With the convergence of megatrends ranging from the cloud and mobile to DevOps and analytics, technology sales conversations have significantly changed. It’s no longer only those familiar IT professionals on the other side of the table; buying decisions are increasingly in the hands of C-level execs in Marketing or Human Resources. And suddenly the whole conversation is different.
 
At New Relic, we realized these new conversations opened up a whole range of opportunities. Our customers want to build great software, and New Relic’s software analytics and application performance monitoring solutions can help make that happen. Other partners’ organizations may not fit exactly the same model, but much of what we learned talking to this new set of technology buyers is applicable to a wide range of sales discussions.
 
Moving from departments and IT to “C” level
 
It used to be our “customer” was a team or someone from IT. But as we talk to line of business executives, we’ve had to shift our conversation. Instead of pure tech talk, we need to gain an understanding of their business problems and goals, and then suggest solutions that can get them where they need to go.
 
 
One of the first things we do is to ask, “Who are the stakeholders?” Who will see this information, who will use it, is it bubbling up in a dashboard? Only when we find out who is impacted do we we start crafting the value proposition. We say to those upper-level stakeholders (you know, the ones who control the budget), “Hey, we see opportunities to make your information even more actionable, and here’s how. Would this be meaningful to you?”
 
This is the evolution of value – the increasing ability to show the customer, using their own data, how they can dig in and find out really valuable information, like who their end users are, where those end users are spending their time, and when they’re having a problematic experience. The conversation evolves from pain points to opportunity, and it goes from the Dev/Ops people right up to the CMO.
 
As a SaaS organization we are as close as possible to our customers from the moment they subscribe to our application. That gives us a starting point to reach out, demonstrate better ways to use the product, and, if it’s right for them, describe how upgrades might better serve their purposes. It sets the conversation not only for our flagship foundation product, but also extends directly across our entire product line.
 
The key is identifying how the same solution – formatted for the user’s desired outcome – can have value to different buyers.
 
Don’t redistribute the pie; make it bigger
 
For New Relic, the change in tech purchasing and key stakeholders was clearly shown in our user conference attendees. At first, registrants were almost entirely developers and operations people, but recently we’ve seen interest from a broader set of business titles to attend the event. As a result, we’re listening to them and building out our product suite to fill their needs, and we’ve shifted our marketing to include a broader audience. We’re not neglecting our core IT buyers by giving them a smaller piece of the pie; we’re making the pie bigger so there’s plenty for everyone.
 
Sell value, not vapor
 
Shifting your focus to up-level executive customers is a big bet, so take your time. The change should be done proactively and thoughtfully, not as a rushed reaction to blogs like this. But if and when you decide to make the move, go all in. Everyone in your company has to be aligned with the new direction, or you’ll end up with salespeople who are noticeably uneasy having these conversations, and your message will fall flat.
 
Shifting to meet this new buyer is by no means trivial or easy. It represents a whole new approach to sales. But at New Relic, it enables us to go into our sales meetings knowing we have the key to unlocking new potential for our customers, and that’s a pretty strong position to start from.
 
 
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