Almost every technology company and salesperson on the planet is selling some form of Digital Transformation today. As much as we would like to think those words enchant and motivate our clients to buy, typically what they think is “expensive, long cycles, risk, and potential failure.”
The sad truth is everybody selling Digital Transformation sounds the same. The phrase has quickly become old and tired, and certainly is not a competitive differentiator.
We sound like Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers’ films, “Want to buy some —- wait for it… Digital Transformation!?”
Digital Transformation is not a solution or a service; it’s a strategy!
Selling Digital Transformation is very different from selling a solution or a service. It requires you to successfully make a series of smaller sales before you can win the “big prize.”
We have to start by understanding what it is we are actually transforming and why. Is it…
- To grow your client’s revenue?
- To help them retain their clients?
- To enter new markets?
- To deliver new products and services to the market faster than their competitors?
- To protect their reputation and brand?
- To comply with new regulations?
- To increase their stock price and company valuation?
- To attract and retain employees?
Or is it some combination of these above, or maybe even something else?
Once you can understand and align with your client on the outcomes that can be achieved, the next question is how will they measure success and how much will it be worth to them when it is successful? What are the metrics and how will they be measured? Collaborating with your client to agree on the destination and success metrics is the first sale you will have to make.
Transformation typically impacts multiple processes, systems, communications, and people in organizations across the client, all of which will have to be examined and likely altered. This requires their engagement and support during the solutioning process to explore the “art of the possible” as you collaborate to construct the strategy. Getting access and support from a broader business base of people is the second sale you have to make.
The most important part of the selling process for any transformation initiative, besides actually winning the deal itself, is gaining the trust and support of the Partner Allies who will help you win. Understanding who “wins” personally and why in a successful transformation will enable you to target the right people with the right message to create the emotional momentum and help win their support.
Transformation is typically wrought with politics and dissent, so lining up powerful people to help support you, typically business leaders outside of IT and Procurement, is crucial to success. The logical elements, including the solution, outcomes, business value, and your proposed price, will not alone win the opportunity. Winning people’s hearts and minds by connecting to their Personal Agenda so they are willing to take political risk and create momentum as early as possible in the sales cycle is essential.
Collaborating with your client on a business case, not a proposal, where the solution pathway and approach is outlined, including the agreed to outcomes and expected business value, is the next imperative. Then an agreed to implementation plan and timeline, which oftentimes includes multiple milestones in the transformation journey. And then a closing plan, where the decision-makers agree on a timeline to contract execution.
If your client is unwilling to collaborate with you at any stage of the process, including providing you with access and information, and devoting time and resources, you should consider whether you have created enough momentum, or whether they are really serious about partnering with you.
Many salespeople feel ill-equipped to collaborate throughout the entire client journey, which is why a team approach utilizing SMEs, Professional Services, Service Delivery, and Channel Partners can create more momentum than going at it alone.
We are in the midst of the greatest digital revolution the world has ever seen, and the global pandemic has only acted to accelerate focus and investment on digitalization. The salespeople and sales organizations that successfully execute the collaborative approach described above, much or all of which has to be performed virtually, will enjoy extraordinary success as business itself transforms in the years to come!
Choose an important prospect or client that you are engaged in a digital transformation sales cycle. Determine where you are or should be in the sales and solutioning process, then adjust your approach accordingly.