Monday, December 30, 2013

Rub a dub dub

Remember the old Nursery rhyme that went like this? 

Rub a dub dub,
Three fools in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Turn them out, knaves all three

There are 3 other "fools" you might meet in channel sales.
Order takers, Account Managers, and Sales Managers. Now I'm not saying all salespeople are fools, but some fools are salespeople. Let's talk about the differences between them.

Order Takers
If you call your vendor and tell them what you need, you are talking to an order taker. Some of them can answer a question, or transfer you to someone who can, but they are purely reactive. They enable a sale, but they don't and can't help you grow your business.

Account Managers
If you receive a call from your vendor, you may be hearing from an account manager. Yes, they can take an order, but they can also help you and your sales team make an order by providing strategic information and incentives. You should be leveraging your vendors account managers by putting them to work for you. Have them analyze your customer base, look at your margins, create go to market plans with the vendors marketing team. All this will cost you nothing and the value can be huge. What can't an account manager do for you? Sell. Sell or help your new salespeople sell better.

Sales Manager
Thes sales managers are hunters. They can help you close new business. They can help teach your sales staff how to close new business. If you have a vendor that has field sales people, use them. Open your customer base and do joint sales calls with them. Have a lunch and learn (use the vendor's marketing budget). Have them present at a staff meeting. Great sales people are hard to find, let your vendors help you create some.

Don't dread a call from any of these, use them, leverage them, cash in on them, or you may be the only fool in the tub.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Selling a better vintage

We all have to do this these days. There is nothing you have to sell that your potential client doesn't all ready have or know about. So it isn't like we are trying to sell water to thirsty people, we are selling them a better vintage of wine when they have a cellar full.

What is the first thing we learn about buying wine? Taste it. In fact, tasting can be an art form. The type of glass, how much to swirl the glass to get the right aeration, which wine to taste first, all of this can effect how the wine tastes.

So when you are selling a product or software to a prospect that already has a competing solution, you want them to taste your, they will demand to demo your solution. But, you have to control the tasting. You need to place some controls around the test so your product tastes best. 

When they demo, how long they demo, what they demo, how you help them demo, all of these can spell the difference between success or failure. Don't trust them to learn as they go, you have to guide and train them.

Here is to a successful demo, cheers!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Your Role, Your Goal, and Your Soul

If someone asked me the factors in deciding how much sales engineering help a sales person needs, I would say it depends on three things. The role of the salesperson, the goal of the engagement, and the soul of the salesperson. Let me explain.

Your Role
Sales has so many different roles, but generally I can put someone into one of 3 buckets. Cold caller, hunter, or gatherer.
If you are a cold caller you are generally working from a script for your product and technical details and if anyone shows interest or has questions, you are only passing them on. There isn’t a lot of Sales Engineering help needed here, except in technical details of the script and learning new stuff. When you hear questions you don’t know, follow up and get answers.
As a Hunter you have to have some keen insight into your prospects. Sales Engineers can help you understand the prospects needs as well as show it in the best possible way. Combining the knowledge of prospect and product are key here. Information, demos and onboarding are all used here.
Gatherers are too often head down and reacting to the customer’s current need. If you are being asked for something that seems odd, run it by a Sales Engineer before you waste a lot of time. Customers only know how to ask for what they want, not what they need, trust your sales engineer to decipher this for you. Oh, make time to be proactive with your accounts.
As you can see each role has different needs, so do different goals.

Your Goals
Every sales engagement should have a goal, and that goal should move the sales process closer to a close. So what is your goal? To answer the question? To show the feature? To close the deal? I hope your answer was the last one I listed. As Alex Baldwin’s character said in Glengarry Glen Ross “Always Be Closing”. If you are answering questions or getting answers for questions you don’t understand how they will ever lead to a close, stop ask. There is only one reason to answer questions or to show things, they are needed to close. Leverage your Sales Engineer to get you to a close position.

Always Be Closing

Your Soul
You have heard the term old soul? That person who seems 85 years old when they turn 20? The same is true for Sales people. The sales maturity of a sales person is sometimes hard to gauge, but in general, the less mature they are, the more help they need. The help that these less mature reps can get from a Sales Engineer can be huge. The ability to learn information about the product they are selling is the first, but not the most important lesson. The most important thing they can learn is to see the danger signs in a deal. Sales people generally see the glass as overflowing and Sales Engineers see the glass as half full, maybe. Learn to be realistic and not get happy ears where everything you hear sounds like a close.

So role, goal, and soul can help you understand how much help from a Sales Engineer your Sales people will need.