Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Discovery Channel

I've spent a lot of time this month at Sales Kickoff events talking about the art and science of the Discovery Process. One of my key statements is that Discovery is a continuing process with a customer and should NOT be regarded as a single event. (Just as the Discovery Channel is on TV 24x7).

The point of this is that if you focus on a "Discovery Meeting" as the only opportunity to conduct discovery then you are missing the opportunity to learn way more about your customer. It doesn't matter what you call it - Discovery, Needs Analysis, Business Issue Discussion, Business Drivers etc..

The other interesting discussion point revolves around where the transition occurs from the salesperson to the presales person when conducting discovery. Since I rarely hear presales complain that they do too much discovery I'm fairly certain where the line should be drawn. Yet every sales/presales relationship is different, and strictly defining the cutoff can limit the talents of the pairing. The best solution seems to be general guidelines, which each sales/presales group can mutually adjust based on their respective skills. Usually most presales engineers will want to be engaged earlier rather than later - as long as the deal is qualified (budget, timeframe, approval process, do they have a pulse etc..).

In return - presales need to make themselves more accessible to sales for discovery calls, and not bury them (the reps) in paperwork or process to get "a resource". Otherwise presales becomes a resource instead of a partner - and we know where that leads us!!

Good selling.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Too Much Information

An interesting post by Jack Derby titled "There's Nothing Easy About Sales" reminded me of my standard lecture at the start of my workshops. Jack proposes the 1-2-3 Rule - in short - "Attend anything-a seminar, sales meeting, or boot camp-, and you should try to walk away with no more than three things that you’re going to put to work almost immediately."

My standard pitch is that I speak to my class about Monday Morning Behavior. I explain that means that once this course has completed – what behavioral changes are you going to make once you are back in the office? Then I tell them (having spoken with their managers) that they need to meet with their manager next week – and commit to what they are going to change, by when – and how to measure it.

It works really well.
My pitch with the managers is to focus on no more than 3 changes at a time (as in 1-2-3!!) . My analogy is my golf game. I’m bad at golf and always play with friends better than me. After 3-4 holes, they take pity on me and give me tips. Those tips make me better and better until I get to about the ninth hole. Then I am trying to remember to many things at once – and my game falls apart again..
So three things to remember.
One - write down and commit to change from any training you go to.
Two - your customers feel the same way (overwhelmed) if you present or demo too much.
Three - you can make serious money playing me at golf!

Monday, January 9, 2012

NEW - The Demo Workshop

I'm announcing the first of a set of brand new workshops for 2012. It's the simply titled "Demo Workshop". I've actually been doing this for years, and it seems such a common request that I've finally packaged it up. But it's really about customizing your demos, presentatuions and whiteboards.

It’s a simple idea – bring a team of Sales Engineers together, plus their current set of demos, presentations and whiteboard pitches. Share these pitches with us beforehand so we can do our homework. Optionally add in a representative from sales, product management and marketing.

We spend a couple of hours covering the Mastering Technical Sales Perfect Pitch concepts and best practices of presenting for the Sales Engineer. Then take the remainder of the day to deconstruct and rebuild those same demos, presentations and whiteboards based on these best practices.The result is a set of highly memorable customer-facing artifacts that the SE team can immediately use to grab the customer’s attention and drive the sales cycle faster.

Click here to learn more about the workshop and see what some of my customers, and their customers, have been saying about the results - and it doesn't matter if your team has already been through some demo or presentation training classes, as this is focused on you.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kodak And Dinosaurs

The impending bankruptcy of Kodak is a handy reminder about adaptability.

Now, as Sales Engineers, we are continually forced to adapt as the technology, the business and the competition all change. From what I see in my travels around the globe, we're pretty good at doing that - often faster than our sales and marketing brethren. If we don't want to go the same way as the Dinosaurs, Kodak, Buggy Whips, 5 1/4" Floppy Disks and so on - we need to continually change.

With 2012 rolling in I think it's a great time to reflect on what adaptations you made last year and what you'll need to do this year. If you continue to present/demo the same old things you've always done - you'll fail. Maybe not immediately - but you will fail. It is inevitable. So grab a sheet of paper or your trusty iPad and write down what changes you actually made last year - in terms of technology, business and your professional skills. However long that that list is (and I hope it's a long one) it will need to be even larger this year - otherwise you'll be your company's equivalent of the last shop to develop 35mm film. Not a good place to be unless you are sliding into retirement!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January 2012 Content Posted

The first content for 2012 is now available. This month I have the now traditional New Year's Resolutions For The PreSales Engineer. A collection of 12 positive and 6 non-so-positive resolutions to help an SE improve his/her Promotability, Performance and income Potential. These are three things which YOU are responsible for - not your boss, not Human Resources and not the Sales Force. It's all you!

The second article is a little different. Over the years I've had to make sales presentations and run seminars in countries all over the world. Most of the time I present in English and the audience "speaks' English. Sometimes they don't! On those occasions I've used an interpreter - and wow is it a different and humbling experience! Learn from my mistakes. One day you will need to know how to present in your native language to a "foreign" audience.

The 'Ask John" covers Demo Interruptus. I received a question from an SE who was continually being interrupted during his demo - by the customer, by the rep, by his colleagues. It's probably not all their fault. Read why.

Book Of The Month is David Sibbet's Visual Meetings. Great first 90 pages, tough going (unless you are a consultant) for the last 160 pages. Yet .. the first 90 pages are worth the price of the book.

One of my New Year's Resolution is to blog and post more. I'm also starting on Twitter soon as @PreSalesMTS. Watch out later this week for some ideas as to what I'll be working on for 2012.

Meanwhile - all the best for 2012 and Good Selling!