Purchasing in IT is very different from even a few short years ago. According to Gartner CEB, the average tech buyer is now 57 percent through the process before they’ll even speak to a prospect. When it comes to complex purchases, typically seven decision makers are now involved – and the window of opportunity to influence them has become shorter.
Static demos and PowerPoint® presentations no longer cut through the clutter. After all, there’s a trove of competitor information, product documentation, and reviews for anyone to read online – anyone who has the time to sort through them all, that is.
Prospects who are ready to proceed may want to see your product or service in action immediately before making a purchase. They won’t want to wait for IT to reconfigure systems or open firewalls, and these types of technical delays can end a sale even before you can say, “proof of concept” (POC).
On the seller side, you don’t have unlimited resources – you can dedicate only so much attention and time to an opportunity. So, when you see your opening, you have to quickly control the process and act. The best way to overcome hurdles and win new sales is to use the cloud for sales enablement.
Making an Impression
When it comes to technology sales, demos and POCs are your greatest tools. According to a survey by Hubspot, 58 percent of respondents wanted to know about pricing first, with a product demo a close second at 54 percent. In addition, research has shown using the word “demo” alone is one of the top ways to elicit an email response.
The biggest issue with demoing complex technology solutions is the difficulty in providing an experience that shows fully how your offering will work in real-world situations. With the right cloud-based virtual IT labs platform, you can build and upload even the most sophisticated environments for powerful demos that do your product justice. This can all be done quickly and without IT involvement.
With the cloud, your team and prospects can access POCs instantly from any browser. When a platform provides fast spin-up of POC environments, the result is a high-performance experience that gives buyers a real feel for your product. Also, giving them the chance to try your technology without you around shows confidence.
Eliminate Costs with More Control
As noted earlier, virtual IT labs reduce IT involvement. They also eliminate the cost of shipping hardware and coordinating logistics with a prospect’s team. Because you can connect online with anyone, anywhere, anytime, travel costs are lowered and you can increase the number of targets you reach.
Time is money, and there are many ways a cloud-based sales enablement platform lets sales reps be more productive and effective while, at the same time, providing better control over resource costs and overcoming other limitations.
For instance, with the right sales enablement platform, one person can create and maintain POC templates of all products (and flavors thereof) for all sales members, engineers, and reseller partners. With easy access to all templates, this “build it once” approach ensures your sales team and partners are always using the right version. It also means fewer hours and resources are needed to build environments in real time.
Yet, that’s only the beginning of how the cloud can save. Platform features can automate an array of tasks, like sending customized invitations that allow your prospects to spin up personal copies of your environment. You can integrate with tools like Salesforce, allowing your team to send and monitor POCs directly from the program – eliminating the need for them to learn a new platform.
Simply put, greater accessibility means increased productivity and bottom lines.
More Openings for Closing
Some virtual lab solutions offer information and analytics that provide visibility into usage. Through this, sales can finally overcome “black box” issues and truly understand how a trial is going – and take action to ensure prospects experience full product value.
With this capability, prospects get time to play with the product in a no-pressure way, while sales teams can see how much time prospects have spent on particular features or whether they’ve accessed the POC at all. Data accessible via a user-friendly dashboard makes it easy to understand whether engagement has fallen off and know it’s time to pick up the phone and offer assistance. Sales can even take over a screen and assist a prospect on a specific area where they might be having difficulty. This ensures that trials don’t get stuck and prospects experience full value.
Basically, cloud-based virtual IT labs present more openings to close new business. With all your assets in the cloud (and capabilities at your fingertips), you’ll be able to quickly seize such moments to make more sales.
Zvi Guterman is the CEO of CloudShare.