Pat Bodin has an impressive pedigree. His career in Information Technology includes stints with Lockheed Martin and Turner Broadcasting (CNN). He also spent time early on with a small start-up known as Cisco before creating the acclaimed education and consulting company Firefly. Both a CPA and CCIE, his experiences have provided him with a 360 degree understanding of how customers, vendors and sales entrepreneurs drive business. Pat is now working with NetApp and Cisco field sales and partners to help them understand the biggest shift in purchasing power for IT vendors and why selling the old way is simply not going to cut it anymore.
What is Elevate?
Elevate is a series of workshops that Pat has created to help sales professionals understand how and why IT purchasing is changing. During these workshops, Pat delivers a clear picture of who the new buyers are and presents explicit steps on finding, engaging and elevating the business conversation with them to drive new pipeline. Pat is passionate about the opportunity this creates. Elevate teaches you to think differently, change your approach and tap into a wealth of new selling opportunities.
IT Spend is Increasing – Are You At the Table?
The good news is that IT spending is continuing to grow. Gartner forecasts that the worldwide IT spend will reach $3.8 trillion in 2014 and we expect to see over $42 billion TAM in converged infrastructure. That’s exciting growth. The challenge is that the buyer of all this new opportunity is different – according to Gartner, “By 2016, 80% of new IT investment will directly involve LOB execs, with LOB being lead decision makers more than 50% of the time.”
But while NetApp and Cisco celebrated approximately $1.2 billion of FlexPod sales in the past year, it’s still early in the game. We know our competitors are also seeing big sales numbers and positioning their organizations to capture the growing market share.
The bad news is that IT departments are seeing their budgets shrink. Traditional purchasers of data center and infrastructure technology have less money to spend as technology decisions and financial accountability shift to other departments and line of business leads.
So who is doing the spending and how do we get to them?
Delivering the Right Message to the Wrong Audience
Twenty or even ten years ago, senior management was less comfortable making IT decisions. As our population ages, new business leaders are emerging from a generation of people who grew up with computers and are knowledgeable about technology. Add to that the explosion of cloud-based applications available on demand and suddenly IT has less influence about what is being purchased and consumed throughout the enterprise.
Converged infrastructure presents a perfect opportunity to deliver the right message. The problem is we are delivering it to the wrong people. Pat explains, “When I talk to sales people and ask them who the line of business leads are, they immediately respond with CFO. Typically they think the LoB is somewhere in the “C” suite. That is not the case at all. The line of business is the team of people who are running the company. This means Development, Sales, Operations, Marketing and others. These are the people who need to react to market pressures, who understand how to build a business case that supports organizational change and who have money to invest in business transformation.”
Pat continues that while many of our competitors offer inferior converged infrastructure solutions, they have deep line of business relationships because they are already selling applications along with compute and storage. “Recently I read through all of our published case studies – and our competitor’s case studies as well. There was a big difference around the KPIs (key performance indicators). Our competitors’ solutions aren’t as good as ours but they are telling a better story.”
Broaden Who You Talk To and Broaden Your Sales
Shifting your sales strategy to connect with the line of business is exciting. This is typically a level above the IT department and is where we will see 50%-80% of the spending decisions being made. The application people are entrenched in the business and are involved in some pretty interesting conversations.
Business conversations tend to revolve around how to become more agile and efficient, enabling faster response to global market concerns. There is a lot of “thinking outside of the box” going on and the conversation naturally is able to drive to a highly measurable ROI.
Pat used the following example to illustrate his point. “There was a large oil and gas company I was recently working with. They are investing in SAP. When you think of SAP you think of millions of dollars in software, hardware and services and you would be right. You also think IT is going to be a key player in the decision and the roll-out. That is where you are wrong. For this client, the Line of Business owns everything. The SAP project is siloed away from the remainder of the enterprise. IT have no involvement, visibility or touch-point into either the project or the on-going management and support of the solution.”
Focus on Solving the Business Problem
Pat’s final piece of advice is learn how to speak to the application teams using their own language. Don’t “dumb it down” and don’t bore them with deep technical features they could care less about.
“I always tell people it’s like going to the Doctor. You don’t want her to tell you how an x-ray machine works and you don’t want her to pat you on the head and tell you not to worry about anything. What you want is an explanation of how the x-ray will identify which bone is broken so that it can be treated appropriately.”
Recently a NetApp team who participated in an Elevate workshop met with line of business users from an investment banking unit. They explored how the ING model (case study above) might impact how the investment bank delivered new client services. “The reaction was incredible. After the presentation we had several calls from other departments in the bank. The team from the first meeting were telling all their colleagues that they needed to talk to us. We booked up several meetings that aligned to at least 12 new projects in the bank. None of this had been on our radar before."
Putting it Into Action
Pat concludes each workshop with the following call to action. “If you are spending north of 90% of your time today in the IT organization (Network, Storage, Compute, etc.), consider tomorrow investing 15% of your time into the Line of Business Application groups.”
It’s a small step designed to begin your journey toward a whole new world of opportunity.