Selling AI Platforms to Enterprise

Manny Bernabe2022-06-14

AI platforms have a challenge at the start of any sale. Customers WANT to see immediate value from AI and machine learning. However, customers NEED data integration and governance first. That initial data work requires effort and work. The question is how do you keep the client engaged before they pull the plug on your deal?

Here’s an approach. Focus on the operator. Make the setup super easy. Get data sources integrated quickly. Work like hell to get the operator to show an executive or manager a new insight that triggers an “aha” moment.

Let’s dive in deeper.

Be the Operator’s Best Friend and Hero

You’ll need executive support, but the real pain point (and therefore gains) will be felt by the operator (i.e., analysts, etc.). These are the folks that know the data inside and out because their jobs depend on it. They are the analysts sitting at their desk at 9pm at month’s end wrangling data and preparing reports. A very motivated user.

As you onboard these prospects, consider these metrics for the operator.

-How easy (and cheaply) is it to get started? Ideally, the setup is less than half a day and costs less than $25K.

-How long before they can dig into their data on your platform? User don't care about your platform. They care about their data.

It may be enough for the operator/analyst that your platform can help with getting and cleaning data, but leaders won’t appreciate it. Next, focus on helping your operator show an “executive” or buyer why they need to go all in on your platform.

The Golden Metric: Time to First Executive Decision

The question is how fast before your operator can get a report, an insight that makes a meaningful impact to the decision-making process to an executive. The sooner you can get to this point the better. You’ll win on three fronts here:

1— You’ll further endear yourself to the operator, your main internal champion.

2— You’ll provide a strong signal to the “buyer” on the value of the upfront data integration work

3— You’ll start building the foundation for future AI and ML that have exponential return potential further down the road.

As AI professionals, we know the value of data. Our customers don’t always. It’s our job to manage our customers through the initial upfront work required for long-term, massive gains.

Focusing on time to make the first executive decision is the way to do that.

Editor's Note: This idea was sparked by my conversation with my friend, Dorian Smiley.

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