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747 Frankfurt to Bangalore

747 Frankfurt to Bangalore

I arrived this morning at 2 AM in Bangalore India – I’ve spent the last 9 hours on the plane to the left, a 747 Lufthansa aircraft (traveling from Frankfurt to Bangalore).  Note, that’s after spending 9 hours traveling on a USAirways Airbus 330, Charlotte to Frankfurt.  Tomorrow I will be working with SEs from Cisco Systems on executive level conversations around information security…everything from global cybersecurity trends, to creating justification, to presentation skills required when engaging executive level audiences.

Two Wall Street Journal articles grabbed my attention while laying over in Frankfurt yesterday.  One on the importance of training your employees, the other on the need for better presentation skills when working with executives on information security issues.

The ROI on Training SEs to Sell

The article on training didn’t concern SEs – however it did say that today’s employees, especially those with more desirable skill-sets, are going to demand further training.  Everyone wants to grow, everyone wants to improve – at least those employees worth keeping.  It’s a sign of poor character to accept the status quo.  The writer went on to say that the promise of training is important when trying to attract the right people to new jobs, and that attrition is significantly reduced when training is regularly offered.  My focus on the SE is just an observation.  It’s been my experience that SEs tend to like sales training.  They get the technology – and of course they want to continue to grow that, but adding the ability to sell to their resume is a big boost to their value. The person who is both tech-savvy and knows how to sells is rare and desirable.

A seat with a view

A seat with a view

When I teach sales classes I find that SEs are often more attentive, and more serious about learning the content than any other group of people attending.  I’ve seen some very technical people become superstars overnight simply by learning how the sales process works, and how marketing science is almost exactly the opposite of the way an SE tends to approach a sale.  When a technical person’s eyes are open to the influence they can have, simply by changing a few things about the way they approach sales, a powerful transformation begins to take place.  Both resellers and manufacturers of technology would do well to invest more into their SE’s training programs – specifically on sales and marketing strategies.  In fact, I know of two very successful resellers who have grown significantly, without the addition of more sales people, simply by empowering their SEs through this type of training.

An added benefit is that it helps sales people work more closely with their SE team on the sales process.  When both parties understand where the conversation is going and what it will take to close the sale, they stop stepping on each other’s toes in the sales process.

Board Level Presentations Have to change.

The article on Board-Level Presentations was specific to information security – the topic we’ll be addressing over the next two days.  Really, this applies to all executive level management.  The bottom line was that executives and board members need to know about security.  However, when IT people, and even CIOs and CISOs  approach these discussions, they tend to go into too much detail (according to the article).  I was excited to see that the very graph I use in my book, The House & the  Cloud, was described in the article as “What they need to know”.  I’m talking about the “Impact vs. Likelihood” graph. In my Making Money w/ Security workshop, I refer to this graph as “The Most Important Part of The Assessment Deliverable”.  Almost nothing else is needed other than some basic descriptions of what goes on the X and Y Axis of this graph.  If the technical part of the organization (or more importantly – you) could figure out what assets belong on the X-Axis (the high-impact applications), and how high on the Y-Axis to put them (the measure of likelihood – how likely the organization is to experience a breech or loss of data), executives would know what decisions must be made.  Of course they will need to believe your data is correct – but that’s the definition of Trusted Adviser – trustworthy and able to advise – as stated in my more recent book, from Vendor to Adviser.

My seat for 9 hours

My seat for 9 hours

On Friday this will be the topic of discussion in our SE workshop.  We’ll learn how to take the raw data and put in into this format – and then, more importantly, how to present it.  This is something every company that specializes in cybersecurity offerings should be doing.

© 2013, David Stelzl

Heading home at last!  It was a great trip, but long…I left Bangalore on Thursday at 2:00 AM, heading for Frankfurt, then Boston, and a final leg to Charlotte.  This completes my “around the world” tour and I am looking forward to being back with the family.

A few notes for those who may be traveling internationally (and perhaps the airlines will see this at some point):

1. United Airlines Customer Support (SFO to SID): This part of the trip was one of the best.  US based airlines often get bashed when compared to those in other countries, but here are the facts (from my perspective):

  • The seat was top notch.  United Airlines 747-400 seats lay completely flat to create a bed that even side-sleepers can use.  It was a little narrow, but for a normal size person, not an issue.
  • Customer service  was very good, the food was great, and United Airlines business class entertainment choices were bigger and better than other flights on the “around the world” tour.
  • All flights were on time.
  • This was a 14.5 hour flight so I had plenty of time to experience United Airlines!

2. Singapore Airlines (Sidney to Singapore)

  • Singapore Airlines customer support is the best.  These people really understand how to make customers feel welcome and are very focused on attending to every need.  I also noticed their flight attendants are neatly dressed, and look very professional.
  • Singapore airlines business class seating is not the best.  They advertise the widest seat, and this is certainly true, however the foot rest is too close to the seat to stretch out your legs if you are 5”11” of more.  The seat however does turn into a full length bed so this would be fine for a side sleeper during a night-time flight.  I flew during the day, Sidney to Singapore for 9.5 hours and was ready to get out of my seat long before the flight ended.  This was the Airbus 380.
  • Another problem with the Airbus 380 was, my computer bag on wheels did not fit in the overhead!  If you’ve flown on the 747-400, which is a smaller plane, you know that the overhead bin is giant!  Not the case on the 380 – but the customer focused crew did immediately resolve the issue by moving it to a nearby closet.
  • The food was excellent as well as in-flight entertainment (but not as broad a selection as United Airlines).
  • I then flew their 777 to Bangalore which was just as great, but a short flight in comparison.

3. Lufthansa (Bangalore to Franfurt and Frankfurt to Boston)

  • I had heard that Lufthansa was the best airline to fly, but that was not my experience.  It was good, but third on the list for me.  We flew 747-400’s on both legs which I Really like.  9.5 hours from India to Germany, at night, however this seat is not like the United Airlines seat.  While it does stretch out, and is plenty long, it is far from Horizontal.  If you are a side sleeper, you’ll be tossing an turning all night because this is a recliner that is sort of flat, but only on your back.  I took Tylenol PM which knocked me out for a few hours regardless of the seat.
  • The Lufthansa customer service level was also third on the list.  They didn’t offer to hang up my coat, which is a norm for most business class flights, and they didn’t seem turned into customer needs.  It was almost like being back on USAirways, but not as rude.  The second leg was a definite improvement, so I assume it was just that first crew having a bad day.
  • The food was limited if you don’t like weird stuff, and the in-flight entertainment was definitely limited in comparison to United Airlines or Singapore Air.
  • Everything else was fine and I would fly them again over USAirways.

4. USAirways.

  • As I mentioned, I flew through Boston to avoid flying USAirways overseas.  I’ve done the USAirways international flight before and have vowed to not do it again.  I was shocked back into reality as we waited to board in Boston.  The gate attendant was downright rude with one lady who couldn’t hear one of the announcements over the speakers.  The customer was polite in asking what it was, but the gate attendant made some rude remark and marched off.
  • We flew the Airbus 320 back to Charlotte – After 16 hours of flying and having been up for over 24 hours (at least not having a bed or even full reclining seat to sleep in) the first class seat on USAirways was miserable.  However, I was grateful to not be sitting in the cattle car section which advertises less leg room than any other major airline.  And if you want to sit toward the front, you’ll pay an upgrade fee even through the leg room is the same.

Well, there you have it…choose your airline carefully when you do have a choice, which in most cases I really don’t.

First: Here are the photos (CLICK)

I spent Saturday having a look around Bangalore.  The tour started in the gardens below my hotel balcony – in this warm climate there are all kinds of interesting trees and flowers surrounding the hotel swimming pool and fish ponds.  I’m staying at the Oberoi hotel since there are no Marriotts in this city.  I found it online and confirmed with a friend who grew up in this area; this is the place to stay.    The rooms are nice, the staff is very helpful, and they don’t accept tips directly, which takes a lot of pressure off of guests.  It seems like people outside the hotel are high pressure when it comes to westerners buying something or giving a tip.  I noticed at least once that rates differ for foreigners when it comes to tourist attractions.  It’s also important to carry some local money if you want to negotiate on something.

Looking out at the street is somewhat intimidating so I hired a driver for a half day tour through the city.  This was not cheap, but he did know where to go and provided door to door service.  He even joined me on some of the walking tours making this the simple option for someone who has not been here before.  I did notice I was the only one touring around in a nice car – others were in 3 wheeled taxis that seemed to lack the level of safety I was looking for in this traffic.  The driver warned me up front that all cars are dented and it’s normal to run into each other since no one really cares about the lanes on the street.

With just four hours to site see, we made our way to all of the key attractions including: Vidhana Soudha, Cubbon Park, Bangalore Palace (Pictured to the left), Tipu’s Palace, Bugle Rock, and the older sections of Bangalore.  The palace entrance fee to the left was $175 in local currency for locals, $350 for me.  I decided to skip the inside tour.  I also visited two stores where they sell silk garments and sandlewood carvings.  I noticed I was the only one shopping and the store keepers did not want me to leave without buying something.  I did finally break down and purchase a couple of chess sets for my boys…but my sales resistance is pretty high when it comes to high-pressured selling, causing me to pass on things even when I need something.  Something to remember while selling – no one likes to be sold or pressured.  Most of the tourist attractions are well kept, beautifully architected and hundreds of years old.  Had I not hired a driver I would not have seen this side of the city.

Other areas of city were less attractive, but very interesting.  My driver said today’s traffic is light!  It was crazy – he indicated work days are much worse.  Crowds were everywhere, catching crowded buses, buying and selling on the street, and walking around.  The men mostly dressed in plain shirts and long pants, the woman in a variety of traditional outfits, colorful, and silk.  We even saw several cows making their way through the streets.

Despite knowing where to go, we probably spent more time in traffic than actually touring historical sites, however I did find the streets interesting with their small shops, crowded street corners, and all types of vehicles weaving in and out through the streets.  By late afternoon I was ready to head back, having seen all of the major attractions listed as Landmarks and Memorials on my map.  Most of the streets look just like this one.  At the end of the day it was nice to return the gardens, but not without first walking through the hotel’s metal detector and having our car examined for explosives!

© 2010, David Stelzl

Changi airport is amazing with it’s gardens, shopping, and best of all security…you march right through customs without the hassle of scanners, undressing, laptops on belts, etc.

Preparing for India, I spent my last morning here catching up with class attendees and following up on LinkedIn connections.  This is an important part of sales – one I’ve often overlooked out of sheer busyness.  When you’ve completed a meeting or presentation, be diligent to enter new contacts into your CRM, but take the extra step of connecting through LinkedIn…if you completed a project, as I have this week, it’s also important to request recommendations through LinkedIn while your delivery is on the minds of the customers you’ve worked with.  LinkedIn has tremendous power as over 40 million business people are on it, and every one of your connections is receiving your updates.  Keep your name in front of those you work with, and be sure to keep tabs on where people go.  As people move around in this industry, they’ll create more opportunities for you if you maintain a solid reputation.  Don’t allow yourself to skip this step – your future depends on it.

This evening I am sitting in the Changi airport preparing to catch my flight to Bangalore.  For some reason India flights all arrive late in the evening…the good news is, I have arranged a ride through the hotel to avoid the taxi mess I’ve read and heard about.  One person recommended I bring my own water, but that just didn’t seem possible.  Stay tuned for pictures of India over the weekend!

© 2010, David Stelzl

Finishing up in Singapore today, I spent my day following up with class attendees, meeting with the class sponsors and stakeholders, and catching up on some work to prepare for my trip to Bangalore.  In addition, I took some time to visit the shopping areas surrounding my hotel in the shopping district.  Singapore has an amazing network of underground tunnels similar to a NYC subway system, but with a much cleaner and modern appeal.  The picture to the left was taken 3 stories underground at a food court featuring all kinds of Asian food choices.

Feedback from class stakeholders included:

1. Presales people are used to putting their focus on a point product.  They become great at demos and evals, but the larger deals are going to require their presence higher in the organization.  The messaging  focus from our class is rare but greatly needed.

2. Account reps will value presales resources more as they demonstrate their effectiveness as consultants – getting up in front of the class the present was a great step toward doing just that, but practice is needed.  People become great presenters when they commit to practice and feedback.

3. Competition is the security space is fierce.  The ability to gain access to decision makers it critical – this class was a great first step to getting there.

4. It’s difficult to take 3 days out of the field, but necessary.  You can cut all day, but if your saw is dull, you won’t make much progress.  It’s better to stop periodically and fine tune things.

Travel Plans:

This evening I’ll be heading to Bangalore for the final leg of my trip this month.  Bangalore is fast becoming a high-tech growth area in our global economy!  it’s a 4 hour flight with a 2 hour time change…and I’m looking forward to great customer service on Singapore Air!  The hardest part of this job is leaving a city and group of people after having established new friends and familiarity with the surroundings.