The Profile of a Likely Successful Sales Person for Software has Evolved Substantially Over the Last Few Years

The profile of the type of sales person who will likely be successful selling software products, services and solutions to enterprise class businesses has evolved, substantially, over the last few years. In our opinion, sales people who are:

  • much better listeners than their peers
  • capable of facilitating decisions on the part of their customers
  • comfortable with the telephone as a primary engagement method for prospects and customers
  • able to exercise leadership, appropriately, via webinars, conference calls, and even conference and/or seminar appearances

bring to a selling opportunity the right combination of attributes to succeed in today’s enterprise market. Of course, three other components:

  • a substantial address book
  • technical skills
  • and, finally, a strong interest in money and a drive to make more of it

must be evident, as well, but these three final characteristics have always been the case, even when outside selling skills were of prime importance to sales success.

Missing from this profile is the type of dogged, obsessive, focus on countering prospect objections that was a very important feature of past profiles of likely successful sales personnel. Also not to be found is a penchant for assuming the position of an authority when engaging with prospects and customers. The days of the old “Feel, Felt, Found” approach to convincing prospects to move forward on a purchase are, here in 2012, long gone. The very long sales cycles that have become the norm for big ticket enterprise IT software sales, where decision-makers change, and even a process whereby decisions can becomfortably made are elusive, are no longer friendly turf for sales people selling snake oil. In 2012, prospects need to make their own purchase decisions, especially where a purchase must be made with a substantial financial impact on budgets and future planning.

It is precisely with regard to the complexity of decision-making and the various roles that will, ultimately, impact on final decisions, that the importance of facilitation should become clear within the profile of a successful sales person for these IT software products in 2012. In our experience, the ability to facilitate movement in others is very closely related to an ability to listen carefully to other people while engaged in a conversation. We think that successful enterprise IT ISVs will do well to choose sales staff carefully, based upon whether the individuals under consideration possess these skills, or not.

If your organization is on the lookout for top potential sales staff, but lack the internal resources to properly recruit these individuals, please consider contacting us. IMB Enterprises, Inc. maintains a strong interest in providing recruiting services to the enterprise IT ISV community. While we are not presently active with this type of requirement, we have considerable past successful experience in this area. Please contact us to discuss your requirements further.

Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

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


Are Outside Sales Teams Still Necessary for Enterprise IT Software Sales?

We no longer think that successful enterprise IT software sales depends upon an outside sales component. We have come to this conclusion as the result of our direct experience over the last 3 years selling this type of commodity into enterprise business markets. We are not precluding our customers from establishing and maintaining this type of effort. Rather, we do not think that the market is requiring this type of representative, any longer.

If our position is correct, then enterprise IT ISVs can dispense with a lot of costs that, in the past, were considered mandatory. At a minimum, these costs include rent for remote offices, and some portion (likely significant) of regular travel and entertainment expenses. Once alleviated of these costs, enterprise IT ISVs should have some latitude to apply funds in other areas, for example:

  • online marketing, which should include lead development campaigns, customer support, and brand management
  • and wider attendance of industry events, conferences, seminars, etc

The return on investments in online marketing and a more extensive marketplace presence should be substantial, and, in all likelihood, far more than perpetuating out of date sales structures where outside sales personnel are located remotely, but, nevertheless, spend most of their time on the telephone, and, rarely, on the road visiting prospects and/or clients.

For enterprise IT ISVs that have not engaged in this shift in sales team architecture, we strongly advise implementing a reorganization as soon as possible. We think it makes sense to maintain a substantial inside sales effort. In fact, we have written extensively in this blog on many topics that reside at the core of inside sales best practices, not the least of which is teleprospecting. A coordinated, integrated direct marketing effort that looks, primarily, to online marketing communications opportunities to generate leads, with direct telephone follow up and efforts to engage with prospects is, in our opinion, a winning strategy in today’s enterprise business market in the United States.

Of course, it makes sense to reorient top producing sales personnel to new roles that emphasize making better use of the telephone as a method of engaging with the market, in conjunction with periodic attendance at market events, conferences, seminars, etc. Why lose top producers when, in all likelihood, they would rather stay on board and simply reorient to the new strategies?

Finally, the best location for inside sales teams is the head office. Obviously, for virtual ISVs without a bonafide headquarters location, remote home offices will have to serve, but for businesses with headquarters, it makes sense to centralize sales team efforts.

If you are thinking about your current cost of sales and would like to trim expenses sensibly, while preserving working components of your sales team, please consider IMB Enterprises, Inc. We have direct first hand experience delivering successful results in 2012 with this type of method (in other words, a very strong inside sales effort, with little or no outside sales component). Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

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


Obsolescence of Outside Software Sales Teams has Resulted from a Combination of Factors

A combination of factors, which include a new role for computing software as a mere commodity requirement for enterprise businesses, and a marketplace that is now characterized by much leaner enterprise businesses, have combined to hasten the obsolescence of the traditional outside sales model. Enterprise IT ISVs, whether consciously, or not, have not only adjusted to these realities, but have, actually, contributed substantially to their emergence. In fact, as we have argued in a post to this blog, Enterprise IT ISVs are Driving Market Interest in Cloud Computing Options, cloud computing makes lots of sense for businesses manufacturing software commodities (ISVs) who are looking for the lowest possible cost for producing software, distributing it to customers, and then supporting customers over product life cycles.

With software delivered one time for many (which is essentially how we see the structure of cloud computing offers), little, if any, need to deliver hard products to customers, and, finally, no longer a need to deal with anymore than the range of web browser options when architects plan for likely clients for applications, there is little need for outside sales personnel.

From a marketplace perspective, enterprise businesses have become much leaner (the chronic high unemployment rate in the United States is symptomatic of enterprise businesses with far fewer personnel, who, in turn, work under a much larger workload and have, generally, much less time for the in-person engagement that was formerly the norm for outside sales teams), with little time for lunches with outside sales staff. Further, the market can now avail of a very rich resource of information about products, solutions, customer experiences, etc — the Internet. With the wealth of information available online, we do not see where prospects require the type of in person presentation that was the case as recently as 10 years ago.

Rather, customers are thoroughly researching requirements independent of vendors. As several leading businesses in the sales lead development space have made clear (these firms include Alinean and Marketo, both of which we have written about in past posts to this blog), the moment of engagement when prospects reach out to sales is, in fact, much later, which, in turn translates into a much longer sales cycle, but one that appears to “close itself”. Therefore, we think that enterprise IT ISVs can certainly work on an assumption that outside sales personnel are not the essential component to a winning market effort that was the case in the past.

If you would like to renovate your internal sales architecture to better address present day market opportunities, please consider IMB Enterprises, Inc. We have direct first hand experience delivering successful results in 2012. Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

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


Mass Market Promotional Venues like Radio and even Television may be Accessible to Early Stage Enterprise IT ISVs

The number of low power radio and television stations operating across the United States has grown substantially over the last decade. Some of this growth is the direct result of a change in the method by which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocates bandwidth. The combination of this new approach on the part of the FCC, together with the availability of substantially lower cost software solutions that service all of the needs of lower power television and radio operators who are maintaining a channel or two in local markets has resulted in lots of growth in this segment of the media market.

This growth has produced advertising opportunities for early stage enterprise IT ISVs at reasonable cost. We think these advertising opportunities can be used, successfully, to build brand awareness within targeted geographies. For example, by sponsoring a local outlet of NPR, businesses can receive a 10 sec announcement during NPR programs. One of our clients opted for this offer. Our telemarketing campaign for this client included several calls where the contact noted “yes, I have heard of your company.” In contrast, our attempt to use Google Adwords to build brand awareness for this same client did not reveal any market place awareness of the company.

Similarly, selective advertising over low power television stations can also be an effective method of building brand awareness. Of course, the broadcast foot print of these stations will be significantly smaller, but with local cable television coverage policies almost certainly assuring that these stations will be included in basic cable offers, early stage enterprise IT ISVs can certainly explore the promotional potential of these media outlets.

For businesses that wish to build brand awareness in either Silicon Valley, New York City, or the metropolitan Boston area, this type of lower cost over the air advertising is worth an exploration. Of course, establishing brand awareness, as quickly as possible, is an important objective for any early stage business. Whether it makes sense, or not, to focus on building this awareness based upon a geographical location is certainly a variable that should be considered on a case by case basis.

If you are considering a promotional campaign to build brand awareness please consider IMB Enterprises, Inc. We will be happy to elaborate on our recent experience. Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

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


High Quality Contact Lists are Essential to Telemarketing Efforts to Generate Leads for Enterprise IT Software

We have little tolerance for low quality contact lists. Our tolerance is especially low where list vendors prominent. We recommend corrective action whenever a client encounters excessive list errors. The higher the cost for list subscription, the greater our urgency in bringing the need for corrective action to client attention.

We were surprised, recently, to work with a client who had purchased a list from a very prominent business services company. What surprised us was the very high frequency of errors in the list. Telephone numbers were incorrect, or disconnected. Prospect management lists were not current. Many businesses had changed hands. New corporate parents were not listed. In sum, we recommended to our client that the list vendor be notified of these errors and that a refund, or at least a credit be applied to our client’s account.

In 2012, there is little, if any excuse for peddling low quality contact lists. With so many social media venues available for contact verification, it should be rather straightforward to verify important information — like management team members, parent corporations, etc. — before marketing lists to the public. At a minimum, low quality lists should be correctly promoted, as such, with a lower acquisition cost for the customer.

In contrast, we found the subscription cost incurred by our client to be very high. With barter resources like Jigsaw dot com readily available, we see little need, if any at all, for purchasing comparatively expensive plans (our client is looking at an annual charge in the $5K range).

In fact, we ourselves tend (at least at the outset of a client engagement) to put together our own low volume lists through a manual process that makes use of prominent social media sites (principally LinkedIn). Our accuracy is very high, but the volume of contacts is low.

We think it is very important to have a healthy volume of contacts available for outreach. Maintaining an adequate pool of available contacts empowers telemarketers to be discerning in their activities> “Discerning” means carefully avoiding the tendency to counter contact objections. Where the number of leads is constrained, we find a strong tendency on the part of telemarketers to convince contacts to sign on to lead campaigns. Therefore, it makes much more sense to provide these teams with a large volument of contacts.

If you would like your business to generate leads, at least in part, through telemarketing efforts, you should consider using the services of a third party like IMB Enterprises, Inc. Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

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


Telemarketing Calls Placed to Generate Leads for Enterprise IT Software Should Conclude Promptly When Objectives have been Achieved

Once contacts express interest in a topic, telemarketers generating leads for enterprise IT ISVs ought to promptly conclude calls and move on. Therefore objectives should be clearly established before telemarketers begin to work on call campaigns. Generally, these objectives can include:

  • Adding names to opt in email lists
  • Sending information about offers, white papers, etc
  • Scheduling follow up sales calls or
  • free of charge surveys
  • or participation in webinars, etc

While we are very familiar with free of charge surveys, we are not very keen on them. In fact, we are not advocates of “freemium” strategies. We have excellent recent experience working with clients who, in contrast, are keen on “freemiums”. These clients offer free versions of paid software, as well as broad surveys of customer requirements. In both cases we have noted barriers that have arisen, in our opinion, as a result of these free offers. We can’t help but think that sales prospects who are receiving some material, at no charge, are, therefore, hard pressed to accept that they will have to pay for other material. Therefore, we highly recommend that contacts not be offered opportunities to participate in free of charge surveys.

The other objectives that we have listed, above, are certainly promising. For example, securing permission to add contact information to an opt-in email list provides enterprise IT ISVs with an opportunity to build up a captive audience. If this captive audience is not subject to abuse (spam), or swooned into indifference as the result of poorly structured marketing communications efforts, it can provide telemarketing teams with an excellent set of prospects for further development. We have recently worked with a client who is very adept at maintaining these boundaries. We are happy to say that the opt-in email list maintained by this enterprise IT ISV is filled with a rich set of appropriate and valuable contacts, with whom we have positively engaged. One important point about this client’s use of the list is that communications are rarely any more frequent than once a month. Another important point is that the communications are structured in a manner that eschews a bald sales pitch. In fact, the communications are put together around technical topics, which constitutes a neutral ground upon which we have successfully engaged with prospects.

We are eager to expand on this discussion with companies who can see the value of a lead generation method that respects the privilege of engaging with valuable prospect, but, nevertheless, moves a sales process forward. Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

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


When Telemarketers Pursue Qualified Leads They Should Not Spend Time Overcoming Objections

As we noted in the last post to this blog, outbound telemarketers working on generating leads for enterprise IT software should be equipped with call scripts that include a short presentation of specific product, or service, or integrated solutions very early in the call. Determining whether or not a contact is interested in a topic of conversation very early in the process of a call ensures that telemarketing activity will be very efficient.

Along the same lines, it makes sense for telemarketers to quickly pass over contacts who either express no interest in topics or products, or state that their needs in the target area are already being satisfied via other options. Keep in mind that the purpose of these telemarketing calls is to produce leads, not to close sales (neither do we think it makes sense to counter contact objections within the sales process, but we are not going to cover why sales personnel will do well to respect contact objections within a sales process, here). Therefore, including a purely directive question in the call script:

  • Would you like to hear further?

offers the contact an opportunity to cut the conversation short, which also frees the telemarketer to move on to other calls, which may prove more fruitful.

Probing the contact for more information to determine other areas of need does not make sense, unless the enterprise IT ISV has other products targeted to other common enterprise computing needs. Where this type of enterprise IT ISV has implemented a telemarketing process to generate useful leads, the call script should necessarily, be different. In this case it makes sense to include a bit of information on each of the products as well as the market need that each product is designed to address.

Once a contact has made it clear that he or she is not interested in the subject of the discussion the telemarketer should gracefully end the call and move on. It makes sense to schedule a follow up call to this type of contact approximately 3 months out. Enterprise organizations can make changes on a quarterly basis. Following Up on a quarterly basis ensures that information about prospects, and their employees, partners, consultants, etc. is adequately accurate to determine that opportunities to develop sales are not being missed.

If your business is enterprise IT software, but you lack the internal resources to determine whether your present promotional strategies are adequate, or not, you should work with a third party like IMB Enterprises, Inc. to ensure that you are on the right track.

Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

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


It Makes Sense to Include Some Presentation in Direct Outreach Telemarketing Calls for Enterprise IT

It makes sense for enterprise IT ISVs to use direct marketing, and, specifically, telemarketing in their lead generation efforts. We have written extensively on the topic of telemarketing and a variant of telemarketing — teleprospecting — in this blog. Telemarketing can also be used for selling. Nevertheless, when telemarketing is used for lead generation the call script should include some presentation of the product/service/integrated solution offered.

Much has been written over the last several years about best sales practices for software to enterprise customers. Most of these practices include product presentation rather late in the sales cycle, after a complete picture of a customer’s needs has been assembled. But generating leads is a wholly separate process from sales. Where the objective is to produce leads that may develop into sales opportunities, products/services/integrated solutions should be at least mentioned in the initial call to contacts. Outbound telemarketing calls to unqualified prospects cannot produce meaningful results without some confirmation that prospects have an interest in the specific offerings of enterprise IT ISVs.

There is no substitute for including a short presentation of an offer for this type of telemarketing activity. By injecting a brief presentation, upon which a contact expresses an interest, a telemarketer can produce a useful lead. We define a “useful lead” as a qualified contact who is interested not only in a subject of discussion, but, further, in learning more about a specific offer. It is much easier to start with useful leads than to spend lots of time engaging with contacts along the periphery of a market topic without ever venturing in for a closer look at specific products, services and/or solutions. In contrast, once a telemarketer obtains confirmation from a contact that a product is of interest, he or she should start to collect answers to who/what/where/how/why questions.

The best method of injecting presentation into these first outbound calls is to include a sentence on the topic within an introduction of the business. For example:

  • “My name is John Smith, I am calling you from Acme Enterprise Software. We offer a scalable customer relationship management system, either on premise, or in the cloud. Would you care to hear further?”

This simple 3 sentence introduction (which must only follow obtaining a contact’s permission to proceed with a discussion. Telemarketers must be instructed not to make any introduction unless/until a contact grants permission to proceed) provides the following product specific information:

  1. the general category of software — customer relationship management
  2. the fact that the software is scalable, and, therefore, specifically targeted for enterprise organizations with different classes of users and applications
  3. and, finally, that the product is available either on premise, or as a software as a service (SaaS) delivered over the Internet and accessed with web browsers (cloud)

In the next post to this blog we will examine the impact of including a short presentation in an opening call to contacts on other aspects of generating enterprise IT software leads with telemarketers.

IMB Enterprises, Inc. works with enterprise IT ISVs that lack internal marketing management resources. We can serve very well as a temporary marketing communications function. Please either telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 or complete the contact us form on our web site. We will be happy to reach out to you to learn more about your needs.

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


Dell Predictions Make Sense When Enterprise IT Staff Reductions are Factored In

On Sunday, October 14, 2012 we read in the Wall Street Journal that UBS is moving forward on a plan to reduce the cost of IT by 33% by 2015. In an article titled UBS Plans Tech Cost Cuts, Report Says Neil Maclucas notes that “Switzerland’s largest bank, as measured by market capitalization, is planning to reduce costs at its information-technology division from around 3.6 billion Swiss francs ($3.8 billion) per year now to 2.4 billion francs by 2015” (quoted from Mr. Maclucas’ article as published on the Wall Street Journal web site). Mr. Maclucas goes on to make his point that further job cuts beyond the 3,500 cuts the bank announced in August 2011.

Coincidentally, we also read an article on the Barron’s web site on Dell. The author of this article, Tiernan Ray notes that a UBS analyst, Steve Milunovich wrote in a recent rating of Drll that “[t]he company’s goal is to grow enterprise computing’s operating income contribution from about 43% today to 60% in F2016.” (quoted from Tiernan Ray’s article Dell: Investors Underestimate Enterprise Prospects, Says UBS, which was published on the Internet on October 10, 2012). We think that Dell’s plans make perfect sense when one considers UBS’ announcement, which will likely be echoed by many publicly traded enterprise financial institutions as 3rd quarter 2012 results continue to be published.

Obviously, Dell is not alone. In fact, HP’s recent announcements about likely reductions in profitability for FY 2012 point to the same realities — enterprise organizations are accelerating their migration to ostensibly less costly cloud computing solutions. They are foregoing hardware purchases, which impacts adversely on the bottom line of major PC suppliers like HP and Dell. The difference, however, as Dell apparently understands, and, perhaps, HP, IBM, etc do NOT, is that enterprise organizations need partners who can adhere to hardware (and even infrastructure) neutrality and impartiality. In fact, the blog post contends that enterprise organizations are also looking for enterprise IT ISVs, OEMs and Partners to support infrastructure on demand: “Steve Felice, Chief Commercial Officer [at DELL], said there is a change in conversations with CIOs in that they increasingly agree with Dell that more agile and modular approach is needed . . .” quoted from the Barron’s blog post, for which a link has been provided above).

All of this bodes well for infrastructure on demand solutions, including players in the Dev/Ops space. Further, the fact that UBS is comfortable announcing an effort to reduce its IT computing costs by 1/3 by 2015 demonstrates the tremendous cost savings implicit to an enterprise organization, like this one, successfully migrating to substantially lower cost computing alternatives. It is really a new dawn.

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


BYOD also Presents Opportunities for Early Stage Enterprise IT ISVs with Offerings for Cloud Computing

Optimizing systems management — especially with regard to mobile devices — is another area of opportunity for early stage enterprise IT ISVs. Enterprise organizations have now accepted the realities that systems management solutions must incorporate modules for mobile devices — including tablets and smart phones. These organizations will likely require assistance as they strive to deliver the same high quality of service (QOS) computing and networking services that their users have come to expect, rgardless of whether applications for these computing platforms run on premise, or in a cloud.

Reliable management systems for bring your own device (BYOD) computing are in high demand. Few tools are presently available. Recent press on this topics indicates that enterprise organizations will be willing to pay additional cost for these tools. For example, Gartner published a research report, Media Tablets and Beyond: The Impact of Mobile Devices on Enterprise Management back in January of 2012.

The point of the Gartner study is that enterprise organizations need to develop policies to manage how BYOD computing is implemented, and supported. In fact, these organizations stand to benefit from BYOD computing as, generally, the quality of computing devices brought to the work place is — and will continue to be — higher than the quality of computing device provided by the organization, itself. The study contends that upper management within these organizations usually requests tablets and high end smart phones, which are provisioned to these users by enterprise IT organizations. Gartner contends that these enterprise IT organizations should, in turn, cite the reality of these requests, as a reason to justify study of organizational-specific computing requirements, and, further, compilation of new management policies and procedures.

Early stage ISVs with automated tools that support the type of research called for by the Gartner report can benefit from the trend. These tools might include network discovery methods for present generation mobile devices, as well as predictive analysis tools that can be used to look forward, with some accuracy, to a future landscape composed of BYOD computing systems and those owned by the enterprises, themselves. These predictive tools can be particularly valuable if enterprise organizations can use them to demonstrate savings as the burden of device ownership is shifted from the business to users, themselves.

Further, early stage ISVs capable of delivering enterprise-specific custom applications as mobile device apps should also be able to capitalize on very high levels of demand from the market. We do need to note that several of the larger players — including Google with its App Engine — are already competing in this space. Nevertheless, we think there is still room for smaller players to carve a niche in this space.

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