Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Profiling The Sales Engineer

Over the last year I've been involved in several personality profiling exercises conducted with teams of Sales Engineers. Right now one of my customer projects is developing an interview/personality profile for potential new hire presales engineers.

Most profiles seem to be built either on the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) system or on DISC - although it seems to me that DISC is easier for people (i.e hiring managers) to pick up and understand than MBTI. I also discovered an interesting variant on DISC that involves colors instead - so someone is a high Red instead of a high D - which is Dominant (quick , fast, get to the point type of person).

Although there is obviously no perfect profile - it is apparent that some personality trends lend themselves better to some types of SE jobs over others. Even if it as simplistic as different behaviors for strategic, big account solution-sell SE's versus transactional run-and-gun SE's.

I've settled on using DISC with the colors variant for those who are more visually driven - and my question is - are there any SE organizations out there who have profiled their teams? And would you be willing to share your results if I share the data I've gathered over the past 5 years with you?

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Brief Debrief : Self-Improvement for the Sales Engineer

Last week I wrote a guest article for executive recruiters J. Patrick & Associates. It's a simple method for Sales Engineers (in fact, for anyone) to get feedback about their performance and improve themselves. As I state in the article I have always been amazed how little time is spent on the debrief after a sales call. And usually what is covered are the sales essentials like next steps, follow-up.

So how is an SE supposed to get better? especially when you get feedback like 'great demo - John'. Well - what exactly was soooo great about it. Read the T3-B3-N3 summary methodology and find out how you can get better with just a few simple questions.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Shooting MTS Videos

For the last couple of days I've been in Boston shooting a series of video vignettes for one of my newest customers. I now have the greatest respect not only for the professionals behind the camera and sound equipment, but also, and it pains me to say this, for all the product marketing folks who have produced videos over the years for me when I was running a presales team.

It's hard work! Mainly because you have to generate all the energy by yourself as there is no audience to feed off and interact with. Two days of doing this feels like a full week on the road running seminars. To date I've cut "White Boarding 101", "The Perfect Pitch" and "Telling Stories" - all designed for the Sales Engineer. Tomorrow's session is specifically for Managers. I must admit I could really get used to being called "The Talent"!

What have I learnt? For as much as I talk about simplification, presentation mechanics and using PUNCH in your pitches - that's all doubly important when cutting a video. It's a humbling experience - particularly when watching the playbacks. If you think you're an ace, A+ presenter - try shooting video.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What's an SE Worth?

The lead artice for this month is "What's An SE Worth?". It looks at different ways of calculating the ROI of a Sales Engineer. I believe it is impossible to calculate the ROI of an entire organization, but it is possible to calculate the ROI of the last, or better yet the next, SE hired.

With the help of some friends (Sean Culen, Mike Lohr and Jim Sargent) out there in SE-land I look at the costs, the direct and indirect benefits of an SE. Mix that in with a sneak peek at my ROPE (Return On Presales Effort) methodology and you get a pretty good idea on the return for making your next hire - as well as some compelling soft benefits for the SE org that most HR/Finance folks never think of.

By using a mix of potential revenue, pipeline, utilization, revenue/head and winrate across the dimensions of geography, solution and actual activity you begin to see a different view of the economics of the SE.

The ultimate answer is - unless your sales are in the tank - there is usually a compelling economic case for one more hire.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wall Street Journal - Students Struggle With Words

Todays Business Education section in the Wall Street Journal is titled "Students Struggle With Words: Business Schools Put More Emphasis on Writing Amid Employer Complaints".

The main point is that the course teaches students to unlearn bad behavior - such as using complicated words over simple ones. I call this "decomplexification". This is a bad behavior I see all the time in customer facing product/solution decks. A corporate recuiter is quoted as saying "MBA candidates tend to talk about their analytical methods to show they are good at their job. What we really want to talk about are the implications of the research."

In the words of a naval officer friend of mine , "Be Brief, Be Bright and Be Gone". Give it a read!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Making The Most Of Your SE Investments

Last month I participated in a webcast sponsored by the Sales Management Association about "Making The Most of Your SE Investments". The program featured Sean Cullen from SAP and John Littleton from Cisco plus yours truly - all giving their different perspectives about the efficient running and operating of a modern presales organization. We also had a healthy Q&A session - bearing in mind that most of the audience was sales and operations managers!

Big thanks to Bob Kelly, chairman of the SMA, for allowing me to hotlink straight to the webinar. While you are there check out the rest of the SMA program website.