Why is it More Complex Than Before to Sell Software Solutions?

Author:

Aurelien Mottier

Why is it More Complex Than Before to Sell Software Solutions?

Author:

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Why is it More Complex Than Before to Sell Software Solutions?

Aurelien Mottier

CEO at Operatix

We are living in a time where the twitch speed of technological innovation has created a landscape of constant and fast-paced change.  However, contrary to this, sales cycles have not reflected this momentum, which doesn’t go down well as the shareholders and board members tap their restless fingers across the glossy glass tables of boardrooms, demanding increased sales figures, quarterly reports and increased profits.  Yet the sales departments are often falling short of their boards expectations, as sales cycles are now taking longer than ever before, bucking the trend of our fast-paced technology powered society.  So why in our new, expectant world are sales cycles taking longer than ever before?

Here at Operatix, we believe that it comes down to two main factors.  Firstly, the plethora of vendors that are flooding the market with almost copycat products and services which look all too similar to the buyer, who is becoming more confused and disillusioned with the offerings available. Never before have there been so many vendors in the technology industry offering the panacea of all solutions, the answers to all their clients nightmare scenarios.   Secondly, never before have IT departments become so monolithic, fragmented and difficult to maneuver. IT departments are bigger now than ever before, wielding more power, however, with this unprecedented power and size comes a far more complex sales environment and minefield to work through, unless you know who holds the purse strings.

More Vendors in the Market than Ever Before

Over the past decade, we have witnessed hundreds upon hundreds of new vendors entering the technology sector. These vendors are now facing more competition than ever before, which makes it harder to open a dialogue or indeed close a sale, we call this the closing rates in the sales business. The closing rates of a company can be demonstrated where the likeliness of closing a deal is effected by the quantity of similar competitors in the market. For example, we have worked out that for the average company we work with, if there is one other competitor in their space, this will reduce their closing rates by 50%. So, with just one competitor you now have only a 1 in 2 chances of winning each piece of new business.

However, having only one similar competitor is an extremely uncommon luxury, especially in the world of technology which has become more competitive than ever before. For many companies, having ten similar competitors is far more common, and with this amount of competition, the closing rates drop down to a disheartening 10%. Subsequently, you have just a 10% chance of winning the business if you have many competitors.  Over the years, the competition has accelerated enormously with far more events and far more vendors.  Take RSA in the US for example, in 2008, the conference had around 375 vendors and earlier this year the event had grown to more than 550 vendors.  A similar rise in new vendors attending exhibitions, has been seen in a wealth of events such as the many Black Hat events around the world, as well as Cloud Expo and InfoSecurity Conference in London, CEBIT in Germany and MWC Conference in Spain. This significant rise in vendors, attending these numerous events has created a hugely competitive and complex market, making sales opportunities increasingly scarce and negatively impacting the speed of sales cycles as well as the volume of business being achieved for many vendors.

Sales Cycles Are Now More Complex Than Ever Before

As the technology and software landscape becomes flooded with more vendors, you’ll see the smarter vendors employing more innovative ways to be competitive and stand out from the crowd. They may spend huge amounts of their marketing budgets on events, with bigger stands, sponsorships, throwing bigger parties, offering fantastic incentives, or off-site jollies like helicopter trips into the Vegas desert to shoot drones with machine guns!  This is made worse for the vendor who is trying to rise above the competition as they grapple with trying to get to grips with the ever-changing IT department. Only a decade ago, IT departments would be one small cog within a far greater machine, nowadays they are at the heart of any agile organisation, and their influence is paramount.

As the importance of IT departments increases, so has their size. Many large organisations have expanded enormously, making it virtually impossible to find out who makes the decisions.  Is it the systems integrator, the CISO, the CIO, the Risk Manager, the Compliance Officer, the IT Director or is it all of them combined?  IT departments are now experiencing significant changes as their roles diversify to impact customer service, sales and business strategy.   Companies have witnessed very large increases in their IT departments with annual IT permanent staff salaries increasing by 5% in the past year, with the highest salary rise for CIO roles. In particular, CIOs are witnessing a shift in responsibility, as they now have adopted the role of board member. In 2005, barely 30% of CIOs sat on an executive committee, today that figure has risen to 62%.

Although the rise in expenditure and expansive growth of IT departments is a positive change for many, from a sales perspective, it simply leads to a delay in completing a sale. Where you once would have spoken to an IT Director and then a network and strategic consultant, you now must speak to teams of decision makers. In this sense, you have far more obstacles to get though before you reap the final reward. On average, large conglomerate companies will need to speak to 10-15 people per account, and this may only drop to 5-6 for mid-market companies, and 2-3 for an SMB. Therefore, the sales team has far more people to engage with in order to make a sale, which of course will prove more often than not to be time consuming and costly.

To combat this, we in the trade advise an Account Based Selling (ABS) approach, where you effectively distribute your time to the right people with laser-like precision – earmarking and understanding exactly who you are selling to, what their requirements are and understanding precisely their needs. You need to know your customers inside and out, listen to them and sell them what they want, and only through doing this can you begin to generate pipeline and increase your conversion of sales.

To Remain Competitive, You Need to Generate More Pipeline

As vendors are faced with increased competition and larger, more complex IT departments, a key focus should be in generating a deep and varied sales pipeline. It will pay to invest time and money into analyzing your customers to find out exactly what they require. In this day and age, it all comes down to numbers, the more sales leads you have, the more chance you have of converting them into tangible business.  If you haven’t the time to research who it is within the organisation you need to target, engage the expertise of a sales lead agency, who deals with the buyers every single day and understands their current needs, purchasing process and requirements.

In order to effectively generate pipeline, you must utilize the power of the ABS approach. It is essential that you are engaging with every level of your clients’ company hierarchy and you are taking control of sales and understand exactly what your clients require. In today’s competitive and constantly evolving landscape, it is fundamental to swiftly build your pipeline, never resting on your laurels or letting your competitors jump in before you. As the technology landscape develops at an unprecedented rate, the companies that adapt quickly to the meet the requirements of their customers will be the new leaders that will reap the rewards from being at the forefront of this digital revolution.

We hope you have found this article informative and useful to move forward with a more successful sales acceleration plan. If you would like to discuss any points mentioned above with our team, please get in touch or request a call back.

About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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Channel Transformation

Digital transformation is changing how companies buy and use business solutions, making vendors re-assess the capabilities of their channel ecosystem. With channel dynamics in constant flux, vendors need to be ready to cut ties with partners that don’t share their vision or have connections with the right B2B buyers.

 

Operatix has supported numerous vendors in their path to Channel transformation by assessing current partners and recruiting new partners that are more aligned with their new channel strategy. Once the right partners have been identified, Operatix built scalable outbound sales development programs that accelerated their routes to market.

Inbound Response Management

In a competitive industry like technology every lead counts. Operatix can help you maximize conversion from MQL to SQL and from lead to pipeline, increasing both your revenue and ROI on marketing activities.

Account Identification

Identifying the accounts that are more likely to buy from you is part of our expertise. We will research the market, identify verticals and industries that can benefit from your solution and set up qualified sales engagements for your teams to kick-off the sales process. 

Cold Prospecting

Our team will identify new sales opportunities within the strategic accounts that you haven’t been successful in penetrating through your sales & marketing efforts. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, multitouch approach to connect with prospects, generating qualified sales engagements for your team and ultimately increasing your pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Outbound Sales Development

Using a proactive outbound sales approach has been proven to be one of the most effective methods to engage with prospective customers. By applying the ‘Challenger Sale’ methodology we use a tailored, human approach to getting in touch with prospects to increase your qualified sales engagements and ultimately generate more pipeline.

Partner Concierge Service

Our Partner Concierge Service helps vendors accelerate their channel programs, by engaging and nurturing channel partners and supporting them to get to revenue quicker.

Demand Generation

Whether you need to implement a demand generation strategy or get more results out of your existing demand gen engine, Operatix can work alongside your marketing team to yield better results out of your demand generation programs.

Account-based Marketing

An Account-based Marketing strategy is only as successful as the revenue it generates. At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Lead Qualification

If your marketing leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help sieve through leads that need further qualification, so they are ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with.

Account-based Selling

At Operatix we will support your 1:1, 1:few or 1:many approach to get your team in front of decision makers in the accounts that matter the most to you. 

Pipeline Generation

Generating Pipeline for our clients is our key-objective. And we do that by using a multi-touch, multi-channel approach to generate qualified sales engagements for our customers’ sales teams.   

Account Intelligence / Deep Dive

Understanding buying centres, hierarchies and relevant personas in strategic accounts is a fundamental step to increase conversion rates. By leveraging account intelligence in a sales conversation your team can tailor their message and provide value to their prospective customer. But sales & marketing teams often struggle to dedicate time and resources to do the deep research and this is where Operatix can help.

DMID – Decision Maker Identification

Finding quality data is an on-going challenge for B2B Tech vendors. The accuracy of data platforms is questionable and that is why Operatix developed a manual process to identify & verify contact details for decision makers within strategic target accounts.

Playbook design

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to get your messaging right, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapt the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

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Sales Playbook Development

Operatix can develop Sales Playbooks that enable teams to sell more effectively. Your Playbook will be fundamental to implementing the correct messaging, accurately position your solution against competitors, and adapting the communication of your value proposition to different buyer personas.

Lead Qualification

If your leads aren’t converting, it might be a lead qualification issue. Operatix can help filter through leads that need further qualification, ensuring that they’re ready for an AE or sales team member to engage with and progress through the funnel. 

Partner Portal / Marketing Concierge Service

Vendors often spend thousands of dollars building multifunctional Partner Portals to help channel partners educate their teams, manage opportunities, and create marketing programs. Still, these portals are often underutilized due to lack of bandwidth and capacity from vendors to offer support in enabling their partner community. Operatix, through their Partner Development team, can support your partners to make the best use out of your partner portal, managing the relationship with your partners and helping them set up co-marketing campaigns to drive more revenue for both businesses. 

Marketing & Sales Alignment

The sales development function is often seen as the “glue” that brings sales & marketing teams together. By working as an extension of your teams, Operatix will be your predictable source of pipeline, sales & revenue.

Optimization of MDF

Market Development Funds are an important component of any channel ecosystem, though vendors believe they are not maximizing the return on investment they should be getting from their MDF programs. At Operatix, we build scalable outbound sales development programs that will give you the visibility of return over the invested spend and will provide clear value for your channel partners.

Increase Partner Productivity

The 80/20 rule is still very applicable to the channel, which means that investing in partner productivity should be a priority for vendors looking to grow their businesses. Operatix can increase partner productivity and shorten sales cycles, by identifying ready to engage sales opportunities for your most valued channel partners.

Virtual Channel Account managers

Our VCAM team is responsible for building, maintaining, and managing sound relationships with current and prospective channel partners. They can get involved in opening up new sales conversations as well as closing small businesses up to $ 10k.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Activation

Whether your business decided for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 distribution model, Operatix can help your channel partners get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements to your channel partners we can accelerate your route to market with tangible and easily measurable results.

Solution Selling Training

Far too often vendors insist on enabling their channel partners to talk about features and technical details of their solutions. Customers don’t buy features; they buy the benefits your solution can bring. Operatix will work with your partner community to train them in articulating your message from a high-level business perspective, enabling them to talk to prospects about the value your solution can bring to their company from a board-level perspective.

Channel Enablement

Enabling your channel partners have measurable wins for your business when done right. Operatix has a proven track record in enabling channel partners from a sales & marketing perspective, providing them the knowledge and tools to successfully pitch your solution and sell the value & benefits of it. 

Partner Recruitment

Recruiting the right Channel Partners is the first step for a successful channel program. Operatix has helped over 350 B2B Software vendors recruit suitable channel partners across EMEA and North America, supporting them to scale and expand their presence in different geographies and verticals. 

Risk/Reward Business Model

To truly work as an extension of our client’s sales & marketing teams, we have also adapted our business models to show how our clients operate, and how their success is measured. With our risk/reward business model your investment is proportional to the results our team delivers.

Sales Qualified Leads

On average, 52.5% of the sales engagements set up by our team progress into a next step in the sale process. That means that 5 out of 10 meetings will progress either into a POC, a Demo or a pipeline opportunity.

Geographical Scale

Trading in different geographical markets not only requires a knowledge of the native language, local rules & policies, but a deeper understanding of the local culture and habits. We have the ability to deliver campaigns in multiple countries with flexible resource allocation. This is through our team of international speakers, who have the ability to sell in 17 different languages across the globe.

Increase Revenue & Decrease Cost

Building an internal sales development team comes with many additional costs and challenges that aren’t always taken into account: recruiting resources, training and enabling them etc. You also need to take into account the need for having the data and tools to make them successful, which in turn requires time, capital and effort. By outsourcing your sales development to Operatix you will see your revenue increasing, while decreasing costs and business risk.

Predictable Pipeline Generation

On average, our clients see a 26X ROI on the programs we deliver. By understanding your revenue targets and sales pipeline gap, we will work on a sales & marketing plan that will deliver tangible results.

Vertical Growth

Entering new industries or launching new product lines? Operatix can accelerate your growth by supporting your go-to-market strategy, and getting your sales teams in front of decision makers in key target accounts.

Reduce Headcount

By outsourcing your sales development and partner programs to Operatix; we reduce headcount and the challenges that come with managing people, technologies, and processes. We take care of your sales development, so you can focus on what matters the most: growing your business.

Revenue Acceleration

Operatix helps your business get to revenue quicker. By providing qualified sales engagements for your direct sales team (to kick-off new sales cycles), or by accelerating the growth of your channel partners, our focus remains on delivering tangible results for your business. 

Persona-based Selling

Operatix team will design specifically tailored messages to influence the different levels of decision makers in the sales process, tailoring the communication according to each job function. Our focus is to sell the value of your solution from a business perspective, not its features.    

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