Selling complex software is challenging. Fueled by plummeting technology costs, low barriers to entry, and increased developer participation enabled by the internet and collaborative tools, the pace of innovation in software is accelerating. Sales and marketing professionals are challenged simply to understand the products they offer, let alone sell them effectively. This is true not only in large companies, but in smaller start-up firms as well.
General Electric realized years ago as a part of their six sigma initiative that the Effectiveness of a solution is equal to its Quality multiplied by its Acceptance (E=Q*A). The best solution in the world is of no use if there is no organizational “buy in” to implement it. Good ideas need to be sold and accepted to be effective regardless of their technical merit.
While GE applied the process to defect management, this same principle applies in technical sales. An organization may have the best technology (the quality part of the equation) but if they fail to tell a clear and compelling story, they will struggle to gain acceptance on the part of a buyer.
Technology companies often under-invest in the “acceptance” part of the effectiveness equation. Engineers, product managers and developers understand what they are building, but they have trouble putting themselves in the shoes of others in the organization not as immersed in the technology and problem space as they are. Concepts like branding, messaging, positioning, buyer roles and demand creation feel abstract and ephemeral to the engineer – their eyes glaze over, they get bored, the right part of their brain starts to ache and they decide to ignore it happier to return to the relative concreteness of building the product.
Marketers fall into a similar trap, but from a different direction. Because they don’t fully understand the technology (their left brain hurts when they try), they convince themselves that the details don’t really matter. They happily spending money on banner ads, and general awareness promoting high level value statements convinced that this will drive success. Marketers retreat to their high ground “focusing on the business value” and dismiss those focused on the technology (outside their comfort zone remember) as simply not seeing the bigger picture. In some markets though, details matter a great deal. Firms need to draw clear, crisp lines and explain exactly how complex features drive business value.
The way organizations buy is changing. Research shows that eighty percent of clients now form an opinion about a solution before they ever contact a vendor. Seventy percent of decision makers say that content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company. As solutions become more complex, and buyers increasingly rely on technical staff for guidance, relevant, high-quality technically-oriented content is more essential than ever to having customers “accept” your story. Content marketing rules.
StoryTek is a network of technical, creative, and communication professionals that focus on telling technical stories, and presenting differentiated product capabilities in a way that is compelling to technical buyers. By helping clients tell a better, more credible story, overall sales effectiveness is improved resulting in higher revenues, shorter sales cycles, and improved product margins.