Category Archives: Selling

A Sales Rep, an Industry Expert, and a Presales Engineer walk into a bar

Without a customer.

Actually, it was a business room in corporate headquarters.  They talked shop.  They shared notes on the different accounts they were working and strategies they were undertaking.  Conversation went a million different directions, digging into this, digging into that, ranging far and wide with just a little bit of gossip.

They came out of the room with fresh insights on approaches high level and low, industry trends, competition, what the solutions could and couldn’t do, and overall enhanced their collective go to market.

It took two hours.

Talk shop once in a while.

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

It’s time to start the play

You’ve got an audience’s attention, which is, when you think about it, a pretty good financial investment on their part.  Interested parties and decision makers have come together, on the phone or in person, to hear what you have to say.

You’ve got this audience’s attention, and they want you to talk about them.  More to the point, they came to see how your product can help with their business needs.

You’ve got your audience’s attention, and it’s important to set the context of the conversation by reviewing their challenges and how you’ll be resolving them.

You’ll start losing some of your audience’s attention as their cell phones start buzzing and important calls come in, but it’s important for them to know the background of your business and the amazing stories behind some of your reference customers and how successful they have been using your solution.

You’ve lost your audience’s attention because you took 27 minutes to start the play.

They came to see a play.  It’s okay to tell them what the play is about, but you’d better tell them when the play is going to start.

Oh, and start it quickly.

Tagged , , ,

Living the Dream

Please don’t say this.

While the intent of the phrase “I’m living the dream” is self-deprecating humor meant to carry the small talk until you get down to business, it comes across like you hate your job and would rather be doing anything other than what you’re doing at the moment.  At the moment you happen to be meeting with your customer.  Why would they want to work with someone who feels this way?

Instead say you’re doing great, and believe in that; or borrow from Dave Ramsey and say you’re doing better than you deserve, which is a stance of humility.

Either is better (and classier) than the equivalent of “it’s 5:30 somewhere!”

 

 

Tagged ,

Plus or Minus Three Minutes

You are entirely within the realm of business etiquette if you arrive to a conference call three minutes late.  You can, in fact, strategically arrive at three minutes past, just as the call really gets started.

But if you’re there three minutes early…

You’ll get the chance to talk with the host of the call one on one.  You’ll meet the other people who are ready to get something done. You’ll get to create, renew and enhance relationships with peers and customers in an informal, friendly atmosphere.

Show up a little early.

Tagged , ,

Eventually…

If you stay in the game long enough, you’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms multiple times in a sales cycle.

If you stick around longer, you’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms in a different sales cycle with a different sales team.

When you’re a grizzled veteran, you’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms, but with different customer contacts and a different sales team.

Eventually…

You’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms, but this time you’ll be with a different vendor, selling the replacement to the solution you sold them a decade ago when the world was young and a quart of milk was still a quarter.

Tagged , , , ,

Investigative Reporter

The joy is in the research, the discovery, the crafting, the thinking.

And when you make a series of calls like Redford as Woodward in All the President’s Men, you’re an investigative reporter hot on the trail of a lead.  From witness to sales rep to product manager to customer, you’re digging up clues and finding the real scoop.

Your story will make the difference for the customer.

The research will save you a lot of time in the sales process.

 

Tagged , ,

Solve the Problem or Change the Game?

Solution Engineer. Solution Consultant.  Solution Advisor.

Different titles for the same role,* but our common skill is taking a matrix of information and experience and solving problems.  When challenged to solve for X, we’ll provide the right answer and we’ll factor efficiency, access, cost, time, and other considerations into our mix.  Solution consulted, advised and engineered.

But.

How often do we think about solving for Y instead?  Can we look at the data and see a bigger picture? Can we suggest a different vision to the customer?

That might be when we become Pre-Sales.

* How many have you had on your business cards through the years?
Tagged , ,

Let the Customer Open

Surely in your qualification and discovery conversations* you’ve covered the basic purpose of your planned meeting: who will be in the audience, what their expectations are, and an agreed upon agenda.

But when it comes to the meeting itself, have your host open the meeting and lay these details out for agreement.  In this way, the meeting is by the customer, for the customer, and about the customer, rather than by, for, and about you and your products and services.  If there’s disagreement or there are political struggles going on, the audience members can resolve these things themselves without you having to defend.

The stage is now set on their terms. Your presence is to help them in their decision-making processes.

Now you can begin to share why you’re there to show, how you’re going to do that, and what you want them to take away.**

*No, “just give them the standard overview” is not a qualified discovery
** Which is, by the way, a fantastic three step introduction framework.  Quick, to the point.  On with the show!
Tagged , , , ,

Complete, Fully Integrated, End to End

I once had a humorous poster listing Murphy’s Laws on Technology, which included this shrewd observation:

Any given program, while running, is obsolete

…because everything can be improved.  You’re never done.  There’s always something that could be added or taken away; another angle, a new technology, a change in the market that will render your solution, well, obsolete, even if it’s fresh into customer beta.

Claiming a solution to be complete, fully integrated, and end to end is an unnecessary and lazy sales tactic.  Any skeptic in your audience will perk up and start challenging you.

  • It’s clearly not complete.  There’s always something more that customization or competitive solutions can do. But maybe it fits their needs now with room to grow?
  • Fully integrated implies that two systems are as one.  And they aren’t.  They’re two systems brought together through integration technologies and choices.   That the integration is packaged, configurable, and supported is the value.
  • End to end applies to use cases and transactional data in a business process.  What your customer cares about is their use-cases and their business process.  Talk specifically about how your solution handles those from end to end.
Tagged , , , ,

Five Minute Demo

From way outside the enterprise software space, here is a pair of demonstrations we can learn from.

I would buy this product based on this fundamentally sound,* informative, and compelling demonstration:**

Let’s dissect it just a little:

  • A quick “hello, here’s what we’re going to be talking about”
  • Brief demo on his own terms of the product to give us a taste
  • Educational review of the major features, and what it does
  • Deeper demo showing the real use cases we care about and the resulting variety and power of the product we care about
  • Brief summary, praise, and call to action

There was joy and enthusiasm on the part of the presenter from the opening seconds, and he showed us enough to let our imaginations fill in the rest.  Wouldn’t you love to be able to coax your own sounds out of this unit?  Don’t you want to discover what else it can do?


I wouldn’t buy this product based on this rambling checklist:***

Let’s rip it apart:

  • Hello, here’s what we’re going to talk about
  • Tangential, distracting story
  • Long technical feature-function training course
  • More features and functions
  • Even more features and functions
  • Ineffective and out of place cross-selling pitch
  • Finally, demo!  …Well, ten seconds of demo, then back to the training class and another cross-selling pitch
  • Ten seconds of demo, thirty seconds of explanation; repeat, repeat, repeat
  • Thanks for watching, for more information go to the website

There was no joy on the part of the presenter.  Does he even like playing guitar?  Nothing was left to the imagination, no stone left unturned, and you walk away thinking “that’s all it does.”

* Sure, it could have used a little more editing and another draft.
** I did, actually.
*** From the manufacturer’s rep!
Tagged , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: