I (Peter O'Neill here again) had the pleasure of visiting Twickenham rugby stadium in London last week – sadly, not on the Saturday to watch my national team beat England but on the following Monday to meet Dell executives and hear about their Enterprise Spring Launch of new products and services. As I listened to the speeches about new servers, storage, networking, and end-to-end applications, I kept thinking to myself how difficult it is these days to sound different from other infrastructure vendors who do the same thing - and often with the same technologies. I remember making those same speeches over 15 years ago and it was difficult enough then! My colleague Richard Fichera has commented on the product details, so I’d like to review the most important one, for me: Dell’s solution program. As far as I am concerned, only those IT infrastructure vendors who market at the business technology level will enjoy success in the future – and that means solutions marketing with commitment.
Those of you who know me (Peter O’Neill) know that I’ve lived in Germany since 30 years. Now, when I grew up in the UK, I remember so well the BBC journalist Alistair Cooke reading his “Letter From America” each Sunday night on the wireless (as we called radio then!): It was a great familiarization exercise and stood me in good stead when I visited and worked in the US many years later. As I do at least one inquiry per week for Forrester clients describing the state of the European and/or German tech market, I thought I’d kick off a regular blog in the same vein – probably bi-monthly – where I highlight something I think is important for you that has or is about to happen in Germany.
This year (next month) Forrester’s Technology Sales Enablement Forum will sport a new channels track. With a theme of “Bridging the Strategy-to-Execution Gap,” we will drill into the issues vexing channel professionals on why “perfect” strategies, involving partner recruitment, partner enablement, and partner loyalty, often fall flat with channel partners.
I’m particularly excited by being joined on stage, not just by my colleagues Dane Anderson and Michael Speyer, but by [yes, real live] channel execs Jon Roskill of Microsoft and Wendy Bahr of Cisco. Jon and Wendy are going to share their insights and their most effective techniques around channel enablement – i.e., how their companies’ channel teams empower their channel partners to effect maximum productivity. Attendees will have plenty of opportunity to grill Jon and Wendy with their particular issues.
Moreover, Dane, Michael, and I are going to bring “the voice of the channel partner” directly into our explorations of partner management execution. I’m sure you’re going to take away some valuable, actionable ideas for boosting your own channel strategy-to-execution map. Check it out:
Forrester’s Technology Sales Enablement Forum 2012
As mentioned in my last blog, I (Peter O'Neill) was at the Distree EMEA event last week and met with many executives from tech industry vendors and distributors. I also swapped impressions about market trends with colleagues in other research organizations, such as Context, GfK, IDC, and Regent.
The most discussed section of my keynote presentation was “Apple takes a bite at B2B business,” where I quoted research from my illustrious colleague Frank E. Gillett. I said that Apple had an 8% share of new “corporate PCs” in 2011, which we predict will grow to 13% in 2013. Apparently, many vendors and distributors haven’t noticed this: They aren’t getting the same message from their usual research providers. Later in the week, I listened to such a presentation in which it was reported that “the PC market slowed in 2011 but will pick up again in 2012.” Another researcher made a similar observation in his presentation. No mentioned of any new vendors or devices: “Not significant” was the tenor.
As part of Forrester’s research into sales enablement, I recently took a journey to “plumb the depths” of sales battle cards. Why?
Sales reps at technology companies tell Forrester that they must understand their competitors if so that they can outmaneuver them during the sales cycle; but, these same sales professionals tell Forrester that, despite the best efforts of product managers, competitive teams, and sales operations, current battle cards are not consistent, instrumental tools that help win more deals.
And thus, my journey into battle cards begins.
During my career, I’ve worked in competitive intelligence at two technology companies, so I already had some strong opinions about battle cards. I tried to set my own views aside, though, and adopted Forrester’s methods of developing a hypothesis and interviewing professionals in the industry.
My initial research looked at the “thing” called a battle card – the layout, structure, and content with the goal of building battle cards that helped sales reps address competitive issues during customer conversations. While testing some really good ideas that came out of the interviews, I could see that the improved battle cards still weren’t enough to meet our objective – routinely helping reps win more deals.
I turned my attention to the “process” of building battle cards – specifically, how sales enablement professionals identify the competitive issues that merit battle cards, how they work with product managers and marketing teams to create the content for battle cards, and how they deliver battle cards to sales reps. While testing some really good process ideas that came out of the interviews, I could see that even when the groups creating battle cards actively work with sales, their points of view and professional skills are so different, that they miss important details.
Peter O'Neill here. I’ve been invited to speak, again, at the annual Distree EMEA event in Monte Carlo next week. Now in its tenth year, Distree gathers together top executives from tech industry vendors and distributors plus, in recent years, retailers from around EMEA for three days that include a trade show, presentation sessions, and meetings to discuss industry-specific channel topics. The 2011 event drew 950 delegates from 127 tech vendors and over 400 distributors. One of the event highlights for everybody is a process to request and set up formal one-on-one meetings between the various players, similar to our own one-on-one sessions at the Forrester Forums (only their software is better). A total of 5,000 such sessions are scheduled: some at tables in larger rooms around the trade show, many others in private meeting rooms elsewhere in the conference center. I still have some slots open for those of you who are interested and are going to the event.
My keynote presentation continues on from my speech last year (still being watched on YouTube, I am told) where I described what changes we see happening in the channel due to recent industry trends. The title is "The Emerging Engagement Channel Model” and leans heavily on Tim Harmon’s October reports with his permission. I will discuss the effect of industry trends such as cloud, consumerization of IT, app stores, and “Apple takes a bite at B2B business” (see below for the agenda).
Peter O'Neill here. My first report on content management came out last week and it has already generated several conversations – please keep those comments and inquiry requests coming. Content management was also a significant part of a one-day workshop I delivered to a client in Lisbon last week. They offer eProcurement and eMarketing software-as-a-service. So an interesting discussion we had was, “Do you need different content as a SaaS provider compared to a product vendor?” We concluded that the information would be the same, but the sense of urgency about delivering digital content to a SaaS audience is greater than a more conventional buyer community, which changes the content style and vehicles. This question is on my 2012 research calendar and will be the basis for a report later in the year, so I would love to hear your opinions on that one.
Well, it finally got published by Forrester! Peter O'Neill here and my long-promised overview of lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) vendors "Made in Europe" got out last week. We were delayed because I had to wait for my US colleague to publish on some of our research ideas on L2RM automation in her introductory report, to which I refer in my report - and she had to negotiate her text around the wishful thinking of around 45 different vendors, all of whom have their own view of a L2RM architecture. That meant that my research done in the summer of this year may look a little out of date. But I fully expect to be able to update this report for Q2 2012 in response to many other European software vendors briefing me on their experience with tech marketing customers.
Anyway, without any further ado, here is the list of European vendors I did feature. The report goes into more detail, of course, on each vendor. I have also included a list of those North American L2RM automaton vendors who have offices in Europe.
My first job, writes Peter O'Neill, after university was as a business analyst at Ford Motor Company, assisting an executive who sat on the monthly Project Appropriation Committee (PAC) where investments were approved. I learned to calculate the time-averaged rate of return and net present value for a project, proving it was better to invest in it than keeping the money in the bank. My executive ran an organization called General Services, which in those days (1978) included generating our own electricity within the factory complex in Dagenham, England. Now they take their power from the national grid and the generating plant is no more.
Now this is not a discussion of cloud computing and where enterprise IT will end up. What I most remember from those monthly PAC briefing books at Ford was the marketing project submissions. They also had documented TARR and NPV numbers. They would predict that by investing a sum of money in a promotional campaign (e.g., a special car model, dealer incentive, discounts), their market share would go up by, say, 0.7 percentage points – Ford was the UK market share leader in those days at around 30%, selling mostly company cars to businesses. I often checked out whether or not the predicted market share change actually happened and it mostly did – marketing was able to quantify its contribution very well indeed.
Peter O'Neill here. I took advantage of an invitation to dine with around 15 CIOs this week in Frankfurt and our topic of conversation was “Managing The Online Customer Journey.” This is the regular event organized by CIO Magazine, and I go along, calendar permitting, when I am invited to present or if the topic interests me. In this case, my fascination was to hear what these CIOs think about the prevailing trends of IT consumerization and social media.
But I was most interested in their ideas on how marketing aligns with the IT organization; a concept that I’ve encountered a lot recently in my engagements with tech marketers as well as working with tech automation vendors in their go-to-market activities. Forrester has published a lot on this recently, led by my illustrious colleagues Nigel Fenwick and Luca Paderni who serve the CIO and CMO, respectively.
My fascination with the topic is that I see a new business opportunity for savvy systems integrators. I am calling it the “emerging digital marketing service provider,” and I will focus my next Forrester Teleconference on this observation next week. That provider will need to be tooled with marketing creative skills plus IT skills and services and it will sell to the CMO and CIO equally: a new market coming together out of the marketing budget and the IT budget, as the figure shows.