Architectural Structure

2020 Client Survey 


ClearEdge surveyed its client base to assess the state of the ongoing competition between buyers and sellers of IT solutions. The answers to the 2020 Client Survey provided an inside look at how our clients are handling deal-making activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Organizational Alignment Challenge

The IT market is consistently dynamic, filled with new and rapidly evolving solutions. However, customers are plagued by punitive switching costs, which serve to protect installed solutions and let sellers tightly control pricing. IT suppliers maintain highly sophisticated sales systems to determine the buyers’ value for their solutions, which allow them to guard and grow margins. To level the playing field from a cost perspective, buyers must match the sellers’ strategic intensity. 

Now more than ever, deal leaders must understand how to “compete” against supplier sales systems to minimize costs and mitigate risk with their top providers.

The goal of this survey was to consolidate observations, knowledge, and best practices from the top IT executives at some of the world’s largest organizations in addressing the alignment challenge. Misalignment is the main culprit behind the most common IT deal missteps, such as information leaks, negotiation messaging inconsistency, and a lack of governance on demand planning. When stakeholders are not aligned on goals and negotiation strategy, the vendor can exploit the organizational disconnect in its favor.

ClearEdge consolidated the survey results and created a report that sheds light on what big companies are doing to fix their misalignment and suggests how to tackle your organization’s alignment challenges using the experience of your peers.

Architectural Structure

Key Sections in the Survey Report

2020 IT Buying Trends

COVID-19 has forced organizations to pivot and adapt to a new economic landscape. It’s the first time that many organizations are utilizing a 100% remote workforce, calling for additional communication platform licenses to cover increased user counts, extra virtual private network capacity, and other devices or solutions to maintain employee accessibility and performance. The increased pressure brought on by the pandemic has accelerated planned IT digital transformations, fueling new processes and remote capabilities for many organizations. 

Key Insights in this Section:

Which IT categories experienced the highest demand due to COVID-19 and what it means for buyers looking to adopt those solutions

How changes in demand for certain IT solutions is shaping suppliers’ go-forward sales behavior

How organizations are achieving alignment during the pandemic to drive more unified buying strategies and reduce operating expenses

IT Supplier Buying Opportunities

COVID-19 has forced many organizations to look for cost-reduction opportunities wherever possible to plan for the unknowable future. Our report highlights where clients experienced success in reducing costs, and which supplier categories are showing signs of increased flexibility to accommodate cost reduction demands. Readers will find that many suppliers are adapting to the new economic climate with a willingness to be more flexible on pricing and terms to win net new revenue and compensate for decreases in demand. 

Key Insights in this Section:

A detailed ranking of the IT supplier flexibility across the top vendors in software, networking, hardware, security, services, and telecommunications

An assigned flexibility score of how supplier behavior has shifted year over year due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the top vendors, including Microsoft, Cisco, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Dell EMC, IBM, and others

A list of tactics used to cut IT supplier spending in 2020 
The specific areas of opportunity that buyers can use to their advantage to achieve additional concessions to set their deals up for success

IT Supplier Buying Difficulties

Key Insights in this Section:

A list of vendors across IT spend categories that are exhibiting a lack of flexibility during 2020

The specific contract terms that are hardest to negotiate and which are the most achievable

Why certain suppliers are exhibiting strict sales behavior and why organizations struggle during negotiations

Client feedback on the trends in software audit activity and what to guard against regarding software compliance

There are also many suppliers who have shown very limited or no flexibility to their customer base to relieve financial struggles experienced due to the pandemic. IT buyers need to be aware of the vendors who are exhibiting rigid and/or aggressive sales behavior in 2020, as these tactics often result in present cost exposure and future risk.

IT Buying Best Practices

To ensure that they do not leave dollars on the table and introduce risk into their IT agreements, deal leaders must enforce a set of best practices for all stakeholders. This report provides recommendations for best practices used across our client base to effectively compete and maximize the value of IT investments.

Key Insights in this Section:

The importance of driving deal activities through a well-defined and strategic deal timeline, and what an ideal plan looks like

Trends that lead to over-purchase behavior across our client base

How organizations consistently struggle to maintain an accurate inventory of entitlements

The four key phases of successful deals and how to complete each phase to drive powerful negotiations 


How Do You Stack Up?

Based on the feedback from our surveyed client base, there are many reasons why an organization can stumble when building an effective deal strategy. We discovered there was a consensus among clients that alignment is a critical issue, and that processes were already in place to promote deal synergy among stakeholders. However, in many instances, these processes fell short or were not adopted by the business. 

To see how your organization stacks up against our client base and learn ways to improve your alignment and deal negotiations, click the link below and take our 2020 IT Deal-Maker Survey. At the end of the survey, you’ll get immediate access to the full Client Survey Report discussed above. 

If you’d like to receive a personalized report and more in-depth insights on how your deal-making activities compare to others’, click the link at the end of the survey to schedule a meeting with us.

Take the Survey Now to Gain Access to the Report

Image by Scott Graham

This SaaS Deal Strategy Assessment takes into account best-in-class deal data from over 11,000 software sales negotiations that ClearEdge has assisted in, involving the inspection and analysis of more than $26B in spends. Take the SaaS Deal Strategy Assessment to find out how prepared you are for deal success


If you’d like to receive a personalized report and more in-depth insights on how your deal-making activities compare to others’, click the link below to schedule a meeting with us.