- Sustained 20%+ annual sales growth with a 5 percent increase in gross margins
- Closed three-year, $2.5 million deal and then a follow-up contract for $750,000 with a large utility company.
- Dramatic increase in the number of $1 million contracts closed each year
- Experienced a smoother flow of revenue through each quarter (versus packing revenue into the end of quarter).
- A tripling of subscription users (customers who make longer-term commitments to regular upgrades of Autodesk with concomitant subscription revenue increases)
- A comparable tripling (and an overall acceleration) of adoption rates for “next generation” 3D software solutions
- Rapidly expanding sales growth in emerging markets
Autodesk is the world’s most widely-used 2D solution in the design space. The company has led the industry for nearly two decades, selling to buyers in manufacturing, building, and civil engineering/infrastructure. While 2D software continues to be a primary design solution for most, Autodesk has been helping many of its customers transition to 3D. The company’s 3D solution enables the user to experience what their design will look like and how that design will perform in real life. As Carl Bass, President and CEO stated, “We need to create ways to address not just the challenges our customers face today but also anticipate the challenges of the future. Our 3D solutions take users beyond schematic drawings by providing engineering tools that enable them to fully realize their design ideas.”
Autodesk’s challenge has been to take advantage of a huge new opportunity: selling 3D design software to a variety of vertical industries. According to Bado, “The market is shifting from 2D to 3D. Autodesk intends to provide the same industry leadership and have the same success in 3D that we’ve had in 2D.
Unlike many other software companies, Autodesk’s key customer relationships are not the sole responsibility of its direct, salaried sales force. Autodesk’s value added resellers (VARs) share the workload for building significant customer relationships. These channel partners produce more than 80% of the company’s revenue by building solid but modestly sized transactional relationships with a large number of customers.
According to Kelly Rupp, Autodesk’s worldwide director of sales programs, “Our challenge has been taking our 1,700 resellers, who produce most of our revenue with an average deal size under six figures, to a skill level you would expect of a salaried, ‘on the payroll’ dedicated sales force.”
Ken Bado, SVP Worldwide Sales and Services, sees the challenge as requiring a different and more powerful approach to sales planning and execution: “There are really two kinds of selling in our business. The first is program selling – demand creation, moving product through the channel, fulfilling orders. The second is more competitive. The market or product may not be quite ready. You have to help customers see a compelling event, signaling their need for a new solution. Then you need to answer the question ‘why Autodesk?’”
The approach Autodesk’s direct sales force and best resellers have adopted is built on a foundation of account planning and execution designed to build relationships at higher and deeper levels in customer companies. Autodesk has deployed Corporate Visions’ live Situational Sales Negotiation™ (SSN) methodology to its global sales force and reseller network, and encouraged them to use the skills and techniques from those programs to implement account sales plans (which they are trained to create in the Target Account Selling program from The TAS Group).
Resellers benefit greatly from this new approach to improving sales results. According to Bado, “When our VARs use SSN tools we believe they are much better at increasing the value of what Autodesk provides the customer, and building better and larger customer relationships. The skills and planning tools help them really understand the customer’s business problems, and craft a solution the customer really feels good about.”
The result is often larger sales: “Customers are not always clear on what they want, how they win if they do business with you. It’s not unusual for a VAR to take the time to use SSN skills to really understand the customer’s needs…and find that a $100,000 relationship might turn into a $1 million one.”
Methodology: Corporate Visions’ Situational Sales Negotiations (SSN) has been key to implementing Autodesk’s 3D selling approach, helping VARs negotiate pivotal agreements during the sales process to drive the customer relationship in the right direction. For Autodesk VARs, these include customer agreements to:
- Engage in a dialogue not just with the technical CAD software buyer, but also higher-level senior executives about business trends and issues.
- Share information about the direction of their business that helps the Autodesk VAR show the customer executive the benefits to their business and its profit model of doing business this new way.
- Contract and plan for regular, multi-year subscription commitments to Autodesk’s software.
- Budget for and implement training for users to ensure optimal productivity with the use of Autodesk’s products.