Why does the adoption rate of many new enterprise technologies fall short of expectations? The answer is often simple: The market isn’t ready. It may have an interest in the technologies and understand the potential benefits but practical realities prevent the market from buying. Understanding these barriers will lead to a more accurate market opportunity assessment, and improved adoption rates.
A lack of technical sophistication
Technology vendors often overestimate the technical sophistication of their target market. They approach prospects expecting to compete with vendors in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant but find themselves competing with Excel or unsophisticated legacy programs. Many companies, even Fortune 1000 companies, use simple applications for important aspects of their operations. For prospects in this situation, a robust solution with advanced functionality is too great a step forward. They worry about the amount of functionality they will use and about the ROI of a solution that is far more expensive than what they use today. And they can justify to themselves that what they use today works, “well enough.”
Vendors that succeed within these market dynamics typically have one or more of the following: A sales and marketing approach that focuses on understanding the needs of the customer and/or on brand trust; a “light” version of their product that lets customers build up to a full solution; or a cloud option that provides customers with key functionality while reducing their risk in terms of financial investment.
Conflicts with existing business processes
A general misalignment of a technology’s functionality and existing business processes will impede adoption. The days of excessive solution customization are gone. However, any new technology must fit with how a company does business. For example, if the sales and marketing teams don’t have processes already in place for sharing information and collaboration, they are unlikely to come together around the purchase of a new CRM system.
Misalignment can also stem from the benefits technology vendors choose to stress in their sales and marketing efforts. The original marketing of business intelligence applications provides a good example. BI vendors initially marketed the benefits of executive dashboards, drill downs and real time alerts to the C-suite. These hypothetical benefits did not match the realities of how most companies are managed. In healthy organizations the C-suite makes long-term, strategic-level decisions: They need summary information and trend data, not information on day-to-day events and processes. The C-suite hires VPs and directors to run day-to-day operations. It is these individuals that require analytical tools, dashboards and real-time alerts. As a result, empowering VPs and directors to make better decisions resonates more with the C-suite than the idea of an executive dashboard. Vendors that understood this nuance developed more effective sales and marketing platforms than their competitors.
Key questions for your business
Understanding your market’s level of sophistication, existing business process and existing solutions can help you more accurately forecast market opportunity and adoption rates, create compelling communication, and identify qualified leads. In addition, communicating an understanding of your prospects’ realities demonstrates a trait that consistently ranks at the top of the list as a differentiator in win/loss analysis: The vendor understands me and my business.
Answering the following questions will help you understand the degree to which your products, sales and marketing are aligned with the market.
- Does your technology match the way people work? Are you selling just a technology or do you need to sell a change in business processes as well?
- Are you stressing the right message to the right individuals with your marketing efforts? Are your marketing and sales efforts aligned with the current mind-set of the market?
- Can your sales reps recognize and adapt to the differences between replacing a simple solution vs. a direct competitor?
If you can answer these question, your customers likely feel that you truly understand them. If you find it difficult to answer most of these questions, you should develop a strategy for filling these information gaps about your market.