Traditional go-to-market strategies are no longer working in today’s digital-first world. In this free course from Acceleration Economy Advisory Services, Acceleration Economy practitioner analysts Tony Uphoff and Scott Vaughn discuss the disconnect between today’s buyers and sellers and how to get this critical business relationship unstuck.
In this second part of the series, Tony and Scott offer some strategies and tactics for business leaders looking to purchase technology in what can be an overwhelming market.
Gain insight into the way Bob Evans builds and updates the Cloud Wars Top 10 ranking, as well as how C-suite executives use the list to inform strategic cloud purchase decisions. That’s available exclusively through the Acceleration Economy Cloud Wars Top 10 Course.
00:48 — In the first episode, Tony and Scott focused on how and why the business purchase process has changed so profoundly. They identified several dynamics driving the growing disconnect between buyer and seller. These dynamics include the expansion of the buying committee; the fast pace of technological change; and communication challenges with nontechnical business leaders.
01:43 —This episode’s focus is on how business tech leaders can navigate buying complexity and work with vendors to make smarter decisions. Tony often hears from technology CEOs that the problem is sales, sales reps, or a matter of marketing budget. “Oh, but the world was that simple,” says Tony. “It’s certainly not that simple,” Scott agrees.
03:12 — A lot of business technology leaders aren’t professional buyers, especially in complex environments. They’re a member of a team, and they don’t always have the full picture.
03:54 — Tony points out that when they talk about “a complex purchase process,” most people think what they’re describing is the challenge for sales; but they’re really talking about the complexity the buyer feels. Scott says artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are great examples of how fast and complex things get.
05:15 — To level up, you must establish within an organization processes for how to approach a considered purchase. That way you don’t just have one professional procurement, but everybody gets better and more savvy about how to approach that purchase. You need to define roles and processes to stakeholders. Ask who needs to be at the table and what role they can play.
07:10 — It makes Tony think of board work and board governance. On a well-run board, when you’re brought on as a board member, there are very clear expectations spelled out for you. There’s clarity around roles and responsibilities. Some companies have flavors of this going on, but are not as disciplined, Scott says. It can be so chaotic that you have to put some structure around it.
08:48 — Circling back to complexity and pace, Scott hears a lot about “FOMU” or the “fear of messing up.” You want to incentivize the teams to be able to take some risks and chances. Because otherwise, you have these considered purchases that can now take well over 12-18 months.
09:50 — Tony hadn’t heard of FOMU before, but he’s lived it. He literally can’t have a conversation with business leaders where generative AI doesn’t come up. But with things moving so fast, he gets FOMU from a lot of them. They’re thinking “pioneers get arrows in the back.”
11:05 — If someone is a profit and loss (P&L) holder, they might feel “I’ve got enough risk…I’ve got to hit that P&L.” It’s a lot to then hear that they’re supposed to take on some responsibility for technology and that some of that technology is expensive and risky. Scott says if you sit in any of those rooms, you might be thinking, “There’s 12 people in here. I’ll multitask and play my role.” Company leadership has to fight that. That’s where the rewards and incentives come into play.
12:17 — Scott says to also lean on vendors and providers. You have to get them involved early enough to help you look for the “gotchas.” Yes, they’re gonna probably biased a little bit toward the products they are selling. But don’t keep them in the dark, as if you’ve got a secret card hand you’re holding.
13:08 — Tony did a piece recently in response to many business leaders who grew up in nontechnical paths wanting a framework for which vendors to meet with. These leaders may be CEOs or CMOs, but don’t understand the technology at the level that CIOs or CTOs might. Tony has learned more about specific technologies by meeting with individual vendors than by meeting with internal teams. And yeah, once in a while, he did have to be willing “to get beat about the head and face with a sales pitch.”
14:31 — Tony knows Scott is including the partners ecosystem in there as well as the technology vendor. Scott says they may introduce you to someone in their ecosystem, but that’s where you play roles. We want our best technical minds at the table thinking about that angle. We want the business leaders savvy on what’s possible, and we want some of the operational leaders thinking about process and risk mitigation.
15:09 — If the leadership of the company doesn’t have some kind of structure for these considered purchases, then you’re really going to be lost. Today, because there’s so much more on the line, you don’t want to go into the innovation prevention business, either.
16:12 — Scott once asked himself, “What if I was a vendor, and actually handed them a best practices guide to adopting their technology?” That way, you get extra points as a vendor, but you’re also helping that team organize for success.
17:24 — Tony says, as a seller, you’re going to be involved in more successful and unsuccessful implementations of your product or service than any single buyer ever could have. You can take that knowledge and say, “Hey, we’ve analyzed 1000, successful implementations and looked at some unsuccessful ones. Here’s what we learned.”
18:24 — “Things that can be implemented and molded for me as a buying organization, as the customer, that’s going to be pretty powerful,” Scott says, “And I think that is a differentiator.”
19:18 — Scott and Tony have framed out some things that maybe some companies are doing, but it’s likely a lot of companies are not. Every company has become a technology company. That means those who have not historically been involved in technology purchasing must rethink this.
19:41— In the upcoming third episode, Tony and Scott will outline strategies and ideas for vendors to change how they work with prospects and customers in a digital-first world.