Client Experience: Value One – Dedication to Every Client’s Success

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The March 2013 for The Greater IBM Connection is ‘client experience’.

In honor of the March theme focus on Client Experience, I thought it might be nice to post this link to an IBM Archives Web Site exhibit focused on classic stories of IBM client service. The company from its very beginning has made service a watchword for each and every IBMer. And when you do that, great things can happen. Enjoy!

by Paul Lasewicz, IBM Corporate Archivist

by Paul Lasewicz,
IBM Corporate Archivist

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Related links:

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The March 2013 theme for The Greater IBM Connection is ”client experience”.

How the Internet Has Outdated Your BtoB Sales Process

by professional speaker, chief strategist, and best-selling author Mike Moran, in Biznology.com

I’m old. 30 years ago, I learned how IBM qualified leads for sales. At the time, I know now, it was unusual to even have a process for such a thing, but that is how IBM worked (and still does). Most B2B businesses did not have such a process and the ones who did probably did not follow them as religiously as IBM did, but even if you don’t know you have a process, you do. Whatever you do is your process. And unless you have seriously revisited it the last few years, the Internet has broken your B2B sales process.

Les étapes que vous devez définir pour l’enton...

Image by eric.delcroix

All this was brought to mind as I prepared for a session I am doing Monday in Copenhagen for the IAA on using social media for sales leads. (Please sign up if you are in town.) As I thought back to the old IBM process, I am not sure any of it works anymore.

IBM had its own names for it, but the process closely resembles one that many B2B marketers use called BANT, which stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. Basically, what it says is that a well-qualified lead has all of those qualities–the budget to make the purchase, the authority to do so, a proven need for what your product or service does, and a timeline in which to take action.

As someone who still speaks to clients every day about the services they need to succeed in Internet marketing, I wonder how anyone qualifies a lead anymore. First off, I am never talking to the person who has the authority to make the purchase–often it takes three people (including one in purchasing) to sign off, so no one person has the authority. I am not sure if the Internet screwed that up, but it screwed up everything else.

Budget, Need, and Timeline can’t really be looked at as separate items anymore. In the digital age, no one knows in October of 2012 what they will need in November of 2013, but that is when the budget is set for it–if “set” is even the right word. Budgets whipsaw back and forth as results as reported, because everyone knows immediately how they are doing and make rapid course corrections, in part because the Internet has raised stick price speculations to a high art. Everyone is taking corrective action with budgets before anyone even knows there is a problem.

So budgets emerge only after people think there is a need. And, as with budgets, how can you know there is a need when things are changing so fast? You don’t have a need that you spend a year fulfilling–you discover something (from surfing on the Web, or searching, or hearing from a colleague) that would make your business better and then, voila! You get the budget and set the timeline.

Things move too fast for it to be any other way.

So, what is the real way to qualify leads? I am  not sure, but remember that the goal is not to qualify leads–it is to sell stuff. And I think I do know how to sell stuff. You must educate your customer–you must create the need. If you do, the authority, budget, and timeline will fall into place and you will have a sale.

And, although the Internet bollixed up the sales qualification process, it didn’t mess up selling stuff. Use the Internet to create the need with content marketing. Put together the deep, persuasive content that explains the problem and explains the options for solving it, including yours. Then share it everywhere and make it discoverable by searchers and wait for the leads to come in. I bet they will be qualified after they’ve read that much about you.

Then, get your sales teams to focus on social media to engage with potential clients. Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook–whatever works–to help nudge the clients through the last few stages. It isn’t just phone calls and e-mails anymore.

It might not sound like fancy process, but I bet it will sound good when you ring the cash register.

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About the author:

mikemoran-photo

Author of Do It Wrong Quickly, on Internet marketing, and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc., Mike Moran led many initiatives on IBM’s site for eight years, including IBM’s original search marketing strategy. He holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing, is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and regularly teaches at Rutgers, UC Irvine, and UCLA. In addition to his contributions to Biznology, Mike is a regular columnist for Search Engine Guide. He also frequently keynotes conferences worldwide on digital marketing for marketers, public relations specialists, market researchers, and technologists, and serves as Chief Strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing agency. Prior to joining Converseon, Mike worked for IBM for 30 years, rising to the level of Distinguished Engineer.

Mike can be reached through his Web site (mikemoran.com). Follow him on Twitter at @MikeMoran.

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Posted by Regan Kelly

Leadership Insights from Raeleen Medrano, Vice President of Finance for IBM North America

(from Women at IBM, Facebook)

Meet Raeleen Medrano and read what she has to say about making a difference in her global career, tackling problems outside your comfort zone, and achieving the all-important work life balance

What made you decide to work for IBM?

IBM's Raeleen Medrano

IBM’s Raeleen Medrano

I joined IBM (in Australia) because it was a large international company and I believed I would have the opportunity to work in many different areas and would have the chance to use what I’d learned in gaining my degree.  Now, twenty-six years later, what makes me stay at IBM is very much the same – the opportunity to work on a global scale, and really apply my financial know-how to drive business performance.  I feel like I can make a difference every day at IBM, and no two days are the same.

Have you had any valuable mentors or sponsors?  How have they helped you in your career?

My mentors and sponsors really have made a difference in my career.  They helped me understand the scope of career opportunity at IBM, and helped me believe in myself, and sponsored me for opportunities – they helped me  and others believe that I could take on greater career challenges and be successful.  They’ve also been there for me when I needed business advice – for example,  how to tackle a problem in an area outside my normal scope. Just recently, one of my very first formal mentors, helped me with a client situation.  Being in finance, we’re not dealing with clients on a regular basis, and it was really important that I got this particular contact right – my mentor helped me prepare, and helped me role play with the questions the client was likely to ask me about the business.  It really made a difference by giving me greater confidence in tackling a conversation where I wasn’t in my comfort zone.

Can you describe an interesting project?

Beginning last year, I’ve had the tremendous opportunity to work on a project to better understand how IBM can be successful in Africa.  It has been a terrific learning experience and has given me the opportunity to build on my leadership skills and work with other IBMers on what actions we can take as a company to drive profitable growth in an extremely exciting and emerging market.  We gained hands on experience in Africa, and established many new relationships – both inside and outside IBM.

Has IBM provided you with any unique work-life integration solutions?

I’ve been a “working mother” at IBM now for almost twenty years.  I’ve learned many solutions to managing work-life integration, and I’ve found IBM to be an excellent partner in that journey.  I’ve always found my managers to be very supportive, and also the line leaders that I’ve supported over the years.  One of the cool things about achieving work-life integration at IBM is the fact that when you strive for it, it usually enables others to do the same.  When I’ve needed to attend to matters outside IBM, for example attending my daughter’s soccer games, I let my team know that I trust them to cover things for me while I’m away.  Not only does this help me cover work while I’m gone, it let’s my team know I have confidence in them too.  It also let’s them know it’s OK to do the same – and that I’ll cover for them, and they cover for each other when they need time away from the office as well.  It creates a positive teaming environment, and everyone feels like they can get the things done that are important to them – inside and outside the office.

What makes you proud to be an IBMer?

There are many things that make me proud to be an IBMer – and one of the most important is the foundation of integrity that we have at IBM.  It makes me feel very proud to know that IBM will always insist on doing the right thing, and really make a positive difference in society.  Our clients, shareholders and employees can all count on that – and that’s very important.

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–Posted by Regan Kelly

Share your comments below – how have you achieved balance with your career in your life?