20
Nov

Channel Conflicts — Android Style: Why is the Moto G Hitting the Market, but not the Chinese Market?

On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, Google’s Motorola Mobility unit announced the “Moto G”, an ultra low cost smart phone. This device, which sports a high resolution screen and “the latest Android” O/S, is available at a very low retail price of $179.00. But there’s a couple of catches to this deal – you can’t buy the Moto G in China, and the Android O/S is NOT 4.4 KitKat, at least for now. Might there be a channel conflict bubbling below the surface (no pun intended) here?

The channel conflict, if there is one, likely originates with two other Android partners — LG and Samsung. The “Google Nexus 5” is manufactured by LG, and includes the Android 4.4 KitKat O/S. This smart phone also sports a very competitive retail price, below $400.00 USDs. Google sells this smart phone through the Play Store. My latest check on availability shows ship dates commencing on November 26, 2013.

Then there’s the Samsung side to this story. Samsung Makes Quiet Push for New Mobile OS. Of course, if TiZen takes off, then Samsung will have little need, going forward, for any Android O/S, including 4.4 KitKat and its descendants.

All of this complexity can lead to a headache. If Chinese consumers will not be able to acquire Moto G, and Indian consumers are unable to specify an availability date for the Google Nexus 5 smart phone, then who is managing all of this, and does this group or person have a plan in mind?

It looks to me like the folks at Microsoft/Nokia have a real incentive to release their own ultra low cost smart phone to EVERYBODY, RIGHT AWAY. Let’s cut through the complexity and get down to provisioning internet-ready mobile devices to emerging markets NOW.

But is Microsoft/Nokia interested in these markets? Do they have a low cost offer for these consumers? To date there’s been no word on the low cost accessibility topic from the folks in Redmond/Helsinki. I, for one, would be real keen to see them step forward with one.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

5
Mar

Plan on Six Months Before New Sales People Produce Meaningful Revenue

ISVs should plan on at least six months preparation time before new sales people start producing. Better not to hire new sales people than to bring them in under an unreasonable expectation of how quickly they will start selling.

New sales people must be trained before they start working with prospects and customers. A good sales training program includes:

  • a technical introduction to products and services
  • all of the information required to write sales
  • a review of the sales plan, territory or industry assignments
  • a review of the business plan
  • a review of any restrictions on selling to prospects working for regulated organizations in the private, public or not-for-profit sectors, along with proper etiquette guidelines

Tests should be included in the training program to make sure important points have been correctly understood. Any sales people failing tests should be kept in training until they pass. Sales people are often the only representatives of your business prospects meet. They need to communicate your message and accurately represent your company. If you aren’t sure they are 100% ready for the job, don’t put them in front of prospects.

Assigning new sales people to existing territories is a good way to pay for the training time. You already have a stream of revenue coming in from existing customers. New sales people with the right skills and experience can be safely trusted to manage accounts. An account manager spends a lot of time exercising customer service skills. Usually these skills are the same across an industry.

If account managers are expected to provide technical support to customers, then it makes sense not to place new sales people in these roles until they demonstrate correct understanding of technical procedures specific to your products.

Start ups and early stage ISVs have a tougher time finding a way to pay for new sales people. Usually these businesses do not have established territories requiring account managers.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

21
Dec

Once Qualification Criteria have been Established Lead Generation Efforts Should be Separated from Sales Efforts

Product marketers for complex software products targeted at enterprise customers need to provide sales and lead generation teams with a prospect profile. These teams need to use the prospect profile to build separate prospect qualification procedures. The rationale for separating these procedures is that each team has a different, but complementary, reason for qualifying prospects. Lead generation teams should qualify prospects to ensure that names passed along to sales teams for further engagement meet the right prospect profile criteria. Sales teams should qualify prospects to determine where a prospect fits in, if at all, in the decision making system for an enterprise that looks like a potential customer.

It should be clear that we are proposing two different sets of activities from the same prospect profile information. The first set of activities are the domain of lead generation teams. These teams need to use their efforts to identify specific contacts with whom sales teams should engage, in order to advance the possibility of sales opportunities. Further, lead generation teams need to also collect information about specific enterprise organizations, to determine whether specific organizations exhibit the earmarks of good sales prospects.

In fact, as we see it, a prospect profile for complex enterprise IT software products has two core components:

  • a set of contact profiles and
  • a set of profiles for organizations likely to benefit from products

We think that it is clearly the responsibility of lead generation teams to implement both of these profiles. Lead generation teams should use both of these profiles to provide sales teams with opportunities for engagement. Sales teams, in turn, engage with these contacts to further the qualification process. The border between the two teams should be an initial meeting between the sales team and the contacts identified by lead generation teams. Like runners in a relay race, this first meeting provides an opportunity to “pass the baton” from one team to the other.

We have serviced clients as both a lead generation service and a sales service. In two recent instances we have performed both functions. We think it works better, as we mentioned at the start of this post, to keep the two activities entirely separate. Our clients benefit more when we pass a qualified prospect along to a sales team. Of course, it is then up to sales to determine the quality of the opportunity. Sales’ determination can provide a useful method of determining whether or not objectives have been met for a particular project.

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

19
Nov

Early Stage Enterprise IT ISVs can plan on a Single Role for Head of Sales and Marketing

Enterprise IT ISvs can plan on combining responsibilities for marketing (including product marketing and marketing communications), and sales into one leadership position. In fact, it makes complete to implement this staffing strategy. The facts are that it is critically important that product marketing, communications, lead generation and sales move, almost in lock step through this early stage of growth. There is no better way to respect this requirement than to select one leader for both of these business functions.

The individual selected for this role should have first hand experience with all four sets of responsibilities. Individuals who can demonstrate past successful roles as a pitchman are usually worth consideration.

What’s special about a pitchman is that this type of sales person is very comfortable delivering presentations. Of course, marketing communications is all about branding, presentation and audience. Therefore, a pitchman who is adept at delivering presentations may also be comfortable producing them. If a sales person is identified who meets these criteria, then management should move quickly to interview and determine whether or not there is a fit, as this type of hiring opportunity seldom arises.

It is important to keep in mind that there are many types of presentations that can be suitable for pitchmen. An ability to produce high level presentations — meaning those presentations that communicate concepts, and, even, methodologies to business users who make purchase decisions — represents a skill that should be highly prized.

A hire for the position of head of sales and marketing must also be able to demonstrate an ability to deal with data for the purpose of performance analysis, etc. Usually an Excel whiz who can write macros and produce charts makes a good hire for this role.

Finally, a successful leader for these functions should be able to demonstrate past success managing teams of subordinates. Certainly, at an early stage a head of sales and marketing will be called on, personally, to at least contribute to closing business, if not close the deal him or herself. Nevertheless, as the business grows a head of sales will likely add additional staff; therefore, a good choice for the position is an individual who can demonstrate at least 10 years prior experience in this type of leadership role.

We do not advise bringing an individual into this role who may be a very strong individual contributor, but has little, if any experience leading teams. The rewards that motivate an individual contributor will not likely motivate a team leader, and vice versa.

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

2
Nov

It is All a Matter of Return on Investment when Enterprise Business Considers Implementing IT Software

As the result of a long history of poor to mediocre return on efforts to implement IT software solutions, enterprise businesses and other large organizations in the public and not for profit sectors are much more reluctant to consider IT software purchases. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that sales personnel managing prospects and accounts pay very close attention to customer expectations of the probable results of IT software purposes.

Paying attention goes much further than simply attending to the task of setting reasonable, realistic expectations of purchase benefits by prospects and even customers. Paying attention means participating, where ever possible, along with prospects in the formation of the true value of enterprise IT software implementations under consideration. We have written on this topic earlier in this blog.

We highly recommended several books authored by Jeff Thull on this topic, and still do so. From our unique perspective, we can attest to the truth of the value imperative for our customers. For example, we are presently selling training systems for IT software to enterprise customers. Lately, we are learning with increasing frequency that our prospects must demonstrate for management the actual value of IT projects that have been implemented. Like any other successful selling organization we have no other option than to support our customers and prospects as they proceed through this process. Indeed, we welcome opportunities to do so. Further, we think it makes sense for other enterprise IT ISVs after the same markets to do the same.

We need to note that not all enterprise IT organizations will welcome the participation of vendors in the formation of specific value propositions. We think that part of this reluctance amounts to a “once burned twice shy” attitude. Another driver is so-called “commoditized IT”, which we now find to be a realistic position. Some purchase are just too mundane for enterprise businesses to consider including a vendor in the formation of a value proposition. In fact, we think this makes perfect sense. When we encounter this position, our policy, as ever, is to accomodate.

Nevertheless, the larger enterprise IT ISVs, along with prominent consulting firms typically participate in this type of value formation on the part of customers and prospects. Therefore, whenever an opportunity for this type of role emerges we advocate moving forward and taking up the offer on a position in the decision-making.

Bottom line: it makes sense to maintain awareness of the importance of delivering value once enterprise IT software projects have been implemented. At all costs, it is essential for successful efforts in this area to monitor customer impressions to verify positive results.

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

1
Nov

An Important Additional Feature of Successful Enterprise IT Software Sales Personnel in 2012 is Comfort with Cold Calls

As recently as no more than 5 years ago, cold calling was looked upon with disdain by most firms in the IT software market. Cold calls were considered the type of tactic employed by the lower tier of companies in this market. After all, a cold call is an effort to directly reach out to engage with marketplace participants without an invitation to do so.

Even today in 2012, best practices for opening opportunities to engage with legitimate sales prospects are still controversial. Some of our competitors speak about sales lead generation methods where marketing communications (MARCOM) personnel retain authority over opportunities to engage with marketplace prospects until a much later point (where, presumably, these prospects will somehow be riper for legitimate sales contact) when, finally, it will make sense for sales personnel to take over the engagement.

We do not agree with this assessment. On the contrary, we think that the type of lead generation that they are describing is, in fact, an outbound direct marketing approach that includes telemarketing — often in the form of teleprospecting, which we have written about, at length, elsewhere in this blog. We do not advocate utilizing MARCOM staff to generate this type of lead. Any direct, outbound attempt to engage with the market, in our opinion, should be the exclusive responsibility of sales personnel.

Of course, the precise type (or profile) of a successful sales person for this type of direct outreach effort, is markedly different than the profile of the type of individuals who formerly were very successful at this type of role. We have just written and published a post on this new profile for sales success; therefore, there is not need to delve further into the specifics of the profile here.

Nevertheless, the important point is that this type of staff member must be, nevertheless, a sales person. The inevitability of this conclusion is driven that much further home when one considers that the true value of an address book has also changed. Having an address book no longer increases the likelihood of sales people closing business as was the case in the past. Return on investment (and in a precise form that is, necessarily, very customer and opportunity specific and, therefore, cannot safely be generalized) is very important to successful selling of expensive software solutions to enterprise IT customers. Therefore, whether or not a sales person is familiar with a specific individual within a target organization, or not, does not mean anything, necessarily, as to whether or not it is likely that this individual will close the business, or not.

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

31
Oct

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

30
Oct

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

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

9
Aug

Assumptions About Enterprise IT Sales Funnels Need to be Revisited in 2012

Traditional notions of how enterprise IT sales staff build so-called deal “funnels” no longer apply in markets like 2012. Today, product promotion campaigns must reach a much larger audience of enterprise IT prospects, than was the case 20 years ago. This extended reach is required to ensure that these campaigns produce an adequate number of sales leads, which, in turn, must be in place to support revenue forecasts in roughly the same proportion of sales leads to closed sales as was the case in 1992.

The substantial changes in the visibility requirement for product promotion campaigns result from the reality that the primary information-gathering medium for the majority of enterprise IT buyers, today, has shifted completely to the Internet from print media. In fact, many pundits are presently making the case that the real arena for enterprise IT product promotion has shifted even further, to mobile devices, including smart phones and tablets.

Regardless of the method used to produce sales leads, the leads, as we mentioned above, must be in place so that sales teams can hit their sales quotas. Therefore, in 2012 it is critically important to the success of online promotional campaigns for enterprise IT software that they achieve two broad objectives. These campaigns must produce

  1. A satisfactory volume of incoming messages, whether in the form of inquiries, in the form of online messages, email messages, or telephone calls and
  2. A satisfactory proportion of incoming messages from a truly promising set of prospects

Of course, the $64 million dollar question is how to define satsifactory for 1) and 2)? Further, what is the definition of promising for 2)?

Successful enterprise IT ISVs in 2012 will allocate the required resources to produce specific and highly useful definitions for these critically important terms. Further, once these businesses have defined these terms and, thereby, established their enterprise IT lead generation volume and quality targets, they will build out online promotional campaigns that use any and all available means, including, but not limited to:

  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing

in conjunction with integrated direct marketing activities that utilize targeted electronic outbound product promotion campaigns along with teleprospecting to produce the levels of incoming engagement that they require and, thereby, to preserve the power of sales funnels as a predictive tool for revenue.

If your organization understands the need to re think funnel strategies you ought to consider IMB Enterprises, Inc. We welcome opportunities to collaborate with sales and marketing management to improve the success rate for both incoming and outbound prospect engagement. 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