We read recently of a well publicized failure for a large scale ERP project for a publicly traded business that markets products to the United States Department of Defense. In fact, this failure was significant enough to negatively impact on the quarterly return, meaning profitability, for this business. As we read further about this misfortune, we noted the names of other publicly traded businesses that had sponsored similar failed projects.
We think this type of experience is quite common in the enterprise IT software market. Therefore, we advise that it is entirely mandatory that sales and marketing teams for innovative tech businesses looking to enter these markets assume that buyers will express, at some point during the sales cycle, a skepticism about products and related projects. Further, these same sales and marketing teams need to set reasonable expectations of product and project results. In 2012 we think it is much better to make a mistake by under estimating the final benefit to a customer than to over estimate in any way the end result of a purchase. Finally, any quantified ROI estimates need to be rigorously tested to ensure accuracy.
Maintaining a sales plan that assumes skepticism and related “environmental characteristics” ought to lead sales and marketing to look for opportunities to not only include purchase proponents, but likely opponents, as well, in a sales plan. It is far better to obtain advance notice of pending criticism than to be surprised after the fact. Of course, the question then becomes how to collect contrarian views on a purchase within a plan? We think it makes sense to either convince buyers of the necessity of gaining a preview of any objections (along with an identification of the source) or to work with contacts at competitors who may be privy to this information. The end result should be a much stronger sales plan, one that can withstand internal objections and scrutiny.
We hope that it is apparent that highly experienced sales and marketing staff need to be on hand to deliver a positive result for the type of sales activity that we have just sketched. Skeptical enterprise buyers who have experienced failed projects will be loathe to trust “just any” sales personnel. Rather, familiar personalities (potentially ex employees) will need to be included in the sales effort to provide a rationale for enterprise buyers to trust tech innovators enough to collaborate on designing a sales plan.
If your business can use the type of expertise required to put together a successful sales campaign for enterprise IT buyers, we would like to hear from you. Please telephone Ira Michael “Mike” Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved