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…)

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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November 17, 2016

The Hardest Part of Your ROI

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When launching a new ROI engagement on behalf our clients, we’re often asked: what part of the process will be the most challenging?

We at TFP have played the ROI rodeo plenty of times; well north of 600 opportunity-specific ROI analyses over the last five years, if you want to know.  And we know where the obstacles are.

Who am I?
The journey of self-discovery begins

Is it figuring out how much the customer can improve?

Is it gaining consensus about the purchase decision?

Heck no.  Most often the hardest part of the ROI process is figuring out not where the customer can be tomorrow, but where they are today.  As Arnold Schwarzenegger so eloquently expressed in Total Recall: “If I am not me, then who the hell am I?”

It sometimes take just days to figure out “who the hell” the customer is.  Sometimes it’s weeks, putting the ROI engagement (and the sale) at risk.  Why does this happen, and what you can do about it?

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October 14, 2016

Sales to Service

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We are all living in a time where we just cannot move fast enough.  We are torn between work demands and home.   Our mobile devices consistently vie for our attention and we never shut them down out of FOMO (fear of missing out).  Thankfully we have friends to keep us grounded.

One of my friends recently invited me to attend a conference.  This wasn’t my normal sales or consulting conference.  It was all about living a life of presence with Eckart Tolle.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the subject matter resonated with me not only on a personal level but, also in my everyday work life and journey.

desert

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August 31, 2016

Play Ball!

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If you’re a baseball fan like I am, you know how magical those words can be. You also know that we are at a critical point in the season: the stretch run. The boys of summer are getting ready for it, and while much of what happens is predictable, there are bound to be some surprises as well as disappointments. A number of teams still believe they have a chance at winning the World Series and general managers are reviewing their rosters to determine what additions need to take place in order to give their franchises the best opportunity for success.

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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…)

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 5, 2016

A New Year, A New You – Five Resolutions for Effective Sales Makers

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With 2016 now upon us, the opportunity for success has never been greater! Wow…that sounds straight out of an opening line at one of your favorite motivational sales seminars, but nonetheless, it is true. This is absolutely one of my favorite weeks of the year because not only do I take the time to plan the entire upcoming year, but I also try to take a close look at some of the valuable lessons I learned from the previous one. The start of every year gives us all the opportunity to reflect and make the necessary adjustments to put us on the path to personal and professional improvement.

Here are five professional resolutions I recommend every sales maker consider in 2016:

New Years Resolutions
New Years Resolutions

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December 16, 2015

Millennials: Decision Makers of the Future

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If the experts are correct in that in the next decade 70% of the workforce will be millennials then it isn’t much of a stretch to believe they will also be part of the decision making team sales professionals are going to have to deal with in the future. This challenge is going to be monumental if non-millennials don’t make changes in the way they approach millennials.

You see millennials eat at Taco Bell for breakfast, use Uber, scan (not read) most documents, sit on the internet for hours at a time, and live by their electronics, especially their cell phone. They communicate differently with one another and with the rest of the world for that matter. They have opened the world economy with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They communicate with other millennials all over the world. They are dragging the once-stodgy banking industry into the next century with text based deposits, on-line banking, and their use of Apple Pay or Google Pay instead of cash. Millennials have an uncanny command of YouTube. Just about anything you want to lcell phoneearn can be gathered from somewhere on YouTube.

We must ask the key question: How do you effectively appeal to this generation of future decision influencers?

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October 19, 2015

Avoiding Excessive Discounting

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“We have to give a higher discount to get this deal”

 The cry of the technical solution sales specialist that does not understand the true value of the solution that they are selling nor has the tools to demonstrate this to the customer.

Time and time again we see the knee jerk reaction of “panic discounting “ to close transactions that more often than not will end up a bad deal for the vendor, and potentially the customer.

Sadly, throwing extra discount at a deal is a more common practise than we all want to admit to.

What is the alternative? (more…)