Friday, October 28, 2011

Early Snow

Mmmmmm.... Snow in October. You know what I hate about it? It always happens before I’m ready. Hoses not put away, leaves not all raked, garden gnomes peering out from under 3 inches of snow. So when is the sales snowstorm due to hit you?

More importantly, what do you need to get put away today while the sun is shining to keep it from getting buried under a ton of snow. There is a reason your sales process should be on a timetable. First you need to know if it is dragging. Second, you need to close the deal before it gets snowed on.

Winter is coming. Whether your deals survive will be based on what you do before the storms hit. Clean up the debris. Get all of those nagging questions and details sewn up. don’t leave anything laying in the yard. Winterize, seal up the cracks and get plastic on those old windows. You have to foresee issues and be ready. Get the furnace serviced. Be ready to turn up the heat when needed. Get the resources ready to respond.

The storms will hit, and don’t get caught having to buy bread and milk.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Not Payton Him Enough

Not everyone is a football fan, but for those of you who are, you know what a horrible year the Indianapolis Colts are having this year without Payton Manning. Amazing how much one person can impact an organization. How is it he has such an impact?

Payton is able to do the three things you need to do to win, in any league. Read the defense, call the right play, and execute that play. While they maybe hundreds of quarterbacks who can read the defenses as well as Payton does, there are only tens of them who can also call the right play to exploit that defense, and there are only a couple who can then execute that play. Are you that type of salesperson?

Can you read the client’s needs? Their internal politics? Their purchasing process? These things are your defense. If you cannot see the traps, issues and problems, you are never going to be able to sell to them.

Once you understand the client’s defense, do you have a play in the books that you can call that “should” work? The old 42/split C level on 2, hut, hut! You have to have a plan to work with the client to get them sold, regardless of their “defense”.

You have seen the defense, you have called the right play now all you have to do is execute the plan. Can you do that? Should you call a timeout and get the right personnel on the field? This is not the time to drop the ball.

These are the three things that stand between you and the Hall of Fame.   

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Demo Energy

I face this problem, if not everyday, every week. Low energy when doing a demo, just another demo, and another, and another, never changing, always the same. This is my problem, not the prospect, the demo is new to them. I need to make sure it is feeling new to me as well.

So we know the causes. Too many demos, too much the same. So what are the options? Less demos? Not likely. Less demos equals less opportunities equals less deals equals less money. Scratch that option. Less the same? Ah, now we are talking.

Most of us don’t do the demo the same way because we are lazy, we do it because it works, it is logical. Let’s face it, most of our prospects are the same, at least in their needs. So we have worked out a demo work flow that is effective. Then we do it over and over and over.

The key is having different entry points. Think of your demo as a story and those of us that remember English class remember stories have three parts. A beginning, a middle, and an end. You can start your demo in any of these parts.

Often it is good to show the end first. Ta da! Look what we can do, now let me show you how you got here. Or the middle, here we are doing X, let me show you how we got here, or where we can go. And the tried and true beginning to end. Three options, less boring, for us and them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

When Leaders Follow

I read a story today on Michael Dell’s take on tablets, and the fact they were betting on Windows 8 as an operating system. Why? Android tablets flopped and other systems are just “noise”. Actually he said, “that Android is another opportunity ,but that market has not developed to the expectations Dell had”. So Android failed, we are doing something different.

So as you know I do, I started thinking... Is this leading or following? Not following a winner, but following an unknown path not taken by a loser. With apologies to Robert Frost, there were two paths in the technology woods, and I took the one that hadn’t failed yet... By doing so, can you be a leader? I say yes.

All of us make mistakes. Some of us learn from them. Some fewer of us can apply the lessons to future events. Most of these people are called leaders. Making decisions based on all the information available, past and present. Don’t think that to lead, every idea has to be original.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Allison Hasn't Stopped...

When should you ever stop? That is a little open ended, so when should you stop growing your career and skills? OK, sounds stupid, everyone one say it together, NEVER! But for real, when is enough, enough?

I started thinking about this when I saw that Microsoft CVP Allison Watson was starting to Blog again. My first thought was cool, she will have great information. My second thought was, WTH! why would she need to write a blog? She is a VP at Microsoft. I have had the honor of watching her speak from the main stage at a Worldwide Partner Conference, what more does she want? Then it hit me, the word is need.

Why do I write my blog? I needed to. I had things to say and blogging let me do that. I haven’t spoken to Allison, but my guess is, she needs to blog as well. When it is all said and done, we keep getting better and taking on more work to challenge ourselves and to grow as people. While I don’t consider my blog work, it is a challenge to write 5-6 a week.

So while I might not reach CVP at Microsoft, I’ll keep climbing and growing, and of course blogging, because I need to.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs Sales Engineer

This is not just a cheap attempt to take advantage of Steve’s death. There are many things I have learned from Steve Jobs. Watch this, Steve’s commencement address at Stanford University. If you learn nothing else in life, learn those lessons, and pass them on. One of the things that Steve Jobs has helped me learn, is how to be a sales engineer. No really.

What did Steve do during the Apple events? Three main things. He had style, he had a story, he didn’t get too deep in the details. Do these things and your demo won’t suck.

Have some style. Be memorable. Stay classy. Never need the sale more than your soul. We have all been sold to by both types of people, those with class, and those without. Who do you want to be lumped in with? Me too.

Help me help you. That is what a demo story does. Helps me help you understand how you will use the solution. Features don’t sell solutions, using features to solve problems do. So explain how the solution is going to be used, in an easy to understand, non-technical way. Talk to people, they wont bite.

How many details are too many? 20% less than you think. I just made that up, but I bet it is right. We think it is cool. Hell, I KNOW it is cool. Cool only sells if it is something that solves a problem and can be put in the story. Have enough details to answer their questions, not so much that you start answering questions they didn’t have, until now.

So thank you Steve Jobs for teaching me lessons neither of us knew we were learning.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple of Your Customer’s Eye

Amazing buzz today over the the upcoming announcement by Apple. I have seen several posts by people wondering how Apple is able to get everyone all worked up about their announcement. I look at it another way. I always see the excitement around Apple announcements as a grass roots movement. People are just that much in love with Apples products. I bet you wish your customers felt that way about you. So what has Apple done right to create this and how can you take advantage too? Lets look.

They aren’t Microsoft. They were able to draw a line between them and Microsoft and declare that their side of the line was cooler, less evil, hipper, less corporate, and power to the people. Whether you believe this or not, they have been able to sell it to their customers and society at large. How does this help you? It tells you that you should define your business ethics and lead with them. Make sure the entire company believes, or at least behaves with that philosophy. Make sure your customers see you as Luke, not Darth.

They limited outside innovation for the sake of control and security. It damn near killed them in the beginning, by limiting outside developers and manufacturers early on. But they had a vision of how they wanted tome products and company to be, and were willing to bet the company on it. They also secured a stronghold in several verticals. Graphic design comes to mind, and we know how many of those people helped build Internet companies. Well played Apple, well played. How do you do this? Have a plan. Don’t blow in the wind and jump for shiny object and dollars. Believe your vision and follow your plan, don’t let the naysayers stop you.

They understand what their customers want. They see a need, make a product and a market. Till the iPad was released, what was the last tablet you saw? My guess is some clunky laptop with a convertible top. Heavy, slow to boot, hard to use. They defined the market, defined the device, own the market. How do they do that? Superior UI design and styling. Hand an iPhone to someone who just got off a call on their old flip Razor phone and ask them to call someone, they will be able to. It works like they think it should. So how do you do this? Get to know your clients and provide what they need. Not only provide what they need, provide it the way they think it should be provided. you need to work the way they expect you to work, or they will look for a new vendor.