Remember when the traditional model of selling software to a company meant that you had to go through either IT or a business unit leader? Yep, those days are over. Thanks to cloud based solutions every employee is now a potential buyer of collaboration software. This has been an ongoing shift over the past few years but only recently am I seeing a very strong push in this direction from employees who are not satisfied with the software solutions that their companies are providing. I think the tipping point has finally been reached.
This shift is mainly happening because of three things:
From anywhere between $3-$12 a month you can be up and running with the most up to date and powerful piece of collaboration software that exists today. Some companies even allow you to get access to their full-featured products at no cost at all. This means that for the price of daily latte you can have an entire team connected to each other and to the information they need to get their jobs done, anywhere, anytime, and on any device.
Low barrier to entry
Thanks to cloud based solutions, deploying software within organizations today isn’t that much more complicated then setting up a Twitter account, Facebook page, or buying something from Amazon. No IT or manager approval necessary. Just imagine how hectic your life would be if every time you wanted to buy something online you needed to get approval from your boss or from IT, yet that’s exactly how our companies are set-up today.
Many employees today are just not happy with the approaches and technologies that their companies are pursuing. Today inside of most companies it’s hard to find people and information, share ideas, connect with others, collaborate or communicate, and build any type of community. Meanwhile it’s easy to do all of these things on social platforms that we use in our every-day personal lives. The disconnect between the two is massive.
Vendors in the collaboration and future of work space really need to pay attention to this as it opens up a lot of opportunities for them. As mentioned above vendors no longer need to focus just on just selling to a primary “decision maker.” Now I’m not saying that they need to abandon this approach altogether I’m saying that they also need to focus on the every day employee. There are a few things vendors can do to capitalize on this shift.
Instead of focusing the benefit and the value on the organization as a whole (or on a specific buyer), vendors need to adapt their messaging as if they were marketing to individuals instead of to just corporations. If any employee is a potential buyer then any employee needs to understand the value and benefit of the product.
This is a huge area. Vendors needs to consistently be educating employees not just decision makers. Employees need to understand how the world of work is changing, what they need to do to adapt, and how they can actually adapt. Some vendors do a fantastic job of educating their customers and prospects but many do not. Education can mean webinars, whitepapers, blog posts, insightful articles shared through social channels, and speaking at conferences. The more employees know the better. In my opinion education is one of the best forms of marketing.
Vendors need to change their strategy to shift away from the traditional mentality of just selling to a decision maker. I’ve spoken with and worked with many companies where the “decision maker” goes with a certain product because it’s what the employees want and are oftentimes already using.
Every employee today is a potential buyer of enterprise collaboration software.
(Cross-posted @ Social Business Advisor: Enterprise Collaboration Strategy)