31
Aug

Dumbing Down the Personal Computer May Not Have Been a Good Idea After All

In late August, 2012, Gartner, Inc. released an opinion that the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon amounts to the most important moment in the evolution of automating enterprise office procedures and daily tasks since the introduction of the PC in the early 1980s.

We agree with this notion, but we think the truly important point that PC manufacturers and enterprise IT ISVs should assimilate from this market shift from PCs to tablets and smart phones is that it illustrates why software like Microsoft® Windows®, and Apple’s graphical user interface were not a very good idea, after all. In fact, these graphical user interfaces enabled a flat and wide expansion of the prospect base for PCs to include users who would otherwise only need a personal word processor, spread sheet processor, or an audio video media player to get their work done. We think this market expansion was problematic.

Once PC manufacturers like Dell planted their flag in this flatter, but substantially richer terrain, where the ability of users to write custom computer applications, or to perform other activities appropriate for the computing power built into PCs, really did not amount to much of a use case, a vulnerability was created, which today, has resulted in wholesale adoption of comparatively “dumb” devices like tablets and smart phones to handle office work in place of more expensive, bulkier PCs and laptops.

Further, this BYOD phenomenon should be instructive to hardware manufacturers and ISVs as they assimilate a golden rule from this lesson: it should be absolutely clear why designing hardware and/or software that meets the minimum market requirements is a much better approach than broadly including lots of features in products in order to appeal to very flat and wide market segments that will not have the resilience to stick with solutions as competitive options are introduced that are more appealing from a cost and convenience basis.

If these tech innovators can truly take away the above noted lessons from the BYOD phenomenon then, truly, the event will prove to be worth the pain for companies like Dell or Hewlett Packard who will need to move on if they are to survive. If your product marketing effort has not been audit to ensure that the principle of designing solutions for the absolute minimum set of market requirements, please consider IMB Enterprises, Inc.

We can be a powerful resource that can review your products, present and planned to ensure that their market message is completely aligned with your product plan. Further, we can analyze your product to for compliance with a market approach that offers only what the market, pervasively, is after. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our monthly retainer based consulting services. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

30
Aug

Lead Generation Methods for IT Software Commodities

For value added resellers of enterprise IT software commodities on a limited budget, there are only two reasons to opt for paid advertising as a lead generation method:

  • A price advantage that can be passed through to customers
  • or a Favorable Change in Availability

Of course, where budgets do not need to tightly controlled, there is no reason to exclude software commodities like:

  • Microsoft® Office or the Windows® O/S
  • Anti-Virus Software
  • Remote Backup Software, etc

from paid advertising promotional programs. It makes sense, however, to lower expectations about the usefulness of this avenue for sales lead generation.

On the other hand, hiring a sales person who can bring to the business a set of purchasing contacts for important enterprise business targets for a vertical market and/or a geographical area, can result in a substantial increase in very high quality sales leads for commodities. In our experience, lots of these selling relationships are still built on trust and long term association between sales person and buyer, regardless of how enterprises and other large organizations in the public and not for profit sectors try to control cronyism through auction systems, RFPs, etc.

A perfect example of how these prospects buy commodities from people “they know” can be seen in the staff augmentation business for technical services. Very few of staff augmentation businesses advertise. In fact, there is little if any reason to do so beyond the two exceptions just noted above. The promotional budgets for these “staff aug” firms are usually used to pay for rounds of golf, dinners, lunches, etc., which are the promotional stock and trade for the type of sale person that brings in the commodities business for these firms.

Does this mean that online social media venues can be used for lead generation purposes for enterprise IT software commodities? Perhaps, but we think it is most important to mine for lead generation gold through the personal facebook pages for your sales personnel, not through paid advertising programs.

For enterprise IT value added resellers without the kind of “in crowd” sales personnel that this type of sale requires, the going will be very tough if the objective is, simply, to “peddle” software commodities to these markets. We think it makes more sense for this type of business to append commodities to sales contracts for other, unique offers, which must be the main revenue driver.

If you need to rearchitect your promotional planning to generate leads for software commodities that your business sells, please contact IMB Enterprises, Inc. We look for lead generation requirements. Further, we have direct experience in the staff augmentation technical services market from the mid 1990s to 2000. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services plan, which start at $1250.00 per month (3 mos minimum). You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

29
Aug

Enterprise IT Software Sales People Must be Comfortable Playing the Role of Facilitators

We very much like how the BusinessDictionary dot com web site defines the term “facilitator” (http://www NULL.businessdictionary NULL.com/definition/facilitator NULL.html). In fact, this definition illuminates not only the activities typical of facilitation, which include:

  • ensuring clear communication between members of a team, and
  • contributing to efforts to solve problems that arise as teams work on attaining objectives

but, further, the fact that the role of a facilitator is typical of the type of matrix organizational structure that we have talked about through prior entries to this blog.

This definition specifically posits that a facilitator “does not contribute to the actual content or management of a team’s project (which is a team leader’s function).” (quoted from the BusinessDictionary dot com web site page link cited above). In sum, a top enterprise IT software sales person in 2012 plays a leading role delivering on his/her objective to win the sale, but an invisible role, which the BusinessDictionary dot com web site refers to as serving as a “lubricant” — what we refer to as a matrix participant — in the prospect’s own project management process for the software product/service/integrated solution that is being considered for purchase, or, post purchase, for implementation.

Hopefully it will be clear to the reader that hiring managers in need of top sales talent for these enterprise IT software markets need individuals who have demonstrated an ability to modulate their activities, as required, to win the sale. Specifically, we mean individuals who are comfortable taking the lead, as appropriate, but who are also comfortable serving as a contributor to someone else’s leadership when objectives dictate this type of role.

All too often these same hiring managers are simply looking to recruit individuals who have succeeded at, what looks to be, the same job for other employers. Success is almost always simply defined as exceeding quota targets for some arbitrary number of years — usually a minimum of 3. Finally, the candidate should be widely known in the marketplace and come to the position with lots of contacts.

We think that hiring managers for enterprise IT ISVs who need sales people need to substantially change the skills and employment history criteria that they look for in candidates if they are to successfully hire the type of major contributors to business success that we think these individuals will need to be. Broadly speaking, much more emphasis must be placed on the likely flexibility of an individual, meaning his/her ability to adapt to serving in different capacities, as required, in order to deliver, successfully, a valuable sale or, over time, revenue targets for the business.

If you cannot afford to hire the wrong person for the sales or marketing opening at your company, please contact IMB Enterprises, Inc. We look forward to collaborate with enterprise IT ISVs that face an imperative to change sales and marketing methods to successfully align with their markets. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our retained search services. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

28
Aug

The Importance of an Ability to Persuade is Diminished for Successful Enterprise IT Software Sales in 2012

Successful enterprise IT sales teams, in 2012, make heavy use of 3 skills:

  • an ability to rapidly qualify prospects
  • an ability to serve as a facilitator for prospects
  • and, finally, patience to maintain a role over, typically, very long and, occasionally, circuitous sales cycles

In contrast, skills which, in the past, were prized, for example:

  • a dominant personality capable of persuading prospects
  • an ability to overcome a wide range of prospect objections
  • an underlying skepticism about prospects, their objectives and intentions

no longer promise the enviable sales results that were the case merely 20 years ago. It is important to note, however, that the strongest motivator for most top sales people remains compensation; the most successful methods of satisfying this motivator — meaning an ability to qualify, facilitate and endure — have simply evolved over time.

In 2012, it makes more sense for lead generation efforts at these companies to be crafted to deliver a more mature set of sales leads than was the case in the past. In fact, the method of timing the enterprise IT software sale has shifted, radically. Today’s prospects usually choose to engage with sales personnel at a much later point in their quest for IT software solutions. The good news that has accompanied this shift is that the likelihood of sales personnel closing business with this type of prospect (who appears much later in the sales cycle) is much higher, not so much as the result of their own efforts, as due to the fact that the prospect has largely made up his or her mind by the time an opportunity to engage manifests itself.

Building useful sales opportunities from integrated direct marketing efforts is a wholly separate matter. The sales cycle for leads developed through a coordinated campaign, which includes sending specific individuals promotional written collateral via an email, or a mailing, together with a carefully coordinated telemarketing effort is, generally, much longer. Prospects require sales personnel who can genuinely participate in their process, meaning walk along side while these prospects take the steps required in their unique enterprise situation to decide on not only solutions, but, in many cases, what problems, themselves, (meaning pain pints) are all about. Successful sales personnel, once again will serve as facilitators, who will spend lots of time listening to prospects, and, occasionally, illuminating important information that might otherwise be lost within a complex set of factors.

There is little, if any, benefit to be had from pushing, persuading, battling and, finally, leading these prospects anywhere. Further, in our experience, a dominant sales personality will have little, if any patience with the very long process that can come to characterize a prospect’s inquiry into a solution for a problem that has not yet coalesced into something worth doing anything about.

If your organization needs to add a different, and more effective set of enterprise IT sales personnel, please consider IMB Enterprises, Inc.

We can be a powerful resource that can identify, promote and recruit the type of talent you require, meaning enterprise IT software sales personnel that can succeed at the job. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our retained search services. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

27
Aug

Matrix Sales Organizations Foster Healthy Contention which can Only Help the Growth of Enterprise IT ISVs

Enterprise IT ISVs, in early stages of growth, should consider implementing matrix sales organizations. As per the web site of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council (http://www NULL.careersinsupplychain NULL.ca/m) a matrix organizational structure is “[a]n organizational structure in which two (or more) channels of command, budget responsibility and performance measurement exist simultaneously. For example, both product and functional forms of organization could be implemented simultaneously, that is, the product and functional managers have equal authority and employees report to both managers.” (quoted from the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council web site, for which a link has been provided, above).

In our experience, a matrix sales organization can be used, successfully, to add healthy contention to the activities pursued by, for example, inside and outside sales representatives managing the same geographical territory. When both sales representatives responsible for a revenue stream report into different management, they are more likely to pursue differing strategies which, nevertheless, may be more advantageous for the overall business than a unified plan that neglects to cover all necessary facets of territorial account management.

In sum, an early stage enterprise IT ISV should not neglect to explore a wide range of sales strategies that may make sense. After all, it is much harder to renovate deeply ingrained plans and activities than it is to explore opportunities that may seem tangential while plans are still in a formative stage, especially where senior management would like to explore the benefits of a “ready, fire, aim” operational strategy. The facts are that seemingly tangential activities sometimes pay off with unexpected benefits. When sales teams are restricted within a monolithic management structure, the opportunity to test new plans can be inadvertently stifled. Where possible, it is advised to implement a horizontal reporting structure where all staff members report into senior management. However, when business growth reaches a point where horizontal reporting lines are no longer feasible, a matrix organizational structure can, and should, be at least considered as a method of redesigning reporting lines.

If your organization includes a number of sales personnel, but actual performance is short of expectations, you may want to consider implementing a matrix organizational structure. IMB Enterprises, Inc. can assist you as you decide whether, or not, implementing a matrix structure is truly an option for your business. Further, where a matrix structure may work, we can certainly do the analysis required to pinpoint performance gaps and possible remedies. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

24
Aug

How to Use Teleprospecting to Compile Information About Competitors

Teleprospecting can be used successfully to compile information about competitors. Roughly speaking, there are 3 different methods worth considering:

  1. Covert activity, commonly referred to as G2 calls
  2. Overt activity
  3. and discussions with Prospects/Customers

Covert activity
We like the definition of G2 (http://www NULL.all-acronyms NULL.com/G2/intelligence/1178484) as presented on the Acronyms dot com web site. IMB Enterprises, Inc. has provided customers with G2 gathering services, exclusively from telemarketing and teleprospecting engagements, since the mid 1980s. The purpose of these calls is to find out as much about a competitor’s public offer, success rate, etc under the guise of an incoming inquiry to a competitor’s sales organization.

Overt activity
Very useful information about competitors can also be gathered from overt activities, including telephone calls placed to parties identified in success stories, case studies, and white papers published by competitors. In our experience these individuals will often share very useful information about important topics like return on investment (ROI), implementation experiences, factors that drove a purchase decision, and more. Of course, it is mandatory that teleprospecting agents selected for this type of activity exhibit the poise and demeanor required to maintain productive conversations with senior managers at enterprise class businesses. Simply scripting conversations and requiring tight adherence to these scripts will not be enough to ensure success.

Discussions with Prospects/Custoers
IMB Enterprises, Inc. has successfully conducted customer surveys on the behalf of clients. Usually these clients have chosen to implement a channel distribution strategy. Therefore, the customers and/or prospects that we have contacted have been selected from what was formerly known as a value added reseller (VAR) channel. In these cases it is quite useful to script these conversations. Further, the script ought to be put together from a set of questions specifically designed to “connect the dots” with regards to important questions; for example, the real impact of reseller margins as compared to consulting fees, and/or the real impact of competitive channel marketing — meaning VAR vs. National Acounts vs. OEM (white box) — marketing programs.

We also have very recent experience developing testimonials and/or case studies from end users. The promotional information collected through these conversations can certainly be expanded to include important insight about competitors. The real work is to “weave” these questions, with skill, into a broader discussion so that is inviting to all parties, not the least the customers, or prospects on the other end of the telephone.

If you see a value for intelligence-gathering for your business, and see the value in using third party services to successfully capture your objective, please consider IMB Enterprises, Inc. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

23
Aug

In Late Summer, 2012, Dell and Hewlett Packard are on the Trail of Highly Capable Enterprise Sales Personnel

Dell reported their second quarter earnings for their 2013 fiscal year on August 22nd 2012. Hewlett Packard followed right behind on August 23rd, 2012 with their Q3 results. We found lots of consistency between the two reports:

  1. A common theme — 2012 presents a challenging “macro” environment where personal computers sales have declined steeply, year over year for both companies
  2. A second common theme — enterprise deals are moving at a substantially slower pace than was the case in the past
  3. A shared objective — improve the performance of enterprise IT sales teams

In the next post to this blog we will express some of our opinion on pt 1, above. For the remainder of this post we will focus on pt 3 and, to an extent, pt 2. As we have consistently voiced in this blog, since its inception in early 2011, the characteristics of effective, valuable sales personnel charged with selling products into enterprise-class (meaning very large) businesses, and comparable sized organizations in the public and not for profit sectors, have changed, radically, since the early days of the personal computer (late 1970s, early 1980s).

Back then, the winning mindset for top sales performers was much the clarion call of the wild hordes. The art of selling was as easy as “taking candy from a baby.” Finally, the optimum mindset that sales personnel needed to cultivate in order to “hit their numbers” was to think like a rabid dog driven to “go for the jugular” of the prospect. The environmental habitat that underpinned this selling environment was exclusivity — sales personnel who consistently exceeded quota mastered the technique of convincing prospects that they truly had something to offer that no one else could deliver.

Those days are gone in 2012, where entire categories of products overlap, groups of prospects must arrive at a consensus in order to purchase products/services/integrated solutions, etc and, of most importance, budgets are almost no where to be found when needs are at hand. Today’s most successful enterprise IT sales personnel must be masters of all of the steps required in a complicated process that can take, literally, several years to develop. Much of that work, as we have written about in this blog, is actually a matter of facilitating the natural evolution of the prospects purchase process, by no means does it have much to do, at all, with pointing their boat and forcing them to drive in your direction.

We were gratified to see that these two public businesses acknowledged, in their quarterly reports, the imperative they share to build more effective sales organizations. We are absolutely convinced they are after precisely the type of skills that we have delineated in this blog.

If you head up an early state enterprise IT ISV and need to staff up with sales personnel who can work, successfully with prospects in our 2012 enterprise business climate, please contact IMB Enterprises, Inc. We have a methodology that we can teach you to implement that will certainly shorten the time it takes to develop the sales team that you require. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our services. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

22
Aug

Web Site Key Word Optimization Contributes Substantially to Narrowing the Visits to Engagement Gap

Successfully optimizing key words contributes substantially to narrowing the visits to engagement that usually arises as enterprise IT ISVs begin to promote their businesses online. Simply put, this gap amounts to a wide disparity between the number of visits to a web site and the number of opportunities to engage with visitors on business development topics.

It is important to reiterate that we are presently speaking about the experiences of enterprise IT ISVs, rather than businesses selling tangibles; for example, wedding dresses. IMB Enterprises, Inc. spent nearly 3 years from 2004 to 2007 working closely with a successful online retailer of wedding dresses on his online marketing and sales requirements. For example, we produced an automated system to publish product pages on his web site, which were all static pages and, in theory, inherently better optimized for search engine indexing. We also worked very carefully on competitive analysis and key word optimization requirements for this client who, admittedly, needed to sell items in a very competitive market. Unequivocally, we can say that engagement with prospects occurred with a substantially higher frequency for this client than is the case for enterprise IT ISVs, who are selling intangibles, with whom we have been working for the last 2 years.

Regardless of the differences between our experiences with these two types of clients on the topic of the engagement gap, we can say that the method of narrowing the gap amounts to the same careful analysis and refinement of key words. In order to analyze key word performance, relevant data must be compiled. Usually, relevant data amounts to historical search engine results placement (SERP) information for the three search engines that we care about — Google, Bing & Yahoo.

Tracking this information on a regular basis is very time consuming — especially where web sites to be analyzed include web sites maintained by competitors. Therefore, we look to commonly available software tools to automate this task. We are keen on Advanced Web Ranking (http://www NULL.advancedwebranking NULL.com) from Caphyon, SRL (http://www NULL.caphyon NULL.com). Most of these tools are in the low to moderate price range. As is the case with most on premise software, the learning curve required to manage this type of software can be steep; therefore, we think it makes sense to engage with a specialist who should be expert with a preferred tool and, thereby, eliminates the learning curve phase, all together.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. welcomes opportunities to collaborate with enterprise IT ISVs who understand the online marketing imperative in 2012. You can contact us online or telephone us at +1 631-673-2929. The first 15 mins of any consultation is always on us.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

21
Aug

Successfully Bridging the Web Sites Visits to Engagement Gap is an Imperative for Online Product Promotion for Enterprise IT ISVs

While it cannot be said that lots of enterprise IT software ISVs would define the online marketing term, “conversion” as a web site visit that results in a sale, it should be the case that this same set of businesses ought to define “conversion” as a web site visit that results in an invitation to engage that is presented by a prospect.

In other words, a “conversion” amounts to a web site visit that ends up with a message sent by the web site visitor to the business that owns the web site, either electronically, or via a telephone call.

With this definition in mind, we think that enterprise IT ISVs ought to allocate lots of available resources, appropriately, to an effort to support a high rate of conversion from web site visits to engagement.

Of course, invitations from prospects to engage on topics relative to product purchases constitute very high velocity sales lead opportunities. Therefore, they represent a valuable objective, which if achieved, can deliver a substantial portion of revenue requirements, if not all revenue requirements.

So why the gap that is very often to be found between a high volume of web site traffic and very low levels of engagement? The problem is that online content — mainly comprised of the text to be found on web pages — is not optimized for search engines. In simple terms, the key words that a search engine like Google assigns to the web pages on these poorly optimized web sites are usually either missing, or not the correct set to produce the incoming engagement that the business is after.

Fixing this problem involves a number of steps. We recommend first identifying competitors who can be verified as receiving the right level of incoming invitations to engage from web site visitors. Once these competitors have been identified, their web sites must be analyzed to determine why they are placing with enough prominence on Google to attract web site visits where the visitor opts to convert.

We use automated tools to provide us with the information about key words, key word density, inbound links, etc., which all contribute to the prominence of these web sites. Finally, we encourage some direct discussions with parties that have engaged with competitors to obtain the answers to a set of who/what/where/how/why questions, which MARCOM can use as the optimization effort begins for the web site. It should be noted that these direct discussions can be realized in the course of teleprospecting activities.

If your business lacks the internal resources to successfully optimize your online web site efforts, please contact IMB Enterprises, Inc. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

17
Aug

A Multi Dimensional Marketing Communications Plan is a Necessity in 2012 for Enterprise IT Products

A multidimensional marketing communications plan is a necessity in 2012 for enterprise IT ISVs that operate above the radar. This MARCOM plan should include:

  • Paid Online Advertising
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Social Media
  • Teleprospecting
  • Print Promotion
  • Industry Visibility at Trade Shows, Conferences, etc

in order to deliver optimum results. It is no longer possible to rely on simply one of these strategies to obtain satisfactory results.

It is not necessary to allocate matching resources to each of these 6 facets of a multidimensional marketing communications campaign. We think that it pays to concentrate on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a method of driving most of the inquiries required to fuel sales lead generation programs. The SEO obstacle is failing to optimize for the most useful keywords. Therefore, careful attention must be paid to targeting the most useful set of keywords possible for an enteprise IT software product/service/integrated solution. We have first hand experience delivering positive results in this area. Please contact us at +1 631-673-2929 to learn more.

Enterprise IT ISVs should look to paid online advertising as a preferred method to:

  • accelerate the process of driving truly useful inbound engagement from prospects and, further along
  • reinforce brand awareness, once SEO efforts are working correctly, by targeting broad keywords

Social Media marketing should be used to alleviate support demands for products, to stimulate customer community building, and to assemble a strong set of positive ratings for products. Most of this work will need to be accomplished through human effort (typically via a staff member who acts in the capacity of “community manager”), though it is possible to obtain decent results through outsourcing these activities to third parties.

Teleprospecting is, once again, very much a human activity. Care needs to be exercised to select agents who will deliver positive results given the technical nature of enterprise IT software products, and the demographics of prospects. A teleprospecting obstacle is making the mistake of losing sight of “C” level contacts and focusing, excessively, on technical personnel. The best agents are comfortable discussing technical features, trends and objectives, but also understand the business case rationale for product purchases as well as most of the most common implementation imperatives.

With regard to print media, it is important to understand that it still makes sense to support periodic direct mail campaigns, though the frequency may be as seldom as an annual mailing. Targeting these mailings to “C” level prospects makes sense. Even if the mailing is simply a postcard care needs to be taken to ensure that the layout of the material is professional and that it conforms to current themes.

Finally, with regards to attendance at industry events, we are strong believers in either attending conferences or presenting at conferences at a primary method of utilizing this strategy. We are not keen on simply exhibiting at the exhibition hall that usually accompanies these events. We think that truly useful prospect engagement still arises around industry issues, concepts, etc. Therefore, if executive management includes individuals capable of making an attractive public presentation, MARCOM should spend time unearthing opportunities for these individuals at coming industry events.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. is familiar with each of these 6 strategies. We welcome opportunities to discuss plans and objectives with enterprise IT ISVs. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved