Technology isn’t the problem — managing user expectations is the real challenge for IT professionals, says Mike Bosworth, bestselling author of the books Solution Selling and CustomerCentric Selling.
San Diego-based Bosworth, who is visiting New Zealand next week to hold a series of one-day workshops in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch on technology solution selling, says IT vendors and IT managers have more in common than they realise.
“Even in 2004 there is still a huge amount of missed expectations by C-level executives about IT systems but it’s more an expectation problem than a technology issue,” Bosworth says.
“It leaves CIOs in the lurch because senior executives have unrealistic expectations about what IT systems can achieve because of what vendors have told them.”
According to Bosworth, IT vendor sales staff need to be willing to “help customers solve problems or be willing to leave” and that “IT marketing is mostly irrelevant”.
“What does most marketing do to assist the typical 28-year-old sales person talk to a senior IT manager? Smart marketing people are starting to figure this out and change, so we’re now seeing ‘sales ready messaging’ being incorporated into marketing," he says.
“This is exactly what CIOs and IT managers need to do with their users — it’s the same as the ‘new marketing’ — it’s about getting your message across and managing expectations.”
Technology startups could also do much to alleviate the challenge of ‘crossing the chasm’ and moving from startup mode to stable growth if they adopted this approach, Bosworth says.
“The traditional sales and marketing approach of startups is to get some PR, do some whitepapers and go to the right tradeshows. They think they’re selling but they’re not — they’re just order taking from the innovators and early adopters — the early market buys as soon as it makes sense to them.
“It takes most startups 9–18 months to figure out 'the chasm' and typically in the technology industry you only have 18 months' maximum lead time. If startups took the time to develop their message so the mainstream market understood it, they could influence the shape of that customer bell curve,” Bosworth says.
The Bosworth workshop series is sponsored by IBM, Computerworld, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and The Hi-Growth Project. The series has been organised by Software New Zealand.