Stephen Hurrell's Analyst Perspectives

All Analyst Perspectives

The Member of the Sales Team that Technology Forgot

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on May 17, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Many – myself included – have written about the growth in technologies designed to aid in business-to-business sales and sales management by serving sales reps, line managers, executives and operations. But one area that has been ill-served is technical presales, or sales engineering. You may ask why this should matter. Aren’t presales engineers all about demonstrations? How could technology – beyond video conferencing – help?

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Value Index for Revenue Performance Management Rates Vendors

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 31, 2022 4:00:00 AM

Ventana Research is happy to share insights gleaned from the latest Value Index research, an assessment of how well vendors’ offerings meet buyers’ requirements. The 2022 Revenue Performance Management (RPM) Value Index is the distillation of a year of market and product research. Drawing on our Benchmark Research, we apply a structured methodology built on evaluation categories that reflect the real-world criteria incorporated in a request for proposal to vendors supporting the spectrum of revenue performance management. Using this methodology, we evaluated vendor submissions in seven categories: five relevant to the Product Experience ﹘ Adaptability, Capability, Manageability, Reliability and Usability ﹘ and two related to the Customer Experience ﹘ Total Cost of Ownership or Return on Investment and Vendor Validation.

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Maximize Alignment through Revenue Performance

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 30, 2022 4:00:00 AM

As organizations shift focus to a broader definition of sales that includes all sources of revenue, vendors are also pivoting to include “revenue” as part of promotional messaging. But it’s my view that just changing your message or description does not necessarily deliver the capabilities and product experiences customers need to successfully plan, execute and achieve revenue targets and objectives. The just-completed 2022 Ventana Research Value Index for Revenue Performance Management addressed this shift, focusing on available product capabilities that support customer needs as well as their overall experience.

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Subscription Management Elevates Experience Through Automation

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 29, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Ventana Research defines subscription management as the processes and technology needed to manage the subscriber experience from the first digital touch to the continuous modifications of orders for services and billing. Effective subscription management requires a new generation of applications designed to manage the life cycle of subscriptions and provide subscribers with the experiences they expect. The subscription business model has grown in popularity across many industries, and for many organizations it is now part of how they conduct business. Organizations, whether through line extensions, completely new businesses or through mergers and acquisitions, now have a mixed business model combining subscription and usage with one-time sales, often as a bundle of related products and services. The model establishes a regular, predictable income stream and monetizes existing and new assets. In addition, usage-based pricing is preferred by many consumers, both B2B and B2C, because it is more closely aligned to actual consumption patterns. For product companies, selling by subscription enables them to maintain ongoing contact with customers to facilitate future sales. Subscription is also popular with customers as it allows a degree of control from the buyer’s point of view and can be cancelled or modified, typically online, in a frictionless manner.

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Why Your ERP and CRM Won’t Transform Your Business

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 18, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Digital Transformation. The Subscription Economy. Omni-Channel Selling. Customer Centric. These are all terms used to label trends and events that are changing the way business is being conducted, a change that has accelerated due to recent events. Regardless of the terminology, there is no doubt that the way vendors and buyers are interacting, whether B2C or B2B, is different today for many organizations than it was even five years ago. But to be fair, no technology on its own can transform your business without changes to the other two key elements: people and processes. In addition, change is unlikely to happen if you are also relying on your existing ERP or CRM systems.

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Why Finance and Legal are Important to Revenue and Sales Operations

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Feb 25, 2022 3:00:00 AM

There is much vendor activity and customer interest in making better use of data, to improve the sales process in the face of increased pressure to achieve organization revenue goals. As detailed in my Analyst Perspective: The Art and Science of Sales from the “Inside Out," enhanced buyer research as well as the inclusion of more people in the buying process, have made selling harder, evidenced by a general trend of declining quota attainment. There is no denying that better use of data can help in prioritizing and helping to advance the sales process more effectively. But this is not the whole story. Whereas generating interest and qualifying opportunity is a key part of the sales team’s role, all this progress can be undone with a cumbersome and clunky configure, price and quoting (CPQ) and contract life cycle management (CLM) process. Automated and digitized systems that handle these elements aid greatly toward a winning/successful close process and will set the right tenor for a continuing and sustained customer relationship. And although CPQ is often thought of as part of the finance department, as contracts are with legal, both of these processes should be seen as adjuncts of the sales process, and both sales and revenue leadership and operations teams need to align with finance and legal. My colleague Robert Kugel covers the finance perspective in more detail in his Analyst Perspective: Configure, Price and Quote Software Supports Profitability Management.

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Xactly Advances Support for Revenue Performance Management

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Feb 15, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Revenue performance management and the role of revenue operations is moving to the forefront of sales organizations, aligning departments around a single view of the business with shared revenue targets and goals. This facilitates the needs of the sales department as well as customer experience, marketing and renewals. The concept of RevOps does not yet have a widely shared common definition within organizations. Because revenue organizations include workers associated with sales operations, there tends to be a bias that RevOps leans towards sales management with the addition of customer success for retention and marketing.

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The 2022 Market Agenda for Office of Revenue: New Performance Priority

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Feb 8, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2022 Market Agenda for the Office of Revenue, continuing the guidance we have offered for nearly two decades to help organizations realize optimal value from applying technology to improve business outcomes. Chief sales and revenue officers and their associated operations teams are experts in their respective fields but may not have the guidance needed to employ technology effectively. As we look to 2022, we are focusing on the entire selling and buying life cycle and the applications that simplify and improve interactions throughout the customer experience.

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The Necessity of Revenue Performance Management

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jan 27, 2022 3:00:00 AM

Ventana Research was the first market research firm to focus on the emerging area of sales performance management (SPM), which we define as a coordinated set of sales-related activities, processes and systems that enable organization. Over the past decade, SPM has become more science than art. Properly managing a sales organization requires effective planning, which in turn requires key performance and sales indicators built on a foundation of relevant metrics. But this is changing. As more organizations embrace the subscription business model and engage with additional selling channels over and above direct sales, the concept of the primacy of new sales is transforming to a more holistic view of revenue.

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AI for Sales: Technology is Ready but Are You?

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Dec 28, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The internet is a rich source of information and is used by buyers to research new applications and offerings well before ever engaging a vendor and salesperson. Along with massive growth in offerings, this is a major reason why sales teams are facing increasing challenges to successfully sell and attain targets.

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Why Revenue Planning Should be Continuous and Year Round

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Dec 2, 2021 3:00:00 AM

With the emergence of multiple selling channels and the rise of the subscription model, the need for a unified approach to revenue planning and execution should be a priority for every organization. As I have written about in my analyst perspective Revenue Management: The Opportunity for Innovation and Optimization, this need to unify the approach and focus on alignment across all revenue supporting teams in furtherance of an organization’s objectives and targets is of key importance to ensure that teams handle different aspects of a customer’s journey and experience. And, as I will further discuss, this alignment between groups is rarely a happy accident but rather the result of forward-looking, continuous planning.

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Revenue and Commercial Operations: The Difference Matters

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Nov 18, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The emergence of the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) has mirrored the adoption of the subscription model and the development of multiple selling and buying channels over and above the traditional direct sales model, referred to as Revenue Management. Supporting the traditional sales team and management was the sales operations team with responsibilities around incentive compensation, territory and quota planning, sales metrics and reporting and sales forecasting as well as sales engagement and enablement tools and applications. Aligned with this functional area under the CRO is another set of roles and functions called revenue operations or RevOps.

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Pricefx Optimizes Pricing for Profits

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Nov 12, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Traditionally, price management and optimization have been contained to certain industries, such as large-scale manufacturing and chemicals. Those industries involve potentially tens of thousands of stock-keeping units (SKUs) covering a wide variety of products and price points. For many organizations, pricing systems are “cost plus” or “follow the leader,” not typically designed to invoke optimization but rather just move pricing along. Price management is often seen as a complex, arduous task that yields small returns for the effort it dictates, and not a strategic lever.

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Vindicia Showcases Bundling and Subscription Intelligence

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Oct 20, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The subscription business model has seen much growth in all aspects of the market in recent years. Now considered the standard for the digital age, the model’s implementation travels parallel to rising technology, leading to the demand for newer functionality and tools. As more and more vendors create their own versions, and as the subscription model is increasingly adopted, technology solutions are also advancing to support a broader range of products and services, as well as industries.

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Pricing Optimization Software Helps Maximize Revenue

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Oct 13, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Price management and optimization is not a new discipline, but until now, it has been restricted to particular industries — such as discrete manufacturing and chemicals — where there are potentially hundreds if not thousands of stock-keeping units covering many interdependent products.

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BillingPlatform Bolsters the Rise of Subscription Services

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Sep 22, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Subscription management and billing services help organizations offer unique benefits and enhance delivery to customers. By making services more personalized, organizations can acquire – and retain – more customers.

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Revenue Management Maximizes Partner and Reseller Subscriptions

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Sep 15, 2021 12:00:00 AM

Among the many digital economy trends written about in recent years, one of the most significant has been the adoption of a subscription business model. For organizations with a business model that also includes reselling third-party products and services, this shift to subscription services adds complications and potential challenges.

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Subscription Automation Enables a Better Subscriber Experience

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Sep 8, 2021 3:00:00 AM

A subscription business model and an exceptional customer experience are equal priorities for many organizations. Much has been written about both: Subscription and usage services are considered the business model for the digital age, and a great customer experience is how organizations acquire and retain customers. I believe that by 2024, the category of subscription management software will emerge with a suite of applications and platform supporting the subscriber experience through the complete customer lifecycle to drive operational effectiveness.

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CommerceIQ Earns Office of Sales Digital Innovation Award for 2021

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Aug 17, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The annual Ventana Research Digital Innovation Awards showcase advances in the productivity and potential of business applications, as well as technology that contributes significantly to the improved processes and performance of an organization. Our goal is to recognize technology and vendors that have introduced noteworthy digital innovations to advance business and IT.

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Varicent Advances SPM and New Revenue Intelligence

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jul 21, 2021 3:00:00 AM

As mentioned in my Analyst Perspective, Revenue Performance Management: Leadership and Operations for Optimal Outcomes, there is continuing pressure on sales leaders to deliver against sales targets in increasingly competitive markets. Among the various levers that sales leadership can use to support these efforts, are applications and processes that best position sales teams to achieve targets, such as planning and allocating territories, establishing quotas and devising incentive compensation plans supportive of organizational revenue goals. Once in place, continuous monitoring of lead-to-opportunity progress and pipeline health can aid in identifying areas for improvement as well as solidifying sales forecasts to better indicate gap-to-target issues and necessary adjustments to territories and compensation incentives.

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Sales Forecasting: Have the Process and Technology for a True Revenue Forecast?

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jun 22, 2021 3:00:00 AM

There has been a lot of market activity around vendors offering sales-forecasting products (or functionality to address sales forecasting) as part of a wider technology offering for sales and revenue management. As I have discussed in my Analyst Perspective: The Art and Science of Sales from the Inside Out, the pandemic accelerated the prior trends that are now forcing sales leaders and sales teams to reexamine traditional notions of how B2B sales are conducted. In addition, with the rise of the subscription business model and digital e-commerce, a more holistic approach to identify where revenue is coming from and how to manage and optimize a predictable revenue stream is becoming a pressing need. I cover the basic premise of this management of revenue streams in my Analyst Perspective: Revenue Management: The Opportunity for Innovation and Optimization.

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Revenue Performance Management: Leadership and Operations for Optimal Outcomes

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jun 14, 2021 3:00:00 AM

As laid out in my recent Analyst Perspective, Revenue Management: The Opportunity for Innovation and Optimization, revenue management is a new way look at generating and managing the top line. It unifies multiple sources: the traditional focus on new customers to existing customers as well as all types of revenue from new, additional channels. This could include customer retention, upsell and cross sell, in addition to other selling channels such as through partners or digital sales channels like e-commerce and subscriptions.

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Subscription Pricing Changing for Sustained Customer Growth

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on May 20, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Subscription pricing models are no longer new. Many companies have experience with this pricing model even if there has not been complete adoption across their entire product and service offerings. Companies that use this model, or have spent time looking at the approach, understand the approach of a recurring revenue stream based on a repeating flat fee.

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The Science of Sales Professional Effectiveness

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on May 10, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Observed both here and elsewhere, average sales quota attainments appear to be in an exorable decline. As I discussed in my recent Analyst Perspective, "The Art and Science of Sales from the 'Inside Out'," vendors of sales technology have reacted to this by adding a slew of new functionality including the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to be a game changer for sales. One can argue that this use of AI is still relatively immature having been generally available only since 2014, but that is still over five years of market availability.

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SugarCRM Brings the Sweetness in AI Driven Sales

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on May 4, 2021 3:00:00 AM

As I have discussed in my Analyst Perspective, The Art of Sales, from the Inside Out, the challenges facing direct sales leaders are not going away. Declining quota attainment, lack of visibility into deal health and difficulty in forecasting quarterly sales remain a challenge for sales leaders, resulting in a continuing reduction in duration of tenure.

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The Experience of Digital Commerce

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Apr 9, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Digital commerce affects almost everyone’s lives. It is hard to remember a time when one could not sign on to a website like Amazon, order a product, pay for it and have it delivered to your front door within days, not weeks. Although catalogues have been around for a century or so, the digital-commerce revolution has changed the way we think about shopping for many of our everyday and special occasion products. Extend this to digital services, such as streaming videos or online games, and there is barely a sector that has not been touched by digital commerce. And, for organizations, it is an essential component of their revenue-management efforts that enables the digital transformation and monetization of goods and services.

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Salesforce Sales Cloud: Evolving to Meet the 360 Needs of Sales

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 18, 2021 3:00:00 AM

There is no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the existing need for new technology that can help sales professionals do their jobs well in this quickly evolving market. In addition, market trends are driving the need for functionality that is aimed at the front-line sales professional and the manager, highlighting the demand for tools that can help arrest the decline in quota attainment, as well as helping salespeople supplement their traditional focus on sales quotas with activities such as prospecting.

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Revenue Management: The Opportunity for Innovation and Optimization

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 15, 2021 3:00:00 AM

With modern enterprises adopting and expanding their digital business with subscription and usage business, organizations need to think beyond the primacy of sales as their source of business success. A sustained customer experience is key, representing an organizational and cultural shift from the traditional emphasis on new sales to an equally important focus on customer retention and upsell/cross-sell opportunities. This mindset is also important to organizations involved in digital commerce where the cost of customer acquisition and narrow margins means retaining customers for repeat purchases, which is vital to a sustainable business.

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Oracle Sales has Priority on Engagement and AI

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Mar 3, 2021 3:00:00 AM

The current pandemic has disrupted many of the traditional sales methods used by field-sales organizations to engage, and sell to, buyers. In an effort to provide help, many vendors have recently announced new features that focus less on the management of sales organizations and more on tools to help salespeople sell. This has been coupled with a renewed interest in using data to help with the science, alongside the art, of selling, as referenced in my AP: The Art and Science of Sales from the “Inside Out". Oracle has called this new emphasis “Responsive Selling,” with an aim to harness data and machine learning (ML) to aid sellers in this new, challenging environment.

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The 2021 Market Agenda for Office of Sales: The Revolution for Revenue

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Feb 25, 2021 12:30:00 AM

Ventana Research recently announced its 2021 research agenda for the Office of Sales, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations realize optimal value from applying technology to improve business outcomes. Chief sales and revenue officers are experts in their respective fields but may not have the guidance needed to employ technology effectively. As we look to 2021, we are focusing on the entire selling and buying journey and the applications that simplify interactions throughout the customer experience.

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The Necessity of Sales Performance Management

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Jan 6, 2021 4:00:00 AM

True leadership is the ability to motivate sales organizations to perform at their best. But the demand to do so requires the support of an orchestrated process and tools designed to help sales teams work in a directed manner that can help attain quotas through compensation plans. To manage quotas and resources and optimize sales compensation, everyone in the sales organization, from managers to selling professionals, needs unified and planful sales leadership and operations.

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The Art and Science of Sales from the “Inside Out"

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Nov 25, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Although historically there has been a hard divide between what are colloquially called “Inside and Field Sales,” changes over the last 10 years have narrowed the distinction. The pandemic has only accelerated the path to unifying sales activities commonly performed to engage buyers and customers. Characterized by a very disciplined and controlled endeavor, inside sales teams have been heavier users of technology. This has enabled more productive engagement including emails and calls, as well as provided techniques such as gamification to set competitive internal dynamics that help motivate sales professionals.

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Zuora and Subscription Management: Suite and Platform to Address Digital Business

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Sep 28, 2020 3:00:00 AM

The last decade has seen exponential growth amongst subscription-based business models. Pioneered in the B2C market with cloud-based SaaS offerings, the last decade has seen exponential growth in the share of the economy that is now subscription based. Increasingly, this modern business model is permeating throughout more traditional style industries and companies. But regardless of whether a company is natively subscription based, or is transitioning, maintaining this growth requires organizations to foster long-term relationships with customers and deliver products and services that get better over time.

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Subscription and Usage Management Technology Needs for the Modern Economy

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Sep 11, 2020 3:00:00 AM

Subscription-based business models have seen exponential growth over the last decade. The growth of this recurring revenue business model, where a subscriber commits to repeatedly pay for a good or device for a fixed or indefinite timeline, has been caused by the shift from the one-time selling of physical products to selling digital services on a subscription basis. The first phase of this transformation was led by “digitally native” organizations, typically B2C, that have only ever offered services via subscription. Although a large market in its own right, it is still dwarfed by businesses selling physical products. But this market is also changing, as more and more traditional organizations transition some or all of their revenue to the subscription economy. Ventana Research asserts that through 2023, fewer than half of organizations will have the correct technology in place to support such a transition. This Analyst Perspective looks at some of the key implications of this transition and what it means for technology choices as companies move toward a subscription management approach to overseeing the subscribers and usage of their products and services.

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Why I Joined Ventana Research to Lead Office of Sales

Posted by Stephen Hurrell on Aug 21, 2020 3:00:00 AM

I’m very excited to announce to my network as well as the ever-expanding Ventana Research community that I’m now directing Ventana Research’s Office of Sales practice. The focus is to guide and educate sales and business professionals on the selling applications and technology including digital commerce, price and revenue management, product information management, sales enablement, sales performance management and subscription management. While these are the main topics of our Office of Sales practice, my decades of experience in analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and planning are part of what I bring to the firm to help advance the science of selling.

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