Negotiating a fair deal with Adobe can be tough. With a product portfolio that includes everything from creativity and design apps to document and PDF Management to full scale marketing platforms, Adobe’s products are pervasive within the enterprise sector (Acrobat has a whopping 96% share of the PDF market). This large-scale proliferation of solution adoption across the enterprise has created a challenging IT buying environment where negotiation leverage can often feel out of reach.
But is it impossible? Certainly not. While navigating an Adobe renewal negotiation can be difficult, our recent observations on Adobe’s sales behavior may be helpful when formulating a go-forward strategy with the vendor.
Adobe currently has two main families: Creative/Document Cloud and Marketing/Commerce Technology (MarTech). Here are some key observations around both:
Adobe Renewal Negotiation Dynamics for Creative/Document Cloud
Adobe’s Creative Cloud portfolio, which includes household names like Acrobat and Photoshop but also lesser-known design apps like Illustrator and InDesign, is a preferred solution amongst many professionals on the creative side of business. Adobe has been consistent in providing functionality refreshes for each of these product families as time goes on. However, with that mindset also comes a tendency to enact price increases and the last couple years have seen multiple instances of upticks.
2023 is no exception. Clients will see an increase ranging from 15% to 40% on Creative Cloud licensing fees. Functionality updates and the addition of new license titles will be Adobe’s go-to justifications when rationalizing the price increases, and their sales teams have shown a tendency to dig their heels in when it comes to negotiating the increases.
With that said, leverage creation is key (especially during a renewal) when transacting on Creative Cloud titles.
CCE Pro Upgrade and the Addition of Frame.IO and Substance 3D
Adobe has recently been promoting its upgraded functionality within Creative Cloud for Enterprise Pro (CCE Pro) subscriptions and pushing clients to CCE Pro Plus licenses. The Pro Plus licenses come with access to all of Adobe’s Stock assets in an unlimited capacity, but also include a high price point. While the price increase may not be appealing at first, moving to the upgraded license type could present itself as a form of leverage creation when negotiating the deal as a whole.
Adobe has also been actively buying select competitors and have begun adding their product sets into the CCE portfolio as another revenue stream. Products like Frame.IO and Substance 3D are examples of these “new offerings” and agreeing to transact on a new product like this could also create extra leverage when trying to secure a competitive overall offer.
Adobe Renewal Negotiation Dynamics for Marketing/Commerce Tech
Adobe’s MarTech portfolio is a robust collection of product sets that encompasses the full gamut of tools that an enterprise-level marketing team would need to manage campaigns, establish a customer targeting strategy, and analyze data pulled from specific customer sets. With functionality improvement and innovation being a priority for Adobe’s MarTech product teams, products like the Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) and Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) have had various rebranding and license functionality changes.
New product adoption and continued license growth continue to be viable and effective levers when negotiating with Adobe, and the AEP product set has been a trending priority for Adobe sales teams as of late. Real-Time CDP, Customer Journey Analytics, and Journey Optimization are becoming increasingly common alongside AEM and other MarTech products like Target and Audience Manager. Clients who have chosen to include these products in their MarTech stack have been successful in negotiating competitive overall MarTech agreements.
Adobe has also recently shifted its enterprise-level support offerings. In late 2022, Adobe phased out its Premier Support program (that included Elite Support options) and rebranded everything. The two support options are now called Expert Support and Ultimate Support. Most enterprise clients are electing to move to the Ultimate Support option. While it affords the functionality that best fits more sophisticated marketing teams, it does come with a higher price point than the legacy Elite Support options.
Tips for Negotiating a World-Class Deal with Adobe
Frequent license rebranding, functionality upgrades, and consistent price increases are all part of Adobe’s sales identity. Familiarization and preparation around these items will go a long way towards helping IT procurement teams secure world-class negotiation outcomes with Adobe.
It’s important to request granular pricing detail. This can be a valuable tool when analyzing an Adobe deal and pushing for it to be included in proposals up front will provide transparency into how Adobe is structuring a deal.
Also, don’t forget to negotiate caps on price increases. Caps are a must have for Adobe transactions and help to guard against future price increases. Price benchmark analysis can help you establish a fair cap.
Finally, make you’re purchasing only what you need and at a fair price. License optimization across your Adobe estate will ensure you’re not paying for unused or under-used licenses, and that you are matching best-fit license types to actual usage requirements. This, along with IT price benchmarking, can eliminate toxic spend that can account for as much as 30% of your Adobe spend.
It may be tough to move the needle on price negotiations with Adobe, but it’s not impossible. Armed with the right pricing analysis and vendor negotiation intel, material savings and concessions are achievable.
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