Lever Technology To Drive Breakthrough Business Results!

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.

Boffins Discover Recipe For Sales Software Of The Future

The world of sales software and sales practices is like an island kingdom, secure and comfortable.  But on multiple horizons, we catch a glimpse of the future.  And the future of sales is likely to be different than what we take for granted now.  It is the view of this writer that sales governance, sales technology, sales practices and sales self-understanding wlll all undergo major evolution. 

Today, let's look at one of the four anticipated changes on the island of sales: that of sales technology.  Intriguingly, our search for sources of positive change will lead us unexpectedly to the world of scientific writing and pharmaceutical research.  

Domain Specific Business Model With Biz Process Technology Leverage

If you are selling technology, you'll need to be able to write the "value chain".  The video to your left is a nice example of that  value chain.

The scene is set with BPM, and the message is that "BPM is ready".  And then the value for customers is developed in partnership between the BPM platform and the channel partner.

This seven-minute overview is used to introduce demonstrations of BPM-in-action for special circumstances, by specialist channel partners.



McKinsey On Sales Process Failures -- 75% of Reps' Time Spent Not Selling!

Unused PhoneThe boffins at McKinsey have just issued a stirring call to "free the reps"!

According to the consulting company, at one representative global firm, 75% of inside sales reps' time was spent not selling!

This frustrating sales situation is not uncommon, despite what McKinsey says is "the guiding principle of all sales operations", which is "to maximize time for selling and relationship building".  Of course sales people and sales executives, and probably even general management, all know that sales people should be selling.  But given that sales people everywhere are facing similar issues, it's helpful to have a spotlight on the situation.

As a professional B2B sales person focused on BPM, your host is naturally interested in the subject of the McKinsey article -- and how BPM is one point of leverage for improving sales operations.  The McKinsey article also raises larger questions about sales management; your host has now commented on these issues in the letter below. 

You can read the whole McKinsey Quarterly article and follow up reader comments including your hosts' comment, at the following URL. (Please note you will need to register, although there is no charge.)

Identity, Transgression & Connection: Capitalism And Sales

Abstract:  The Management Innovation eXchange (“MIX”) is a think tank funded by McKinsey, Dell, Gartner and others for the purpose of crowd-sourcing ideas for management innovation. Under the MIX umbrella the Harvard Business Review and McKinsey have sponsored a “Long-Term Capitalism Challenge”. Capitalism can be seen in both positive and negative lights, by both champions and detractors. The MIX brief identifies three challenges to the future of capitalism, specifically interpreted here as ethics, patience and alienation. Tackling these problems requires the best possible understanding of capitalism. But missing from most explanations of capitalism is a theory of sales and selling. Sales and selling, as expressions of comparatively free contracting, are unique to capitalism, and distinguish capitalist social organization from Soviet-style state-directed economic relations, feudal/hierarchic economic relations and economic formations defined by force, violence and crime.

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:

Reduce Customer Perception of Risk: Animated EDI 850 PO Inbound With BPEL

What makes a solution real for potential customers?  How do your reduce a customer's perception of risk associated with your proposal?

When you are asking a customer to make a change, even with a solid business case, it is sometimes helpful to be able to walk the customer through a solution

BPO, B2B Integration, and MDM Opportunity

Takeaway Summary:   According to the theory of Nobel Prize winning economist Ronald Coase, corporations exist to manage the transaction costs involved in organizing work.   And the size of a corporation is determined by the optimal management of those costs.  However, new information technologies have changed that transaction cost landscape for business processes.  It is now more than ever possible to disaggregate the work of the firm, and still maintain corporate identity and control.  And for the B2B integration business, the good news is that integration technologies have a leading role to play in this evolution.  In support of a focus on "core competencies", corporations can now afford to disaggregate non-core functions -- and that means opportunity for the technologists that provide the low-cost, low-friction integration which makes it all possible.

Climb on board!  The forces of corporate re-organization are driving a whole train of IT integration opportunities.  (Version 1.1)

Move Sales Process Ahead With Tight POC Guide

Leadership is an important part of sales.  Especially where breakthrough technology is concerned, the sales team encourages the customer to consider a new way of doing business.

But many good ideas die, even ideas which are a great match to customer business models. 

One of the main reasons for the failure of good ideas is fear, a Click Me!powerful emotion which goes far beyond the dry concept of "risk".  What is the risk that a project will not conform to expectations -- or hopes?  In the case of software, the trade press retails stories of all-to-frequent failure.  Customer fears of project failure are not unfounded. 

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.)

The "Lead Genie" -- A B2B Newsletter -- Recipe For Local Sales Traction & "Emerging Opportunity Insurance"

Who is about to initiate a buying process? 

This is the question that vexes sales reps everywhere.

Knowing the definitive answer to this question would be like having a genie in a magic lamp, that on command would deliver hot leads.

However, in the absence of the lead genie, there are ways of skewing decision processes in your favour.

Here's one idea for tipping the odds your way that you may have overlooked:  a traditional B2B newsletter, actually printed, as opposed to delivered only electronically.

Newsletters used to be an affordable staple of business-to-business communication.  But they have been partially eclipsed by the ease of deploying web-based content.

Build Business With BPEL -- Sales Tool -- Maximum Economy & Clarity

Click For Set Of FourSales Walkthroughs      

How do you overcome customer perception of risk?  Sometimes new technology capabilities are ahead of customers.  If you can present the solution in the clearest possible way, you'll help your customer get a lot closer to moving forward.

In the case of BPEL-driven B2B/EDI, the technology is very powerful and much easier to use than traditional EDI.  But adoption rates are still relatively low.

The attached diagrams are a successful sales tool which enable you to walk a customer through the entire connection.  Attractive and simple, these diagrams can also be animated in support of a great webinar talk track.

Please see the attached PDF for four different scenarios.  Is your technology ready for prime-time?  Can you explain your technology and its business benefits with maximum economy and clarity?

You can also see an animated version of Case No. 1 - EDI 850 Inbound here

The CEO Wants A "Ballpark" -- How To Build A Software Project Estimate That Gets You On The Approved List (DRAFT)

Will your Software Project Proposal be rostered on your customer's list of approved projects this year?

Part of the back-and-forth between different customer stakeholders is contention over budget.  But you can't budget without numbers.  So, if your project is going to be in play, you'll probably have to deliver the dreaded Estimate!

Example Of Estimate And Project

But, have no fear!  An Estimate is your friend!  Done properly, an Estimate can be a key step in advancing a sales cycle which provides important benefits to both customer and vendor

On one hand customers are concerned to minimize project risk.  And on the other hand, vendors are concerned to minimize cost-of-sales (which is a kind of risk in itself).  The Estimate is one step in addressing both concerns together.

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.

Don't Overwhelm Your Prospect! Create An Inventory Of Demo Scenarios

At some point during a sales cycle, your prospect will actually want to dig into the details of your technology!  This can be a mixed blessing -- although hopefully not because your technology won't stand up to scrutiny! 

Rather, customer desire to know about what your technology can do is an opportunity for the sales rep or especially the sales engineer, to forget everything they ever knew about sales!  Why?  Because the temptation is strong to unload a truckload of facts and figures about your technology.

Stop!  And remember two things:

1. You should be presenting technology that is relevant to your prospect, based on your discovery with that customer.

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.

Exploit Opportunity By Building Sales Momentum -- B2B/EDI Example

This is a flyer for a successful sales campaign around Oracle's powerful B2B/EDI capability.  Many prospects either had existing hard-to-manage legacy B2B/EDI platforms, or were thinking about doing B2B/EDI for the first time.  The business need was there, but prospects needed to be assured that the technology was ready, and usable.  The usability issue was especially acute given the history of EDI.  The B2B/EDI campaign was run multiple times with very good results.

You can see the full flyer by clicking on the "Use Oracle App Server" image above.

IRMAC Presentation with adidas: Business Rules & Business Agility

Click Thumbnail For Flash Movie Presentation

This is a presentation done by your host for an "Information Resources Management Assocation of Canada" monthly meeting in 2003, 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 was based on your host's 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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