As organizations begin the transformational process from Industrial Era organizations to becoming Digital Enterprises, the fundamentals of how and why they purchase technology is shifting with it.

For many, the days of selling exclusively to IT have long since passed. Many organizations have been selling to “the business” for some time and, that shift, has precipitated this broader shift into enterprise buying patterns. Nevertheless, many of the underpinning value propositions have remained staunchly technology and IT focused, even as organizations have begun selling outside of IT more and more.

As organizations make the shift into the Digital Era, there will be three fundamental ways that how they purchase technology will shift accordingly.

Shift #1: It’s Not About The Technology

Those organizations that have been selling outside of IT most successfully already know this, but the days in which organizations were fundamentally interested in buying technology, per se, have gone. As purchase decisions shift more to non-IT buyers, the sales conversations will continue to become increasingly less technical and more focused on the business and competitive value of any given technology solution. While that seems intuitive, it is striking how many tech vendor pitches are still all about the technology. The key will be to think about your solutions from the perspective of the business buyer and discuss your solutions in their terms.

Shift #2: It’s Not About Cost

While the focus on the business benefits versus the technology features may be a bit of “Marketing 101”, there is an even more entrenched approach to selling technology to the enterprise that needs to be upended: the focus on technology driving cost-savings. Companies will ALWAYS be concerned about costs and this will manifest itself in both how they purchase and how hard they push you to lower your prices. But while cost is always the easy and safe “go to”, the truth is that reducing operational costs is not what keeps most enterprise executives awake at night. Instead, they are tossing and turning trying to figure out how to successfully navigate their organization into a future that is altogether unfamiliar. They are worried about competing with new upstarts, competitors that have not yet appeared, shifting customer expectations and continued shareholder expectations of continual and perpetual growth. They have frighteningly few levers to pull to help them navigate this unchartered territory – and in their heart-of-hearts, they KNOW that technology will be a key part of their success. But which are the right bets to make?

Shift #3: It’s Not About Now

Which leads us to the third major shift. The major technology investments of the future will be about, well, the future. Sure, the business still needs to run and those technology refreshes will continue to happen. But those providers that stay focused there will be under unrelenting pressure and in a race to the never-ending bottom. The strategic purchases made by enterprise organizations will have virtually nothing to do with “now”, they will be all about the future. The key will be to position your technology solutions in the context of their future. This is a key distinction and goes back to the first two shifts. Many technology providers like to position their technology as part of the technology future, but your customers don’t care about the future of technology. They only care about the future of their industry and of their business. So you must focus your solutions and your messaging around how it can help to shape the future of their industry and secure their future.

How the enterprise is looking at technology investments has shifted. That part is clear. But that’s not the whole story.

In the last part of this three-part series, I’ll be discussing why this focus on the future sells and how you can position yourself as part of that future rather than the past, how most technology providers blow it and some specific strategies that you can put in place right now to set yourself apart.

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