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From Seller to Buyer: Rethinking the Process

February 20, 2023 - 6 min read

As the year begins, I’m thinking about which sales approach for cloud or SECaaS offerings will be most successful in 2023. Considering the macroeconomic climate, I believe it is crucial for sales success to initiate a ‘rethink’ in the direction of the purchasing process. The classic sales process still focuses too much on the requirements of the selling company. It is much more important to put yourself in the buyer's shoes.

If you look at the customer's purchasing process, you can offer the required support when a deal is approved. The business value assessment of a solution approach will play a much greater role in supporting the purchasing team in 2023. Thus, my appeal: we must all understand how to better convey the value-added contribution of a solution approach in the coming year. The following factors play a role.

Technical functionality meets psychology

At the beginning, the IT team starts with the technical validation of a solution. As a rule, the company has its own use cases in mind, on the basis of which the technical functionality of a potential new product or service is put through its paces. This is the biggest step in the transformation from hardware-based solutions to cloud services. It is important to understand the pain of the prospect caused by the management and troubleshooting of existing technologies, and to position the advantages of a cloud approach accordingly. The use cases usually show the way to a restructuring of applications, network, and security.

However, if the use cases require the replacement of hardware by a service model, other factors can influence the decision. Fears and worries arise among IT employees, which should be treated separately from the actual functionality of a solution approach. For example, it is often the IT team that fears sawing off its own branch if a service model makes the management tasks of hardware obsolete. If these fears get out of hand, there is a risk that the advantages of superior functionality will fall behind.

In addition to all the advantages of the actual functionality, holistic transformation should also be carried out on a psychological level at the same time in order to convince the decision-makers of the change. Often, by relieving administrative tasks in hardware management, the upcoming projects of the IT department can be reprioritized. So it's not about reducing manpower, but about redistributing resources to higher-level areas of responsibility in IT teams that are already overloaded. Since projects often have to be postponed due to the shortage of IT specialists, disclosing the opportunity costs can contribute to decision-making.

Technology and cost-effectiveness in harmony

In the decision-making process, however, and considering the current economic climate, the performance audit of a solution approach will be of greater importance. Even if the evaluated solution is technically convincing, other factors are essential to actually complete the purchasing process. The high prioritization of a transformation plays just as important a role as the business case. Because if something technically meets the requirements, but the cost-effectiveness is not convincing, an implementation can still fail. That's why many potential decision-makers want to understand whether it makes economic sense to use a solution.

This is where a business value analysis helps. For this purpose, various decision criteria are used, which make it clear that non-technical benefits also play a major role. For example, productivity advantages can have a positive effect and, with the help of a new solution approach, also improve the user experience. Employees who are satisfied with the technical equipment of their workplace will be less likely to turn their backs on their company. Another scenario is the merging of IT landscapes in the process of a merger or acquisition. Here, a speed advantage in accessing required data ensures shortened time-to-value.

In the decision-making process, however, most CIOs primarily have savings in the purchasing and maintenance area in mind, so it may be beneficial to show them the less obvious opportunity costs. For the IT manager, saving costs means first and foremost replacing existing technologies with more modern, cost-effective approaches. For the CIO, cost savings are expressed through the simplification of architecture and reduced administrative overhead. For example, by consolidating legacy systems through a platform approach that takes on a wide range of tasks in a highly integrated manner. Similarly, management time can be reduced through standardization. For example, if ransomware detection, data loss prevention, and package filtering are covered by a single platform instead of multiple products, this also ensures remote access for an increasingly mobile workforce and also helps troubleshoot performance issues based on defined policies.

The need for greater safety efficiency

Investment in cybersecurity has never been as high as it is today, which is not surprising given the negative headlines from compromised companies. The issue of security also affects the financial decision-maker, because in the event of a successful attack, a company may incur high costs for the restoration of IT systems or even ransom demands. It should therefore be in the interest of the financial decision-maker to be convinced by key figures on preventive security versus reactive security. However, increasing security pressures does not automatically mean that organizations are willing to modernize their security approaches without a thorough evaluation.

However, it is the technical aspects that need to be translated into the language of CFOs and company management. This level is more in line with the background of a holistic IT transformation toward the digitization of business models. That's why they need to be convinced of how applications and services in the cloud go hand in hand with network and security transformation. It is important to communicate how ransomware, supply chain attacks and other sophisticated threats in IT landscapes cause security breaches.

Companies need to be made aware of their new attack surfaces, which can arise from hybrid workplace models as well as workloads in the cloud, if vulnerabilities and security gaps are not detected in the implementation phase. All infrastructures that can be found on the internet are a potential security risk. Because of this threat, zero trust has made itself heard as a new security approach that helps to reduce the attack surface and also supports the transformation of infrastructures and working environments.

Transformation starts with making benefits transparent

A full transformation of the IT infrastructure and corporate structure must make its benefits known at all levels of the purchasing process. If it is possible to link the acquisition with existing cloud transformation projects, the added value can also be communicated to the financial decision maker. In many cases, the course has already been set for the transformation to the cloud, without the smooth and secure path to it having already been paved.

Greater agility, a simplification of the infrastructure with reduced maintenance costs, and business growth are, in addition to the pure technology costs, a convincing argument to get future-oriented solutions also financed. The purchasing process should be geared to all these factors, as this is the only way to create the sound basis on which companies make their decisions today.

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