Ignition Community Live with Vannessa G.

Sell Ignition Like a Pro

35 min video  /  27 minute read

With powerful features, modular configurability, and unlimited licensing, the Ignition platform enables integrators to say “yes” to practically anything that end users want to accomplish. So how can integrators get prospective customers to say “yes” to Ignition? In this presentation, Inductive Automation Senior Account Executive Vannessa Garcia will share proven techniques for pitching Ignition effectively to various types of customers and she’ ll answer your sales-related questions. Boost your sales by catching this valuable presentation!


Lauren: Well. Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Ignition Community Live. Today is Episode 21, which is all about how to sell Ignition like a pro. My name is Lauren Walters, I'm the Marketing Project Manager here at Inductive Automation, and I'm excited to be moderating today's Ignition Community Live. We are featuring our guest today, Vannessa Garcia, we're so excited to have her. Vannessa is a Senior Account Executive here at Inductive Automation, and she's going to be presenting her expert techniques for selling Ignition effectively. Vannessa, thank you so much for being here today. We're so excited to have you. Can you start off by telling us a little bit more about your role at the company? 

Vannessa: Sure, and thanks for having me. Thanks for joining everybody. My role here at the company for the past 12 years or so is to listen to the customer requirements and present Ignition in a way that meets those requirements, so it sounds pretty simple, but often, these customers are comparing Ignition to two or three different software packages at a time. So I'm often helping them with their evaluations, I work directly with end users of the software and also integrators that ask, how do I pitch Ignition more effectively to my current or prospective customers, or how can I explain why it's a better choice than the other software packages on the market.

Vannessa: So today, we're going to answer that by focusing on the differentiating factors that set Ignition apart from our competitors in the industrial space, I'm also going to share messages that have been proven to be effective for us here in the sales division. So let's look at where these differentiating factors come from, because this in itself certainly sets us apart from the competition, they're based in the experiences of our founder, Steve Hechtman. Steve worked as a systems integrator for 25 years, and he kept running into the same pain points with the SCADA software that was available at the time, these are the same pain points that I'm sure the integrators on the line today have experienced, the technology was outdated and the licensing really put limits on what he and his customers could accomplish, this inspired him to build a better solution and eventually led to the creation of the Ignition platform, which Steve likes to refer to as the new SCADA that replaced traditional SCADA.

Vannessa: So many of Ignition's features were designed to solve SCADA pain points. I'll talk about the pain points in more detail, but in general, they all save time, save money, or reduce frustration in some way, finding out the customer's pain points and being able to show how Ignition can solve them is a very important part of an effective Ignition pitch.

Vannessa: Today, I'm going to show you a video that I, Lauren and Shay Johnson recently made, it's about Ignition's differentiating factors, and it's part of a series called The Pitch that we developed to help our integrators understand the many aspects of selling and marketing Ignition. It's based on the techniques that we use here in the company, in the video, I'm gonna talk about what separates Ignition and Inductive Automation from the competition, speaking effectively to customers who already have software systems in place, common pain points and ways to resolve them with Ignition. And I'll go over our software comparison chart, which I use daily.

Lauren: Welcome back to our sales and marketing video series. I'm Lauren.

Shay: And I'm Shay. Today we're talking about the differentiating factors of Ignition.

Lauren: Joining us is Vannessa Garcia, a Senior Account Executive at Inductive Automation. Vannessa, thanks for sitting down with us today.

Vannessa: Thanks for having me.

Lauren: So Vannessa, we're really excited to talk to you today, especially because you actually worked for one of our competitors, so you've seen the differentiating factors of Ignition in action. What's it like to sell Ignition with that background? 

Vannessa: I would say that it's just been very refreshing to sell Ignition, knowing what else is out there, I feel like we really listen to our customers, it is innovative. We hear about a lot of different feature requests that come through and are able to actually implement that in the software, which is really nice.

Lauren: That's awesome.

Shay: Vannessa, you have many years of experience in the industrial space, what would you say that you've seen over the years, separates Ignition from its competition? 

Vannessa: Well, there's a variety of things, and I think at Inductive Automation, we're not shy about what those things are, so definitely on the website, I think I showed it in the last video that I did with you guys, there's nine things that I feel really separate the platform, the company itself, I feel like just our unique story, which I think there's another video on that, really sets us apart as a company, but on the software side itself, the unlimited licensing model, the ability to run on any platform, any operating system, even down to our drivers is very unique, server-centric web deployment.

Lauren: And I know you actually use the platform page as kind of your anchor in your conversations, your initial conversations with customers to really highlight those differences.

Vannessa: Yep, it's actually one of the very first pages I bring up because I think it's important for people to understand exactly why they're spending their time to learn about this platform because they most likely have something else in place that they're using and they may not know what else is out there beyond what they have in-house.

Shay: What is that conversation like when you're speaking with a customer that already has a competitor software system in place? 

Vannessa: I know that conversation very well, in fact, I just have that conversation today, and it's typically the same... So I usually like to spend some time to understand what software they're currently using, what they like about it, what they don't like about it, what's missing, and then once I get a feel for that, then I think that it's a good time to really talk about the benefits of Ignition, one of the pieces that is very important is that it's modular, so I give them the understanding that they don't have to... It's not ‘take it or leave it.’ They can pick which modules they need based solely on the requirements, and later as the requirements grow, they can activate more modules, and I feel like that makes them really comfortable with the system. The conversation today, for example, the person I was speaking with was more interested in our historian and wanted to know more about that, and then it went into the HMI, and then it went into the reporting and on and on, and so he really liked that it was one platform that could do everything, but that he didn't have to do everything right now.

Lauren: So how do you talk about the differences between Ignition and a competitor software? 

Vannessa: Well, I know that there's another video on it, but it's definitely... We wanna take the high road. We don't talk bad about other people's software, but I will tell you in every conversation, the same pain points come up, so we just let them talk, and we have a graphic here of the pain points that people usually... that usually come to light in the conversation, and so those pain points really leading the way for us to highlight Ignition's strong points. It's a pretty long document, so you can either print it out or just show it to the customer or kinda just talk through them. So this pain point graphic has something for everybody, so if we're talking about the people actually having to manage the software, I'm talking about the people that have to have it installed, worry about what servers it's going on, worry about making sure there's a backup, how to restore it in case something happens. Those are the people you want to talk to about just the workability of the software, so that's the first piece here, in terms of the fact that it can run on anything.

Vannessa: Most IT people are gonna want it to run on a pretty, pretty good server, but it's nice to know that the software's lightweight, that's something that's really important, I think, to mention because it's not bloated like a lot of other software out there, also just the ability to back it up and restore it, very simply... Simply, simple, it's very simple. For example, if you wanted to back up the entire gateway, it's one file, it's not separate files you need to restore from, which is a huge selling point, but people that don't work with the software actually installing it and making screens, they probably wouldn't care about that, so that's why it would depend on who you're speaking with. The other thing that I like to bring up is just the time savings, time is money. So I think everybody would care about this in terms of how long is it gonna take you to complete this project, how long is it gonna take you to launch a new client or to use that design environment to create new screens, so that's pretty important for almost everybody. The next one is related. It's money [chuckle]. So how much does it cost? Most everybody in the company is interested in how much the software is going to save them in terms of dollars.

Shay: You mentioned earlier that one of your favorite things about working for Inductive Automation is that we're really responsive to customer feedback, and we really try and take info from how customers have previously dealt with problems. So how has that influenced the way that you talk about Ignition? 

Vannessa: I love that we are like that, I don't know of any other company that takes feedback the way we do, and so it's really helpful because I like that whatever a customer has in mind in terms of what they may wanna accomplish with the software, I typically say yes, that's my go-to. 'Cause it's true. It's usually a yes, and it also can be a not right now, but that's a feature request. And guess what? We will listen. And so we even have a website called ideas.inductiveautomation.com that I typically show to customers, because nobody else has this. They can see live what features other customers are asking for, they can vote features up, they get to see which features are actually being planned which ones are in progress and which ones have already been complete, I don't know of another company where their customers can give direct feedback to the developers just like we do here at Inductive Automation. So I think that that really helps with the discussion.

Lauren: It's exciting because not only are we really willing to implement customers’ requests, but we also have the ability to do that really easily because the nature of Ignition is so platform-based. Can you talk more about that? 

Vannessa: Right, exactly. We have these great ideas, our customers have great ideas, how do we deliver? And so we've actually... It's genius, in fact, I love this about Ignition, is Ignition's a platform that's modular in nature, so it's like we've feature-proofed ourselves, because if there's a new technology that comes on the scene or a new idea that a customer has, there can be a module made for the platform without changing the underlying platform. So I think that that's a great question, and that really leads into more of a reason why customers choose Ignition over other platforms.

Shay: So taking this to a sales discussion, how do you help a customer quantify all these differences that we've talked about in Ignition and help them really understand the return on investment? 

Vannessa: So one is in order to use another software package and do what Ignition does, what would that cost them? So they would have to pay for a software package that does a HMI. They would have to pay per client. They might have to pay for screens, tags. And then they'd have another software that they would buy to use as a historian. They would buy another software for their reporting package. They would have to pay separately for a design environment per package. So what would that cost them? And then there's the conversation around just, "Time is money," so how long would it take you now to install these separate packages? With Ignition, one of the things that we typically show in live demos is a live install. Nobody does that, because you'd be sitting there for half a day.

Vannessa: And so being able to install the software quickly, get clients up and running all over your plant in an instant, make instant changes, that's a huge time savings, which then translates to dollars. Some other things I like to talk about are the ability for Ignition to run on any operating system, which may not be obvious from the start. But if you think about it, if a company were to upgrade their operating system, and they were running some other software that software would break. They would have to pay for an upgrade just for that software to run on the new operating system. Since Ignition runs on any operating system, any version of Windows, Linux, even Mac OS for the client and the server side, they get to not only save time but save money on upgrade costs. Our upgrades are what we were talking about earlier, they're features, so we're putting new features into the software. It's not like, "Great, you can go run on the newest operating system now," so that definitely translates to dollars, for sure.

Shay: That's awesome.

Lauren: Yeah, that really is. And I do hear that you have your own kind of cheat sheet that you like to use when you're talking to customers, and we'll be able to show that to our integrators and viewers of this video as well.

Vannessa: Yeah, this is pretty awesome. The original comparison chart was made by Steve years ago, because I was bugging him. Because everybody wants to know, a side-by side comparison, "What are... What's better? How do I talk to the customer about the differences?" And so we... What we always say is, "Hey, we are not experts in everybody else's software. We don't develop our software based on their software, we do it... " Again, we do it based on the pain points that we've seen in the industry. And so that's what this comparison chart really focuses on. And it also... Depending on who you're talking to, you could highlight certain things. So the first part is just the easy installation, you know what I was talking about in terms of saving time there, running the clients and how long it would take you to install software on every HMI, for example, versus using Ignition.

Vannessa: The unlimited licensing, which is always huge, and I'm sure we've talked about that so much in this series. But that alone could sell the software to the user, just the unlimited licensing itself. The operating system support, that's typically a big hit with IT people, so if there's IT people in the room, I always like to mention that, 'cause those are the poor guys having to make sure all the software versions are happy with the different operating systems and such, so that's something that I would highlight with them. Security and stability is also another big highlight typically for IT people taking care of the network and such. But yeah, this is a sheet, I want everybody to have it, because it goes point by point. And again, some of these are gonna speak more to different parts of the company, whether it's the guy on the plant floor or the manager or the IT people.

Lauren: Awesome. And again, we will have this for everybody to use and to implement in their own sales process.

Vannessa: Yeah. And here at Inductive Automation too, if there's integrators that are using this, we love to get feedback. So it's really nice to be able to bounce these ideas off of us here at Inductive Automation. So if anybody has any questions about, "What does this actually mean in terms of how it compares to other softwares out there?" We're happy to answer those questions.

Shay: Thank you so much, Vannessa, for sitting down with us today. I think this has all been very valuable for our integrators. I think being able to have documentation and specific examples that our integrators can go into customer sites with and have that as tools in their toolbox will only help them to be more successful than they already are. So thank you again.

Vannessa: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Lauren: Alright. Vannessa, I have to say it was so fun to watch that video again. We filmed it a while ago, and it's kind of fun to see how much we learned in that video and how much I really learned from being able to take that time with you. We're going to go into kind of a question-and-answer mode now. If you're ready for it, Vannessa? 

Vannessa: Yeah. Sure. Go for it.

Lauren: Awesome. So tell me... Here's kind of a starter question, if a customer isn't ready to switch to a whole new SCADA system, what are some other ways you can kind of get Ignition in the door earlier than maybe they're originally anticipating, or another scenario where you can kind of get Ignition started with a customer? 

Vannessa: Yeah, so that kinda goes back to what I was saying earlier about understanding what their pain points are, and also understanding what's missing. So some of the less expensive ways of getting Ignition in the door would be like the Edge Panel, which is a low-cost HMI. So if you're at a customer site, and they're, I don't know, complaining about one of their Panel Views or something like that and the cost of it, and they wanna... Don't wanna run out and... Hey, I don't know. What is it? Like $6,000 or something, the Edge Panel license is $1,500 retail, and so it's a good way to get Ignition in the door without it being an actual server license.

Lauren: Awesome. That is a great tool to start. A lot of this... We didn't touch on this in the video so much, but do you have any advice about building relationships? A big piece of sales, I know for you especially, has been building these relationships with customers. Do you have any kind of quick tips, advice, how do you keep those relationships strong and even just start them out? 

Vannessa: Yeah, that... This is a great question, because although we're in the sales department, I will tell you that we keep in touch even after the sale, because Ignition's unlimited. So you sell a server license, they get unlimited clients, unlimited tags, unlimited reports, it's like, "Well, maybe there's nothing else to sell." But we actually keep the relationship going. And it would be a good idea for the integrator to do that, because the integrator can come in and see that the customer already has Ignition, they don't need to pay for a license. But maybe there's new ways they can use Ignition for years to come, so it definitely is the gift that keeps on giving there. I would recommend watching our case studies that we have on our website in the resources section to get new ideas of how customers can use the software that they already own.

Lauren: Awesome. Another kind of quick question, what do you hear... We kinda touched on this in the video a little bit, but what are some common objections or concerns people have about Ignition initially, and how do you talk to them about those concerns? 

Vannessa: Yeah, so that was... That's actually kinda tying back to that first question you asked me about like, " How do you get Ignition in the door?" A lot of times people think that Ignition is the full SCADA server, and you have to buy it all at once. So that was one of the things I mentioned in the video. I often have to explain the modular functionality of Ignition and how they just meet the requirements that they have right now. Like, say they already have a SCADA system, but their alarm notification system isn't so great. A lot of customers are using WIN-911 through the years, and this is before Alarm Notification Module, and were just begging for us to come out with one, and so that could be something that they can install all by itself. I don't know if a lot of people know that, you could actually just use the Alarm Notification Module doing two-way email, SMS and voice notification, and the customer could have a completely different SCADA package. So it's all about understanding the modules and how that can work into what the customer has already.

Lauren: Awesome. And here's a rapid-fire question for you, how long is your ideal demo? Is it 30 minutes? 20 minutes? You do both shorter, longer?

Vannessa: I was actually just talking to one of our technical leads, because we have to do a 30-minute presentation and demo for a customer... Yeah, in the Netherlands later this week. At 4:00 AM, mind you, Pacific Time. But anyway, [chuckle] that's another story. So we were like, "Oh gosh, how are we gonna do this?" It is possible, you can do it. You definitely have to have a strong agenda in place and hit the high notes. If a customer wants an overview, that typically I'd schedule for an hour, and that includes Q&A. So I would do an overview of the architecture, the software stack, the modular functionality, and then I would actually show a sample application showing off those modules. That would take about 30 to 40 minutes, and then the rest would be Q&A. Oh, also if you're gonna do a live install, you could do a live install, connect up to a PLC that you already know the IP address of, connect to a database that could be on the same computer, build a quick screen, launch a client. I could actually do that entire thing, including the install, in about 10 minutes. So I do it in an hour. Yeah.

Lauren: Yeah, yeah. That sounds like another differentiating factor of us too, that we can...

Vannessa: Our demos. Yeah, for sure.

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. I had another question kind of related to that idea of a strong agenda. How do you pitch differentiating factors for different audiences of people? I know you kinda mentioned some things that you might especially highlight if you're speaking to IT. Are there other audiences or folks that you like to really highlight specific features with? 

Vannessa: Yes, for sure. So the demo I'm talking about, the one that we're planning this week, that's more to the C-level executives. I don't know that they really wanna see a software install, [chuckle] they're probably more concerned with the scalability of Ignition and also the enterprise administration module where they're doing a global rollout, so I might focus on more of the enterprise selling points to C-level. The guy actually building the screens, I would definitely show them around the designer. And then for the users, I would more focus on... We have a sample project, demo.ia.io, I would focus on the... How the screens could look for them and what they're able to accomplish on the user end.

Lauren: Absolutely. Awesome. I did see a question here about where you can find the comparison chart. Now, we'll get to this before the end of the presentation, but that resource is available in our integrator account. So if you have an integrator account already, you can check out the resources section. If not, it's a great tool to be able to use. I know, Vannessa, you love using that comparison chart quite a bit in your presentations. And you... kind of when we were making the video, you wanted to make sure that this was a resource that people would have available as well.

Vannessa: Yeah, super important that everybody have that. It's my go-to. Because again, I'm often getting into these comparison conversations, and because we're not experts in other software, it's really important to understand the pain points that Steve had and how we set out to solve those pain points, and that's what you see in that comparison chart.

Lauren: Absolutely. Now we've got another question, and Vannessa, maybe you'll have the answer for this. Is there an initiative for a faceplates library? Like a process library available to speed up the development process.

Vannessa: I think they're referring to the Ignition Exchange, if they haven't seen that already.

Lauren: I've seen it.

Vannessa: So, that is some... I don't know how long we've had the Exchange up. Before that we had cloud templates in the designer. Yeah, check out the Ignition Exchange. People are submitting templates often, and it's not just Inductive Automation employees and engineers, it's also the people in our community, integrators and end users. And so that's where you're gonna find faceplates, and they're all free. All of those templates are free and you can import them right into your project to speed up development.

Lauren: That's true, actually, I think we didn't even really, obviously, touch on the Ignition Exchange in our video, but that is something really unique that we have. It's a resource library, it's community-kind-of-driven, and it's really exciting to see what kind of resources end up on there. I know we did a little contest this year for our Ignition Community Conference as well. So, that's always a fun tool to check out if you haven't before. Another question, how often do Ignition customers receive updates to the software? 

Vannessa: So, we have nightly updates online, but those are gonna be more like bug fixes and things like that, and you can always check to see the notes on the update. And we have a major upgrade... I've been here for a while and we used to do major upgrades once a year. This last one took a couple of years. That's where we're putting some new, major features into the software. And so, the next one will be 8.2, which, I don't know if that's gonna come out next year or the year after. The major upgrades might be, like, I'd say a year to two, and then the bug fixes and things like that are happening nightly, I think.

Lauren: Great, and we've got another question here about industry sectors. Do we have documentation or demos for different industries that we use? 

Vannessa: Oh gosh. No, okay. So, on the demo.ia.io, at that site, that's our demo project for Perspective. There's a tab where you can click into where it's got more industry-specific demos. We plan on adding more. Right now there's just water/wastewater and oil and gas. And I think we're gonna hopefully add, like, food and beverage and some other ones. As far as, like, the presentations on the website, when I'm talking to, say, somebody in pharmaceuticals or something like that, I often take them to the case studies page where I am familiar with how Ignition has felt the pain points of customers within their same industry. Beyond that, we don't really have any specific like demo screens for industries.

Lauren: Right, I know that the case studies is a really awesome tool on our website. There's something for every industry, you can sort by industry and check out different videos and a variety of protocols and sectors, really cool case studies and success stories. Here's another one, what are problems that prospects typically do not relate to their SCADA system, but we could maybe educate a prospect on this? So, maybe they're not necessarily associating an issue with their SCADA system, but they might need to solve that problem.

Vannessa: Oh, okay. Yeah, that's a good one. So, the way I'm reading that is a customer doesn't necessarily understand that they can solve this particular issue with Ignition. I think that's how I'm reading it. And so, that's really cool because Ignition... Sometimes we say it's like beyond SCADA, because once you get the Ignition modules in place, you could actually use them for things other than SCADA. So for example, if you had Perspective or the Vision Module as a front-end, and of course you've got the database connection going, there's actually nothing stopping you from using the Vision or the Perspective Module as a web-based front-end for the database. So, you could actually do form data or you can make little inventory systems. I see people make CMMS systems, where anything that they're doing in Excel right now or on Whiteboards, nothing related to PLC data or anything, just managing their business, you could actually use Ignition for that. And I think there have been other webinars on the fact that Inductive Automation actually runs our CRM system on our own software. We're using the Vision Module right now, and then we're gonna transfer over to the Perspective Module pretty soon.

Lauren: Absolutely, that's an awesome answer. It looks like those are all the questions we have for now. So, I do wanna mention, I know this came up a couple of times, we do have a ton of free resources for integrators. We have the whole video series, The Pitch, there's many more videos in that series. Another one with Vannessa, videos with everyone from our founder, Steve Hechtman, to different sales engineers within the company. There's a ton of valuable tools in that video series alone. There's also tools like the software comparison chart that Vannessa mentioned, and you can access all of those tools by logging into your Integrator account on the website.

Lauren: Now, if you don't have an Integrator account, it's really easy to set one up. You just check out the link right here on this slide and you can set up your account. All kinds of cool tools there for you to use. So, be sure to leverage that, that's something that also is a differentiating factor for Inductive Automation. We really want integrators and users to succeed in this space. So we do offer them a lot of tools for that. Once again, I wanted to thank you, Vannessa, so much for joining us today. It's super valuable to be able to pick your brain and hear your thoughts and perspective on how selling Ignition can be actually pretty easy and successful. You've been an awesome role model for that.

Vannessa: Thank you, thanks for having me. And to everybody here on the line, I really wanna thank you all for just joining in and even for your effort. We have a really strong integrator program, we value you guys and we are successful because you guys are successful. So, if you guys need any advice or have any things that you want to bring to us in terms of requests or things that you think could make the program better, Ignition better, we're all ears. So, thank you for joining.

Lauren: Absolutely, couldn't have said it better than that. And again, thank you to our audience for being here today, and I hope you enjoyed this presentation. And we will see you next time on the next Ignition Community Live.


Posted on November 11, 2020