Enterprise software has many benefits. But its broad applicability is also its Achilles heel. Complexity increases the length of the sales cycle. It raises the likelihood that your sales initiative will meet (possibly impassable) resistance somewhere in the organization.
What do you do about it?
The key factor in keeping a sales pursuit on track and avoiding the dreaded "no decision" outcome is how well you help the customer overcome resistance to change. You must convince the customer to break through their fears and kick-start an organizational transformation.
The purchase and implementation of enterprise software is, at its core, an organizational change problem. Take the manufacturing industry as an example. The largest manufacturing companies must:
- Manage lifecycles of several product lines
- Plan for long lead times of key components and production equipment
- Distribute engineering and production centers
- Administer and validate multiple, interconnected IT systems
- Store and access historical product and process data
- Track unique customer configurations
Any change to this environment, software or otherwise, impacts many stakeholders over a long period of time. It's bound to create a storm of passionate debate. But the energy of that storm can be harnessed into overcoming resistance to change if you know how to direct it.
To increase your chance of success and improve sales, KNOCK DOWN the Left & Rights Pillars of Resistance! Recognize and counteract the customer's reasons for resisting change. Employ driving forces for change that turn the wind in your favor and build momentum across the organization.
Left Pillar of Resistance: It Costs Too Much
We've all run into clients who claim:
"There is nothing wrong with the way we've always done it."
"It's just too expensive to try something new."
Many would-be change-agents have seen their good intentions broken on these rocks. Address these objections directly by helping the client see their current reality in a new light.
KNOCKING IT DOWN: Recognize True Costs of Not Changing - QUANTIFY How Much the PRESENT Really COSTS
If there truly are improvements that can be made, then you've got to make the costs and pains of the present AS-IS business process better understood, acknowledged, and accepted by all stakeholders.
Most vendor sales and marketing teams do not spend enough time on this. Why? Because it requires both deep knowledge of an industry and business process -- as well as the commitment and resources to educate the client -- it's difficult to execute.
If you can do it well, however, you can develop a trusted partner relationship and lock out the competition.
Right Pillar of Resistance: It Won't Work Here
When you overcome the Left Pillar of Resistance, expect that clients will ask:
"How do we know this will be successful?"
"What kind of payback period and ROI can we expect?"
They realize that they are incurring wasteful, non value-added costs in their business operations, but they don't know where they should go from here (or how to get there). Address these concerns by making the future more tangible.
KNOCKING IT DOWN: Understand Benefits of Making Change - QUALIFY How the FUTURE is ATTAINABLE
The future is unfocused and unlimited; bring it down-to-earth. Make the benefits and improvements of the future TO-BE business process better appreciated, believed, and desired by all stakeholders.
Most vendors do focus on "future vision" in client messaging, but they often lack a strong, quantifiable value. This leaves the sales force on their own to reproduce the business case again and again- usually in ad-hoc ways that draw on many resources.
Instead, improve sales by building an integrative approach to conveying software business value that arms the sales force to be part consultant.
When you build your approach around these driving forces for change, you help the client understand why they should change and in what direction they should go.
As an enterprise sales professional, you will improve sales by developing and communicating both of these points equally well so that the customer can internalize them for the long haul.
Where are you meeting resistance to change with your prospects? What have you tried to overcome it? What could you make happen with this approach?