When you go to your customers to discuss solutions, are you talking with the same people you’ve always talked with? I’m guessing you’re seeing some new faces making those technology purchase decisions. Buying decisions once handled by IT departments are now often in the hands of line of business executives. These people may be younger, more tech-savvy, and well-informed about their options. Clearly, it’s time to change our approach and be prepared for conversations with this new audience.
 
What’s different?
 
First, it’s not just IT professionals doing the buying anymore – now it could be the vice president of Marketing or a Human Resources director at the table – both with very different ideas, goals, and priorities than the people we’re accustomed to selling to. As Technology Consultant Eric D. Brown pointed out on a recent Microsoft for Work blog, CMOs and marketing professionals generally are starting to see the value of data in achieving their business objectives, and their needs may influence final purchasing decisions.
Second, because customers are able to do considerable research on their own, by the time you meet with them, they may already be in what we call the “60% sales stage” and ready to make a buying decision. As a result, partners are finding their roles in customer conversations have become more challenging; these new buyers may think of partners as implementation resources, not as “help-me-make-my-decision” participants.
 
So the question now is, what can you do when you meet with a buyer who’s already 60% decided about buying a competitor’s product?
 
What if you could get to those customers before they made up their minds?
 
By using the state-of-the-art technology provided by Azure Machine Learning, we are now able to predict the likelihood that a customer will consider moving to one of our main competitors. We have been able to analyze our customer base and are close to delivering predictive compete information to our field and our partners, including the probability that a customer is considering, for instance, Google as an alternative to our productivity suite. How different would the sales conversation be if you had that information before you went in? Your local partner resources will be able to share this information with you very shortly, so be sure to take advantage.
 
It’s about learning and being smart. It’s about knowing the right next step to take, the right customer to target, and how to prepare for that next conversation. We want to share what we’ve learned so we can take our most valued partners on our co-compete journey – this is one of many ways we’re delivering on our promise to help drive more revenue for our partners.
 
 
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