Sunday, April 13, 2014

Technical Trials and Tribulations

So this has been an interesting 10 days in that a strange bug effectively killed our website. I learnt a couple of things:

  1. It's an important part of the business.
  2. It badly needs to be updated and modernized.
  3. Yahoo (my hosting service) has terrible technical support as I spent hours on hold and they hung up on my several times.
  4. The bug was ultimately the results of some poor code from Amazon which was mis-interpreted by Yahoo Site Builder.

But enough of my problems. We are back up, and the new content has finally been posted. You'll be able to read about The Sales Engineer Advantage - why we SE's should be rock stars when in front of the customer (but aren't). There is also an interesting article on The Five SE Manager Basics (which are actually good for everyone else as well!).

The MTS Book Of The Month for SE's is Marshall Goldsmith's "What Got You There Won't Get You Here".  It's been one of my favorite books for years, and I recently had the opportunity to re-read it as part of preparation for a workshop I ran. Well worth your time to pick up a copy and learn about the 20 bad habits that may be keeping you back.

I challenge anyone to read the book and NOT see themselves in there somewhere. You really do feel like you are putting the training wheels back on your career.

More to come. The 3rd Edition of Mastering Technical Sales is nearing completion and is slated for a early July publication, and The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer in now underway as a planned eBook for later in the ear.

Plus I'm going to be in Australia or a week or two in May running some seminars and giving a couple of speeches.

Good Selling!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

It's Not A Problem Until The Customer Says It Is A Problem, Unless ...

I had a very interesting experience this morning, listening in to a sales call initiated by one of my customers with one of their customers. My role was to quietly observe, and provide feedback on the entire process. I always enjoy these type of engagements as I get to learn about a new piece of technology, see buyer and seller behavior in action - plus it is great research and consulting material.

This call had a twist. After a little prompting the customer (a Senior IT Director) readily volunteered a couple of business issues that she had, the economic and political pain they were facing, and why they had to do something. In essence, she gave the sales team everything they needed to hear for some great Business Value Discovery.
"Not a problem", said the eager salesperson, "we can fix that for you".
(Now that surprised both me and the Sales Engineer on the call as neither of the problems were really in the sweet spot of the vendor. AND the IT Director knew that was the case.)
 Before the SE could jump in and qualify that response the customer replied:
"Wow. That is fantastic. Just to be sure, can you describe my problems to me in your own words?"
She was actually trying to help him, which was more than I would have done as a former CIO.  The rep didn't get the hint and plowed ahead with DESCRIBING HIS SOLUTION. Some amazing cloud-driven big-data social thingamabob technology.

She answered, "Yes, but what exactly is my problem?"

Common sense prevailed, I heard the SE typing a message in the background to the rep which said something along the lines of "Be Quiet!".

The SE took over, and gave a really nice paraphrase of the customers problems. You could hear the customer smiling on the other end of the phone. Things went much better.

The moral of the story? There are two.

1. "No problem" is a dangerous phrase and probably not one the customer wants to hear from you. At least not immediately.

2. It is a great exercise to paraphrase the key business issues back to the customer so that they know that you know.