Every company in the technology industry has a transformation in front of them. At TSIA, we’re seeing incredible patterns emerge in how companies are tackling this transformation, but especially when it comes to sales.

Everyone within a tech organization is directly impacted by what a sales transformation is going to look like and what the end-state will be. One thing that’s emerging as a critical success factor is Sales’ ability to deliver a quality subscription deal. That’s why it’s so important for Sales to have a clear path to successful transformation in their pre-sales processes that can lead to better, more profitable deals.

Pilots have a pre-flight checklist, surgeons have a pre-surgery checklist, so why doesn’t Sales have a checklist for how to identify, develop, and close high-quality deals that will easily lead to adoption, expansion and renewal? This is what inspired us to create one. I’m proud to announce the TSIA Checklist for Success, which your company can use to improve and transform your pre-sales processes for future growth and profitability.

3 Things You Need to Achieve High Growth and Profits

In the good old days of tech, you could grow and be profitable at the same time, but we’ve somehow turned into an industry where we find ourselves having to choose between growth or profits.

But, in order to achieve the high growth and high profits you’re looking for, there are three things you need to do first:

  • Have a cloud-first portfolio that aligns to business value or customer outcomes and is built to enable to the LAER life cycle engagement model. This can help drive not only contract signings (land), but adoption, expansion, and renewal
  • You need to have the ability to sell it, and you and your channel partners need to be able to talk to the technical buyers and emerging line of business buyers who are playing an increasingly critical role in deciding where tech investments are made
  • You need to be able to deliver these profitably

6 Reasons Why Sales Needs to Transform

For companies looking to transform to a subscription-based business model, there’s a lot of worry surrounding this journey. The reason for this is that there’s a lot riding on the risk of failure. One clear failure point is a pre-sales process that is not XaaS ready. It can and will negatively impact the growth and profitability of deals. If this happens too frequently, it can result in a major setback to the entire organizational transformation process.  And that’s not good for your stock price!

While there’s growing awareness among the leaders of the company that transforming sales motions is the right thing to do, the challenge most Sales organizations face is that there is a delay in is achieving cross-organizational alignment.

To help achieve that alignment, here are 6 things that we know to be true at TSIA and everyone in your company should be aware of:

  1. Subscription offers (XaaS) are where the growth is, growing 8x faster than the industry overall
  2. Sales spending the majority of their time chasing endless RFPs into the ground is not a winning strategy. It’s nearly 40% more productive for Sales to be proactive, getting to customers early by selling business outcome concepts that advance the customer’s thinking
  3. New supplier goals look different than they did in the past. You have to convey the best outcome vision for the customer, accelerate time-to-value, engineer out the complexity, and be the supplier who is the most proactive and responsible for delivering the outcome
  4. Life cycle selling is different. In order to monetize a customer solution successfully over the life cycle of that solution, you have to not only land it, you also have to drive adoption, expansion, and renewal
  5. Effective adoption is what drives expansion and renewal.  It can reduce the overall sales cost of the company
  6. The quality of the sale or the deal matters deeply. If you don’t have a customer who’s willing to do on their end what they need to be successful and they have a high likelihood of non-expansion and non-renewal, that’s not a deal you should be taking

The TSIA Checklist for Success was created specifically to help you solve challenges around the last bold point by focusing on the transformation that needs to happen in your pre-sales process. The harsh reality is that not every sales opportunity is a good one. This is especially true in subscription-based business models where success is dependent on contract renewals the recurring revenue that comes with them.

That’s why it’s critical that you align your organization on all pre-sales activities in order to identify, develop, and close those higher quality deals that will translate to overall business success. That alignment involves Sales, Services, and even Product Management.  But first, you have to know what a quality deal looks like.

What Does A Quality Deal Look Like?

When we were a transaction-oriented industry, definition of a successful deal was easy: is the product fully operational? “Is it “live”?  If it’s broke, can we fix it inside our SLA?” That was success. But Information Week says the product is only 20% of the formula for success; the bulk of the task is aligning the customer’s people and processes to the projected outcomes. If it takes more than just operating technology to make customers successful, where does that journey begin?

The customer information that is collected, the discussions that take place, and the agreements that are reached during pre-sales (land) phase is probably the most single important task that we have to ask our salespeople to do. That is because it is the pieces of information that are uncovered in the land phase of the sales process that directly drive the success of adoption, expansion, and renewal activities. In short, the conditions for overall success start in pre-sales.

The pieces of information that are uncovered in the land phase of the sales process directly drive the success of adoption, expansion, and renewal activities.

Questions for the Seller

I get it, salespeople don’t like to have extra conversations. But finding the answers to the below questions can better pave the way to a deal that is set up for success from the very beginning.

  • Did you write down the customer’s business outcome anywhere?
  • Does the customer understand everything they bought and why they bought it?
  • Did you review the complete services portfolio with the customer?
  • Did you propose our standard solution or an unnecessary amount of customization?
  • Are there important process changes required at the customer?
  • Who are you onboarding?
  • Will the customer pay to train the end-users?
  • Do you have an agreed upon subscription start date?

This type of knowledge can be gathered during natural places within pre-sales discussions, and each piece of information has value. For example, this info can help you:

  • Improve your renewal rates by 2 points
  • Reduce implementation time by 3 weeks
  • Reduce customer success labor costs and time spent figuring out who will do the onboarding

By assigning value to this information, you also offset the cost of collecting the info. But as a tip, you’re going to have to start by putting incentives in front of Sales to collect this info, as well as buy tools to house the knowledge you gather.

About the TSIA Checklist for Success

In the spirit of pre-flight and pre-surgery checklists, we’ve set out to write down all the customer conversations and agreements that we would like to come out of the pre-sales process to help the adopt, expand, and renew processes go a lot smoother.

Every research expert at TSIA shared their ideal scenario of what would happen during pre-sales conversations, what the customer should be made aware of, and what info should be collected, and we gathered it into one document called the TSIA Checklist for Success. Everybody who participates in the sales process prior to contract signature can use this checklist to:

  • Help optimize the customer’s business outcome
  • Improve probability and reduce required effort to deliver value
  • Accelerate time to value for customer
  • Ensure the smooth and productive operation of the LAER customer life cycle
  • Create a better partnership between all parties involved in the deal (Sales, Implementation, Services, Success, Partner, and the customer)

It’s designed to be used by the customer with Sales/Services/Partners throughout the pre-sales process.

And yes, it is long, which can seem like a difficult thing to present to your Sales team, but I promise that whatever you end up paying in terms of incentives and systems to use this checklist will be paid back 10x or more in better deals. Even starting off by implementing just 10 of the checklist items into your pre-sales process and adding more as you go can put you on the right path toward landing better quality deals.

At the end of the day, not every deal is a good one worth pursuing. We want our salespeople to spend their time and energy working on quality deals that are going to be responsive to the adopt, expand, and renew life cycle that consistently deliver value to the customer. This will in turn lead to you and your organization achieving growth and profits.

The TSIA Checklist for Success is available for download here for free. Reach out to us to let us know your thoughts, how you’re using it, and what the results have been once you have some experience with it. We’d love to hear from you!

 

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J.B. Wood

About J.B. Wood

J.B. Wood is president and CEO of TSIA. He is a frequent industry speaker and author of the popular books, Complexity Avalanche (2009), Consumption Economics (2011), B4B (2013), and Technology-as-a-Service Playbook: How to Grow a Profitable Subscription Business (2016), and has appeared in leading publications, such as Fortune, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. He works with the world's largest technology companies on strategies to extend their innovation platform beyond the lab and into the customer experience, particularly in the age of cloud and managed services.

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