Presenting and selling technology to corporates: The lying awake at night test


6 March 2005

Too many technology companies are trying to sell their products to the corporate enterprise on their technical merits. This very rarely succeeds. Your customers are not in the technology business and you need to demonstrate that you understand their issues and that you have a solution to them.

A successful proposition to the corporate market must focus on:

Fundamentally, you need to solve a business problem that somebody is lying awake at night worrying about.

If you are only talking bits and bytes, then, frankly, you are not selling. You must articulate the problem and your solution. Consider our template presentation structure:

  1. Example story to make the problem relevant and human.

  2. The business problem

    • What is is?

    • Why is it important? (How important is it?)

  3. The solution

    • Why have previous approaches to this problem failed?

    • What is different now?

  4. Example implementations of the solution

    • Situation – Actions – Results
  5. Summary and call to action

However, this is still not enough. At the moment, we are seeing vendors and services companies trying to position a blogging proposition to the corporate market. Some are suggesting variations on “blogging is cool, you should do blogging” which clearly fails the first criteria. A stronger proposition is to suggest that blogging helps collaboration, but this ultimately also fails.

If you push a collaboration proposition, then you will find a lot of interest and very little sales. Everybody wants collaboration, and many will be keen to hear what you have to say.

But ultimately it is, in most organizations, nobody’s responsibility. Nobody has “more collaboration” as a performance target this year. Nobody will be promoted for implementing blogging. Nobody lies awake at night worrying about collaborations.

In short, you do not have a customer. Nobody needs to buy your solution.

That is why we talk about innovation and managing the innovation process. That is a business problem, and with the pace of innovation in most companies’ markets, this is a real and urgent business issue with an identified owner: the CEO.

More on this over the next days and weeks.