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buffalo_shipConsulting Skills Needed

Speaking In Buffalo, NY this Morning – This ship (above) sits right across from our hotel!

If you want to succeed in selling technology solutions, there are a variety of skills sorely lacking in most technology sales organizations. Today I’ll be meeting with Ingram Micro’s Advanced Solutions Team in Buffalo, NY exploring some of these.

Years ago the relationship might have been enough. While you can’t sell without a relationship, it’s not enough. Clients want more. The truth is, there are lot’s of relationship people out there. Here are some of the skills we’ll be discussing today. None of these are out of reach. They just take some extra effort. Apply just a couple of these and they’ll put you out in front of your competition…

Skills That Set You Apart

Public Speaking: I can’t say enough about “speaking”. Most assume good speakers are born that way. It’s not true. Perhaps there’s a handful, but most great speakers have worked at it. In fact I was speaking with an executive just the other day who told me he was getting ready for his annual sales meeting and needed to submit his recorded speech to his speaker coach.  There are a number of routes to take here.

Some are nearly free. For instance, Toastmasters. Every city has multiple Toastmaster groups, so join one and get some speaker critique. Learn how to engage an audience and your sales calls will be more fun, and far more productive.  Imagine clients who like hearing you present!

Facilitation Methodology: Disagreement among colleagues in a business you call on is one of the primary reasons they never take action. Learn how to bring synergy and you’ll shorten sales cycles and increase close rates.

Dr. Edward De Bono’s book, The Six Thinking Hats has been a pillar in my library for some time. I’ve also had training from one of their authorized instructors – which I highly recommend. This one skill will likely double your business if you work at it.

Copywriting: Your high school english teacher would likely have a heart attack, but I am much further ahead having studied copywriting. We’re talking about marketing communications or “Marcom”.  It breaks most of the rules you learned in school – but copy is what sells. Great copy is expensive, but you can learn to write your own. Stop sending out boring emails, and you might even decide your own company’s data sheets are poorly written. John Caples has several books on the subject. Any one of them is a great place to start.

Presentation: Different than public speaking, but related, is the art of presentation. People learn in various ways, but most presentations miss the mark complete. Chip and Dan Heath, in their book, Made to Stick, do a great job of educating us on how to make content appealing and sticky.

We’ll cover a lot more today, but this is a great start…Check out my book, “From Vendor to Adviser” for more details on these, as well as consulting skills, assessment methods, and event how to price with higher margins.

From Vendor to Adviser” <<< Click here to get it on Amazon

© 2016, David Stelzl



Make sure you check out Mumbai traffic while you are here…unfortunately there is no way to capture the terror of driving over here on film, but more often than not, these trucks and cars are just an inch or two from my car.  In fact, my driver did actually run into a taxi on this trip.  They just waved to each other and we continued on our way.  I was glad it was no the cement mixer pictured in the video!

Yesterday we wrapped up our final day of training – working on presentations.  By having one of the class attendees present their normal product pitch, we were able to draw a stark contrast between it and educational marketing approaches.  Using the stories, house & cloud presentation (described in the book available on the right-hand side bar of this blog), and our new executive level presentation, each attendee spent the day working on platform skills, presentation style, and perfecting their delivery to build confidence when presenting to higher level clients.

One important point here.  Most great speakers I know can point back to their beginnings and will admit that their early presentations were not good.  They practiced, recorded themselves, received feedback, and practiced more, until they were great.  Sales people should do the same.  You only get one shot with a high-level execute, so make sure you’re message and presentation is great before you get there.  There just isn’t any excuse not to.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Here is my star performer – Timmy!


Seth Godin

April 22, 2010 — Leave a comment

I just finished reading Seth Godin’s latest book, Linchpin, and I find myself quoting some of his thought provoking comments as I am encouraging sales people to be proactive in their businesses.  There is an urgent need refocus on learning and studying the business, the market, and the trends that are driving our industry.  He has some great thoughts here on what differentiates the average from the spectacular “linchpin” employee.  This audio link came in this morning with Godin’s permission to pass it on – it’s Seth talking about the Linchpin.  I hope you find this helpful as you build your business…

The most effective marketing programs leverage video and events….in this event we had over 75 attendees, many involved in key decision making roles with a common goal to keep their businesses running and profitable.  At the start of the event, just like in most sales calls, most of these people felt like they had their IT infrastructure under control. By using effective messaging, real world examples, and compelling customer attraction stories, this audience’s response was clear – they wanted to take another look!  Education around compelling events produces the opportunity to help people…by putting it in video form, the sponsoring solution provider can use this video to attract new prospects!  Sponsors included Sonicwall, Symantec, Microsoft, Cisco, and others.

© David Stelzl 2010

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!

I’ve just arrived in Dallas to kick off the week with BMC partners and a workshop on great messaging – here are some thoughts from my young entrepreneurs just before heading out…check it out: