Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How to position a new release?

Does a new release make it harder to position your value?
Are you stuck thinking about the new shiny features and talking less about the overall value?

Has the overall value proposition changed? 
If you are offering the same benefit areas as before, then the headline value isn't radically different from before.  Getting straight in to demo the new features isn't going to sell the product better.  There might be some corner cases of individuals who understand your product and market so well, that they just need to see those things.  Your average buyer will need to understand the value proposition as before.

What do you need to change in your demo?
You need to think again about what are the best capabilities to show for each customer which back up the overall value proposition.  Don't just extend the typical harbor tour demo to include the new things.  Look for better ways to back up the value and show these.

When should I change it all completely?
Sometimes your product update will introduce new areas of value to new customers. Sometimes the marketing changes to have customers come to you in a new way. Your product may change visually so that your old demo no longer works, or you need new data or stories to show.  In these cases you should reconsider the value proposition, and then think about a demo script which addresses the value and shows the relevant capabilities.

The best demos will showcase the value of your solution to the customer, and cut the time that it takes them to understand how it will work for them.  Don't waste your time and risk losing the customer's attention by showing a chronological history of your product and problem area.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

How can SEs help with Customer Satisfaction?

Do you overpromise and underdeliver?

Many companies fail to live up to the early promise or ROI that is claimed in the sales process.  Some customers make assumptions that they don't test and these catch them out in the end. Companies that make their customers successful get repeat business, and a great reputation.  Making customers successful should help SEs be more successful in the long run!

The Sales Engineer's job is to ensure that customers are excited at the prospect of working with their company, and that the proposed solution meets the customer's requirements.  However to ensure that you make them a satisfied customer in the end, it is also important to ensure that the company can deliver on them.

  1. Share information with your implementation team, which you gain from the purchase process.
  2. Avoid "smoke and mirrors" in demos.  Don't show things the product doesn't do.
  3. Don't make promises that can't be supported
  4. Make it clear what the customer will get from the proposed solution, and what they might do beyond this.
  5. Give the customer useful hints and tips that help them avoid typical pitfalls.
If you follow these simple rules - you avoid 90% of the usual problems that customers run into.  

If you make customers successful, then when you walk into the next meeting, you have an easy reference call, and eventually customers will know before you walk in the room by your reputation.
If you set customers up to fail, by over promising,  no one will want to be your reference, and new prospects will be skeptical about what you can do.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Selling Simple Solutions for Complex Problems

How do you make complex things appear simple?

Many products address challenging problems.
Challenging problems often need complex solutions.
Customers find it hard to understand complex solutions.

One of the biggest challenges good SEs face is to showcase complex solutions without losing their customer in the process.

Einstein has a great quote
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

Many times, I find I open my mouth to explain something, without really thinking about how to express the knowledge as simply as possible, and taking into account that the person I'm talking to is not necessarily up to my stage in the thought process of the concept.

You need to help them build it up in their mind, from the most simple way of explaining it.
Wait for them to come up with questions, before diving into complex answers, examples or additions.

When selling a complex solution, or a solution to a complex problem, you need to ensure you give your buyer or prospect a chance to come up with a way of understanding the problem.

If your competitor explains something simpler than you can, then you have a challenge to make the customer understand the difference.

A few things you can watch to get the idea of simplicity in design and solutions better:
David Pogue - Simplicity Sells (even has a fun song at the beginning)

Friday, July 15, 2016

How to become a better listener

Sales people often talk too much.
Sales Engineers often talk too much.

Customers often take time to think about the insights you are providing, and it takes them time to think of the right questions to ask.  You've been in this kind of conversation often many more times than they have.  Give them some time to think and come up with their questions and you will learn much more about what they wanted to say.

Anne Miller's article on 5 Tips to Stop Interrupting Others gives you some easy methods of handling the way you interrupt people, and help you become a better listener.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Want to become a Trusted Advisor?

We always strive to work closely with our customers as Sales Engineers and earn their trust in order to position our solutions as a way to help.

This is a hard thing to measure, in terms of whether the customer is trusting you and how much weight your opinion may have.  Trust needs to be earned and built over time, but is the most valuable thing we can do as SEs with our customers.

A new book on becoming a Trusted Advisor is coming from John Care, author of Mastering Technical Sales.  I've pre-ordered my copy and hoping to learn some more things from it.