Friday, May 27, 2011

Selling the drama

When you are making your sales pitch is it 100% fact based? Simple ROI and cost analysis? You may be leaving a lot of money on the table by not meeting other needs as well. I know you are saying no and shaking your head, facts are facts and it makes logical sense. Well, it makes sense to you and me, but not everyone buys that way.


 You can take the facts and figures and weave them into a story that works on every level for your clients. Letting them know, not only how the solution meets their requirements, but their culture, processes, mindset, industry, you have a better chance of getting the message across to them that your solution is the best solution.


So go ahead, sell the drama of their situation and how you can meet and exceed their needs.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Well, it IS alcohol…

So two salesmen walk into a bar and the first one orders a beer and the bartender pours him a nice fresh glass. The second one orders a Pink Flamingo Margarita and the bartender pours him a nice fresh glass of beer. The first salesman says, “Well, it is alcohol.”


This raised a question to me, are you selling drinks or alcohol? Not sure what I mean? Let me see if I can explain.


If you have a bar that sells drinks, you need several things. Special glasses, many different types of alcohol, mixers, fruit, tools, special knowledge, and some customer service. Customers come into your bar looking for a special type of drink prepared a specific way with atmosphere. A complete custom solution.


If you have a bar that sells alcohol, you need one thing. Alcohol. Anyone who reads your sign and comes in anyway is expecting no less, or no more. Any type, any kind, anyway. This is the generic basic solution.


Well, they both are alcohol……


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Community Live

All, Sorry I have missed a couple of days, but it is Autotask Community Live time. This is the time Autotask, the company I work for puts on its user conference. This is more than just another industry event. I know, easy for me to say. I work for them. But this is truly one of the events that defines our industry.

Big talk. Well, when you see the partners and vendors and staff all as one community, you know you have succeeded. Barriers get broken down and bridges get built. At the end of the day we are all in the same life raft, who are you going keep out?

Together we can grow this industry, together we can grow your business, together we can change our world.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Know your Job

I have been doing pre sales for some time. I am almost always doing sales engineering, but I have done other sales roles too. Everyone in the sales process needs to know their role, and you can only do one role.

The sales role is process and doing what needs to be done to close, a project manager. The sales engineer is a support person to make that sale happen. While a salesperson can be technical, they cannot be both the salesperson and sales engineer in the same deal.

The sales engineer needs to be seen as a subject matter expert, and disconnected from the sales process by the prospect. Read this as trust. The prospect may trust the salesperson, but, not when it comes to technical matters. The prospects technical staff will never trust a sales person. So if your sales is technical, you may need to call the cavalry. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wear a Helmet

What is that up there? Overhead. How much overhead do you have in your sales process that you can do without? I bet more than you think.

There are several items that make up sales overhead. Infrastructure, personnel, and marketing. The whole subject of overhead is a small book, so I am being very simplified here.
Do you need a brick and mortar location for every salesman? Most likely not. Modern systems allow your team to work from anywhere. You may be able to save on rent, phones, computers, bandwidth, electric, etc.

Are all of your marketing efforts generating results? At least carrying their own weight? Just like your services, you have to measure these. Cut the dead wood, focus on what works.

Your personnel most likely cost you the most. Every minute you spend on the sales and presales process is overhead. Are you tracking it? Are you measuring your results? Are you letting your sales staff use a presales engineer when they aren’t needed? This is a double whammy. Not only do you gain overhead, generally you lose billable hours at the same time, ouch.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Help me…Help you

I bet you have a sales engineer like me. Someone you can ping and have jump on a call, leaping tall buildings and saving the day. He hates it too. Well, we don’t hate helping, but we hate not being ready. So what can you do to have us ready?

First, do be the lone wolf. We are a pack. If you think you may need some help, ask, before you need it. The sooner we are involved, the easier to keep the issues in check. If you have any thoughts that you will need our assistance at any point in the process, get us involved early.

Don’t act like the meeting is a birthday party. Surprise! Schedule a meeting with us before the meeting that includes the client. I mean not 5 minutes before, but maybe 24 hours at least. Now if we don’t know something needed to help you close business we can find out, not tap dance and hope.

Yes we can help, yes we can help even with no prep, no we don’t like it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Morning After

Oh no what did I do? Have any of your clients had that feeling? Buyer’s remorse. If that has happened to you, why? Have you done something wrong, or skipped something, in the sales process? Maybe not, but yea, I bet you did…

If you have moved the sale forward with a professional sales process, you should have overcome or answered all of the objections. Nagging objections = buyer’s remorse. Did I see enough competing products, is the price fair, does it do what I need, should I have asked my boss? All of these objections should have been discovered and overcome very early in the sales process.

Now what? Can you say resell? Listen to the client, address their concerns and reclose.  

Friday, May 13, 2011

To Market or Not to Market…That is the Question

Market, market, market, that is what you need to do, or is it? What are you doing to grow your business? Do you want to grow your business? That may be the answer…

I’m here in Seattle, speaking at the MSP University Boot Camp a question came up about blogging and marketing to a small group. This company wanted to grow, but a small controlled growth in a specific vertical. Their question was how, how do they market to the right group, and what do they blog about to drive the right traffic.

My reply was maybe they need to leave the blog club in the bag, maybe the social media club is a better play. Not a broad based come and read my stuff, but a small close knit group of trusted referrers. This may be the best way for him to market, to grow his business in the controlled way he wants.

Market the way you want to sell and the way you want to deliver your services.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is this a Problem?

How many times have you said this in a demo? None? That may be your problem. In technical sales you need to look for trouble. While this is not the attitude you want when visiting a biker bar, it is the attitude you need in a demo.

Technical sales should be the ability to overcome objections, not avoid them. If your demo is more like a magic show with smoke and mirrors, you may want to get a little more real. It is only after you have identified an issue can you resolve it. A demo that is too slick can actually get in the way of closing business.

How you ask? If your overly slick demo does not address all the prospect’s issues, it will fail. Now if your solution flawlessly covers every need, you are home free, but otherwise you need to have the problem talk. Then you can overcome the objection and advance the sales process, or discover that your solution will not work for them.
Either way we need to know, is this a problem?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Who knows what?

There is a dance you do in a technical sales process. When everyone knows the steps and does what they need too, no one gets stepped on. So who does what?

The number one thing you know, and you know it better than your customers, is your product or service. This is the first of your parts. Know your product and be clear about what it can do. There is one thing you will never know about than your customer. Their business. That is their part.

The customer needs to know their business and their business needs. You can help them, but they have to know it. It you find yourself selling the need, maybe they don’t have it. Once this is established we are ready to move to the dance floor.

So you know your product, the customer knows their needs and business, now we need to match to two of them. This is the dance. You have a part and they have a part. Your part is to sell the solution to their needs as stated, don’t look for too much extra here. (AND we can do this!) Their part is to see how your solution matches their need and workflow. Never under estimate how important this is to your customer, and never think you can do it for them. You can sell them a solution, but you can’t sell it and buy it at the same time.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sales Everest

It is Everest time again! I love following the climbs and climbers on Everest. So much effort, risk, and skill for the summit. Made me think, what is your sales Everest?

Do you have the Everest size goal? If you don’t that is OK. Few people ever think about climbing Everest, fewer still make it, and many die trying. So if you don’t have an Everest size goal, you can set a smaller one. But if you do have an Everest size goal you have to be committed.

The Climbers who make it to the top of Everest and make it back down safe have made the commitment. They have a team, they have help, they have drive. They have also put it all on the line, they are actually risking their lives to achieve their goals. Ever step they take has to have their full focus or they may fall to their deaths.

So I am not asking you to risk your life for your deal, but I do need you to have the focus and drive if you want to succeed. Put together your team, make your plans, make sure your timing is right, make your move to the summit.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Social Media Fad or Fabulous?

Stuart Crawford started a discussion on LinkedIn titled No one is going to tweet you a paycheck
 This is a great discussion. It is all about the hype in Social media.

There is a ton of hype in the social media space. It is not the end all be all of marketing or messaging. It is however a powerful tool to that end.

If I were to tell you 15 years ago about any of the "tools" we use today (Facebook, iPhones, iPads, internet, WiFi, email) as a part of our everyday life, 90% of you would think they were toys or fads, yet here we are using them every day.

Stand alone Social Media tools may be a fad, but the socialization of our business tools is here to stay. I for one would not look forward to a day when I didn't know one of my biggest clients was having a visit from his children for his 60th birthday. I can see the pictures, I can see his gifts I can be a part of his celebration. How many dollars is that worth? More than I'm willing to risk by not being involved, especially when it costs only a small amount of time.

Due to the internet and social media the world now fits in my pocket. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I’m a sales guy, I don’t know what to ask.

Just kidding, but it does beg the question, if you don’t know, should you ask more questions or ask for help? I vote for more.

Let me explain. In the technical sales process there are questions that come up in discovery that often need a sales engineer to help answer. If you are the sales guy or gal and you identify one of these situations, what should you do? You have two choices, ask for more information or don’t.

If you don’t ask for more information the sales engineer has no information to come up with an answer, and if the answer is no, no time to come up with work around. So by asking for more information, you are able to get important information for your sales engineer. This information will help move your deal forward.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sales Calendar

Does your sales calendar match the physical calendar? Does it match your service calendar and your business calendar too? Not sure what I mean?

It always seems the last couple days of the month for a salesperson are jammed. There are last minute deals to close, as well as making sure your pipeline is full and the commission is coming. If you are the owner of a small business it is even worse. You have to get billing out, and keep doing service too. If your service activity is up at the end of the month, what do you let slip? Sales, service, business, or invoicing?

You have an unenvied position. You can sacrifice, or delay, past, current, or future revenue. So having everything come due at the same time is not a good answer. I recommend you align your calendars. When do you have to do billing? Block that time out. When are you doing patch management? Block that time out. When can you do sales calls? Block that time out.

By scheduling all of your business activities on one calendar you will be able to see everything in one place. You will also be able to adjust your internal processes to the times of the month when you are less busy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Good News or Bad News?

What do you want first, the good news, or the bad news? How many times have you heard that? Are you like me, and you mix it up? This can be good for news, but bad for sales. When is the best time to deal with hard questions and potential bad sales news?

I am a strong believer in having distinctive phases in of your sales process. These phases should make sure you are ready to do the next step. Why would you talk pricing before you know their need? Of course YOU wouldn’t, but I hear people do it every day. One of the key phases is qualification. If you have a technical resource, this is where I feel you should really engage them. If we can answer the technical questions at this stage, we can move on to the closing phase that is all business, not technical.

Let’s say it is the end of the month and we are pushing our deals hard, so we as the salesperson answer the technical questions the best we can. We move the deal to the negotiation phase and are pushing hard to close the deal this month. Last minute technical questions come up so what do we do? Engage the sales engineer and maybe slow the deal down and miss this month, or offer incentives? Most of the time, I see discounts get offered.

So answer the questions first or delay and discount. You want the good news or the bad news?