Monday, September 27, 2010


"If you don't practice - someone else will!"
"You always perform at the level you practice"

 I just finished watching a remote (webcast) demo of a "revolutionary new software product" that will "change the way companies do business". Maybe it will - but it felt like it was the very first time the SE had ever seen the product. Nothing worked as it was supposed to and the demo gave a very poor first impression. What happened? The SE made a "minor upgrade" to the software a few days ago, checked a couple of basic functions - and never practiced his demo script.

This is elementary SE 101 best practices - so why am I blogging about it? BECAUSE IT IS NOT UNCOMMON. Are we getting lazy? Are we getting crunched for time? What possible excuse can there be for not practicing? I have to add that the salesperson ad-libbed his introduction and forgot to cover one of their key business issues.

Practice. That's why there are so many quotes about it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Let Go Of Perfection

Last week I was helping a friend prepare a speech he was going to be making at a school board meeting. A little different from a classic sales call - but he wanted to persuade the board to make a particular decision.

He had a great speech outlined with a terrific structure. It was clear, concise and persuasive. But he wasn't happy. Why? Because he was wedded to perfection. I told him to let go, which may seem like strange advice - but here is my reasoning...

When I put together a new presentation, I work hard to come up with the exact words and phrases to get my points across. And so I get stuck to these specific words. If I don't use those exact words it feels like a failure. Yet during the presentation, it's far better  not to worry about finding the perfect words and instead  be natural and focus on your audience. As long as you have rehearsed , you'll be able to communicate your points clearly even if you don't use the "perfect" words. Because the audience never knew what your perfect words were anyway.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How Do I Get Promoted?

The September newsletter generated a lot of feedback, especially the Ask John section about "How Do I Get Promoted (at a small company)?"

It's made me realize that I should spend some time for the remainder of the year looking at career development as it relates to the role of the Sales Engineer.

The lead article in September was The Post Sales Puzzle, which examines just why Pre-Sales gets dragged into Post-Sales activity. The soft skills piece looks at Handout Happiness, a much neglected tool of the SE.

So outside of the standard HR definitions, what really makes the difference between a staff, senior and principal Sales Engineer ?