that will enable you to execute.  Don't waste time guessing.  More in the coming months.

How Not To End Up On A Level Playing Field With The Competition!

Summary: After the listening, every good business and sales person can respond with business models and benefits. But if that's all you talk about during the sales process, you're on a level playing field with the competition. Why hide your light? To win, you have to go beyond everyday benefits to the specific advantages of your offering. You have to sell both benefits and features! And if you are going to really succeed with business model- and business case-based selling, you'll need detailed model inputs about how your technology makes a difference to their business!

Deep Dive:  Every C-Level executive and every experienced and successful sales rep know the same things. Whether gained in the school of hard knocks or in B-school, the principles of business success are widely understood. And because business knowledge and business skills are widely disseminated, it's difficult for any one organization to consistently outperform any other organization in their market. It's not impossible, but it is difficult. You could say that business competition in open societies occurs on a playing field that is at least somewhat level.

With these facts in mind, why would anyone ever reduce a technology sell to "business benefits"?  The fastest way to end up on a level playing field with your competition is to downplay your unique technical advantages -- in favour of generic business benefits such as "faster time to market" and "lowest total cost of ownership" and "better information".

$ 300 K Web 2.0 & CMS Win At Marquee Retailer

When you're brought a sales lead from an Oracle business partner because you're the best in town, are you ready to step up? 

In the case of a marquee retailer lead, dthree inc. was ready with the Web 2.0 technical knowledge.  But that knowledge needed to be focused on a winning proof-of-concept.  The customer had a strong need for a special-purpose portal, but the business case was being driven by the IT department, which needed to show the business team what could be done with Web 2.0.  Fortunately, IT was willing to fund the POC, which meant that there was full attention on the project. 

Click Me!The deal then had three main components:  (1) delivery of the successful POC; (2) specification of the appropriate and affordable software license proposal and (3) provision of an estimate for the portal.  The estimate was just that, an estimate, and not an offer to do business.  Before a full service proposal could be delivered for Phase I, a proper discovery and planning project would be necessary.

The POC was received extremely well by the executive team.  So, all the deal components and players came together for another Q4 win!

Selling The Concept And The Solution -- Make It A Process!

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

Combine Vendor Strength With Open Source For Ecosystem Momentum

For a deal ending up north of $ 300 K, this pioneering platform solved multiple problems.  The "mothership" needed a high degree of control, flexibility, security and scaleability.  But satellite partners in this public sector organization did not need and could not afford the investment required to duplicate what had been done in the hub.

A great answer was available via simple open source satellite deployments.  Delivering the security, capability and manageability demanded by remote customers, the open source solution enabled the core organization to move forward with confidence.Click Me!

When an ecosystem is defined by standards, you can win by matching the right scale solution to the right ecosystem tier.  And your software sales effort itself can become an ecosystem of mutually supporting tiers.  Are you thinking about software and sales ecosystems?

Thin Client Evaluation Guide -- A Sales Tool Which Sets You Apart & Can Reduce Your Cost Of Sales

Thin client technologies have been used successfully for almost two decades.  Now with the tidal wave of virtualization, centralized deployments of applications has found new "legs".  Back in 2002, many mid-sized organizations were just beginning to look a Citrix and other alternatives for the first time.  

From 10,000 feet, many CIOs were prepared to acknowledge the business case (vastly reduced administration, more agile deployments, increased control, increased user satisfaction, great economics), but for many the worry was still there.  Would it really work?  Oddly enough, there was a perception that thin client technology had of a lot of moving parts.

IRMAC Presentation with adidas: Business Rules & Business Agility

This is a presentation I did for the "Information Resources Management Assocation of Canada" monthly meeting, tag-teamed with Magic Software customer adidas - Salomon.  IRMAC is the Canadian affiliate of DAMA. 

If you're looking for traction on how to sell business rules, you'll find some great ideas here.  The key is tying a technical advantage to a compelling business benefit!  (The presentation is based on my own standard "business benefits of Magic rules-based development" presentation.)

You can see the original Agenda listing for the event here:

It's interesting to note that the presentation was given in 12 minutes -- leaving lots of time for the start of the event, which was adidas.  Not all slides were presented.


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