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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

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I was somewhat embarrassed when one my long time friends and business associates contacted me last night to comment on yesterday’s white board post.  “I never use Power Point”, was his first comment…and I know he closes some very big deals.  But his second comment was a correction, and he’s absolutely right!  “Your competition will likely see your notes if you leave them there.”

I was reminded of one of my first big deals at the start of this business.  The meeting was set to be held in the decision maker’s office, and I had spent several hours deliberating over the scope, sales call plan, and of course, pricing.  The price was the hard part.  I didn’t want to lose the deal to price, I didn’t have a reputation that justified a big price, and I didn’t want to undersell this, leaving me with a great project for no money.  I finally settled on a price I thought would work, but when I entered the office my competitor’s notes were on the board.  Their price was far higher!  So when the time came to give a price, I confidently put forth a price 60% higher than my original estimate.  The deal was agreed to the next day, and I was the winner.  Bottom line…don’t leave anything on the board for your competition to see.  (Another strategy might be to put some wrong information up their in an effort to lead them astray…said with a chuckle).

© 2011, David Stelzl

Photo by Hannah Stelzl

Continuing on with the topic of white boarding – this is something someone should probably write a book on.  It’s one of the most used tools in the sales process, but often misused by ill-equipped sales people.  A few practical pointers:

1.     Always carry our own markers.  I started doing this about twelve years ago.  Many of my prospects thought it was funny, yet they appreciated my preparedness and the quality of the colors that brought my pictures to life.  You can’t close the million-dollar deal with a dead marker.

2.     There is no reason to recreate the wheel on every new sales call.  You use the same brochure wear, why not use the same illustrations.  Back to my comments on chalk drawing, I can think of several speakers that use chalk drawings as part of their gig.  It’s highly effective and the pictures look great every time.  Why?  Simply because they have practiced.  Get your storyboard together, learn to draw your diagrams, and use them often.  You can adlib as needed.

3.     Learn to draw while you talk.  There is nothing worse than watching someone draw with their back to you.  Practice drawing without thinking about it so you can put your attention on the client.

4.     Learn to write neatly.  It always amazes me when, in an interview, I ask someone to whiteboard something.  While writing in a falling arch format, they turn to me to explain that, “They aren’t very good at white-boarding.”  My response is, “You must be an expert if you want this job.”

5.     Use the entire board – I don’t mean the entire wall of the war-room…but I do mean, don’t make your pictures so small that no one can see them.  Spread things out so that the room can see what you’re talking about.

6.     Don’t call your white-boarding process a presentation.  One big advantage of white-boarding is that it gets you away from the canned presentation.  So even if it is well rehearsed, you can do it in a casual, ad hoc way.  This invite collaboration and interaction.

7.     Always ask if they would like for you to leave your information, or if you should erase the board when finished.  It’s the courteous thing to do.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Have you ever been to a showcase?  Showcases are where speakers go to present their best to an audience of speakers, meeting planners, and other buyers of speaker services to show off their stuff.  Motivational speakers, humorists, trainers, and the like get just a few minutes to give it their best shot.  I attended one of these today…not as a speaker, but simply to observe.  Speaking is hard work!  Whether you’re in front of an audience of several hundred, or simply sharing your company value with a few executives; hopefully with buyer status.  Speaking is a profession to many, including myself, but needs to be more of a profession for sales people; this is where the deal often dies.

With this in mind, my latest workshop addresses this problem – Mastering Boardroom Presentations.  After six years of leading sales workshops on messaging, I am convinced that the presentation is the weak link.  Learn to speak – first get some great instruction and coaching so you know what to do, then join a club like Toastmasters to perfect it.  Read more on my site at:

http://www.stelzl.us/sales_development_present.asp