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Selling Algorithmic Innovations

by Hank Barnes  |  January 17, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

As machine learning continues to mature, and the supporting technologies needed improve, we are seeing more and more products and services built on an algorithmic foundation.     These offerings make claims of order of magnitude improvements in performance that sound almost too good to be true.  And that is the challenge.   Remember, buyers are skeptical.


To start to overcome this, providers must provide context for the claims.   I often see providers underplaying the algorithms or the new technologies that enable the algorithmic approach.   These are still new things for many buyers, so they need some context to understand that it is a fundamentally different approach that enables such big improvements.

And that plays to the second thing that providers need to do.   The approach must be explained, in detail, in the context of how the customer works.   They really need to understand how this works.   I’m not saying you have to explain machine learning in detail, but you have to give them an operational understanding of how it changes work processes.   Compare the implementation approach for traditional solutions to that for the new.  Compare the work activities of impacted users with how they work today.   This even deeper context will help customers visualize how their work environment changes.

Finally, most of these algorithmic solutions attack inefficient processes.  Processes that rely on people to, in addition to their regular work, look for patterns, uncover anomalies, and take action.      And while there are a lot of inefficient processes, they are also largely accepted as the way things work.   There needs to be a buying trigger to drive a willingness to change.  It could be a cost cutting initiative.  It could be a major breach, audit failure, or quality issue that drives the need to change now.

The value of algorithmic business is often eye-popping.  But if the customer has not prioritized the change (or you can not cause them to) and/or does not understand how (or believe) they can achieve the results, then it will be a long time before they buy.   If your selling solutions that are powered by algorithms and approaches that are new and different, keep these issues in mind to maximize your sales and marketing effectiveness.

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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: algorithms  marketing-effectiveness  sales-effectiveness  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

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