Partnering with Core Application ISVs can Open Opportunities to Engage with Enterprise IT Decision Makers

ISVs offering what we refer to as peripheral solutions to enterprise businesses can experience substantial difficulties as they seek to engage directly with decision makers. Purchases of these solutions are usually invisible to decision makers as the result of two rather obvious factors:

  • the impact of the cost of acquiring these solutions is considered insignificant and
  • the requirements for these solutions often arise independently of requirements for corecomputing platforms

As we have argued in the last couple of posts to this blog, it is likely much easier for these ISVs of solutions on the periphery of enterprise IT computing to gain renewals on subscriptions where decision makers are aware of the solutions and engaged in the successful implementation of them as components of an enterprise-wide quest for value. Nevertheless, as we have just noted, most of the time engaging with decision makers is a very difficult challenge for ISVs of peripheral solutions. The end result is a difficult tone to year end where the sales team is out in the market with crossed fingers hoping that customers will opt to renew, despite a lack of support from decision makers.

A cure to this malaise is to joint market with ISVs of bigger solutions. If our readers need to be convinced on this point, then we recommend that they simply consider that the cost of these bigger solutions is always a matter with high impact on enterprise business decision makers. Further, implementing bigger solutions requires changes in operating procedures across an enterprise. Based on these two conditions it is safe to assume that decision makers will maintain focus on requirements for these bigger solutions.

The task for ISVs producing peripheral solutions is to identify likely partners who will require peripheral solutions to ensure that their customers can successfully implement their solutions. Success in this setting almost always amounts to implementing a solution that will produce a lower cost of business operation. Cost savings should be understood as largely synonymous with the concept of value for enterprise IT businesses.

We participated directly in the successful efforts of one ISV with a peripheral solution targeted to enterprise businesses. This ISV had a solution that permitted enterprise businesses to purchase very costly document production equipment. Specifically, enterprise businesses could use this ISV’s solution to spread the cost of this costly document production equipment across a wide range of computing systems, including a mainframe, work place computing and standalone personal computers. Our partner in this solution was a small company by the name of Xerox. If you care to hear further about this specific success story, then please use our contact form to submit your request.

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


Defining Some of the Complexity of Enterprise Software Sales

We like approaching the topic of enterprise sales by first categorizing this unique process as a complex endeavor. Simply consider the typical first-effort process of an enterprise software sale to a larger business:

  1. First contacts are made to either a referral, or to a contact identified by direct marketing activity.
  2. An initial discussion with this first individual reveals that additional contacts within the prospect business must be contacted to obtain additional information that may be useful to qualify the opportunity (or to proceed further, whatsoever, with the sales campaign).
  3. Subsequent discussions with other identified individuals are held, but the information obtained from these discussions is inconsistent

What we can glean from the above three points is that several different individuals within the same organization need to be contacted, simply as we open a campaign to sell software to a large organization. Further, we glean that (assuming that we had the foresight to include the very same questions in our script for our discussions with each of these individuals) the opinions of these individuals very often differ on key questions that we have included to qualify the value of this opportunity as a sales prospect worth our time. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate to label this activity as a complex series of interactions.

What should be apparent about this complex series of interactions is that it is absolutely vital that we collect as much information as possible through each of these opportunities to interact with prospects. Our sales campaign will very often fail should we approach a large organization with a set of general untested assumptions about an organization, its needs, the benefits that matter, etc. Any general, broad assumptions become meaningless once we begin an information collection process while maintaining an open mind and simply listening to what our contacts are expressing, theorizing, etc.

Therefore, we think that the perfect personality type for at least the typical activities characteristic of the initial phase of sales campaigns for enterprise software is an individual who can make of an initial discussion with an otherwise unknown prospect a comfortable conversation where the prospect is invited to express as much information as possible. These initial conversations need not be approached as surveys, but, in fact, they have much of the same characteristics. The difference ought to be that the individual on the other end of the telephone conversation, or standing in front of your team, should have already been identified as someone worth the time it takes to go over your set of questions, meaning someone who truly will lose sleep some night should something go wrong with the computing systems that you are talking about.

We relish opportunities to work with innovative technology businesses looking to build organizations capable of successfully engaging in complex sales of enterprise software. Please contact Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

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