When I first entered the telco/service provider world of data center services, we would proudly offer our solutions based on the unique mix of technology we could support. Our go to market was centered around brand names. Following on, there was a time not so long ago (meaning many still do it today) when we moved away from the brand dropping towards a simple formula Feature /Function/ Benefit when selling to a potential customer. Strides in technology supported making the case for purchase by providing an amazing, never before seen, list of features and all the amazing benefits provided by them. Flash! It goes fast!
Selling then evolved to “solution selling” or bundling products and services together to make it easier to buy the whole, fully assembled enchilada versus putting it together ingredient by ingredient.
Next, customers and prospects started doing their own research in advance, before they ever took phone call or came to a meeting. The proliferation of information accessible via the Internet changed the entire buying process. Advantage: customer. When you add mobility into the mix, they’re off and running!
In reaction to this, we have seen another change to focusing more on “the result”. Be more agile, get to market faster, and my personal favorite – save money. However, most vendors tout many of the same features, solutions, and results. Now what? How to differentiate going forward?
Eventually, sellers came to realize that customers don’t buy products, they buy value or utility as Peter Drucker would say. Your customer or prospect will ask “what’s it going to do for me?” To be redundant on this point because it is important, Ted Levitt, Harvard professor, said in the 1970’s “People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”
Today, successful engagement with your customers needs to focus on the specific business outcomes to be achieved when your services are purchased. For example, brick and mortar bank goes from having 12-18 code releases per year to more than a 1000/month enabling them to compete with new mobile based banking applications.
So, this is the long version of a simple story that you can see here -- a fun animation I created because sometimes, simple, easy pictures are enough to drive change that will build a larger and more qualified pipeline leading to improved close rates. It’s about results.
Fueled by NetApp is a free program helping service providers maximize their return on investment through go to market guidance and support. We focus on the business side of IT.
Mara McMahon is the Head of Partner and Service Provider Go-to-Market at NetApp delivered through the Fueled by NetApp program. She is a service provider expert in GTM activities with a maniacal focus on maximizing return on investment from infrastructure assets. Mara serves as a business consultant to partners and service providers across the globe through the Fueled by NetApp program which is a free service designed to ensure the desired business outcomes resulting from NetApp technology purchase are achieved. Mara has been working at NetApp (formerly SolidFire) for over five years and prior to SolidFire/NetApp, spent a number of years in product marketing and product management at a variety of service providers around the world including Cable & Wireless, SAVVIS, Verizon and Tata Communications. She has over 20 years’ experience working in executive, Product Management and Product Marketing roles. Mara has a BS from Wittenberg University and an MBA in marketing from The Kogod School of Business, American University. Mara looks forward to working with you in maximizing your ROI.
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