February 23, 2009

Big Vendor Marketing Insights

Today we had the opportunity to spend an hour with a senior executive in one of the leading global software vendors. The subject – messaging, or more precisely how sales and marketing lessons learned by the ‘big guys’ can be applied to smaller technologies companies.

So, you want to sell and market like a global software vendor? Well, here are some guidelines to consider:

Hold off on the detail – the functions, technology, etc. It can be difficult to differentiate on these elements and it is important to avoid sounding like everybody else. Take a different perspective.

Start with a clear statement of the problem that the technology is trying to solve, whether that is cost savings, security, or compliance. Tease out the implications of the problem. Relate your solution to struggles that businesses are facing. That is the business driver.

Put a bit of ‘oomp!’ in the message - focus on a hot topic, key business drivers, important trends, or key industry events. If you are not sure what they are, then check the headlines in a publication, like the; CIO magazine.

It is a crowded marketplace, so how are you going to stand out? It will require; bolder / brasher / more visionary statements /messages, not just technical product information.

Don’t try to be everything to everyone. In a sales meeting you can ask the customer what he, or she wants and then focus on that. But, on a web site or brochure you don’t really get to ask people what they want – you have to tell ‘em what you have got. You have to ‘nail your pictures to the wall’ - setting out in advance your proposition and sticking to it. That will require decisions and trade-offs.

How appealing the business is to large customers, or to potential partners, depends a lot on the message being communicated, as well as the impression created by web sites, etc. That is not necessarily fair, but it is the reality. Unless you can stand out, why should a potential client or partner chose your company, particularly when there may be existing relationships with other suppliers, or an issue of size and credibility.

Credibility that comes from stories. In a lot of cases, it is only when you are in front of the promoter(s) that you really get an idea of what a newer/smaller company can do. It is not the slides or the websites that communicate the message, but stories and examples told, often by accident, by the promoter. But if it requires a meeting with the promoter to get the message across that is not enough. Will your web, brochures, powerpoint slides, etc. sell in the absence of the promoter?

Strategy and the marketing message go hand-in-hand. Getting the message right can be liberating, it often has the effect of freeing management from nagging doubts about what the target market, or the message is, or should be.

If you want to scale sales – think big and don’t expect the promoters of the company to touch every sales cycle.

John O’ Gorman and Ray Collis – Sales planning, sales effectiveness, sales packaging, boosting sales

No comments: