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In my line of work I deal with buyers from purchasing departments of multinationals requesting pricing for enterprise software solutions. Supplying a price is often a little more complicated than looking it up on a price list. In reality it involves a lot more.

Before supplying a price to the buyer, it is essential to understand  their business requirements for the software solution. What follows is a scaled down version of the entire process followed for every enquiry.

Understand Business Requirements

To understand the business requirements a series of meetings are held with all the business stake-holders involved. During this process the business problem(s) are documented and possible solutions noted. Meetings are also held with stake-holders from the IT department to obtain their input and discuss the current hardware configuration and surplus capacity within the organisation.

All too often the IT department is classified as a cost centre and not a business unit. When this happens they are frequently never consulted about future software solutions to be purchased. This often results in projects running out of time and over budget. Fortunately this view is changing and we are seeing more organisations that accept IT as a business unit contributing to the value of the organisation.

During discussions with the IT management and business stake-holders licensing of the solution is worked out and the following information is noted.

  • Number of technicians that require access to the solution
  • Number of PC’s, laptops and servers used in the organisation

  • Hardware requirements for the solution and the cost estimates to purchase the hardware.

  • Enterprise solutions are modular. During these discussions the business stake-holders elect the required modules.

Hosting Solution

Many of the large enterprise solutions are now being offered as a cloud based solution, eliminating the need to purchase costly hardware and operating systems. However, cloud based software solutions are not accepted by many companies for security reasons. In some cases organisations do not want a third party managing their data while others are more concerned with the fact that their data is being stored on servers on another continent.

The anti-cloud lobby is still very strong and all the major software vendors are aware of this. Therefore, they support solutions that target both segments of the market.

Hidden Agenda

During the meetings with the business stake-holders hidden agendas are often uncovered. A prime example of a hidden agenda involves business managers from different divisions favouring products because they have used them before, instead of selecting what is best for the entire organisation.

Another example of a hidden agenda is the practice where managers vote for a given solution for company political reasons to further their career instead of selecting what is best for the organisation.

Budget Availability

Now that the vendor has all the business requirements for the solution he is able to work out a provisional cost for the software. He will also include his professional services to install and configure the software and train the users of the software. Additional costs may also be added for the migration of data from the old system to the new solution.

Solution Selection Process

The solution selection process is a very busy time for the teams assigned to the products that reach the short list. During this phase the following processes need to be completed before the final solution is provisionally selected.

  • Evaluation of the solutions that made the short-list.
  • Document advantages and disadvantages in terms of the business requirements.

  • Documenting the hardware and software requirements for the solution.

  • Call for quotations.This is the first time that pricing for the solution is supplied.

  • Prepare and submit a proposal.

  • Solution presentation by the vendor.

  • Final Solution Selection

    The final solution selection is normally done at board level after the business stake-holders have given their input. This is a process that can take a few days or extend over a period of months. Further delays can be caused when budgets for the new solution are only available in the new financial year.

     

     

     

     

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    IT Asset Management (ITAM) is a set of business practices combining financial, inventory and contractual functions.

    Why Companies Purchase an asset management tool

    IT Asset management (ITAM) solutions get implemented by companies to save money, reduce administrative manpower in their IT departments and regain control over the IT Inventory. The primary drivers include some or all of the following.

    • Improved visibility of inventory
    • Increased efficiencies
    • Reduce spending
    • Asset reuse
    • Risk and security management
    • Reporting

    The introduction of (ITAM) has resulted in an improvement in IT customer services driven by the ability of IT technicians to identify and rectify problems on users PCs faster.

    How will it help me manage my IT assets?

    IT Asset Management enables you to view the hardware and software components of each computer, server or any other network infrastructure. Traceability of assets gives better IT administration and control.

    Features Found In Asset Management Software

    The feature set available in the entry-level Asset Management Software solution differs significantly from that of the Enterprise solution. There are more features available in the Enterprise solution and they are customisable. Key features available in the Enterprise aligned solution are:

    • Scalability allowing support for large organisations
    • Configurability enabling the solution to adhere to business processes
    • Integration with existing IT systems
    • Stability of the solution is important
    • User roles that allow each technician to see  the relevant processes and functions
    • Drag and drop form design that requires no programming
    • Life cycle management of all assets
    • Remote control
    • Software patch management

    Conclusion

    ITAM spans the entire company. Asset Management software is no longer an option. ITAM is equipping technicians to become businessmen, providing a framework for good corporate governance and providing methods to manage the delivery of business objectives.

     

    One of the big differences between selling  software to the small business and selling enterprise software  is the price of the solution.

     

    Software Sales Challenges:

    Selling enterprise software has its own set of challenges that became even more complex with the downturn of the economy. Gone are the days where IT departments had huge budgets to spend. Stringent budgetary constraints are in place, the approval process includes more checks and balances and is closely monitored.

     

    How To Succeed:

    To be successful in this new environment the enterprise sales representative possess many skills, and one of the most important is the ability to listen to his customer and understand what is actually being said both verbally and non-verbally.  It is important to take note of the tone of voice used by your customer at all times.  This will often reveal more about his desire to place an order than he will reveal.

    Listening to the tone of voice of your customer you will gain an insight into the way he is interacting with you and whether wants to do business with you or if he is actually just using you to get a 2nd quotation for a solution.

     

    Common Questions:

    Questions that you must answer while listening to your customer are:

    • Is he passionate about his subject?
    • Does he sound  disinterested in your questions?
    • Did he discuss his business needs with you before requesting a price for the enterprise solution?
    • Do the features he requires appear to fit the specifications of a solution offered by your main competitor? If so, what are you going to do about it?

    Selling enterprise software is a challenge. How you adapt to the changing environment will determine your success.

     

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