July 25, 2016

Effective Deal Qualification

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Like an English football team, “qualification through the rounds” of a deal is critical to success.

One of the most important conversations salespeople have with their prospects is the discovery meeting.  Here lies the proverbial fork in the road for you and your prospect. Either they’re a good fit for your product or service and you can move forward with the relationship, or it’s time to part ways.

But it’s not always immediately obvious which path to take. That’s where sales qualification comes in. By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to determine whether the relationship should continue, and if so, what next steps are appropriate.  Or disqualification of the prospect ASAP and movement on to the next.

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June 14, 2016

Ferris Bueller Is Evil–Your ROI Shouldn’t Be

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We’re hearing a lot it being the 30th anniversary of John Hughes’ legendary comedy, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.   For many people it’s an opportunity to revel in the lovable scamp’s exploits in joyful defiance of the stressful world of high school, overbearing parents, and exhausting friendships.  For me, this occasion is instead a chance to remind the world that Ferris Bueller is the most inherently and unapologetically evil movie character in the history of film—akin to pre-Jedi Darth Vader and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Stay with me here.

Reading about Ferris after all these years, I’ve been struck by how many of my objections to Ferris stand in direct opposition to the virtues of an ROI analysis that a technology vendor might present to a prospect to prove the value of its solution in the customer’s environment.  Let’s take a moment to reference Ferris’s malevolent nature as a means to illustrate some ROI best practices. (more…)

May 31, 2016

The Shift to Consumption Economics

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My customer is asking for “utility” pricing.  How should I respond?

I get this question a lot.  My initial reaction is to respond back with a series of questions.   Are you sure they are asking for utility pricing? How is the customer defining utility pricing?  Utility pricing can mean different things to different people.

It has been my experience that the term utility is over used and what most customers are really asking for is an alternative way to pay for their compute needs.  What is utility pricing?  Most people agree that true utility pricing is a 100% variable pricing model with no fixed minimum payment, no fixed term, and the price can go up and down based on consumption.Consumption pricing chart

Utility pricing is not necessarily a cloud solution or a managed service solution.  Cloud solutions and managed service solutions are more about how the service is being delivered versus how they are being priced.  In a cloud solution the customer has access to the infrastructure and resources but they don’t own them and generally only pay for what they consume.  However, even some cloud solutions use flat rates. 

Some customers will have a very clear idea of what they are asking for.  Others aren’t entirely sure but say that your competition is offering utility pricing.  Which only means they are offering a pricing model that they are calling a utility pricing model.   It may or may not be a 100% variable solution. (more…)

May 16, 2016

Learning to Say “No”

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My son wants to quit guitar lessons.

Son: “It’s hard, Dad.”

Me:  “Sure it is hard.  That is why those who play are respected.  They’ve earned it.”

Son: “Can I quit?”

No guitar

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April 29, 2016

What to Expect When Your Company Has Been Acquired by a PE Firm

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Quite simply: expect the new private equity (PE) owners to play a very active role in day-to-day management.

In recent years, it has been a common experience for private equity firms to acquire mid-sized technology firms and delist them from the NASDAQ or other exchanges. What is behind this trend, what is the logic of it? High-finance considerations aside, proponents of private equity argue that a concentrated shareholder base, and its associated strong governance, are critical to the next phase of growth.
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April 18, 2016

Jump Starting the Budget Conversation EARLY In the Sales Process

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You nailed the technical proposal.  Your customer clearly sees your value prop and how the solution you presented is going to benefit their environment. You walk out of the meeting with a little extra swagger to your step and alert your manager you’re committing the opportunity for the quarter.  High fives all round.  Fast forward to weeks later and your IT champion is still sold on the technical value of the solution but is “working it through their internal process”. Ugh, the black hole of finance and procurement! It’s now the last week of the quarter, your opportunity sits at the top of the commit forecast and your IT champion alerts you “they do not have budget”.No budget!

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April 1, 2016

Failure Is Only Part of the Journey

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I just finished reading a book by Jia Jiang called Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection. The premise was Jia put himself in situations in which he was certain to be rejected and then discussed what he learned.  He did crazy things like try to borrow $100 from a stranger, or ask the Southwest Airlines flight attendant if he could make the announcements.  Each time he got rejected he learned something and shared his knowledge.

I saw Jia speak at a Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. He was funny and engaging.  The audience loved this guy.  You would have never known he had a fear of rejection.  I learned a lotrejection proof about rejection, but one lesson stood out for me that I would like to share with you: failure is only part of the journey. (more…)

March 16, 2016

How to Improve Your Sales Enablement Effectiveness

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By now, many of you have heard of the Microsoft study that reports human attention span dropping to eight seconds—that is one second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish! Couple that with the stereotype of a salesperson and it is easy to understand why sales enablement effectiveness is such a challenge.

At TFP we have been delivering sales tools and training to our enterprise technology clients since 2000. In some cases, through our vendor finance and value selling field support programs, TFP consultants have been the actual “tool” offered to sales reps. We have attended countless SKOs, QBRs, and webcasts, witnessing launches of all varieties of sales enablement initiatives (internally built and outsourced). Some have worked, but many have underachieved.

Quite frankly, sales enablement is hard, but here are a few things to consider for your next deliverable.

Remember to introduce a sales enablement tool with “What’s in it for me?” (more…)

February 16, 2016

Thomas Pynchon’s ROI Analysis

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Here in the ROI annex of the TFP global headquarters, we have some precepts that we live by. Ideals we hold dear to our hearts as we build business cases to help our clients win more deals, at a higher value, and with shorter sales cycles than otherwise. You know. Sacred stuff.

Some of those principles:

  1. Building credibility with the customer is everything, so emphasize collaboration with the customer during the ROI process.
  2. Show a range of potential improvement rather than a single number. You’re probably not a fortune teller—so deliver scenarios of outcomes (conservative, likely, optimistic) rather than one value.
  3. Be transparent with your math. That’s one reason why we believe that Excel is a better tool for closing deals than opaque mystery boxes seen in online ROI calculators.

There are a lot of other ones you’ve heard us mention. But here’s one we talk about less often: for the love of Mike, unless you’re Thomas Pynchon, don’t over-complicate things.

Would you trust this guy to present your ROI?
One of the few known images of Thomas Pynchon. Would you trust this guy to present your ROI?

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January 29, 2016

Communicating In a Way That B2B Technology Buyers Understand

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When Words Fall On Deaf EarsCharlie Brown

My wife doesn’t have a sports bone in her body—especially painful since she’s from the great sports town of Pittsburgh. She more than compensates with numerous qualities that actually matter, but it has been a source of miscommunication for over 20 years. And by miscommunication, I mean me talking and her not hearing a word I say—I’ve come to know how Charlie Brown’s teachers felt!

Putting myself in her shoes, she has suffered through 20+ years of my lips moving about the SF Giants, 49ers, Warriors, and pretty much any other sporting event that has been on or in the news at any given moment. Add to this a decade of fantasy football and, quite frankly, I’m lucky that we’re still married. And yet, as she is my best friend, I continue to move my lips on these very same subjects with the faintest hope of a different result—crazy, wouldn’t you say?

Case in point—during fantasy football season, I’m faced with weekly last minute decisions. The NFL Inactives report comes out and I’m obsessing over which set of wide receivers and running backs will help me win my head-to-head match. And most every week, I turn to my best friend for support on this last minute decision. “Wah waaah wah wah …” (more…)