Archives For message

Walking along the Arabian Sea

Yesterday we completed day 2 of the Making Money with Security workshop – working on messaging.  Wherever I go, there seems to be a disconnect between marketing and sales…at some point in the value proposition development portion of my workshop, I ask someone to show me what they would deliver if given a high level appointment today to talk about security, and what their company can offer.  There is always a hesitation – no one wants to stand up and show me.  Why?  Usually it is because after a day and a half of discussion on messaging, they realize their presentation does not contain the elements of a great security approach.  Marketing has delivered a set of slides with talking points that are all about them and their product.  There is nothing new, nothing educational,…nothing amazing.  No call to action other than – let us know if we can help.  Nothing to cause the meeting attendees concern within their own business and approach.  Yet every day companies like RSA, Microsoft, the Income Tax division of India, etc. are defeated by cyber criminals.  There is an urgency; why can’t we demonstrate this in our messaging?

© 2011, David Stelzl

Is Webex a good tool for selling over the phone?

Some sales calls lend themselves to Webex or some other form of web collaboration software.  For the same reason I don’t really like PowerPoint for an initial sales call, when Webex is used to show PowerPoint on a long distance sales call, I find it takes away from the interactive experience I am looking for.  On the other hand, if you are at the point of demonstrating a software product (meaning you have a software product to sell), it may do the trick.

The secret to success is in knowing when and how to use it.  If you have a product you intend to demo, using Webex can be highly productive and cost effective.  Once again, shooting from the hip is bound to result in lost sales.  On the other hand, if your call is qualified, you have the right people on the call, and your product is attention grabbing in a demo, you have the foundation for success.  But you still need a well thought-out sales strategy.  Starting with success stories is the best way to go, then having already understood the company’s core needs, come prepared to demo just those attributes that matter.  Like radio, dead air time is dead.  It’s not like being there, so you can’t afford dead air while you navigate through countless software menus looking for something to show them.  In fact, in my opinion, sales teams that rely on these remote communication tools require more training and practice than those who sell in person.  Without the personal touch, your presentation must be executed flawlessly with a strong follow-up plan.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The most frequent comment I get when talking about the need to memorize or practice sales calls is, “I’m not an actor”.  In fact I received a Tweet reply this morning stating, “Sales people who talk like robots irritate customers”.  Both statements are true, however these comments miss the mark.

The most irritating sales call experience is ill preparedness.  When the sales person shows up without doing their homework, and stuttering through the first several minutes of their meeting they are seen as wasting everyone’s time.  They are also competing with those currently providing the services;  those who already know the needs of the customer.  Only in the wake of a previous provider’s failure will this strategy work.   Even “open ended” questions such as, “What keeps you up at night” are irritating to executives who have heard these “lines” meeting after meeting.   Executives need input from people who bring experience, understanding, and can communicate effectively.

I would argue that great speakers never sound like robots or they would not be able to command such exorbitant fees.   Actors who we recognize as “Stars” take on the personality of their character so effectively that we forget who they really are for the duration of the picture.   And sales people who speak with confidence and illustrations that are inculcated into their process will deliver truth in a way that seems natural and spontaneous.  On the other hand, sales people who have simply memorized sound bites from their data sheets are bound to lose along with those who have failed to prepare.

© 2011, David Stelzl

When little gadgets like the iPad command greater attention than just about anything you sell, the technology business is in trouble.  That is, unless you have something greater than the product to vend.  It was bad enough that half the emails I was receiving said they were sent from the iphone (which we Verizon customers still don’t have), but now the other half are coming from the iPad!  Where are we headed?  I’m changing my signature to read, sent from my MacBook Pro, which supports more apps, has a bigger screen, and consumes more power! (Right about now I am loving the fact that I upgraded from Microsoft Windows earlier this year.)

The real issue of course, is that the product can’t be the center of attention.  If you you work for Apple, perhaps your real value is innovation.  If you are a reseller it must be intellectual capital.  If you work for just about any product company, you had better have some niche, or you’ll be what Geoffrey Moore once called the Chimps, always trying to steal market share from the Gorilla.  Or, perhaps you’ll learn the same lesson we all need to learn…that the message, the marketing, and the intellectual capital are more valuable than just about any product.  Certainly in the long run this is true.

© David Stelzl, 2010


We completed day two of the Mastering Boardroom Presentations workshop in Raleigh.  One major observation everyone seemed to come away with – almost every corporate overview needs major re-engineering.  If your prospects aren’t “wowed” by the material you present in the corporate overview…what are they?  Are they recommending others see it?  Do you hear comments like, “I wish Joe were here to see this?”  If not, you might be spewing needless information in your executive briefings.  How many corporate overviews do you think these people see in an average year?  If yours looks like the rest, you’re in trouble.

So we spent the better part of the morning working on some exciting – a presentation that demands attention.  We took the core offerings, but added the concepts from day one that make speeches great.  I’m sure you’ve seen a professional speaker at some point – this has to be that good if you expect it to help you sell millions this year! In the end I think everyone agreed – in just 1 1/2 days, we covered months of developmental and training material.

Also – don’t forget, tomorrow is the first of this years teleseminar topics; 11:30 EDT – don’t miss it.

We completed day one of Mastering Boardroom Presentations, in Raleigh.  As I’ve said before, the presentation always seems to be the weak link in the sales call.  If you want to increase sales, perfect your message, and become the best at presenting in!  Some the key take aways from today’s participants were:

1. “Focus on assets, not products – this is what drives budgets”

2. “The most powerful objection handling technique is a customer success story.  Creating a great story takes some work and practice, but once mastered, will become one of the most valuable tools you have  to close business.  I don’t know why other sales courses don’t make more use of this.”

3. “I’ve never been through a sales training class that gives practical instruction on the mechanics of presenting to decision makers; how to present, where to stand, how to demonstrate confidence, etc.  This will change the way I sell and deliver proposals and recommendations.”

4. The most important thing I learned today was how to meet someone – how to leverage an introduction in a way that moves to a meeting.  I can see it takes practice, but I also see the tremendous potential in answering the question “What do you do?” with something other than, “I’m in sales”.

5. “I learned more in one day than I did in a week of Vendor sponsored training.”

We wrapped up our Value Proposition workshop at BMC today, working with BMC partners on messaging and executive level conversations.  A few key points from our discussions:

1. Product opportunities simply indicate that justification has already been made.  If you didn’t create the justification, you’re likely competing on price (unless you already own the product business).  This ownership may be short lived if your only value is low pricing.

2. RFP responses are similar.  In this case, low close rates generally indicate that a decision was made prior to issuing the RFP. This means IT is being forced to go out for bid to get the lowest price.  Chances are they’ll write the RPF with a winner in mind.

3. Presenting value at the executive level takes practice.  Demotions happen when you ask IT questions, talk product, or when your meeting interaction just doesn’t interest buyer level audiences.  All of this  can be fixed with some planning and practice.

4. Moving up in the organization requires some strategy.  One strategy includes aligning your sharpest technical presales people with their IT people.  Once that relationship is solid, IT will allow you to move up.

5. When executives are firm on having you work with IT, an executive event may be your only option for getting reconnected upstairs.

6. Great messaging always wins over brain power.  Learn to market and brand…this is the key ingredient if you plan to win the sale.

7. Sales micro management simply means, sales management is under pressure and does not understand how to beat budget cuts with value messaging!