I recently had a conversation with an Account Director responsible for new market and existing customer growth for an Oracle Supply Chain and ERP partner that has offices throughout the US, Asia and UK. I learned that the firm

  • Experiences 12 to 18 month sales cycle on enterprise accounts with most efforts leading to RFP automatically reducing margin growth
  • Tends to be responsive to customer-defined needs rather than creating a need, which cuts deal sizes by 10% to 30%
  • Limits customer lifetime value as they are not getting top-to-bottom engagement needed for customers to utilize the full portfolio of services
  • Is unable to consistently reach COO/VP levels needed to drive profit growth
  • Closes 30 – 35% of the time

When I dug deeper into their 30 – 35% average close rate, the Account Director mentioned how it’s complex because in many cases they are joint selling solutions with Oracle. But as I shared with the director – a 30% close rate is unacceptable whether you sell alone or with a partner like Oracle, SAP, JDA, Microsoft and others. If manufacturers, retailers, distributors etc. did not invest in the tools you use – it’s because they did not see the upfront value your complete solutions can provide and the implementation and post go-live gaps you can fill. They could not clearly see the impact you’d have on the company, P&L, operations and their customers.

Sales Is Calling for More Personal Account-Based, Conversational Support to Win, Protect & Expand Specific Accounts

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It’s a shame that manufacturers and others do not clearly see the firm’s value because on the website they speak to how they deliver 91% on time and in budget vs. the industry average of 40%. They talk about achieving 96% of business goals vs. the industry average of 64%.

But, the website, LinkedIn profiles, content and messaging does not speak to the account-specific and competitor-specific gaps that result in 50% more go-live delays and 32% less KPI success at go-live and post-implementation. Instead, I see website content that speaks to the same general features and benefits of the 60+ partners I see on the Oracle SCM website and the 40+ partners I see on the JDA website. I see resume based profiles with generic company information like how the firm specializes in integrating supply chains and solving business-critical challenges from solution to design. I see how they provide end-to-end consulting and implementation solutions that link Innovation Management, Supply Chain Management and Logistics Management, as well as core ERP and that they work with customers to break down information silos and optimize performance to accelerate innovation, fuel growth and achieve operational excellence. But they don’t speak to specific accounts, the gaps they have and the impact that the implementation firm can have. And I see product-based content on their blog.

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This is great for account brand awareness but it does not support selling conversations where you create a buying vision not only around the target’s immediate and long term needs – but also the needs they didn’t even realize they had.

Studies by Forrester Research revealed that salespeople who create a buying vision end up winning out against the competition about 74% of the time. That’s an incredible win rate, and it’s a testament to the importance that marketing helps to shape a sale from the earliest stages.

The Importance of Proving Your Value & How You’ll Align with Specific Accounts….

During research for one of my supply chain technology clients, I found a DC Velocity survey which shows that 50% of organizations feel that their applications (WMS/TMS/Order Management/Distribution/ERP platforms) do not deliver the desired ROI and that’s after larger risk for failed go-lives. And, it’s because IT is not aligned with operational and customer needs as most software providers and implementation partners are just simply fulfilling requests.

I’ve learned from a JDA partner (a client of ours) that the simply fulfilling request mindset is leading to a transactional sale. JDA, Oracle and the other platforms are looking to create a low “upfront” price to compete with each other. These competitive bids force little to zero contingencies, limited stakeholder ownership, high risk of delay or misfire (if the account is won) and reduced close rates. The focus is on where can I get the most bells and whistles for the lowest price rather than where can we have the greatest impact. By shifting social, email and live selling conversations, you take the focus off of the tool that is being implemented – and on the solution, you can provide to meet that specific customer’s needs. You make your solution a “must-have” and your targets will buy your services and the tool you use.

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The shift in communications requires the removal of silos and the traditional hand-off between sales, marketing and accounts. They need to be working together with shared common goals and metrics and execute jointly to win, protect and expand specific accounts. Instead of speaking to large volumes of accounts and positioning your firm as a “potential best fit along with other competitors” – teams need to put the focus, time and resources on proving to the “must win and expand” accounts that you are a definitely the best fit for their specific needs. The only way that this can be achieved is if you take a 1:1 approach where content and messaging are highly personalized for each social, email and live selling conversation.

Below, you’ll see the difference between traditional sales and marketing and a personal account-based approach:

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While we talk about a need for personal account-based marketing – it does not replace traditional marketing efforts. Awareness, recognition and driving of leads will only make personal marketing even stronger. The two are meant to work together just like sales and marketing is meant to work together. My recent article discusses the need for personal account-based marketing and how it will help marketing increase their influence over revenue. Click the image below to read the article.

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You can also see how IT firms are taking a personal sales and marketing approach to improve close rates, win new market growth, protect “at-risk” accounts and drive expansion by joining our Account-Based Enablement community.

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