Steve’s Blog

Steve’s Blog

CONSISTENTLY CLOSING HEALTHIER AND MORE STRATEGIC DEALS – IS IT POSSIBLE TO MANAGE THIS?


 

For a change, this blog is probably targeted more at the CFO, Finance and/or Sales Ops than my typical musings.  However, it is also applicable to sales since we are the ones positioning, negotiating and closing the deals – and I think this approach can help you do that much faster.  I first wrote about this topic in a co-authored article with Frank Cespedes of the Harvard Business School. (If you missed it CLICK HERE.)  As I stated then, while this type of approach has been applied on a deal by deal basis, I believed with thoughtful analysis, it could also be implemented for the overall business – and produce dramatic business results.

When discussing Business Strategy with executives, I find that even if they have a clear strategy, identified their ideal customer profile, and organized their go-to market strategy around these, the business results often are not meeting expectations.  In virtually every case, these companies do not have a clear definition of a great deal – meaning the right business deals to support the strategy.  This results in too many closed deals that are “unique” or downright ugly (especially with larger customers).  And when you look closely at the elements of these deals they often run counter to the stated strategy of the business – and contribute to an unhealthy business today.

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Steve’s Blog

INCREASING SERVICE ATTACH RATES – A SIMPLE PROCESS


The CXO and the VP of Services often bemoan the low attach rates of services in the deals sold to customers. The issue is not only a loss of short term corporate revenue but perhaps, more importantly, the long term impact on customer success and satisfaction – which impacts renewals and upsell opportunities.

Sales compensation is frequently cited as the root cause. If the salesforce is not comped on services sales (or there is a lower commission) versus product sales, then the expectation is that sales will not put much emphasis on selling services. While this is certainly a valid argument, it is a self-inflicted wound that can be addressed through modifying the compensation plan. Perhaps the tougher reason for low attach rates is that the services were not positioned effectively during the sale. In this blog we’ll explore a simple, but effective way to better position services as well as products.

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MANAGING CUSTOMER OUTCOMES, SUCCESS, AND VALUE IN THE XAAS CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE


With any subscription XaaS business, it is important that Customer Success Teams as well as Sales Teams are using the same language when discussing their shared customer – if nothing else to ensure a smooth handoff and transition during the customer lifecycle. For instance, sales teams are expected to sell “value” and/or customer “outcomes” while customer success teams are charged with delivering… well, customer “success”.

Are these terms effectively synonyms describing the same concept, or are they very different? In truth they are neither, but rather are intimately intertwined as they describe the customer’s viewpoint depending on where we are in the customer lifecycle.

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WHAT ARE YOU REALLY COMPETING AGAINST?


As we discussed in the previous blog about opportunity qualification, customers have three theoretical alternatives to doing a deal with us

1) Go with a competitor

2) Do nothing (status quo)

3) Do it themselves

It is important we realize each represents a potentially very different selling process. The value proposition and the subsequent negotiation with be impacted so our preparation is key.

First we must understand the alternative we are really competing against and analyze that alternative based on what is important to this customer and the buying influencers. Those insights are priceless. In turn, these insights must inform our value proposition as well as our selling and negotiation strategies.

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HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS OPPORTUNITY IS QUALIFIED?


This is a tough and sometimes unwelcome question often fraught with emotion – especially for the sales team pursuing the opportunity. However, it is imperative they know a B2B opportunity is qualified and therefore worth committing precious hours and limited corporate resources in pursuing.

“It’s an approved project with budget. We’ve met with all of the key buying influencers – and they really like what we have to say!” I am willing to bet this opportunity would easily clear the “qualified” hurdle and would probably show as “upside” or perhaps even “commit” in many a sales pipeline. But is it really qualified?

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WHAT IF YOU AND YOUR CUSTOMER ARE NOT ALIGNED ON EXPECTED OUTCOMES?


Some months ago I wrote a series of blogs on how technology might be utilized to help facilitate complex B2B selling by fostering collaboration and transparency with a focus on value.  I suspected this would be challenging, but I have to confess it is really hard!  Below is a blog that describes our first module the Value Alignment Assessment tool.  While the screenshots are not always easy to read, I hope you’ll get the gist of it.  As always, I welcome any comments and suggestions and if you would like to try this tool and process, please let me know and I’ll arrange a free trial. –Steve

The Outcome Disconnect

More and more companies are transitioning to a service or subscription business model like SaaS (what we’ll refer to as “Something as a Service”). Many existing service providers are finding a much more competitive landscape.  In this environment it is more important than ever that the supplier align their offering to the value (outcomes and success metrics) that the customer is looking to achieve. Otherwise, the customer is more likely to leave them because they didn’t achieve the outcomes they expected.  This often leaves the supplier confused because the product or service “performed as advertised.”

Unfortunately, even when the supplier believes they are aligned to the customer’s outcomes, there is still a significant risk. When outcomes and objectives are garnered from the customer, too often only a few voices (primary contact or supporter) weigh in and are heard by the sales team. The inherent assumption is that the information is complete. But everyone on the customer side may not necessarily be aligned on the outcomes, priorities, and success metrics.  Therefore, gaining alignment is a task that must be shouldered by the sales team and the customer.

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