One of my favourite restaurants in Hong Kong is Aziza.
It's small (12 covers), family-run, serving delicious Egyptian food. They do more than 1 thing on their menu, and off their menu, really, really well. Consistently. Their service is 5-star - not by top Michelin standards, but by my own, and by those of the dozen others who patronise it nightly, almost religiously. And there's always a line waiting to get in, but who actually get turned away. Yup, turns out the owner doesn't think it's cool to pressure existing diners or to make people stand in line waiting hungrily.
It's not any 1 thing that makes Aziza my favourite restaurant. It's the sum of individual parts working together. The food is great of course, but beyond that, the conversation is unhurried, personal and we always pick up from where we left off. I don't just know the person who takes my order (usually the son) - I know everyone else in the kitchen as well. And they know me. The food comes just as I like it, sometimes with an extra portion thrown in knowingly. They know the dips I prefer. They are my vicarious window to a country and culture I haven't yet had a chance to visit.
Everything about it, is about ME, the customer. I love it. Wouldn't you?
Enterprise software companies are quite different of course...right? I mean, it's software (not food - taking nothing away from the complexity of a chef's job!). It usually either works or it doesn't, unlike food that can taste a little differently each time depending on the chef. It's all on the cloud, so there's minimal if any interaction with service staff (or the owner and "kitchen" team). The free stuff is built-in to your monthly/annual contract. Ambience? What ambience?
But what if we saw enterprise software companies and solutions through the same lens as we did our favourite restaurants? It's not that crazy a thought. Bear with me.
We do use their solutions more frequently - sometimes multiple times a day! Don't we love those that have multiple, intuitively-linked and integrated solutions with a great user interface to boot?
In terms of sales and marketing, just as there are many competing restaurants for the same cuisine, the competitive landscape is crowded for enterprise software too. Consumers have a choice. Increasingly so. Then there's thing called social media: just as you'd use Yelp, Instagram, Twitter or something similar to post about how good/bad/ugly your last meal at a restaurant was, there's nothing stopping your enterprise clients' employees from waxing lyrical or giving stick about your solutions on social.
Here's the thing though: we can stop going to our favourite restaurant if it's having "sales execution problems" i.e. the food and service sucks. But you can't as easily get out of enterprise contracts at short notice, nor can you ignore the work that needs to get done. Ultimately you still need to eat.
Customers are forgiving; one bad dish on a couple of occasions can be easily forgiven with apologies and appropriate reparations in the restaurant context. In the enterprise software business, it really isn't so easy I suppose.
Think about it: you've written up those white-papers padded with appropriate statistics on why you're the best. So have your competitors, by the way. You've run those ads and campaigns, and consequently sunk a tonne of money into customer acquisition. So has everyone else. Your sales and marketing teams are hitting the road Jack, prospecting, emailing and ABM-ing so that quotas for both new signups and upselling can be achieved.
Meanwhile, the products have become complex; maybe too complex for your clients needs? And they no longer work as promised. Maybe this is what "sales execution problems"is really referring to?
And to make things worse, right under your nose, B2B sales processes have become more complex. More decision makers are involved (between 8-10, according to Gartner), lengthening the decision-making process. B2B buyers are spending up to 80% of their time not talking to you, and instead doing research on their problem.
What has any of this got to do with Aziza and favourite restaurants?
"Sales execution problems" are NOT about:
- the "complexity" of offering 2 products instead of just 1; or
- "longer sales cycles"; or
- "the complexities of dealing with large enterprises while at the same time trying to meet the demands of public market investors"; or
- change in business models from subscription to on-demand.
There are few things more complex than offering a menu with dozens of dishes, in combination with each other, to the widest range of consumers possible, ensuring consistent output and quality day-in and day-out, AND to keep customers coming back. Remember F&B is as different as can be from an algorithm.
But that's really not the point.
If you're having "sales execution problems", it's because you're not meeting the needs of your customers in a unique, meaningful and sustainable way. It's not a novel concept - ask your favourite restaurant.
From product functionality to PR, and solution features to sales, if you're not building relationships and trust, and if you're not helping your buyer solve their problems and fulfil their needs, then you're just another one of the hundreds of enterprise cloud solution providers out there, probably paying to acquire market share.
And that's exactly how customers will treat you.
There's been a new game in town for some time. You could ignore it, sure.
But, it has been said the average person spends more than 35 minutes on different social platforms daily. That's more than 200 hours per annum. Time wasted, or time invested? Depends on your perspective.
By the way, these are the exact same people working within your enterprise clients and using your products and solutions. These are the same people who are part of the B2B buying and decision-making teams. These are the same people who are spending their time researching their pain points, long before they contact you, or sit in their meetings brainstorming for new solutions.
Above all, these are the same people as you and I. We all have our favourite restaurants. We all generally appreciate and value strong relationships with the brands we use, and especially the restaurants we enjoy dining at. The strength trust we have directly correlates to how well we know, and are known by, the product and service providers that we use.
Excuse me while I make my dinner reservation at Aziza for tonight...
At DLA Ignite, we work in the world of sales and marketing transformation and we enable you to do more for less. It's as simple as that. Sales teams will get 30% more revenue for less work.
We have a tried and tested methodology; we hold your hand throughout, ensuring we not only 'teach' you what to do, we also make sure it's firmly embedded into your firm's DNA.
We don't do retainers, we are not an agency that creates and produces copy/content or sells ads for you.
We are active 'practitioners' of what we do. We already know and can evidence the ROI of a robust and internally aligned 'Social' strategy.
Part of that evidence it that you are reading this blog, just like many others - including your competitor!
It’s become a familiar theme among cloud software companies in recent weeks. Longer sales cycles and difficulty in sales execution were themes that popped up in earnings calls from Box, Zuora, Cloudera and Pivotal Software as well.