What's Standing Between You and Your Quota? 5 Myths that Undermine Analytics Software Sales

Most professionals selling analytics software are at a disadvantage compared to their peers who deal in everyday consumer products. They don't use what they sell, are not close to people who do, and don't understand how their prospects buy.

If a couple walks into a dealership shopping for a new car for the wife and the salesman focuses all his attention on the husband, nobody is going to buy a car that day. Since every car salesperson owns a car, drives, and is intimately familiar with many other drivers, there's no excuse for making that kind of mistake. The salesperson in this context is expected to understand the product and the buying process thoroughly.

The relative lack of familiarity with prospect and process in the analytics market breeds misinformed, ineffective sales practices. Here are some of the most common analytics industry myths that hold back sales professionals.

Myth 1: You've got to get to the "C" level.

The reasoning: A few executives at the top of the organization hold all the power and control the money. They can and will purchase anything they choose.

How it really works: The few highly visible executives in any large corporation focus on promoting the corporate image, boosting stock prices and maintaining their own careers. They have hands-on involvement in acquiring other companies, but any purchase smaller than that is left to others.

What that means to you: The real purchasing power for analytics software may be anywhere from the first line manager level up to a VP depending on what you have to offer.

Myth 2: The analytics market is saturated.

The reasoning: Statistics has been around for a long time. Everyone who cares about it has already invested, so the only way to get business is to unseat a competitor.

How it really works: Most businesses stand to profit by using analytic methods, but haven't even started to use them.

What that means to you: If you can clearly present the benefits of analytics software to newcomers, your pool of customers will be unlimited.

Myth 3: Statistics is too hard for business people.

The reasoning: Since statistics and math are often hard for me, everyone else must feel the same way.

How it really works: It's true that statistics is unfamiliar to most business people. It's a topic that is often taught poorly at the college level. So what? Any motivated adult can learn to use statistics effectively if given good training and tools, and the benefits to the business make the effort worthwhile.

What that means to you: You don't need to seek out "special" customers who are already familiar with analytics. Businesses with adequate staff can learn to use appropriate methods in-house. For smaller organizations, services can make up the gap.

Myth 4: Purchasing departments only get in the way.

The reasoning: Prospects often lead sales representatives to believe that the sale is "in the bag" when in fact, the process is far more complex and less certain than it may have seemed.

How it really works: The purchasing department is there to serve the needs of the whole company. Professional buyers ensure compliance with legal and contractual obligations. They verify that there is a business justification for all purchases, and they investigate competing options, negotiate pricing and other terms.

What that means to you: If your company is not the favorite of the key players, the purchasing department is your avenue to be considered on a fair playing field with your competition. If you are the favorite, then you must still learn the prospect company's buying processes and make a convincing case for the superior value of your offering to win business.

Myth 5: Enterprise applications are what's happening now.

The reasoning: Many companies have invested heavily in certain enterprise applications, such as those for customer relationship management (CRM). To be taken seriously, analytics applications must operate on the same scale.

How it really works: Few companies are thrilled with the return on the investment they made for CRM or other enterprise applications. Most are not in a hurry to jump into more multi-million dollar applications purchases.

What that means to you: The key is to start small with most clients, prove value and earn the trust that builds bigger deals and loyal customers step-by-step.

Break out from the pack in analytics software sales by seeing past these myths and opening your eyes to the real needs of your own prospects!

This article © 2009 Meta S. Brown