How to beat the challenges of B2B fintech sales?
The Finastra Innovation Roadshow
Finastra is a huge company with a fairly big sales team spread across the globe. We attend conferences, do webinars and visit customers all the time. Although this typical sales-machinery brings in the annual numbers, we realised that digital requires a slightly different approach.
The challenges of classic B2B fintech sales
The key for product companies is long-term relationship, achieved by re-selling. For this they need a solid base product which is prepared for the future and a well-trained team to convince customers about the it’s excellence and reliability. This strategy works well for considerably solid areas of fintech (core products, DWH, BI, payments, trading, treasury, etc.), purchasing them means a long-term commitment with proper ROI projections for years ahead. They are all pricey, related sales discussions and negotiations leading to contract signage eat up years.
Digital is different. Its the fastest moving sector where years of planning and preparation is not an option. In that time trends rise and fall, expectations change, internet turns around. Investing in digital means that you need to look more into the fast changing future and bet on non-calculable things like user experience that follows ever changing digital expectations, e-spending habits, non-existing devices or services.
Digital is basically half science half fortunetelling, therefore relying on the same sales team who takes care of long-term, fact based lead generation for solid software products is risky. They are far from our laboratories. Selling digital means pitching first-hand experiences by those who’s work is to look into the future, to experiment and fail, those who actively nurture the future look of banks.
What had we done differently?!
A year ago we decided that banks needs to meet Finastra Labs directly. The quickest yet most efficient way was a so called Innovation Roadshow. Its purpose was dual: on one hand — as described above — there is a strong need to demonstrate our future digital capabilities for our clients, on the other, Labs is also hungry for direct feedback from banks.
During the roadshows Labs team members visit banks to do live workshop about latest innovations, concepts and ideas. During these 1:1 sessions banks we encourage banks to share their challenges and goals then we can address them with proper use cases on the spot. by doing so we not just gain valuable insight but also ease it for the banks to understand how our ideas can support their business goals. We combine techniques used by consultant companies but unlike them, we respond with live demos instead of lengthy studies.
We enhance the session experience by letting the banks try our demos. This approach is exceptionally useful when we encounter doubt. Finastra Labs Conversation Engine (enables banks to build pro-active assistant dialogues in any language) was a good example: when we clearly stated that there is no need for any developers to build conversations, the audience responded with clear signs of doubt. To dispel it we asked bankers to type in a short message and select possible answers their clients might give, then connect a function where they would like to guide them to convert. After a few initial instructions they came up with actual dialogues. It took a total of 15 minutes — started from complete doubt — to see satisfied faces around, holding their mobile and talking to the Assistant they created. Reactions were priceless, something we rarely see happening during classic, (pre-)sales meetings. Although the process hasn’t stopped there.
B2B sales cycles — inarguably — are long, therefore a fine kick-off of the process is far from enough. When we find a high enough appetite for innovation at a customer, the next step is to invite them for a co-innovation session. During the one week of this workshop we map the needs, goals and challenges of a bank regarding to their upcoming digital project. Sitting together with the client’s representatives and discussing these essential questions helps us to gain context for this personalization routine: addressing each point we come up with modifications of existing concepts and combine them into a perfect matching solution. As we test the result at the end of the day our clients get a proved unique functionality, a full package of concepts, screen-flows and test results. We strongly believe that this is the way how a product vendor should create real value for its clients in the digital world.
Bottomline: after two roadshows, upgrading Finastra’s sales process for digital products seems to be successful. We were able to affect ongoing RFP processes, influence early stage leads and also create new opportunities, partnerships. Apart from the business results Finastra Innovation Lab team (based in Europe) gained a deep insight into the APAC banking scene, visited more than 10 countries in 4 weeks. We not just took good stories home but brand new concept ideas and valuable modifications for existing ones. During the follow ups we build up a pipeline for our Co-Innovation series and started to turn them into newborn projects.
The cost/return ratio of the roadshows is absolutely positive compared to general marketing events. Even placing our innovation department colleagues full time in a room with the bank, the lessons learned there along with the newly created concepts far exceeds the input. I personally encourage every company to — at least sometimes — send R&D and innovation teams to directly show the fruit of their work.