Former Cisco Exec Spotlights
Power Of Evidence Marketing
Case Studies, Industry Proof Points New Tools
The transformation from product selling to solution selling has already had a significant impact on markets like information technology, where buyers are highly sophisticated and products quickly become commodities. One of the key results of that transformation has been the growth of “evidence marketing,” according to Amir Hartman, a former senior executive at Cisco Systems and author of Ruthless Execution.
Many other markets are still at the beginning of the change cycle in terms of evidence marketing, but Hartman suggested the trend is moving far beyond technology. He pointed out that the early adopters of evidence marketing and consultative selling have seen growth in incremental sales, as well as improved customer loyalty and higher average margins.
Referred to in some industries as “value engineering” or “consultative selling,” Hartman defined evidence marketing as a disciplined approach to assessing and enhancing the customer experience. In more basic terms, he referred to evidence marketing as “talking about how you can solve point points or problems.” In addition to case studies and customer testimonials, he suggested these strategies should utilize fact-based quantitative measures as well as industry-specific customer proof points.
“Some companies have been willing to take on some risk by adopting gain-sharing scenarios like value-based pricing, where they establish a baseline price and then agree upon a sliding scale based on achieving certain milestones.” -- Amir Hartman, Mainstay Partners
Hartman is currently the managing director of San Mateo, CA-based Mainstay Partners, which provides strategic services to such companies as Oracle, Honeywell and Motorola. During his career, Hartman was one of the chief architects of the successful consultative sales approach adopted by Cisco Systems. He is also on the faculty at both Columbia's Graduate School of Business and Berkeley's Haas School of Business, where he teaches in their Executive MBA programs.
Back in 1997, Cisco created its Internet Business Solutions Group to work closely with top accounts to build executive level relationships and develop business justification for technology investments. During its first five years of existence, the launch of IBSG was credited with helping Cisco achieve over $200 million in competitive wins and increase average customer deal size by over 20%. “Cisco is a great model of converting what could have been a black box company into a thought leader that talked to its customers about business solutions,” Hartman said.
Since building a large consultative sales organization like Cisco’s requires a significant investment, Hartman suggested that smaller companies have looked to hook up with customer peer groups or offer deep dive business assessments. “Some companies have been willing to take on some risk by adopting gain-sharing scenarios like value-based pricing, where they establish a baseline price and then agree upon a sliding scale based on achieving certain milestones,” he said.