Thursday, September 27, 2012

You will never "find" time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.

Yep. It's that time of the year. For many of my customers it is the end of Q3, and Q4 is rushing upon you. That quarter when it's "all hands on deck" / "close everything in sight" - you know the drill.

It's an especially tough quarter in most parts of the world as you move into the winter holidays. Here in the US when you take account of Thanksgiving and Christmas the 63 actual selling days rapidly decrease to less than 55. China has the whole of next week off. It happens everywhere. That doesn't mean that as an SE you throw your hands in the air and panic like most of the sales force.

In the next couple of weeks - take a little bit of time to invest in yourself and your future. Back in April 2011 I wrote "The Quarter Is Over - Now What?". I received a lot of positive feedback about the article and I think its worth reading (again!). The only person who is really in charge of your career and your development is ...  YOU. When you wait for some "free time" it rarely happens. There is always some last minute POC that needs to be completed, a proposal that needs to be changed, a "just one more time presentation or demonstration" that needs to be made, or a customer support problem you have to fix.

That's a lot of "needs". Take a little control, a little direction, and selfishly invest in one of your most important assets - you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

YES!! Global Availability Of The eBook

I've heard from a number of you over the past few months that you have had extreme difficulty obtaining the Kindle version of Mastering Technical Sales outside of the US. Those problems should now be over - here is the update from my publisher as of Sept 12th.
1.   Kindle informed us this morning that they’ve brought your book live on their international sites. We’ve verified it is available on the UK and all European sites plus Japan. Not yet in China.
2.  Although Amazon is selling Kindle devices on their Japanese website, customers who want to buy a Kindle book need to register on the US site to purchase a Kindle book. Obviously not very convenient, but I’m sure this will change in the future. (this isn't just me - it's everyone!!)
Let me know if you have any more problems.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Outcomes and Results v Features

Over the past two weeks I've had the opportunity to review three "Strategic Direction" and/or "Where The Market Is Going" PowerPoint decks. Each of them was designed by Product Marketing for the Sales and Presales Engineering teams to give to their customers. Each and every one of them looked like a deck I'd expect to be used in a Gartner analysts briefing - but certainly not in front of mid to senior level people at their customers.

Why is this so horrific? Aside from slide design, 8-10 point fonts and more bullet points than an average armory - each of the decks was PITCHING FEATURES and DIRECTLY SELLING, versus looking at OUTCOMES and RESULTS.

Why is that so important? Let me tell you a story!

Benjamin Franklin, in addition to all his other inventions and achievements, is often credited with being the father of classified advertising in newspapers. One day, Ben is sitting in the offices of the Philadelphia Gazette when a local shoemaker visited him. The craftsman explained that his business was growing just as the city of Philadelphia was growing, and that he wanted to open up a second store on the other side of town. Was there any way he could pay Franklin to inform his customers, through the newspaper, about the new store?

He didn't come to buy advertising ( a feature that Ben then made up). He came to INFORM his customers that they no longer had to cross town to use his services. Instead they could use his new, second, store and save themselves time.

(Footnote: Ben, being a smart guy, figured out this was a great business, and then hired his son-in-law to go around Philadelphia businesses, knocking on their doors, to see if anyone else had something they wanted to tell the rest of the town about. And that is how the classifieds got started over 225 years ago!) No surprise that Ben graces the front of the US $100 banknote.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer

So what exactly is a “Trusted Advisor” Sales Engineer? The position is one of those “I know it when I see it” type things. Anyone – sales or presales – who sells to at least a strategic/enterprise customer (with any hope of getting some repeat business) should aspire to become this. Yet the fact is – YOU cannot call yourself a T/A. YOUR COMPANY cannot call you a T/A. It’s YOUR CUSTOMER who has to see you as THEIR T/A in order for the label to work.

It is not that easy. There are so many things that get in the way, mainly the culture of the quarterly or monthly revenue pressure. Quota hangs over the head of a presales engineer, or at least over the head of the salespeople that you work with. Every presales engineer has probably heard the words “you have to build a relationship with your customer and become their trusted advisor”. No-one ever explains how to do that!

So – for the first time ever – there is now a workshop directed towards presales engineers that explains both the behaviors and the practical applications they need to demonstrate so that their customers will trust them. When an SE is trusted, then they can give advice that will be listened to. That usually results in higher revenue, larger deals, less competition, and better customer satisfaction.

Today I am announcing the availability of a new Mastering Technical Sales workshop – “The Trusted Sales Engineer”. The workshop will be delivered to a few early customers in October and will be generally available – in a 1 and 2-day format - in November.

Contact me for more information and an outline syllabus.