There’ something fundamentally wrong with traditional, established and ‘proven’ sales processes when applied to tech deep & savvy customers.
Those sales processes that might have been appropriate and successful in the past, when your customer’s knew significantly less about systems, technology and software than you, when you had the upper hand wrt knowledge and technology, when you could demonstrate competitive edge by playing on the customers ignorance of technology, often by displaying fancy ROI-spreadsheets and colorful powerpoints.
You know the the sales execution processes, where the sales forces of the supplier company each year kick of with a ‘sales enablement’ program, where the sales force, pushed by the exec’s with a bonus plan totally blurring their radar screen and judgement, is brainwashed with powerpoints created by ‘Product Manager’s’ with very superficial knowledge, and even less relevant experience of the real ‘target’ industry and domain, claiming the supplier organization to produce superior products.
Where the powerpoint’s refer to ‘Market Analyst company X put’s our solution into the top magic quadrant’.
Where competition is dismissed as incapable of performing in a large scale, or financially unstable, or otherwise unworthy of playing a role in the ‘real’ market.
Where Open Source is positioned as something for individual hackers, toys for the individual, but not for production corporate use.
Where the powerpoint’s refer to ‘our company’s solid performance on the stock market over the past 10 quarters’, and the earnings-per-share.
But where the supplier’s sales teams fail as soon as they meet with the customer, because the sales team has no real knowledge of the problem domain of the customer, nor about the true challenges of the customer, or the capabilities, or incapabilities, of the products they are peddling – all they have to lean on is the powerpoints and spreadsheets created by some junior ‘business analyst’, who’s taken the verdicts of the ‘Market Analyst’s’ as gospel.
And they pitch their solutions as being the ‘gold standard’, despite themselves not being able to tell gold from fool’s gold, simply because they lack any relevant experience of the field, and have never themselves used the product they are peddling for anything even remote close resembling of real production work.
And you know what: I’m still waiting to see Market Analyst company staff doing real, productive, production use of *any* technology – they ‘test’ technology, in a simplistic setting, but they don’t use it for real, for complex productive production work – if they did, they would be architects, designers, programmers or testers, not market analysts…
The difference is best described by “Push vs. Pull”.
The better approach, in our increasingly tech savvy world, for suppliers to thrive, is to produce first class products and services, with all the necessary ‘how-to’s’ and documentation available by a simple Googling, that the intended end-user’s will love, and letting the customer’s (the end users, and then indirectly, their management) themselves determine the value and quality of their solution, without pushy and flashy powerpoints.
If the customer’s like what you provide, if they see value in your solutions, you will be successful, without any elaborate sales forces, marketing departments, sales, kick-off’s or product launch campaign’s. Put your superiour product easily accessible on the net, with all the necessary supporting ‘how-to’s’, and you will launch.
As my former mentor Phillippe once said, some 25 years ago:
‘we are not in the business of selling socks, we are in the business of creating high quality solutions to complex problems!’
Too bad that most contemporary business exec’s won’t even understand the difference….