How Digital Engagement Increases the Focus on Customer Value Management

As contributor to the recent report, “2021 Predictions for Sales Leaders: The Year of Value,” I proposed that technology will become increasingly important to the entire commercial side of the business. Now, that may sound a little trite in a paper coming from a technology company, so here are some further thoughts to that prediction.

In 2021, unlike 12 months ago, sales teams no longer can take people to hockey games, golf courses, or even dinner meetings, to close a deal or build rapport with buyers — the role and routine functions of a seller have been transformed. Many B2B buyers are discovering the benefits of eCommerce and doing digital research. Buyers and their employers have also discovered that working from home is beneficial and that may even become routine in the future, with ramifications on most aspects of selling: attending and presenting at meetings; extending invitations and socializing; organizing knowledge transfer; right down to valuable personal account manager skills such as working a complete buying center of multiple people during one customer visit by “walking the corridors”.

DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT BECOMES THE PREFERRED NORM
It should come as no surprise that digital marketing and digital selling are now established as the modus operandi of B2B interactions. According to this report by McKinsey, 89% of companies are expecting the changes to stick because buyers have discovered they prefer this way of working. If everything now happens online, making every conversation count requires that businesses must now be good at leveraging digital technology to facilitate and inform sales meetings.

This group of technologies is commonly labeled “sales engagement,” assisting sellers in several aspects of their role,
such as:

  • Presenting and sharing information
  • Distributing important content throughout the buyer’s company
  • Providing important insights to sellers about their buyers’ needs and preferences (predictive analytics)
  • Coaching and training sellers on the fly

The sales engagement applications market is already rich with innovative vendors. These vendors have the technology to support all the processes listed above. Some sales engagement vendors also offer “value selling” functionality to help the sellers present or calculate some sort of value proposition, though often this is more about adopting a sales methodology.

AS-A-SERVICE
But there is even more going on with B2B sales at the moment – parallel to the dramatic adoption of sales engagement technology is a more fundamental business-model transformation to an “as-a-service” interaction. This is most prevalent in the adoption of business software applications, but it is quite apparent that almost every industry is now touched by this trend of digital transformation. This means that many sales meetings are not about negotiating a one- off capital investment but are more focused on evaluating the current state of a software or service license and whether or not it should be renewed, increased, or canceled.

The topics discussed are no longer price and costs versus benefits and, perhaps, return-on-investment (ROI). No, these meetings cover data about usage and adoption of a software/service; the user or customer experience; and the business success achieved through the use of the software/service – i.e. the value received from the subscription.

FROM VALUE SELLING TO CUSTOMER VALUE MANAGEMENT
One important sales engagement technology not listed above, and not offered by the sales engagement software vendors, is a platform that helps sellers to promote and measure the real customer value of the product they are representing. Value Selling playbooks and workaround technologies such as spreadsheets, bespoke applications, or ROI calculators written by the vendor themselves will not be good enough for these new meetings.

Curiously, one logical consequence of an “as-a-service” offering is that the value can be monitored continually as usage and deployment of the service fluctuates over time. So, ROI is no longer a one-off forecast based upon estimates and assumptions, it can be modeled and set up in a system which is able to collect actual data and provide ongoing reporting. SaaS is, by design, more easily measured and monitored than on-premise software, including value-relevant data about usage and relevant business outcomes.

So that is the most valuable technology we envisage in this new age of selling: setting up a customer value management collection and reporting system – usually as a collaborative effort between buyer and seller because both companies can benefit from the data collected.

This is an emerging technological paradigm and there are just a handful of vendors offering customer value management software. The vendor with the most experience and the greatest suitability to the SaaS model is DecisionLink – probably one of the reasons that several venture capital and private investors have joined the recent Series A round worth $18.5M. DecisionLink solutions can be established in most cases without custom programming and extensive investments, by small and by large vendors, and they can be deployed for customers of all sizes.

Always keeping you informed! Peter.
poneill@researchinaction.de
www.marchnata.eu

About Peter
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 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.

Buying/Selling vs. Buyer/Seller

By David Brock

——

Recently, I’ve been trying to shift my own thinking and vocabulary about buying and selling. Several people have asked me about it. I thought I’d spend a little time on it.

I believe shifting our vocabularies from Buyer/Seller to Buying/Selling is much more than wordsmithing. It forces us to change our perspectives about how our customers buy—or drive their problem solving/change initiatives.

And it forces us to rethink how we engage these customers in selling.

The problem with the terms Buyers/Sellers is we focus on certain roles or people of our and our customer’s organizations. By doing this, we potentially miss the change in the activities being undertaken in the buying process and how we align our engagement strategies with how our customers buy.

The big thing that we discover when we start looking at buying/selling is that we realize Sellers are no longer the only people engaged in the process. Buying dynamics are changing dramatically. As a result, it changes our selling dynamics.

As an example, in Rethinking Sales Enablement, I presented data from Gartner research that showed how buyers are spending their time. Total time spent with salespeople from all the vendors they are considering is 17%!

So if we focus on Sellers and Seller activities, then we are limiting engagement strategies to that portion of the 17% of their time that we can engage them.

But if we look at the other 83% of our time and start thinking of buying and selling, we identify many more opportunities to engage them.

For example, we are forced to start looking at their online and offline research (45%) of their time. We are forced to think about, “How do we engage customers in these parts of their buying journey?” We begin to see that we have to look at selling differently–perhaps how we might redirect some seller activity, or how other functions contribute to selling.

For example, marketing, customer experience, even product management start playing critical roles in the buying/selling processes. We have to start thinking of our digital engagement strategies/experiences. We have to start thinking about offline engagement strategies.

If we constrain our thinking to buyers/sellers, we might be blind to those parts of the buying journey/process. We might find ourselves failing to meet customers where they are at, in the manner they best learn.

Changing our mindset to buying and selling changes the way we look at the customer problem solving/change management process.

Changing our mindset to buying and selling forces us to reassess our entire engagement process.

Changing our mindset to buying and selling forces us to reassess roles, responsibilities, and activities—who, how, where we engage customers in their buying process. We recognize the selling isn’t just the job of Sellers.

Changing our mindset to buying and selling forces us to reassess this engagement process through their entire buying journey. No longer will we think “Marketing catches them, sales skins them,” but rather our customers will be using multiple channels in their buying journey, and we have to be aligned/consistent with how we engage them through this process.

We no longer live in a world of buyers and sellers. Rather, we live in a world of buying and selling. We have to understand this, and we have to change to adapt to this.

—-

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.

Putting all your Eggs in One Basket?

No. Aim your Value Correctly all the way UP the Food Chain!

In 2020, we conducted a study in conjunction with Dimensional Research, of 203 SaaS business leaders (at the height of the pandemic), to learn more about their strategies to combat the headwinds of selling in an entirely different world. We specifically wanted to know if they were thinking about value-based selling, value-based marketing, and value realization impact relative to churn rates and just overall how they were thinking about customer value management. When asked how important customer value management was becoming to their organizations 94% said it has become more important to them over the past five years to varying degrees.

chart: change in organizational focus on customer value management

It occurred to me in reviewing these stats, that as CRO’s drive teams to position value and business outcomes with customers, that some sellers may need a hand really discerning what type of value is being generated, and more importantly who cares about what? While there are plenty of value selling methodologies out there, and value selling programs, the objective of this blog is to share my most EGGcelent Value Mapping Cheat Sheet with you to help your salespeople “aim” their value-based conversations the right way. Whether you are a salesperson, a marketer, or even a customer success professional, it’s important to know how to aim your value-based conversations to make the most impact.

Value means different things to different people at different levels within an organization. 

At the highest level of an organization economic business outcomes are key and the measure of value creation. Whereas moving down the organization employees tend to get measured on activity levels or functional area metrics. In other words, even within the same company or the same functional area, value takes on a different form and meaning depending on what a person is responsible for. Therefore, don’t expect people to jump up and down if you tell them your product or service can help them generate an ROI of $650,000 per year if their biggest concern is emergency room wait time or mean time to repair. Context is everything here, and it’s really important to analyze your target buyer, how they are measured, and then help them translate the upstream impact their work has on the overall executive level KPI’s i.e., the business objectives of the company.

Your product or service may have a profound effect on EPS or working capital, so it’s important to calculate and translate the benefits you deliver for your target audience all the way up that hierarchy. This way regardless of whom you speak to in an organization, your value translated becomes music to their ears. So, here’s my cheat sheet of what different “eggs” care about from investors all the way through to project or functional leaders, with examples. Understand though in some very small or very flat companies organizationally speaking, executive and functional KPIs are the same. Have a look…

The question now is, how do you calculate and quantify the impact of your solution(s) across multiple levels and stakeholders and make the connection right to the top? And furthermore, how do customer success teams measure this way when trying to determine the post-implementation impact of the solution, especially during renewal time? And how can marketers leverage these KPI’s in their messaging/content to attract even the highest-level influencer or buyer?

Great questions!

To learn the answers and learn more about taking KPIs and benefits at different levels of the organization and translating them into economic value to attract, engage, win and measure customer value realized, please visit us at www.decisionlink.com and we’ll grow from there.

Or if you want to learn about exciting career opportunities at DecisionLink, and making a real impact helping customers establish and communicate the value of their solutions, check out our career pages found here. And we will grow from there!

Our Series A and a Vision for the Future of Value Management

By Jim Berryhill

I am pleased to share that DecisionLink closed its Series A round, led by Accel with individual participation from industry leaders George Kurtz, President, CEO, and Founder of CrowdStrike, and George Roberts, former EVP of North American Sales for Oracle Corporation and current partner at OpenView Venture Partners.

After spending 30 years in enterprise software sales and sales management, leading high-performance teams at ADR, CA, Siebel Systems, and HP Software with a focus on aligning to customer value, I knew there had to be a better way to have value conversations with more of our customers. I also knew that conversations with buyers about ROI and economic outcomes shouldn’t only be reserved for the most strategic deals, yet throughout my career, that’s where the finite value resources always ended up.

That’s why, when John and I founded DecisionLink 10 years ago, we were adamant about solving the Customer Value Management challenge with software versus services. There was an unmet need in the market to scale value to every customer. Our vision was to create a value management platform that was so sophisticated, it could support not just sales and value engineers, but marketing and customer success, too.

Today’s news validates both the market for Value Management and DecisionLink’s role as a leader within it. You can read the full press release below.

To our customers, partners, friends, and employees thank you for your support. I am thrilled for this next chapter in our company’s growth. This fundraise will help us aggressively scale our efforts and meet the intense demand for ValueCloud® as a modern, cloud-based alternative that can unleash the full potential of Value Management.

And we’re just getting warmed up.
-Jim

DecisionLink Secures $18.5M Series A to Meet Growing Demand for ValueCloud® Value Management Platform

Funding from prominent tech investor Accel and individual investors will accelerate the expansion and adoption of DecisionLink’s ValueCloud® as the industry standard in Customer Value Management

Atlanta, Georgia – Jan. 14, 2021 – Increasingly, business leaders are turning to DecisionLink’s award-winning ValueCloud® platform as the foundation for a modern, secure, and scalable enterprise-wide Customer Value Management program. To meet this growing demand, Value Management leader DecisionLink today announced an $18.5M Series A fundraising round that will be used to extend the ValueCloud® offering, expand the DecisionLink team, and aggressively grow its customer base.

The round was led by Accel with individual participation from industry leaders George Kurtz, President, CEO, and Founder of CrowdStrike, and George Roberts, former EVP of North American Sales for Oracle Corporation and current partner at OpenView Venture Partners.

“Value Management as a practice is now a C-suite priority and increasingly considered an enterprise-critical function alongside software systems like CRM, marketing automation, and project management,” said Sameer Gandhi, Partner, Accel. “In 2019, we invested in a SAFE round in DecisionLink because we believed in the market opportunity for scalable Value Management. Now, we have been so impressed by DecisionLink’s execution and its ability to drive this transformation on behalf of customers, that we are excited to lead its Series A round.”

Eighty-eight percent of business leaders say Value Management is a top-five strategic priority, yet most still use fragmented approaches through spreadsheets, bespoke applications, or rudimentary calculators to execute this critical function. Reliance on these outdated resources limit speed, scale, and quality, and could be a factor for the 92% that report struggling with Value Management.

“ValueCloud® has made Customer Value Management the next critical enterprise software must-have,” said George Roberts, Venture Partner at OpenView Venture Partners. “I only wish we would have had DecisionLink during my tenure at Oracle; it would have been a game-changer for our thousand-plus member sales team. I am excited to be a part of this proven team as they disrupt and expand their leadership position within this important new category.”

ValueCloud® is a modern, SaaS-based enterprise Value Management platform helping Accel-backed companies such as CrowdStrike, PagerDuty, DocuSign, and other industry leaders like ServiceNow, Marketo, NCR, VMware, and more deploy a robust, scalable Value Management system that establishes value throughout the entire customer journey. Businesses using ValueCloud® as an alternative to traditional, time-intensive manual processes demonstrate significant positive gains in revenue growth, reduced churn, and increased customer satisfaction.

“Customer Value Management is the cornerstone of CrowdStrike’s engagement with our prospects and customers. We believe great customer engagements start with our ability to establish and communicate our value proposition, and ValueCloud® from DecisionLink has enabled us to do so at scale,” said George Kurtz, President, CEO, and Founder of CrowdStrike.

“The marketplace is rapidly embracing Value Management and our ValueCloud® platform to outperform the competition and thrive within the new business normal,” said Jim Berryhill, CEO, and co-founder of DecisionLink. “I am thrilled that Accel, one of the top venture investors in the world, and our individual investors are validating both the market for Value Management and DecisionLink’s role as a leader within it. This fundraise will help us aggressively scale our efforts and meet the intense demand for ValueCloud® as a modern, cloud-based alternative that can unleash the full potential of Value Management.”To learn more about DecisionLink and ValueCloud® please visit https://www.decisionlink.com/.

About DecisionLink
DecisionLink’s ValueCloud® is the first and leading solution for enterprise-class customer value management. The ValueCloud enhances the value of CRM systems by providing the missing link to elevating conversations and shifting relationships from tactical to strategic by providing value insights from initial sales calls all the way through to contract renewals. The ValueCloud® turns customer value insights into strategic assets that can be leveraged across the enterprise, from CXO’s to line of business leaders, to Product Managers, to Marketers, to sales & sales support teams, to value managers. DecisionLink is trusted by top enterprise businesses, including Adobe, Caterpillar, CrowdStrike, DocuSign, Marketo, VMWare, and more.

For more information, please visit www.decisionlink.com, call 800.670.8301, or engage with us on social media.

###

Media Contact:
Stephanie Hicks
Cosmo PR for DecisionLink
805-295-9455
stephanie@cosmo-pr.com

The Increased Focus on Value Management – and ROI – by Leading CROs in 2021

Since the early 2000s, there has been an interesting trend, especially in the technology industry, to install a Chief Revenue Office instead of a CSO. It started off as a large, but by no means exclusively, Silicon Valley trend and focused on SaaS providers. Most SaaS start-ups were led by CEOs with product and engineering backgrounds and many of them quickly realized (or were advised so by their investors) that they needed further executive leadership with revenue and customer DNA to complement those skills and interests — but more than just a sales leader because SaaS success is about more than just an initial sale – it is about an ongoing relationship with your customer over time.

So, while all CROs have a purview over sales, many also oversee customer success, overseeing the full lifecycle of a customer. A small number even manage the marketing function, too. Some CROs act more like a COO, getting involved in product, business operations, finance, sales operations, business development processes.

Why is this? Well, ultimately, the CRO’s purpose is to align and optimize the entire customer experience with the aim of increasing revenue and many have discovered that the customer experience is often broken during the operational business processes – a badly-toned dunning letter, poor delivery management, whatever.

If anything, this last year has dramatically amplified the CRO’s contribution to their organization. Most vendors and SaaS providers have learned that managing and maintaining a long-term customer relationship is more valuable to their business than a pure growth strategy. And the CRO’s role, looking at ways to generate and retain revenue across multiple channels with a long-term perspective, rather than the short-term horizon usually embraced by sales departments, has become mission-critical.

So, with COVID-19, the shift to virtual sales motions, and the growth of the SaaS economy, where contracts are up for renewal every year or two, forward-thinking CROs are promoting Customer Lifetime Value as a critical component for growth and success. These CROs are helping their businesses to create new differentiation based upon value achieved from using a solution, which in turn increases margins, improves customer experiences, and creates long-term stickiness.

They are also stressing the importance of tracking, measuring, and communicating customer value. One benefit of an “as-a-service” offering is that the value can be monitored continually as usage and deployment of the service fluctuate over time. ROI is no longer a one-off forecast based upon estimates and assumptions, it can be modeled tracked over time in a system, enabling customer success teams to track economic impact on an ongoing basis.

In our 2021 Predictions for Sales Leaders: THE YEAR OF VALUE whitepaper, we share 5 predictions for sales leaders in the coming year. One of which, is that CROs will begin to track a new KPI called “Return on Value Management,” a measure of how a company’s value selling efforts impact the business over time, including improvements in the number of business cases, developed, pipeline generated, close rate improvement, revenue growth, and EPS and cash.

In the coming year, the leading CROs will be able to easily articulate to both company leadership and their Board of Directors the economic impact of their investments in all customer-facing activities, and with it, establish themselves as true partners and trusted advisors to their customers, by ensuring conversations across the organization – in marketing, sales and customer success – are consistent and rooted in value delivery.

DecisionLink and Challenger Partner to Quantify the Cost of ‘No Decision’ for CSOs

How the company behind The Challenger Sale uses DecisionLink tools to take control of their own customer conversations.

Win/Loss analysis is a great way for a Chief Sales Officer to understand where barriers to growth might be hidden. But progressive CSOs are starting to pay closer attention to one type of loss in particular – ‘no decision’.

Recent research from Challenger revealed that 38% of B2B purchase attempts end in ‘no decision’. Looking at this number from a seller’s perspective, that’s more than a third of would-be customers taking calls, attending demos, putting out RFPs, and potentially even budgeting for purchase… who ultimately choose…not to make a purchase at all.

For over a decade, Challenger has helped hundreds of clients around the world transform their sales approach, improving seller performance and productivity.  In late 2020, they engaged DecisionLink to help them build what they refer to as “confront” content.

  • Confront Content: web-based tools that allow customers, as part of a learning journey, to calculate or assess the size and scope of a particular business problem or risk.

Appropriately confronting customers around their status quo thinking is central to the Challenger approach. Rather than lead with information about their products and company, high performing, “Challenger” sellers provide their customers with surprising insights about how they, the customer, can save or make money.

In this case, Challenger aims to share surprising insights with their customers (CSOs), who should be but are often not, focused on quantifying the full cost of a ‘no decision’ buying journey.

“The 38% ‘no decision’ stat is a troubling finding.” says Mike Randazzo, Sr. Marketing Director at Challenger. “A ‘No Decision’ loss reason in a CRM is common and is generally viewed as a cost of doing business for most companies. But the reality is that most ‘no decision’ cycles take nearly as long to close as a win but without a payoff. It’s pure cost. When you add up the prep, calls, requests for solutions engineering support, manager oversight, marketing support, product team support…the cost to pursue goes through the roof. Many sales leaders don’t consider what these hidden costs due to margin, cost of sale, EBTIDA – all the critical measures in this environment.”

With today’s virtual sales motion, every prospect interaction counts. The ValueCloud® Web Value Calculator from DecisionLink helps both sides of a sale, giving prospects the tools they need to quantify their pain points, understand a seller’s unique differentiation in the market, and set the foundation for a value-based conversation. On the selling side, engagement with the Web Value Calculator results in a more qualified lead, a more seamless handoff from marketing to business development and sales, and more effective and productive conversations with buyers.

ValueCloud® Web Value Calculator is a web-based, interactive value selling tool that is customizable based on a company’s unique selling situation. Prospects can generate a quantifiable report (like in the case of Challenger) that demonstrates the cost of maintaining the status quo or can quantify a project’s ROI, cost reduction, productivity improvement, or revenue growth.

All it takes are four simple inputs into Challenger’s Cost of No Decision Calculator (total # of sellers, Avg. annual bookings goal, Avg. deal size, and Avg. opportunity win rate) for the ValueCloud® Web Value Calculator to reveal the total pipeline needed to hit a revenue target…and how much of that pipeline will likely be closed-lost ‘no decision’ without some form of intervention.  A custom report further breaks down the pipeline impact and total cost and provides recommendations on how to mitigate the impact. This usually involves helping sales leaders scale skills, behaviors, knowledge, and strategy to win today’s complex sale across their teams..

“High-performing sellers are more effective at pursuing the right deals and creating the right amount of urgency in the buying process to drive customer decision-making. But the average seller can struggle to build a compelling business case,” says Mike Randazzo. “That’s when you see customers revert to status quo and decline to make a decision. The cost of the solution was still greater than the perceived cost of the problem. DecisionLink allows us to better quantify and prove that status quo, accepting 38% of pipeline lost to no decision, is no longer acceptable.”

Jim Berryhill, CEO of DecisionLink, says, “Companies need to understand that they have to win two sales to win a deal. First, they must beat their competitors. Next, they have to win the internal competition. If a company has ten internal projects under consideration but can only do three, which three will they do? The one that brings the most value to the business. So, marketing and sales have to be better. Better means aligned to customers, to the value achieved, and the potential your solutions bring, and the value they lose by continuing to operate business as usual. If you can quantify that for the buyer early in the sales cycle, the business case speaks for itself.”

Are you a sales leader interested in learning how ‘no decision’ affects your pipeline? Check out Challenger’s Cost of No Decision Calculator, powered by DecisionLink, to download a free custom results report.

 

Challenger is dedicated to driving exceptional growth by changing behaviors in Sales, Marketing, and Service teams. Their commercial transformation programs, including message creation, skill development, and implementation support, have provided performance improvements and significant financial results to hundreds of clients around the world. Each program is supported by ongoing research and backed by our best-selling books The Challenger Sale, The Challenger Customer and The Effortless Experience.

DecisionLink’s ValueCloud® is the leading customer value management platform that supports end-to-end customer lifetime value management – from initial sales call, to realization, to renewal and beyond. The ValueCloud® self-service interface helps sales and marketing teams establish value metrics at the top of the funnel and during initial sales engagements, empowering sellers to refine, measure, track, and communicate customer value throughout the customer journey. Trusted by companies like ServiceNow, DocuSign, Marketo, VMware, CrowdStrike, and Caterpillar, DecisionLink turns customer value into a strategic asset.

 

Scaling Value to Grow Customer Lifetime Value

two men talking about customer lifetime value

By Joanne Moretti and Mike Maxey

For our combined 45+ years in sales and marketing, the focus of sales leadership has consistently been firmly planted in the front end of client engagement, i.e., customer acquisition.

The majority of investments we made were on customer intelligence tools, lists, lead generation tools and channels, marketing automation tools, sales training and selling methodologies, CRM systems, sales operations, content management systems, value engineers, proposal development, systems engineers and of course systems integration efforts, more recently, to bring these pieces together in a cohesive revenue operations infrastructure.

Huge amounts of investment, time, and energy have been concentrated squarely on early-stage activities. In fact, according to IDC, this market is now in the multi-billion-dollar range. Depending on which analyst firm you speak to and how they size the market, it ranges anywhere between 50B and 90B dollars. And the market is extremely fragmented, just brimming with players who do parts or pieces of the sales enablement spectrum.

To use a page of Gerry Murray’s research, Sales & Marketing Research Director at IDC, he does a nice job of unpacking the market into four main layers:

  • Layer 1: Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Customer Databases/CRM Systems.
  • Layer 2: Sales Enablement tools, Proactive Guidance, and Sales Analytics tools
  • Layer 3: Proposal Building, quoting, and contracting aids
  • Layer 4: Sales Engagement and Marketing Tools

IDC Market Glance: Sales Force Productivity and Management

Layer 1

Layer 2

Layer  3

Layer  4

These tools, in and of themselves, do a great job of delivering a discrete sales support function at various times in the earlier stages of a client engagement. And together, if integrated properly, do a really nice job of automating and digitizing the entire “front end”, of the customer acquisition phase. In fact, some high-tech companies have done this so well that, depending on product complexity and ASP, a transaction can be completely automated and executed in a frictionless way, with no human intervention whatsoever.

Yes. Things have gotten quite sophisticated in SalesTech and MarTech land.

All that said, the biggest missing links we see are two-fold: 1) customer benefits proposed, iterated, then delivered and 2) bringing automation and self-service to that data to facilitate retaining customers for life.

In other words, a platform that creates a single source of “customer value” truth, and the ability to “democratize that truth” at any point on the customer journey, from acquisition to retention to expansion to advocacy. We believe leveraging this type of customer benefit data builds trust, and ultimately helps solidify relationships to grow customer lifetime value. And frankly, that’s when the real uptick in high-margin business occurs – downstream in the relationship.

Our POV

Our belief is that value needs to be established and OMNIPRESENT from the outset and continually refined and reinforced all the way through the entire customer lifetime.

We believe that a ‘thread of value’ can and should turn into a ‘chain of trust’ that pulls buyers and sellers much closer together in a relationship. And when this happens your relationship grows beyond supplier status; you move into trusted advisor territory and ultimately customers for life.

Why so many of these tools, in fact all of them, neglect the “value” element, is beyond us, but we recognized this underserved need to help our clients establish value at the customer acquisition stage, and as a result they told us their win rates went up 2-3-fold; at renewal time, and they told us their churn rates went down, and at the cross-sell/up-sell stage and their share of wallet went up as did their profitable revenue.

For these reasons, we continue to pursue our vision of delivering the world’s first and most advanced digitally-enabled Customer Value Management platform for our clients. One that delivers insights and customer-facing outputs that quantify and establish your value at any stage of the customer journey. And frankly, this isn’t a moment too soon. Today’s modern CRO is measured on Customer Lifetime Value.

Who Benefits and When?

To break it down for you, this simple diagram below outlines the buyer relationship and touchpoints with everyone on your team. We have designed our platform so that value enriches each one of these engagement milestones (wide) and helps to build credibility and trust at every level of your organization (deep). This type of wide and deep coverage of “value enrichment” will make your organization virtually untouchable by any competitor at any time and will ensure customer lifetime value is maintained in the long run.

What’s important is that value must be easy to access, easy to model and easy to communicate – with no MBA required to have these conversations at every stage.

And that was the overall design principle of the ValueCloud platform: easy to access/easy to use customer value management, to the point where customer value becomes a strategic asset and moreover a competitive differentiator for you. Your customers will immediately sense and see the focus on value in your organization.

In addition to turning value into a strategic asset for your company and enabling a value thread to connect every stage of the customer lifetime journey for you, the platform was designed to support complex value engineering in a multitude of combinations and permutations. Whether you are calculating value based on industry type, size of organization, a variety of benefit types, like time to market, inventory turns, process improvements, a variety of solution types or even custom solutions, the powerful computational engine of the ValueCloud® provides marketers, sellers (direct or indirect) and customer success teams a self-service engine that can handle any amount of variability you can throw at it.

Summary

In summary, a cloud-based, self-service, flexible platform, that covers your entire customer entire journey, and deeply into your organizations and their touchpoints with clients, is a must for any customer value management solution worth its salt.

And it’s a must for anyone selling in this remote work environment where it’s become difficult to build trust and where every proposal is heavily scrutinized by the CFO for ROI, TCO and in some cases the impact to financial metrics like ROIC, EPS, EBITDA and FCF.

Value Management across the entire team, on every deal is no longer a nice to have, it’s a have to have.

The 80/20 Rule in Sales Persists

Those of us who have been researching, advising on, managing B2B sales for many years know this statistic almost as a constant – the 80/20 rule. The rule quite simply states:

20% of the sales team brings in 80% of the company’s business, the rest will struggle to meet their quotas.

In a recent study, Dimensional Research asked 200+ SaaS Sales leaders about the performance of their organization, 78% of the leaders said that at least half of their sales teams will not achieve their quota.

 

THE MISSING CONNECTION

What is the key skill differentiation between these top performers and the underachievers, you ask?

Well, a common answer in the same Dimensional Research study was that reps who are failing often lack an understanding of the customer’s strategic goals. This could be due to lack of training or preparation, the sheer volume of calls to different accounts required of the seller, or even a lack of general business knowledge or experience. But the outcome of this shortfall is serious. If a salesperson cannot connect the value their company delivers to their buyer’s initiatives and priorities, then the buyer is not encouraged to make a decision.

The result? Either the next seller who does bridge this gap will win the project, or the project will itself die as business initiative. Remember, most deals are not lost to the competition, they are lost to companies who chose to “do nothing”.

So, what is this connection? It is about a seller being able to discuss the concept of value (i.e. convincing a buyer – in THEIR metrics – that it is worthwhile) to proceed the planned investment. Buyers always have financial metrics to report and most business purchase decisions are 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; and Net Present Value (NPV). But it isn’t only a numbers game. Buyers now expect to be engaged in a conversation that demonstrates empathy, focuses on their business issues and priorities, and is not a product pitch.

This is a challenge that will expand in the future as buyers and sellers become even more accustomed to virtual interactions—where buyers will spend less time listening to sellers; and sales efforts will increasingly be led by an Inside Sales team with even more productivity pressure.

 

THE CONNECTION BECOMES CONTINUOUS

Some sales teams have value consulting resources to assist in calculating the economic value their products can deliver and provide those ROI/TCO/TCO/IRR/NPV numbers, but these are usually limited, labor-intensive resources and they are often dedicated to the most strategic sales cycles – ironically, helping the 20% of the sales team excel even more. However, most of that assistance is focused on the initial investment approval as a one-off analysis.

As businesses become more accustomed to the as-a-service model and contracts are up for renewal every year, companies are beginning to expect this level of analysis to be an ongoing, continuous assessment of financial returns. These subscription models are much better for customers and probably create more healthy providers but only if they are focused on customer success and delivering customer value on a continuous basis.

 

HELPING THE LONG TAIL

So, the 80%, the long tail of sales organizations, will continue to need help in 2021. In fact, they need more of it. They can continue to be provided with training, sales scripts and cheat sheets to improve their presentations, but based on this ongoing trend, relying solely on these tactics isn’t enough to solve the problem.

SaaS is, by design, easily measured and monitored and can therefore also provide important data about usage and other important business outcomes. Setting up a value management collection and reporting system is now possible in most cases without custom programming and extensive investments. This means that value analysis can be offered by businesses of all sizes. The ability for sales teams to generate value analysis in a self-service format enables the entire organization – putting value selling capabilities in the hands of every rep, both the quota achievers and those struggling.

In our whitepaper 2021 Predictions for Sales Leaders: THE YEAR OF VALUE, we discuss how the 80% will get more help from such a system. A sales enablement platform that supports an easy, self-service way to quantify and articulate the value the vendor provides, not just at the initial purchase but throughout the project lifecycle or even the customer lifetime. One that empowers all sellers to ensure their conversations are focused on outcomes and results. A system that can even trigger a customer-facing employee to communicate proactively with customers to provide a conversation centered on achieved value. This enables ‘value’ and ‘outcomes’ to be a powerful new lever that scales across the organization to empower every member of the team.

 

“Are we there yet?”

woman learning about value management

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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Recently, I was on a road trip. I knew where I needed to end up and what time I had to be there. Before leaving, I looked at Google Maps, got a rough idea of how to go and how much time I should allow. I sent the destination to my car so the navigation system could guide me on the best route.

I was a little worried, I saw there was some construction, and the weather report said there might be snow over the mountains. So, I added a little extra time to make sure I reached my destination on time.
Fortunately, I had a colleague with me. He’d been to the client we were visiting quite a bit before.

As you might guess, halfway there, we started running into obstacles. The snow was slowing things down, I thought we were OK, fortunately I had allowed some buffer time. Then, about 30 miles from our destination, we ran into road construction. My navigation system quickly started redirecting me–unfortunately, we went right into traffic. I was worried, the system was estimating our arrival about 15 minutes late.

My colleague, jumped in, “Dave, I’ve done this drive dozens of times. Let me redirect you, we will get to the meeting with plenty of time to spare.” I started following his directions (you can imagine how the navigation system was reacting, it spent most of its time recalculating our route.)

Following his directions, we made it to our meeting with about 10 minutes to spare. If I had followed the navigation system, we most likely would have been late.

If you think of that trip, it’s a lot like our customer’s buying journeys. They know where they want to end up. They know when they need to be there. They may have some tools to help them navigate that buying journey.

But things happen.

They’ve never done this before. They encounter obstacles, so they try to navigate around them. But because they haven’t done this before, or recently, they may get lost. They may take very long, circuitous routes, perhaps getting even more lost. Or, if they see great difficulty in getting to their destination, they may just stop.

Salespeople can help customers navigate their buying journey–much like my colleague helped us reach our destination on time. Like my colleague, salespeople have been on this journey and reached the destination before with other customers.

Salespeople know how to get around the obstacles. They know the most efficient routes to reach the destination. They helped hundreds of customers navigate similar journeys before.
What leadership are you providing to help your customer navigate their buying journey?

The Chief Revenue Officer in 2021 and the Pendulum Swing

As a former Chief Revenue Officer, with responsibilities for the Canadian subsidiary of CA technologies, I had oversight over all go-to-market activities; specifically these included: field marketing, sales (including all indirect channels) and customer relationship management, with a dotted line reporting coming in from professional services.  My primary goals always centred around three key pillars, 1) customer acquisition, 2) customer retention and 3) customer expansion.

For a few years, this model worked great, and it helped our team double CA Canada’s revenue, in just a little over 3 years. I had P&L responsibilities and specific sales targets, customer satisfaction survey targets and renewal targets.  The renewal targets were set at achieving 110% of prior year’s run rates within our strategic accounts. It was a great 3 years, and we had fun working together as a tightly-knit cross-functional team, all focused on individual goals, as well as the overall Canadian target.

Later in the decade things changed dramatically on several levels:

  • New sales and marketing tools were introduced as well as new selling methodologies.
  • Sales was broken into 2 major elements: 
    • Sales Specialists who focused on winning the “market”.  They were absorbed into the product team groups and focused on very tactical “feature/function” selling
    • Account Director roles who focused on winning the “account” and focused on the relationships, and they reported into area heads (like me)
  • The Customer Relationship Management function was dissolved, and the folks remaining became “renewal specialists” focused purely on renewals with no focus on adoption, customer care or education.

Overall, things became disaggregated and matrixed, and that overall sense of account centricity and accountability for customers seemed to fade.  We seemed to be more focused on our org charts and respective P&L’s than the customer experience and driving deeper relationships.

About halfway through that fiscal year, I picked up GM responsibilities for approximately 13 states in the Western US region, but things had changed significantly, and shortly thereafter I decided to move to start a new adventure in marketing.  The GM role just wasn’t the same, and we didn’t seem focused on customers.

Fast forward to today (16 years later), and I feel like the pendulum has swung again.

Today, companies are focused on a unifying metric that I felt strongly about when I ran a revenue operation – “Customer Lifetime Value” (CLV).

CLV is so much more interesting and important than just that initial sales win, it gets into the value that can be generated from a client over a period of time; it encourages a unified approach and puts customers back at the centre of everything. In other words, from attracting, to engaging, to winning, to retaining, to expanding, a CLV approach translates to much more value to shareholders/investors than just that initial sale. 

To do this, enterprises are enlisting the help of sales “superheroes” who really understand the full continuum and drive towards commercial excellence versus just beating people up at the end of a month for their forecast. I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven seeing businesses rotate back into a customer-centric mentality.

Maybe I was an egocentric, control freak back in the days of running CA Canada, wanting all the pieces of the puzzle to manage to… but I don’t think so.  I truly believe I wanted what was best for our clients, and felt we could do that together as a team, with one central point of accountability…me, the general manager versus 6 disparate P&L holders off in product land or services land or marketing land. The “glue” was needed.

In terms of the new tools that were introduced by these disparate groups, like CRM, marketing automation, PLM and customer success tools, my opinion is that we’ve come a long way in integrating them technologically – but there’s still a missing link to all of them and that is real data on true customer value. 

For example, when we have a new opportunity, we still seem to run around the organization looking for customer case studies or business case examples for RFP responses, and we still scramble to determine how much value a customer is really getting from us so we can have an upper hand at renewal time and don’t get hosed by a savvy procurement manager.

It’s time that in addition to pulling things together under the CRO and being focused on customer lifetime value, we must have a way to measure that value and have it omnipresent in all our systems and at our fingertips when we need it. Only then will all of these systems truly deliver on their promise; for instance: 

  • CRM systems that understand the value delivered to a customer, 
  • a marketing automation system that can integrate value into email campaigns and case studies, 
  • customer success tools that measure adoption levels and commensurate value realized. 
  • And PLM systems that capture value from various customers to help with product pricing and packaging in the future.

So, my take on what we’ll see happening in the CRO seat in 2021 is:

  1. CROs that own from customer acquisition to renewal to expansion is back in vogue and will be responsible for marketing, sales and customer success teams accordingly. 
  2. More and more CROs will be measured on Customer Lifetime Value
  3. A true enterprise-class Value Management function or platform will be leveraged by most people in the commercial value chain and value will become an enterprise-wide strategic asset.

Joanne Moretti, CMO DecisionLink