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Visiting Cisco in Mumbai

In a recent sales opportunity we (the seller and myself acting as a sales coach) were charged with providing a competitive quote on unified communications (UC) products.  The company already uses UC, so the quote is simply an upgrade.  The seller assembled the quote, listing all of the necessary hardware, software, and services to move their client to the latest version.  The problem here is, the proposal has no differentiation!  It’s commodity product, necessary services, and a price.  You might say your uniqueness is in your people or your certifications, or perhaps you are the go-to provider for that brand of UC.  But in this case, you don’t have a platform to demonstrate value, so no one is going to see it.  What do you do?

The answer is in the discovery process.  Most of these deals are assigned to a presales technical person.  The sales rep has simply become a relationship manager, adding no value to the deal.  The technical person is generally too technical to effectively interact with the decision maker.  So the sales person and decision maker wait on opposite sides of the deal, the sales person hoping for a “yes”, and the decision maker checking against budget and competitive quotes.  Instead of sitting on the side lines, my client and I put some business level questions together to help us uncover the business needs surrounding this upgrade.

  • How does this prospect use their current unified communications platform?
  • What applications are they using with their phones
  • How do they use collaboration technology – how could they be more efficient if they knew more about it?
  • What are they not using, that would really add to their current business process?

This list goes on, but the point is, IT can’t answers these questions.  They may have an opinion, but it won’t be accurate.  These questions are asset owner questions.  Behind them is the understanding that someone is running a department that would benefit if they knew more about the power of UC.  With this in hand, the seller now has the opportunity to compare their findings with the technical findings their engineer will come up with.  With both in hand, the seller can now advise the client on how to change the way they do business.  Chances are, if the seller spends enough time with the top producers in this company, they will discover some of the secrets behind high performing employees, tie some of this success back to technology, and find ways to improve the current process with the latest upgrades, features, and add-ons available on a UC platform.  This is what it means to provide value – an effective value proposition.

Stay tuned for next month’s Free webinar – mark you calendar for June 8, Leveraging the Discovery Process to Justify New Business.

© 2011, David Stelzl

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Yesterday we completed day one of our three day training class in Mumbai – my friends from India were kind enough to have ordered pizza for lunch without me knowing (Dominos in Mumbai pictured here!)  Notice the unique arrangement of Indian veggies on this slice…Not from NY, but much appreciated!  On the other hand, Dominos has managed to deliver a consistent pizza in just about every country I’ve been to.

In our class we focused on recent trends in cybercrime and where opportunities for creating business exist.  The most important concept here is that of creating business rather than waiting on requests for products.  One insightful comment worth repeating here is that IT wants a product, not a strategy…while sales books and trainers are saying, sell solutions, IT doesn’t often appreciate this approach.  They earn their keep by being the brains behind solution architecture and look to vendors for discount pricing on product.  That doesn’t mean they are qualified or able to deliver business value – but their value depends on it and they know it.  If this is true, separating IT from business decision makers is an important part of the sales process.  Giving IT in-depth technical knowledge (which generally must come from the technical side of the provider) makes sense, and then preparing business value for conversations that will take place with economic buyers and business level influencers.  Both are required in order to sell higher level architectural solutions.

Today’s agenda takes us to the next step of preparing that messaging.  Everything from opening meetings, to introducing your offerings, to discovery and proposal delivery, must be designed with marketing in mind.  Documents don’t sell anything – messaging is key.  You can choose the be the low price solution, or you can show up with million dollar messaging.  It’s always your choice.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Photo taken by David Stelzl

On my last trip to India I sampled pizza in Bangalore; now for Mumbai at the JW Marriott…

This pizza gets two thumbs up!  I didn’t measure, but it covers an entire large dinner plate.  As far as the New York Pizza standard goes, this pizza measures up far better than many hotel pizzas – it has a thin crust kind of like Brooklyn Pizza, although the crust texture is a bit softer.  You can definitely fold this pizza to eat it (like you would in NY).

The cheese mixture is authentic!  No cheddar on this pizza… the pepperoni is a bit spicy (but not as greasy as a  real NY pizza), and the sauce has a touch of sweetness to it – but very good.

The only thing that didn’t stand up – it seems that the cheese was not grated like it would be in NY, so the cheese texture is different.  On the crust, under the pizza in NY you would find the texture to be wet – even a bit slippery.  This pizza was not like that – so it’s not completely NY.    Would I have it again – absolutely.  In fact there are nine different pizzas listed on the room service menu…a better selection than I find most places.

Of course I topped off my meal with a bowl of ice cream which you will find in my picasa album…(CLICK)

Mumbai – Day 1

May 9, 2011 — 3 Comments

Photo by Dave Stelzl

As you can see, the JW Marriott in Mumbai is spectacular!  Here are some pictures from Day One – planning at the Marriott ( and recovering from my trip).    It takes 20 hours to get here, including the layover in Munich – flying Lufthansa…and arriving around midnight makes it even more fun!

Despite the long hours, it really was a good trip.  Lufthansa did a great job with customer service; the food was good, the seats are great for day travel, and the plane in great shape.  Unfortunately, Lufthansa business-class seats don’t recline to a completely flat bed like the United Airline seats on the 747 (reference my posts from last September’s trip to Australia).  This makes sleeping difficult.  It’s also hard to get a good night sleep when leaving at 5 PM, and arriving at 8 AM for a layover in Germany.  You loose 7 hours in time change, three hours eating, and about 4 are left for sleeping on a seat not suited for side sleepers like myself.

The Lufthansa first-class gold star lounge offers room for three people to take a nap (that’s right, just three!)  Everyone else is stuck in stuffed chairs that don’t recline and lack any sort of head support – so napping during the five hour layover is also not an option.  They also don’t offer free wireless in the lounge!  What’s that all about – this is a first class lounge…what are they thinking?  At least the food is good and they do serve soft pretzels.

On both my flights I had the privilege of sitting with businessmen from Germany.  We discussed US politics, home schooling – which is illegal in Germany according to both my travel companions, and global economy.  We arrived in Mumbai 30 minutes early, about 11:00 PM, on Mothers day.   My driver was waiting for me – good  thing!  Getting around Mumbai takes a lot of experience.  There are no obvious road signs or patterns to the road system from what I can tell.

Today, I’ll spend my time preparing for tomorrow’s workshop on identifying security sales opportunities, moving up the ladder to access decision makers, and how to create compelling justification.  It’s about a million degrees and humid outside, but the pool looks amazing, so check out my Picasa album…