The world of software is a tough market. Once the domain of young whippersnappers, the volume of software business soon attracted the attention of behemoths.
Today it literally is the Wild West.
Landing buyers involves a series of quick-draw product development contests that often pit plucky start-ups against large corporations that entered their market overnight with a strategic merger or acquisition.
Sales notes from David and Goliath
“David” Startup, meet IBM or Oracle or SAP “Goliath.”
I have a relatively new-to-the-party client that routinely faces a Goliath, thanks to a peer company that was swallowed up and now carries a household name in its logo.
It didn’t take too many interviews with my client’s buyers before a pattern appeared. Their buyers prefer vendors of like size unless convinced otherwise. Thus, my client struggled mightily when pitching enterprise solutions, especially when Goliath showed up.
We also noted that their buyers’ needs differed depending on size. Small companies want to flip a switch because they don’t have time or resources to customize software. Large companies want to configure the solution to meet their specific needs. Wrestling a software platform into submission was fine by them.
It was so obvious no one saw it
Fortunately, our client’s solution can accommodate either scenario. Goliath was better at the latter, not so much with the turnkey solution.
During a call to discuss one of these losses to Mr. Namebrand, I asked the CSO and the CMO if they approach prospects differently depending on size.
“No, not really.”
“But we should.”
“We’re going to.”
0 to 60 in 10 seconds flat.
That approach seems obvious in the above example, but the client missed it.
Here are three steps on how you can get there:
1. Buyer interviews: Find out from buyers what they want from you in extreme detail. Explore these three areas that must come together to land a sale:
a. A solution that meets their needs.
b. A sales team that can demonstrate clearly and convincingly that your solution meets their specific needs.
c. A company reputation that puts the buyer at ease that they will get what they bought and support them down the road.
2. Discovery sessions: After everyone has a chance to read (or listen to) the buyer interview, gather the sales, marketing, product, and operations people involved in that opportunity on a call. Prompt the group to discuss what transpired internally that led to that outcome. Why did they price it so high? Or, how did the sales team convince, cajole, or simply ask the creative marketing team to come up with that awesome demo? How did they decide what to concentrate on during the demo? Just the usual?
There are three key components of Discovery sessions:
a. Everyone on the call learns what information was or wasn’t available to them and why.
b. What processes got in their way? Or, how did everything come together so well? How can that be replicated?
c. What should they do about the above? What action items are agreed upon? How should they do things differently next time?
3. Transformation sessions: Make some noise! Tell your leaders what has been discovered.
a. Show them what buyers want from them. Here is the data, here are their words. Here is how it can vary by segment.
b. Highlight what their product and sales teams THOUGHT were buyers’ needs. Here are internal trouble areas. Here are some best practices that are getting great results.
c. Thus, focus leaders on two or three (maybe four) areas that contribute to wins and two or three problems areas that are leading to losses.
Once those misalignments are fixed, by all means wash, rinse, and repeat.
It’s an ongoing process because buyer needs change over time, competitors rise and fall, and your sales team turns over.
You too can go from 0 to 60 in 10 seconds flat if you know how to tune your sales engine.