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Winning the New Enterprise Sales Game: This Week’s B2B IT Forum

November 28, 2012
Matt Fates

We are very pleased that our second B2B Enterprise IT Forum was so well received.  Thank you for all of the positive feedback.  We had a strong turnout, smart questions from our audience, and great advice from our panelists on how to successfully sell enterprise IT. If you weren’t able to attend, we’ve compiled some of the key takeaways from our panel, which together possess nearly a century of enterprise sales experience.

On pre-sale preparation:

  • Cold calls are out. Companies that can solve business problems will get on a buyer’s radar. (Kevin Roden, CIO, American Tower/ Beth O’Rorke, VP IT, North American Retail and Expert Centers, Staples)
  • Interruption based marketing is over. (Doug McNary, former CEO, vKernel and Onaro)
  • In order to attract potential buyers before you approach them, you must put your content out there so when they are searching, they can find you. They’ve read your spin. (Phil Harrell, VP of Enterprise Sales, HubSpot)
  • Just like a personal connection can get you a job opportunity, an introduction from a credible partner will get you in the door. (O’Rorke)
  • There are two buyer profiles – organizational and individual. Understand which buyer you are targeting and build a sales process around that – both personas have different needs and will self-select quickly early in the sales process. (McNary)
  • Figure out the complete team you need at the table – legal, VP of sales, et al. (Harrell)
  • Understand how companies prefer to pay for enterprise IT solutions in terms of capital expenditures vs. operating expenses. Every company has different rules, and the onus is on the salesperson to understand them and, if necessary, educate the buyer. To help fit your pricing into their preferred payment, the salesperson could present the fee as subscription model vs. a licensing, for example. (McNary)
  • Involve IT from the start. If they are not involved, then implementation will likely be complicated. (Harrell)
  • It is essential to involve IT, which is no longer viewed simply as a cost center, but as a partner in the business. (O’Rorke)

On influencing decision makers:

  • The best way to influence multiple decision makers is by stating the business case for the product or service. (Gary Ambrosino, President, TimeTrade)
  • Even if buyers have done upfront research and know everything about the product, salespeople still play an important role: explain how the product solves the buyer’s problems. (Harrell)
  • A strong indicator for success will be the quality of the process that the buyer runs in evaluating their options; if the process feels disjointed or odd, don’t waste your time. (Ambrosino)
  • All software ends up in the CIO’s budget for maintenance, so you have to keep the CIO in the loop in order to build a long term relationship within the organization. (Roden)
  • The role of enterprise buyer has changed. They can make quick business decisions, and often don’t need approval from various business units. (McNary)

On the seller-buyer relationship:

  • You can sell at the ‘speed of trust’ and you develop trust quotients by solving a buyer’s business problem. (Ambrosino)
  • Salespeople shouldn’t withhold information; young buyers especially are doing a ton of research on their own before they take the meeting. (McNary)
  • You have to have absolute transparency today in the information you give a customer. (Ambrosino)
  • Once you sell into a business unit, you have to embrace the rest of the organization and determine how you can solve their problems. (Roden)
  • Buyers are younger and access more information than ever before. Sometimes they know more than the vendor. Within Staples, management implements reverse mentoring programs to stay in tune with rising stars and their thinking. (O’Rorke)
  • We look at customer usage numbers every day. If a customer’s usage is increasing, they’re happy. If it’s decreasing, they’re not. (Ambrosino)

We would like to again thank our great panel and everyone who attended the Forum. Our first two events (our inaugural Forum took place in June) have proven to be great platforms for exchanging ideas about the current state of enterprise IT, as well as excellent networking opportunities. Stay tuned for details of the next Forum, which likely will take place in a few months.

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