In our previous Supply Chain Matters commentary, we called attention to the significant winds of change that are blowing across the high tech and consumer electronics industry. Much of this has to do with more rapid cycles of advanced technology including the advent of cloud-based software applications and IT infrastructure.
This author recently read a published Bloomberg Businessweek article that reported on the significant implications in selling cloud-based technology. The article triggered me to share my observation and thoughts as to what is occurring in efforts related to the marketing and selling of supply chain, manufacturing, PLM and B2B business network support technology.
The Bloomberg article observes that classic sales techniques of setting high expectations for software, investing in numerous conferences and associated demo booths at industry conferences have become passé. Noted is that most technology buyers do their research online to ascertain the strengths and shortfalls of a particular application and/or vendor. This author founded Supply Chain Matters for that specific purpose, and there are now other well recognized independent and unbiased sources providing online technology perspectives. The days of traditional industry analyst firms, holding hostage with technology ratings and advisories is fast waning.
Bloomberg further notes: “The personality profile of the technology salesperson has shifted from aggressive and persistent to technical and smart.”
We could not agree more.
In my 16 plus years of observing and participating in the dynamics of positioning and selling information technology, I have witnessed many types of traditional sales personalities. The profile often tended toward high energy, ego, social and aggressive. Traits included meeting and exceeding quota goals in spite of any barriers, garnering all forms of sales perks and selling the customer as much as possible. That sometimes called for last-minute super deals offered over the weekend at quarter-end. Those traits and requirements are definitely changing, perhaps for the better. Yet, some technology providers continue to hold to prior methods, constantly churning sales teams to seek the most aggressive performers.
More importantly, the selling of technology that will support mission critical business process needs reflected in many supply chain focused opportunities requires a consultative marketing and sales approach. It requires marketing and sales teams to fully understand both supply chain and B2B focused business process challenges, industry-specific nuances along with an awareness and full understanding of required line-of-business outcomes. The prime buying audience of today’s cloud technology is functional and business teams, while IT teams provide architectural advice, counsel and input.
Consultative sales cycles related to cloud-based software can extend through many weeks and months, helping customers to gain initial proof-of-concept and early benefits, and later extending those benefits with broader scope deployments. It is not a focus for seeking the 7 figure deal by end-of-quarter, but rather balancing customer sales cycles with required inbound revenue needs. Sales cycles are supported by industry and prospect education, continuous web-based content and ongoing interactions.
Building a trusted relationship with customer teams is thus essential. No longer can one just walk away to seek other opportunities. In essence, the marketing and sales model associated with cloud technology is akin to your neighborhood auto mechanic. He or she knows all about the vehicle, continuously stays current with the latest technology, is willing to go the extra mile to help customers and strives to be always available in time of most need.
What about your perspective? Do you feel cloud-based technology providers are adopting these new methods of interaction and support?