Monthly Archives: June 2012

A Friday Pre-Sales Haiku

demos completed
cocktails at the airport bar
flights and the drive home

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Schooling is the opposite of a desire to learn

Schooling is someone forcing an agenda of information upon you.  “You must know this and this.” Hence the term: you’ve been schooled.  You’ve been taught a lesson.

A desire to learn is at odds with this.  You can only come to knowledge by seeking information and using it to expand your current understanding.

By asking questions, the learner can get to the point with the teacher.

By asking questions, the teacher can quickly gauge where the learner is.

Is it any wonder the best teachers (Socrates, anyone?) ask questions rather than dictate?

Questions are the currency of communication.  Information is worthless without the curious mind.

Discovery meetings are the time to ask questions.  If the customer insists on telling you  their agenda, teaching you, how will they know if you understand?

What is the point?


Rest Stop

When you pull off the highway for a quick rest stop…

Do you feel like you have to catch back up to traffic when you get back on? (guilt)


Do you notice that you’re now with cars that you’d passed a while back? (enjoying the journey)

Enjoy the journey.  Take some time off once in a while.  We run hard in Pre-Sales;  give the rest of the world a chance to catch back up.

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Climbing the Spiral Staircase

Every cycle we engage in- win, lose, or draw- we gain experience.

That experience brings out the finer points, the little touches and nuances that make a difference.  A point of positioning here, and understanding of the user’s life there, and tips about using projectors and podiums and whiteboards everywhere.

There’s always another level of competition.  There’s always a better way to convey the message.  There’s always a way to change, to improve.

Keep climbing the spiral staircase up and through the stratosphere.  Otherwise you’re just doing a job.

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Speed dating

This is when it all comes together.

I have 44 minutes, a cryptic spreadsheet of 40 requirements, a briefing, and some customer knowledge to work with.

I’m going to mix it all together with some eggs, a demo, and a fresh powerpoint and bake a demo cake.

This is fun!

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Things you can do with rope

Tug others along

Tie things down

Magic tricks



With a fulcrum, increase your leverage

Cross it at the finish line

Make a net

Cut it to set things free

Tug of war


Create a barrier

Knot it up

Burn yourself badly (ouch!)

Cross impossible ravines

In short, you can lead with it.

Just like leadership, each of these things requires you to put some tension on the rope.  And just like leadership, you can’t push anything with it.


Writing, Thinking, Preparing, Rehearsing

The other day my laptop crashed and I lost about an hour’s work* I’d invested on a presentation.

But did I really lose anything?

  • Writing the presentation was a tool for me to do the thinking I needed.
  • Writing the presentation was helping me prepare for delivering my thoughts, my messages to the customer.
  • Writing the presentation was a form of repetitive rehearsal.

What I lost was a draft.  It took me roughly twenty minutes to recreate what I lost, and it flowed more smoothly.  What was necessary in the endeavor was to think, prepare, and rehearse.

*This was a shock, as I have through the years developed a nervous “ctrl-s to save” habit with my left hand.  How I went that long is

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Micro to Macro

In any system, there’s an infinite range of detail to be explored and understood, from the micro details of individuals screens, fields, and usability quirks to the macro concepts of departmental functions, business processes and strategic initiatives.

Our challenge is to set the depth of focus that best communicates to our audience.   We need to meet them where they are and provide painless navigation down into the details.   We need to pull them out of the weeds and sum those details back into high level value.

It might take a moment to find that focus for an audience, but it’s imperative they come away with what they need.  So adjust your zoom until they can see clearly.

It’s not about what you want to say, it’s about what they need to hear.

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Reach Out and Touch Someone

As new technologies are introduced, they go through stages of maturity in the marketplace.  Initially innovative, and therefore expensive, they grow to be commonplace and ultimately become a commodity (or forgotten).

Somewhere along that curve, from breakthrough invention to optimized revenue scalability, communication of the technology’s benefits migrates from the inventor* to engineers to pre-sales to order takers to the discount end-cap at Target.

Remember Palm Pilots?

During the time a technology is in pre-sales stewardship, it is our responsibility and joy to discover, understand, and bring to others.

Enjoy the technology in its ride.  But don’t hang on too long.  The next great thing is preparing to change what you do. For example, this is the year of the tablet.  And next year?

*even Alexander Graham Bell did some pre-sales work.

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