Value Heroics: Laurie Schrager – A Hero Who Knows That Transforming with Value Can Move Mountains

Value Hero: Laurie Schrager, VP, Global Revenue Operations, Enablement & Education, Tealium

At Tealium, we are in the middle of implementing a new enterprise-wide program that we’ve branded as the ‘Value Standard’. The program consists of training for the team in Value Selling and Value Engineering, creating new slide decks centered around the value that can be achieved from using our products, revising and restructuring our customer stories, building an ROI calculator and making sure we have the appropriate enablement and certification for our team members.

Transformation is hard – but this is the right thing for the business. We’re able to add more value for our customers through these initiatives, becoming more strategic to them, so even though the lift to implement a transformation like this is significant, it will pay dividends for our clients, for our business, and for our shareholders—and that makes it worth the time and effort.

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Throughout the summer, DecisionLink is honoring the Value Heroes of organizations as a part of “Value Heroes: A Summer of Recognition.” We are sharing Value Hero stories on our blog of leading influencers in value management, which were submitted by the value heroes themselves or by the sales professionals that they have supported. Our celebration of Value Heroes concludes on August 13 with our “Value Heroes Summit,” a town hall, a virtual forum where value and sales professionals can connect, share stories and best practices, and engage with like-minded professionals. Share your stories and join the conversation!

Your Competition Isn’t Who You Think It Is – A Guest Blog with David Brock

By David Brock

David Brock is the Author of “Sales Manager Survival Guide,” CEO of Partners in EXCELLENCE, and is a ruthless pragmatist. View David’s original post and read more of his work on his blog, Partners in EXCELLENCE, here.

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I was involved in a discussion with a team on a very large opportunity. It seemed an inordinate part of the discussion focused on the competition.

People went back and forth on their strengths relative to the competitors, the relationships the competitors had with the customer, strategies to deal with the competition. And yes, we even got to the discussion, “How much discount to overcome where they thought the competitor would price their solution?”

But the team failed to consider the real competition and developed no strategies to address these. The biggest competitor we have always faced is doing nothing. The majority of outcomes in customer buying journeys is “no decision made.” But we seldom develop competitive strategies to deal with this possibility.

There could be any number of reasons customers reach that “decision.” They could get lost in their buying process, they could struggle with aligning differing agendas and priorities in the buying group, they could have no compelling reason to make a change, settling for the status quo.

There are lots of strategies we could develop to address this “competitive threat.” Ironically, in doing this, we create greater value and position ourselves more favorably than a traditional competitor who is going through their own strategy sessions about how to beat us.

We could almost ignore traditional competition, focusing entirely on helping the customer buy, helping them navigate the buying process, helping them understand the consequences of doing nothing. We would far improve our probability of winning by adopting this as a competitive strategy.

There’s another hidden competitor that we overlook and that many of our customers overlook. It’s the allocation of funds. Often, the funds our customers are seeking for their projects are allocated to something that’s completely different. Something that doesn’t compete directly with our offerings, something that may be in an entirely different part of the business.

But these projects compete with us and the projects we may be working on with our customers. Executives often, re-prioritize the allocation of funds to completely different areas, based on shifting priorities.

A dramatic example occurred last week. A client had “won” the decision for a major project with their customer, only to learn later, that the funds for the project had been diverted to plastic shields and office reconfiguration to create safe work environments for their people. That was the highest priority for the company and funds for other very important projects were diverted and those projects canceled.

How do we help our customers get what they want, protecting their funding, and the priority of their projects? (The example above may be a case that we can’t and shouldn’t overcome.). First, we have to educate the customer that they have to justify and sell their projects internally. Where we can, we have to help them with this process. Second, we have to make sure the solution the customer seeks to implement contributes to the top priorities of executive management. If we can’t help the customer “connect the dots,” between what they want to do and the priorities of the corporation, there is a high probability that the funds will be diverted to those projects that better support the company priorities.

Of course, we can’t ignore our traditional competitors, but I think we spend way too much time focusing on them and not on the real competitive threats.

In the World of SaaS, ROI must become an Ongoing Calculation

Peter O’Neill, Independent B2B Marketing Analyst

The concept of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has transformed the software industry. On the demand side, clients enjoy the new consumption model, with generally lower entry points, continual support in some cases, and a less capex-intensive approach overall. And the software/SaaS providers have learned that business success and profitable growth depends more as much on the full adoption of their solutions and renewals across their customer base as it does on winning net-new customers. So they invest heavily in Customer Success (in the form of onboarding and implementation services) and Customer Support resources to ensure customer satisfaction and maintain a strong renewal rate.

Buyers also have their financial metrics and most business purchase decisions, including software, must be supported by some sort of financial analysis and forecast, using financial instruments such as:

Return-on-Investment (ROI) — Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) — Internal Rate of Return (IRR) —
Payback Period — Net Present Value (NPV)

In response, many software vendors routinely offer one or more tools to establish value during their sales process – tools such as online ROI calculators or other spreadsheet templates. Or, they help buyers to develop their own business case, perhaps by providing data collected from their existing client base. This was so important in the traditional software sales process that the vast majority of vendors even deploy a supplemental consulting resource to collect data and advise on the topic.

The irony is though, in my experience, most sales conversations still dwell and stay focused on the price of a product or subscription instead of the value. This is due to some serious muscle memory on both sides of the purchase decision:

  • A business culture of sales quotas and discount models instead of a customer-first, value-based selling approach
  • A focus from buyers on the cost budget they must invest instead of the value they are creating.

The other issue with most vendors’ ROI tools is that they are primarily focused on the initial investment approval process and tend to produce a one-off report. But, collecting accurate data is quite difficult and so most of the ROI/TCO/IRR/NPV forecasts are some sort of estimate based upon many assumptions. Often, the document is completed on a pro-forma basis and not validated; and it is hardly ever audited at a later date on the actual outcomes of the project.

SaaS has also democratized software buying and many SaaS subscriptions are now signed up by individual contributors out of their expense budget – curiously, in these cases, IT or procurement only gets involved when the renewal phase is reached. But the SaaS spending honeymoon is likely ending. Chief Financial Officers are now turning their attention to these software expenditures and expect answers – answers in their taxonomy of return on investment, business outcomes, and revenue contribution.

Many SaaS providers tell me that the renewal negotiation has moved from a “shall we continue the project” discussion to an almost full-blown re-evaluation of the initial investment decision. Compliance guidance, or just good procurement management practice, is pushing buyers to evaluate a new shortlist in the renewal phase and each additional user group or functionality is treated as a brand new project.

The potential advantage for the current SaaS supplier is that they have, hopefully, provided a strong customer experience and that is well documented. Another is that the supplier is able to prove that their service has provided value to the organization:

  • At the minimum, as measured against the forecasted benefits from the start of the project
  • Ideally, based upon a continuous value management process.

I’ve known DecisionLink as a pioneer in the topic of customer value management for quite a while now, so I wasn’t surprised to hear they were interested in the above developments. They decided to find out how the SaaS industry is reacting to this new emphasis on ongoing value management and field a survey across numerous SaaS sales organizations. Then, they asked me to review and analyze the survey data and write up an insights report which you can see HERE.

Download the Report

I hope you will enjoy the report and that it helps in your planning; whether on the demand or supply side. It also discusses lessons learned in the SaaS that will be useful for all industries. Manufacturers of any type of goods can transform from a “product” orientation to a “solution” orientation by packaging up their “piece of hardware” and wrapping services, maintenance and support, upgrades, financing, monitoring, replenishment, and other value-add services to an otherwise commoditized piece of hardware. For example, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that produce tractors, airplane engines, and printers, are all delivering full solutions “as-a-service”.

If you would like to discuss this topic already, feel free to contact me.

Always keeping you informed! Peter.

peter@teamoneill.de , poneill@researchinaction.de , peter.oneill@b2bmarketing.net

www.marchnata.eu

Peter O‘Neill is an IT industry veteran with more than 39 years of experience in advising vendor and end-user clients and performing research-based consulting, combining strong research capabilities with comparative vendor assessments and actionable advice. He is most known for his 12 years of service at Forrester Research as an industry analyst and research director. Most recently Peter managed Forrester’s research on B2B Marketing organization, process, and automation topics, a worldwide team of 11 experienced analysts. Prior to his time at Forrester, Peter had worked for 20 years at Hewlett-Packard in Germany and the USA and then joined META Group (2001 – 2005) where he led the company’s Vendor Consulting Group across EMEA.

Value Heroics: Swapnil Saurav – A Value Hero Mentor to Many

Throughout the summer, DecisionLink is honoring the Value Heroes of organizations as a part of “Value Heroes: A Summer of Recognition.” We are sharing Value Hero stories on our blog of the leading influencers in value management, which were submitted by the value heroes themselves or by the sales professionals that they have supported. Our celebration of Value Heroes concludes on August 13 with our “Value Heroes Summit,” a town hall, virtual forum where value and sales professionals can connect, share stories and best practices and engage with like-minded professionals. Share your stories and join the conversation!

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Value Hero: Swapnil Saurav, Manager Problem Management, ServiceNow
Nominated by: Josh Lankford

While at JDA (now BlueYonder), Swapnil helped to build, mentor and lead a team of Value Professionals that performed analysis, created tools and supplemented the Value Team to enable them to increase their coverage and effectiveness.

In our time working together, Swapnil’s team became a linchpin for our team’s success. He steered the value engineering organization in JDA’s Center of Excellence and helped to ramp up capacity, leading to 200% revenue growth. He also worked closely with the Sales Account Manager to accomplish consistent results of $5M+ annual sales.

Thank you, Swapnil, for your tireless efforts, ever-present smile and brilliant capabilities!

Value Heroics: Andrew Rustemeyer – A Value Hero who Leans in When Faced with Roadblocks

Throughout the summer, DecisionLink is honoring the Value Heroes of organizations as a part of “Value Heroes: A Summer of Recognition.” We are sharing Value Hero stories on our blog of the leading influencers in value management, which were submitted by the value heroes themselves or by the sales professionals that they have supported. Our celebration of Value Heroes concludes on August 13 with our “Value Heroes Summit,” a town hall, virtual forum where value and sales professionals can connect, share stories and best practices and engage with like-minded professionals. Share your stories and join the conversation!

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Value Hero: Andrew Rustemeyer

The sales cycle was going as smoothly as ever, but we hit a major roadblock when a customer said they could no longer move forward with the project due to the fact that the investment would be raising their Operation & Maintenance expenses. Because of the increase in expenses they were forecasting, they would need government approval to move forward, which would take over a year to even get in front of a review board.

At this point, all hope was lost.

Enter… our Value Hero.

After thorough analysis, we were able to conclude that the benefits from the investment not only covered the investment costs, but actually reduced their O&M expenses significantly. This was a huge win to change the customer’s perspective and give them the quantitative business justification that they needed to move forward. Because of the value analysis, we were able to close the deal a few weeks later.