Whether you’re in a startup environment, midmarket, or F1000, it pays to learn from the best. This post provides a glimpse into a unique practice used by companies like Salesforce, Oracle, and SAP on their biggest, most important deals.
You probably can’t copy them exactly – it would cost too much time and money. What can you do?
Apply the ideas discussed here to win more critical deals.
How do you convince a prospect to make a multimillion dollar decision? The elite technology companies of the world actually deploy a team of experts to do a deep diagnostic that forms the foundation for a business case for change. These are high-end consultants (think former McKinsey/Bain/Accenture-type people) who only work on the most valuable opportunities.
Let’s take a look at them now. These are the little-known Navy SEALs of the profession, and they’re expensive. We can’t all simply throw McKinsey veterans and Harvard MBAs on the payroll. Instead, start teaching your own Presales team to function more like Value Engineers – more on that in a second.
Value Engineers systematically execute a value creation process that influences a buyer to purchase their valuable technologies, hardware, and platforms.
A Value Engineer executes a process that is night-and-day from running numbers through value calculators.
Value Engineering, done effectively, is much more expansive and influential, and ultimately leads to a higher probability of winning.
The output for the prospect is an airtight business case. This might be a 15-page word document and/or a 30 slide presentation. It is composed of client data and executive perspective gathered across multiple lines of business. The business case also presents change management strategies to ensure adoption and value realization.
The business case tells a story that influences the buyer to change.
Salesforce.com is an example. They have a sizable value-engineering team called IGNITE. The IGNITE team typically does a six to seven figure consulting engagement for a high potential enterprise client – at no charge. The focus is on building a case which results in a large contract worth an additional $1 million of ACV (annual contract value). This is accomplished by the IGNITE consultants doing deep-dive Discoveries with executives across many lines of business, examining people, costs, processes, and technologies. In the end, the IGNITE team present their finding to the client executive team.
SAP also has one of the largest Value Engineering teams in the world. Their Value Engineers – just like those at Microsoft, Oracle, and other complex solution sellers – must be proficient at much more than just high-end tech demonstrations. They must be business-savvy professionals who can link the benefits of their technologies to the current roadmaps, initiatives, and KPI’s of their clients. And, they must do it by executing fast and accurate discoveries, analyzing the data and themes, all the while building evidence and coalition along the way.
No easy task.
For both companies, Value Engineering is a winner-take-all game with no prize for second place. For the entire company, the difference a good or poor year rides is riding on the outcome. Job security can be at stake, and reputations are made or lost in a moment.
Here’s the most interesting trend.
The “give-to-get” Value Engineering formula is fast-becoming the new entry price for sales organizations that compete in the hyper-crowded technology world. It’s a quid pro quo strategy with high table stakes mindset: I give you my valuable Consulting Analysis & Report – no strings attached. And, you, in return, commit to my proposal.
How does this apply to you?
You can win more deals by doing a higher quantity of Value Engineering projects at a ‘good enough’ quality level. In practical terms, this means doing smaller, more contained client engagements, with your Presales team acting like the Value Engineers of these larger companies. That is clearly a strategy that can pay big dividends if executed properly.
How do I get a Presales techie to think, act, and behave like a mini-Value Engineer?
Many technology companies today are trying to push higher-level knowledge work down a notch to Presales – the technical specialists counted on to do demonstrations and answer technology questions. If this knowledge transfer is successful, the company can write bigger deals at a much faster rate.
To our clients, this is less a training issue and more a tool issue. There is plenty of effective training on the market – the Value Realization Council has a great training and certification process. The real question is how to ensure QUALITY of consulting engagements post-training.
Execution – not training – is the constraint.
In our next blogpost, you’ll learn exactly how to apply these big ideas in your own business at the tactical level.