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Posts tagged ‘Startups’

Vetting a Cloud-Based SaaS Vendor (ghostwritten blog post)


Vetting a Cloud-Based SaaS Vendor [Cheat Sheet]


A quick Google search for “top cloud-based SaaS vendors” nets over 14 million results—there’s certainly no shortage of them. Finding a good vendor in that haystack can be daunting and scary, especially with so much on the line, but a CIO who knows the right questions to ask beyond “How’s your security?” will be able to weed out the bad ones quickly.

Below find the categories that CIOs should focus on when vetting a cloud-based vendor. To get all the questions to these categories, download Mediafly’s cheat sheet to help guide you.

Business Viability Questions

Get to the competency of a company and ensure you’re not dealing with people working out of their garage. It’s important to confirm that any potential partner of yours will not only continue to exist, but also protect you against any loss of data.

The Million Terabyte Question

Once you feel confident the SaaS vendor is a viable candidate, it’s time to talk security. The first security-related question any CIO should ask a potential Cloud SaaS partner is:

Have You Been Hacked?

If the answer is yes, you’ll want to understand how they handled the incident management. If an audit has been conducted, you’re within your right to ask for a copy of it. If the audit results don’t reveal any other customers’ secrets, and the results are owned by the vendor, they should not have a problem delivering a copy to you. Look at the results of the audit, the scope of what was investigated, what the hackers were able to access versus not access, what was ruled as the cause of the breach, and verify that a follow-up audit was conducted to validate that the issues found were fixed.

If the answer is no, find out if the vendor has thought through worst case scenarios. They indicate if automatic detection triggers are in place and they call out the importance the vendor places on security driven capabilities.

Network Security Policy Questions

Yes, security is important, but how important is it to your line of business? The answer will vary by vertical. If you’re in a high-risk industry such as finance or media and entertainment, you’ll need a deeper understanding of a vendor’s security policies.

These questions will help shed insight on the vendor’s technical and human processes and everything network related. They also cover the bases on external threats, the scope of a vendor’s content access and allow you to understand if the vendor uses a data center or an application within the data center. If your company deals with valuable content you’ll want to conduct your own audit of the vendor’s network and operations to confirm it’s as impenetrable as you need it to be.

Product Roadmap Questions

I encourage you to cover specifically how the product will be implemented during RFP process. Uncovering the answers to these questions before you hire a vendor lets you see what the vendor is building and where they’re headed. The responses will point out future use cases and problems they may solve. Finally, you’ll be able to identify any patterns between what the vendor is doing internally or what challenges they are looking to address and how all of that fits with your company’s future.

There are plenty of other questions to ask a potential SaaS vendor, but starting with these categories will allow you to weed out the proverbial wheat from the chaff.

For a little more guidance, download our SaaS Vendor cheat sheet below with questions you can check off as you go along.

Battling for Market Share Armed with Information Enablement (ghostwritten blog post)


Battling for Market Share Armed with Information Enablement


Sales and marketing executives are focused on the same strategic battle: taking market share away from the competition. At the front lines of this effort is the sales force; information is their artillery.

Successful managers realize enablement isn’t just about sales enablement–it’s a level beyond that. It’s about enabling information, which is how the company’s vision and its innovative products and services are communicated. Leaders that understand this distinction between sales enablement and information enablement are able to beat their competitors day-in and day-out and win market share.

Information is Power

Information enablement allows sales and marketing managers to curate and organize information, impart that information with intelligence, and allow a sales force to deliver a message that is on-point, up-to-date, engaging, and effective. Sales reps can shift and shape their presentations on the spot, pivoting whenever customers take a conversation in a new direction. Effective information enablement means NOT having to answer with undesirable–and often sales killing–responses like, “I’ll get back to you on that.” or “Let me see if I have access to a deck on that topic.”

That’s why the enablement of information is powerful. But what is it?

Essentially, informational enablement is the pure dissemination of a company’s core vision, it’s intellectual property; the brains of the c-suite. It’s the secret weapon that empowers your sales force with relevant data, contextual talking points, and differentiators to ensure they can deliver an optimal message in any situation. It’s the key details your CEO would use to close a deal, but since the CEO isn’t in every meeting, it puts his or her knowledge at the fingertips of the sales reps on the ground. It gives them the advantage they need in their daily battle for increasing market share.

Think of it like this: sales enablement focuses on enabling sales management and sales process execution. It’s rigid and generic. Whereas information enablement is an immediate and fluid transfer of knowledge to every sales rep in a company. It can be endlessly “tailored” without diluting the original message, which translates to reps winning more battles.

Companies Are Leveraging Information Enablement to Win Market Share

Let me tell you the story of a global consumer goods company with a corporate mandate to increase market share in an already competitive space. They had an IT function in place to support sales and sales enablement, but the executive in charge of the “sales transformation” realized was that the IT department was building apps and tools without regard for how quickly things can change. Consequently, these tools and apps were not only expensive but within months they were useless to sales reps in the field

Management recognized the sales collateral being used was rigid, outdated, and often ineffective, and they wanted to get rid of their inflexible and expensive means of managing it all. They had a vision of bringing the company’s rapidly changing voice, products, and marketing messages to the field sales force in a manner that was impactful and engaging. They imagined being able to target information to specific regions, use-cases, and customers. They also knew they needed the ability to control the message across a variety of users without robbing those users of their individuality or ability to adapt in the field. They insisted on a dynamic and interactive sales platform with accurate reporting and streamlined methodologies. And above all, they wanted an affordable and scalable solution that could shift and change as the market does.

Enter Mediafly.

Mediafly started working with a small group within this consumer goods giant to enable their vision, sales and marketing collateral, videos and documents translated by the field sales team into real-time, consistently pure and most importantly impactful messaging.

This allowed each salesperson to assemble their own sales story while using the most up-to-date corporate-sanctioned messaging. Content-based reporting provided the management and marketing teams with insight into what information was most impactful and empowered the company to respond to market fluctuations with greater impact and speed.

What were the results?

  • Territory managers that created orders using Mediafly’s technology experienced a nearly 1% increase in market share in just six weeks.
  • Preparation time for weekly meetings was cut from five hours down to two, resulting in a 60% reduction of prep time.
  • Sales reps quality of life and job satisfaction dramatically improved because they were not longer spending nights and weekends finding and building PowerPoint presentations
  • The savings resulting from no longer printing unnecessary presentation material offset 80% of Mediafly’s licensing fees.

I urge you to think about enablement. And when you do, the focus should be on empowering the sale team through information. Arm your frontline reps with tools to help them win the day-to-day battle, win against the competition, and increase market share. Because how you embrace information enablement will make or break the future of your company.

Information Enablement: The Critical Factor in Growing Market Share (ghostwritten byline)


CEOWorld Magazine, CEO Lifestyle Section, May 4, 2015

Information Enablement: The Critical Factor in Growing Market Share

As a leader in a competitive industry, you are tasked with increasing your market share and growing revenue. The clock is counting down and you feel the constant pressure to achieve this year’s goal. Winning means outselling and outsmarting your competition day-in and day-out.

To bring home that win, you must ensure your customers and prospects understand the “total value” of your products and services. That means everything about your products and services, including not only how they address each customer’s specific needs but also how they enable all customers to remain informed as your offerings change or evolve.

If you or your CEO were in every sales meeting, it stands to reason that your customer’s understanding–or “perceived value”–of your products and services would be pretty close to the total value you hope to convey. If only you could find a way to be in all of those meetings, you would win against the competition almost every time.

But you are not in every meeting. Instead you rely on a large sales organization, which is likely several levels removed from your day-to-day visibility and involvement. As the company’s vision and product visions get batted about through various teams and tools, the value of those messages becomes more and more diluted. And it is not uncommon for your message to become lost entirely on its journey down the “information pipeline” from vision to product marketing to sales tools to sales rep to customer.

Leaders who are unable to meet their strategic objectives are typically the ones experiencing a debilitating loss of perceived value of their products and services. This loss can be traced to one culprit: a weak information pipeline.

How much of this scenario sounds familiar?

Your marketing team puts together product messaging and creates intellectual property that feeds all sales and marketing collateral. Typically the end result is a rigid package of content; a PowerPoint presentation, a few videos, additions to the website, PDF. documents, mini apps, etc. These assets are dull and moderately effective. They are setting your sales force up for failure, which puts your company’s strategic objectives on the line.

So how do you create a strong information pipeline?

In my position as CEO of Mediafly, I have worked with hundreds of people in leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies. They have no trouble explaining to me why their innovative products, services, and strategic initiatives set them apart from and above their competition. But when I ask them how accurate and effective their sales force is at delivering this constantly evolving vision, these leaders become uncomfortable. Why? Because most senior leaders do not have a clear method to gauge their information enablement effectiveness.

Once these leaders understand that information enablement is a critical component of their company’s strength and success–as important as a P&L statement, balance sheet, and cash flow–they start to think differently. They start to understand the direct and inalienable link between information and revenue; information and market share; information and sales.

What is the difference between content and information?

Content is more often than not, created with a specific receiver or audience in mind and can therefore only be used when speaking with that intended recipient. On the other hand, some content is generic enough to apply to multiple audiences, but it doesn’t go deep enough to resonate with any of them. If you send your sales force out with convoluted content, they become ineffective the moment the buyer takes the conversation in an unexpected direction. The battle is lost right then and there.

Information, on the other hand, can be shaped on the spot. It flows from conception to audience without losing any of its meaning. Whether your company is launching a new product, or you need to position yourself against a competitor, your company’s information needs to be delivered quickly and accurately–by hundreds or thousands of sales people day-in and day-out.

Today’s Buyers Demand and Expect More

The companies leading the pack in their respective industries have leaders who embrace the fact that in order to meet their ambitious revenue and market share objectives, they must fully convey–to somebody responsible for purchasing their product or your service–what the product or service does for that prospect’s particular situation. Customers don’t buy products. They buy solutions to their problems. They buy proven success.

Enlightened leaders do not cannibalize on their success by attempting to convey their message through rigid packages of content. In fact, they do not focus on content at all. Instead, they focus on the pure translation and dissemination of the company’s information.

Think of it like this. If content is a pixel, information is the full spectrum of colors. It can be combined and melded together to make any color variation you want. Information is literally and figuratively fluid, and the ability to move it around without rigid boundaries is what makes it so dynamic. You and your leadership teams are constantly refining this full spectrum of colors, but again, you are not always the one with boots on the ground doing the selling. You are not always the conduit through which the company’s vision is conveyed. In fact, you are probably time zones and organizational levels removed from your frontline sales force. Your sales force is fighting to achieve your market share and revenue goals through hand-to-hand combat.

An empowered sales force has the information they need to best position your products and services, regardless of the audience. All without any loss of value. That, my friends, is information enablement.


Written by  Carson Conant*, CEO and Founder of Mediafly, Inc., a globally recognized enterprise software company, that delivers mobile enablement solutions on the Content Mobility Cloud™, for Fortune 100 companies and beyond.

*ghostwritten by Heidi Kiec