Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus; “A practical guide for improving communication and getting what you want in your relationship;” Like the legendary book there is much to be said for trying to unlock the secrets hidden in each others words and actions. Understanding the behaviour of both Oracle and the customer, as both fundamentally want the same thing but tend to be poor at communicating their needs. Through communicating effectively and educating both parties of their own personal and company objectives, constraints and processes, it can be very helpful to achieve what both parties want and have a positive commercial relationship.
Often Madora Consulting will act on behalf of a customer as mediator with Oracle and it does at times feel like marriage counseling in an acrimonious relationship.
The Customer will often say that …
“oracle is expensive” “difficult to deal with” –
” lack flexibility on contracts” “too many reps calling on us”
“discounts are too low” “the licensing model is complicated”
Often customers do not want to continually have to negotiate for each purchase. Ideally they would like the best possible discount and preferably for any volume. In order to make it easier for budgeting and business cases, knowing the unit cost of a processor of database say can make life a lot easier.
What the Oracle rep will say
“The customer is obsessed with discount and does not see the value”
“The customer wants more discount but are only buying a small volume”
“We are already x% above the published discount schedule.”
It is worth reminding ourselves that what drives Oracle is share price. The management drive the firm hard, very hard from the top to achieve sales growth quarter on quarter to maintain or increase the price per share. The life blood of Oracle is it’s annuity stream of support revenue and this is maintained through new sales. Oracle is a driven sales company and understanding this is key. The fact that your firm spends $X million on support per annum is important to them but does not offer the leverage that new spend does. Trying to get things changed or fixed and basing it on your support spend is an issue as the people you are generally engaged with are sales reps.
Sales reps are measured on new business which will include the first year of support. All support issues from year 2 and onwards is covered by the Premier Support Sales Division not Sales. Sales reps have virtually no influence or say on support levels and are not measured on it.
It is possible to renegotiate or reshape older agreements but even to take products out you still need to be spending. So think of it like this; You buy a car with seven seats so you can accommodate the whole family. You pay for the car on finance and spread the cost over a few years. The family grows up (very rapidly) and fly the nest, you now have a seven seater car that you are paying off but some of the seats are now redundant. Now with a car you could trade it in for a 2 seater turbo charged sports car. You will be paying a bit more for the car but now you have something usable. The same thing is possible with Oracle if you are still spending and the precious support is protected.
The more open a dialogue you can have with Oracle the more creativity you will see. If you can share your plans (Oracle and non Oracle) you may see a more proactive sales rep trying to build a case and build other options for you. Remember you can still negotiate and drive a bargain but wait to see what Oracle can come up with. Playing hard ball and going ‘quiet’ is the worst thing to do. All that happens is Oracle either walk away or the sales managers will start pushing the rep into behaviours that will only annoy you (and them!).
So what if you just can’t afford to spend much? Well then you need to help the Sales Rep justify your asks. Every rep has to submit an approval to get the discounts and special terms you want. This is not an easy process and the more you can share to help build a case the better. Arm your rep with all necessary information to get your demands approved. If you can share strategy, intent, Oracle first policy, agreeing to be a reference etc, then you may be able to get some beneficial discounts and terms without breaking the bank. This is why an open, professional working relationship with your sales rep is key. It may also take a few iterations but persevere. It is possible to have a positive and collaborative relationship with Oracle.