Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chasm, What Chasm? Three Trends Collapsing the Technology Adoption Lifecycle

I've been wondering a lot lately about the Technology Adoption Lifecycle and Geoffry Moore's classic Crossing the Chasm.   I believe that we are seeing the Chasm obliterated by technology and cultural changes.    I see three inter-related trends that are driving this collapse, none of these in and of themselves will surprise any readers, but I think when taken together, there is a compelling argument that the Chasm is collapsing, and smart marketers can speed time to adoption by understanding this dynamic.   These trends are 1) The consumerization of technology and its impact on the speed of diffusion 2) the commoditization of the creation and distribution of content and 3) the lower barriers and risks of technology solution adoption.

Before I continue, I do want to note that Crossing the Chasm might be the most dog-eared book in my fairly extensive marketing library.  It is a CLASSIC, and has guided much of my thought and practice of marketing over the last 2 decades.   It still has tremendous value and incredible teaching and learning in it.  The concepts of bowling pins, whole product and positioning are beyond their worth in gold.  End of story.

But, I think we need to take a hard look at the chasm today.  On page xi of his revised edition of 1999, Moore states:  "The Chasm Model itself represents a pattern in market development that is based on the tendency of pragmatic people to adopt new technology when they see other people like them doing the same.  This causes them to band together as a group, and the groups initial reaction, like teenagers at a junior high dance,  is to hesitate and watch."   Let's take a little time and dissect this statement.

1) "the tendency of pragmatic people to adopt new technology when they see other people like them doing the same" - Since the Chasm was "discovered" by Moore, technology has infiltrated our lives, as  Marc Andreessen says, "software is eating the world."  Early adopters now surround everyone, kids and consumers often lead the way.   In addition, the technology continues to get hidden behind better and better and easier and easier user experience.  Today's professionals are more comfortable with and better and faster adopters of technology.  From the secretary, to the CEO, from the line worker to the general manager, adoption patterns have compressed and changed.  CIOs and Business Managers who wait for "the mainstream" to adopt a solution will quickly find themselves in the late 
majority, falling behind competitors.

2)  "... This causes them to band together as a group"  - Which group?  How many affiliations do you have on Linkedin? How many communities do you belong to?  What technology did the PTA just adopt that has you thinking, boy, why aren't we doing that?   It used to be information was held by vendors.   Customers and buyers depended on information brokers, such as Gartner, IDC and others to get aggregated views of this information.  Now they can go to Quora, or LinkedIn, or just plain Google.  Vendors now invest FORTUNES in content creation and distribution, because they must inform buyers now, or lose to competitors who do.  The group of peers has expanded dramatically and the information available to these groups has become free, available and subject to peer review.  One of the main reasons the group effect put brakes on mainstream adoption was the difficulty of obtaining and evaluating vendor claims.  We've entered the era of transparency and visibility, where the early adopters can more effectively share and make their informed views and experiences real to the mainstream.

3) "...and the groups initial reaction, like teenagers at a junior high dance,  is to hesitate and watch" The new reaction is to try at small scale, fail and scale successes.  The speed and cost dynamics of the cloud have fundamentally changed the economics of trial and the risk of failure.  The risk and fear of failure is now lower than the odds of success and upside. 

I still believe in vertical marketing, I still believe in delivering whole products, I still believe in the power of positioning, but I believe the Chasm is closing and will continue to do so.  I hope this posts is controversial, and creates a discussion, I expect it will do so!  What do you think???

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 and Three Other Companies Getting Viewpoint Right!

When I talk about Viewpoint, the first question I usually get is, "well, who does this well?"

The godfather of Viewpoint in the new era of cloud computing is clearly   As I have written here,'s "The End of Software" created a unique and compelling Viewpoint that aligned with the aspiration and frustrations of their target customers who needed faster and easier visibility into sales pipeline and performance.  As they and the market have matured, they have adeptly shifted to "The Social Enterprise", seeking to capitalize on the technology, environmental and business shift to social computing.   So far, this seems to be a big win again for Benioff and team as even conservative Gartner Group now calls this category "Social CRM" . 

But everyone calls out Salesforce, so I wanted to find a few maybe lesser know examples of companies who are staking out a Viewpoint which gets them attention, leads and business.  Here's a few:

Zuora - The Subscription Economy - By building the business around the Subscription Economy, Zuora has created a fertile ground for discussing their billing solutions in a context that matters.  Rather than simply an accounting solution for selling term licenses, Zuora has effectively planted a flag of leadership.  They've even committed a whole website to the discussion of this Viewpoint.

FireEye - Sometimes a Viewpoint is as simple as saying "the world around you has dramatically changed, have you responded?".  This is exactly what FireEye has done with their Next Generation Threat positioning.  By elegantly articulating what their clients already knew, that the bad guys were changing faster than their current defenses, FireEye positioned themselve as the expert to define and deliver what a next generation threat protection solution.

VirginAmerica -  Flying should be painful, crowded, stressful and miserable.  Right?  Wrong says VirginAmerica.  Experience the difference.  A great example of a Viewpoint which takes conventional wisdom and throws it out the window.  Backed by delivery of the promise of a new and differentiated service.  Cool!  Let's book today!

By creating a unique Viewpoint, we create the space or the context to deliver our unique value, creating impact, the first stage of accelerating to Velocity Marketing.  What's you Viewpoint?  (check out this blog for a starting framework... or join me for my Velocity Breakthrough Marketing Workshop in Boston on October 25th...)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Three Things You Should Forget about B2B Sales and Marketing

Sometimes the things we forget are as important as those we remember.  Well, here's 3 things I think we would all do to forget in our B2B go to market strategies...

1) Demo only when qualified - NO - Buyers come in MANY shapes and sizes, with MANY email addresses, and in MANY states of readiness.  In all cases, they have come to expect to be able to see the service or product experience.   Since so many sales cycles are now 'hidden', if you don't "show me the money" early, you could lose and not even know it...

2) Enterprise sales are top down, always - NO.  Just ask Yammer, Atlassian or even and others.  Many enterprise sales cycles are now driven bottoms up by the line manager who has the problem to solve.  Now enterpise sales has ALWAYS been a combination of top down and bottom up selling, but today, the scales are tipping to the bottom up.  Velocity now requires trial, demo and value delivery EARLY and OFTEN.

3)Qualified leads matter most - NO, marketing must now deliver qualified buyers to sales.  Sales then must slam the door shut.  Marketing used to be the warm up act, and sales the concert giver.  Now it looks more like Marketing plays the first 2 acts and sales ends the show.   With hidden sales cycles and self directed buyers, marketing must not just find qualified leads, they must find the active buyers.

Each of these things to forget have broad and significant sales and marketing implications, on tactics, measurement, roles and org structutres...more of that to come in another blog...