Challenger Sale Workshop

I have assisted during the last month to this workshop that was so much useful to learn about the purchase life-cycle and the way to focus the messages.

An useful place to look into documentation is here.

The main topic we have been working on is the elements to construct the sales message with respect the emotional level of the customer and the evolution of the deal.

Commercial Teaching pitch

SAP Business ByDesign

I have had the opportunity during these last weeks to work on a proposal around this solution. This solution is the cloud based ERP for mid-size market, apparently in competition with MS-Dynamics AX solution.

Some aspects I would like to remind are:

1.- The Business by Design Configurator tool,

The tool is very intuitive and you gain good global understanding about the modules and business packages that compose the solution. I miss to see a map of interdependency between modules or processes.

2.- SDK + SAP Store. This initiative is clearly focused to enable that the own market generates their own specific solutions and they also can offer in this store. SAP is not betting about what is the right direction of each module, they work under the Darwin principle where they enable the community to create their own solutions, just the best ones will survive.

3.- Estimation tool. The tool probably is so nice, but the assumptions considered for this approach are not realistic. The only conclusion I obtain is that this will be more budget than they comment. I think the only way to understand the costs is to go through the real purchasing process, as the same way you do when buy a flight ticket.

4.- There is not clear figures about the availability, redundancy… and other operational factors that enable me to understand what I’m trying to purchase. I have not either found the storage available.

5.- I work for a Manufacturing client, and reviewing the specific requirements, I have not been able to find the module/s that cover the “plant maintenance” functionality.

6.- Looking for information in Linkedin groups, I found there is a lot of people looking for pre-sales experts.

Certainly analysis

Every business decision, without exception is a gamble. We choose to invest money and time in the hope that the investment will provide a return greater than our investment.

There are 2 type of gamblers: does who calculate the odds, and does who don’t.

On a typical business case, you calculate the costs, the benefit, list the risks and use the intuition to decide to go or not to go.

Intuition cannot be replaced and it’s a necessary component. But the lack of the uncertainly analysis makes that the decision makers does not have a clear where a specific business case fits on the other business cases of your portfolio.

This certainly analysis is a complex exercise which purpose is to know is the probability of the benefits being less than the costs.

For a given opportunity this exercise is necessary to know the probability of success you have. For a given portfolio, this analysis is essential to know the exposure you have.

FEL phase, assessment exercise, project initiation

Some ones call it project initiation, some others assessment exercise or project, some others FEL phase. In any case it’s related to the study, analysis of a business initiative that wants to be translated to IT activities, organizational actions, investment with the purpose of obtaining business value.

Since 2 years ago I have been hardly participating and proposing some of these exercises, in fact now I’m facing 2 more of them.

These exercises are very different: their nature, their size, the organization, the activities.

With respect the nature.

  1. Some of them comes from a new business process generated internally in the department and that turns into a proven process that requires to be supported by an IT system because the manual work is not enough.
  2. Some others comes because the platform where these processes are implemented are obsolete or they are going to reach the end of the lifecycle.
  3. The third source of these FEL-phases (I have one of them now) is related to the environment for small data size was Ok, but there is new data volumes coming and the existing architecture is not able to gather all these new volumes. This is easy in some way because the functionality is clear.

With respect the size, as it’s my reality.

  1. Big size, they take 2 or 3 months to complete the complete set of activities. In our case there is a extreme big implication of the customer.
  2. Medium size, they take around 4 to 6 weeks: prepare workshops, celebrate them, gather requirements make decisions and complete the documentation. Decisions come later.
  3. Small size, 2 weeks of work for an specific part of a major assessment managed by the customer and participating in a bigger project team providing specific expertise.

Major activities we use to perform during these assessments:

  • Organize the project team
  • Prepare a proof of concept or a pilot
  • Gather requirements (functional and non-functional)
  • Define statements of work for the solutions
  • Do a benchmark study with some proven tools, doing a SWOT analysis and/or establishing relationship about how they fit into the requirements
  • Analyse specific products
  • Propose solution alternatives
  • Write down a project definition with the detailed efforts for the project.

I love this type of activities because they are so creative exercises; and at the same way I hate these activities because there is so much pressure on them to obtain the project behind them. That’s life!!

(Sierra Grazalema)

Business Needs, where are they?

During these last 2 months I have done 5 proposals, 3 business cases, and some presentations to the customer attending some potential needs they have.

The result? Zero contracts.

Last week an old database were causing problems on production due to a change on the amount of redundant users they now are enabling. We have a contract. I did a business case some years ago, but no answer from client.

I’m not going to stop doing my business cases and the consequent proposals. They are the result of an strategy and later or soon they will work. When? when the business processes fail.

This customer behaviour is becoming more intense since the 2008 turmoil, where the IT budgets were cut and the only business strategy on IT is to reduce TCO.

Unfortunately the target of my business cases are legacy applications that are waiting for a big bunch of dollar that replace them. So I’m waiting they fail and then, make some improvement on them.

Creating a value chain through the needs

Client has needs, the most important thing is detect the ones that they really are willing to invest on them.

For sure I have not that all that information. But there are ways to work on this.

If you get the 100% of these “needs”, the client is aware of some of them, but there are others that they are not aware.

Now I just want to focus on the “needs” they initially are not aware.

I work with the teams and the application owners of the client to understand how the things are going on, detect business improvements or productivity faults that could be improved.

Then I prepare a business case, trying to clarify the background and facts that make that the situation (is not right) could be improved. I know the minimum requirements they want for the E2E services they outsource, so to emphasize the need in these terms is not complicated. Try to demonstrate the ROI is sometimes complex, but at least I always add some figures in this area.

After a year in this position, I have done a dozen of these reports to the client. The result?

  • Direct benefits: poor, just 3 of them turned in new contract or a contract extension.
  • Indirect benefits: they are happy to see we take care of the situations, we point to the problems, and provide solutions in a pro-active way. They can make business decisions with this information or they can just wait for future when the problem really turn in a critical problem.

We delivered it!!!

I’m so happy now,

Yesterday we delivered a package about 32 kilos of papers that represent phisically the answer to the RFP we have been working since April.

Last 10 weeks have been amaizing, it’s the first time I have enrolled a work like this and it means that I have learnt a huge amount of things.

The total dedication to one exercise like this or other is something that I like instead of being the whole year doing the same thing or dedicated to a regular assignment. I prefer to have 100% of dedication to something during a period of time and then rest and do other things.

Stress?? :-) sure! Last day we were organizing the last details and we delivered 1 hour before the post office was closed!!! All was under control, je je 😀

PPM Tools

This post has help us to review the different solutions provided by the big vendors of PMO industry.

We do not provide a closed or software solution, what we provide is a customized solution compose by processes, people and tools.

Tools, this was one of the things that appeared in the SWOT analysis we performed. After that analysis I asked Fran to look for the different tools that we need to learn about and add them as alternatives when answering RFPs. The win/loss review after one proposal we loose determined that one of the weaknesses of the proposal was an inadequate toolset.

The analysis performed by Fran is very good, now we are closed to finish all the documentation of the Solution.

The important thing again is place the solution on real proposals to see if the solution is very good or if it’s not adequate. That’s the way to see if we are competitive or not.