November 28, 2017

Value Selling in the Subscriptions World

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We’ve been talking a lot about the rapid transition of enterprise software selling from perpetual licenses to subscription models.  We’ve written about the availability of operating budgets and why offering payment terms is critical for vendors who intend to sell subscriptions.

What we haven’t discussed to date is the impact of subscription pricing on value selling.  Should you be adjusting your value selling methodology and practices when you sell subscriptions?  What changes and what stays the same? And what should I do differently if I want to be successful?

buttefly
Change is beautiful

We’re glad you asked! (more…)

November 1, 2017

What is Your Canyon to Cross?

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Are you ever in the middle of a sales opportunity with your client and frustration hits an all-time high?  No matter which way you slice it or how much you thought you had prepared, you just can’t get the customer to see the value in the solution?  We are on opposite sides of a large canyon – how do I get them over to the other side?  My goal is always to resolve a customer’s problem.  Now, how do I get there?

Recently a CEO I know, Jessica, spoke at an event I attended.  She was telling the story about a girls trip she took for her friend’s birthday.  This wasn’t a spa trip by any means.  Most people would be happy heading to their favorite Mexican spot for tacos and fresh lime margaritas, but not Jessica’s friend.  Nope!  Her friend wanted to take a hike.  But, it wasn’t just any hike–she wanted to hike rim to rim at the Grand Canyon – in one day.  For those of you who don’t know about rim to rim, hikers have been known to die on this journey.  There are warning signs prior to entering the Grand Canyon that you should not do the hike in one day.

Warning

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October 16, 2017

You Can Help Your Customer’s CIO Shine (Again)

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The traditional Chief Information Officer role is under threat. You may think this statement is an exaggeration, but consider this: CIOs used to strategically manage and deploy the IT assets of the company, making data accessible only to specified employees and not to others, according to predetermined, and often inflexible, business rules.

Today, digital opportunities like building multi-channel customer experiences, harnessing social data, and enabling super-fast decisions powered by real-time data have become critical. CIOs are finding it harder to exert as much influence as they had in the past.  Other line-of-business heads like sales management, marketing officers, and newly- created roles like digital business and data officers are all taking a hands-on attitude in purchasing tools relevant to them, often helped by developments like cloud, subscription, and bring-your-own-device. The CIO is increasingly finding that she is losing part of her relevance. (more…)

September 18, 2017

Selling Technology Keeps Getting Harder

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The Move to Usage vs. Ownership of Technology & the Impact on Sales Cycles

Piggybacking on Nora Yam’s recent blog: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Subscription Pricing, I’m taking a look at how the move to the cloud and changing accounting rules are impacting the sales cycle:

As software vendors continue their shift to the cloud, looking for higher stock valuations and lower costs, the shift can lead to delayed sales cycles and unintended outcomes.

Here are some of the reasons cited for sales delays:What really happens

Budgets: Most enterprise software sales have long sales cycles. Customers have planned for on-premises solutions which were budgeted for in the prior fiscal year. In the world of perpetual licenses, capital budgets may have been already allocated.

When selling hosted solutions in the cloud, operating budgets–generally larger and more flexible than capital budgets–are being tapped.  What’s the issue then?  Most customers’ operating budgets are being hit with unexpected costs during the transition. Without a strong business case the sale may be delayed until the next budget year. The cloud is putting pressure on operating budget availability. (more…)

August 17, 2017

Customer Finance in the World of Software Subscriptions

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As technology vendors move to software subscriptions as their primary pricing model, it presents new challenges as they attempt to meet customer demands while also managing company objectives. Historically customer finance programs have been used as strategic sales tools for many reasons, not the least of which was reducing the need for large, upfront payments. So is customer finance still relevant in today’s world of subscription-based, pay-as-you-go pricing models?

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August 2, 2017

Do Multi-Year Subscriptions Increase Profit?

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You’ve decided to offer annual subscriptions to your software solutions. Great!  You’re on track to maximizing recurring revenue, not to mention increasing your liquidity multiplier if you’re planning for an IPO or acquisition.

But, of course, the next big question is, “Do you offer incented multi-year subscriptions?”

Possibly not for the rest of this year. You are already grieving over a large sum of deferred revenue that is going to disappear into retained earnings come January 1, 2018 (thank you ASC 606).  Moreover, once 2018 hits, multi-year subscriptions won’t be fully ratable, so it’s probably best to only offer annuals, right?

Well, let’s first consider a few key factors:

  • If you were to offer multi-year subscriptions, how much would you need to incent your customers?
  • What is your expected annual subscription renewal rate?
  • How do you plan to compensate your sales team to keep your top performers?
  • What is the expected operational cost to obtain those renewals?

Your answers to these questions and associated analysis (as outlined below) should help you determine the profitability of offering multi-year subscriptions. (more…)

July 14, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To Subscription Pricing

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Pay as you go, utility, consumption, subscription, and the cloud have been the rage during the past several years.  As a result, many vendors scrambled to adjust their offerings to meet the perceived needs.

The key drivers of this trend were:

1) OpEx budgets were plentiful in the good old days because most IT products were treated as capital assets.  In some ways, operating budgets were easier to sell to than capital ones.

2) The perceived advantages of seemingly lower costs and not having to make a long-term commitment (true only if one compares a one- or two-year cost to owning an asset that can perform over a much longer period, and if there are no costs to switching platforms).  Already, early adopters have come to realize that the yearly costs can stack up over time and can far exceed buying and owning your own licenses and IT assets.

3) Some customers have strategically chosen to divest themselves from owning and maintaining their own IT infrastructure.  This last point can be a smart option for those customers for whom IT is not a differentiating core competency; however, this may not be the right solution for everyone. (more…)

June 19, 2017

Taking the Fear Out of Reviewing a 10-K

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Ipsa scientia potestas est. This phrase came from Sir Francis Bacon in Bacon’s Mediationes Sacrae in 1597.  It means “Knowledge itself is power,” and it offers valuable guidance to technology sales professions.

For a B2B sales executive, these words especially apply to reviewing a prospect’s 10-K.  In this short discussion, I will demystify the effort it takes to review and interpret a prospect’s financial statements and provide a short overview of the structure of an annual report and the 10-K.

Annual Report and 10-K

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May 17, 2017

Solution Selling and the Role of Financial Engineering

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Some say that solution selling is a dying concept or less relevant than it used to be.  I think it is still an important part of the sales process, but its effectiveness relies on having a strong financial acumen and access to a robust financial solutions capability.

Over the years I have attended several annual IT sales kickoff events.  I have also participated in hundreds of other sales events including QBR’s, sales training and education programs, and analyst events hosted by the likes of IDC, Gartner, and others.  The concept of “solution selling” has seemed to survive the test of time.

It is almost always mentioned or referred to in one form or another.  Whether it’s part of the keynote speech on the main stage or included in individual breakout sessions or part of the sales training curriculum.  Apparently, solution selling continues to be a relevant part of most sales strategy discussions. (more…)

March 31, 2017

Embrace Quarter-End Madness (and how to end up on top)

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While sitting in traffic listening to sport updates, I was reminded of my busted NCAA bracket. For the last fifteen or so years, I’ve entered a bracket into my office March Madness pool. Relatively speaking, I’m a late arrival to the excitement of Big Dance. It wasn’t until after college when I was working in Los Angeles that a convincing officemate sat me down to walk me through the selection process (A xeroxed copy of the newspaper-published bracket) and promptly took my $10 entry fee.

My brackets have not improved much over the years. So why do I keep playing every year?

I’ve learned to enjoy the fast-paced nature of the game, the last minute heroics and the unforeseeable upsets.

March Madness is much like quarter-end at many companies: fast-paced, emotionally charged with equal parts excitement and anxiety and full of unexpected turns. I’ve learned that the teams that end up on top of March Madness have a lot in common with the sales reps I’ve known who have been the most successful.

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