Archives For systems engineer

Melbourne Airport

Melbourne Airport

Quick Note On Travel In Australia

Well, finally back in the states, but not yet home…my flight from Melbourne to Sydney was delayed, causing me to miss my flight to the US on Monday…Lessons learned:

  • Don’t fly Jetstar when you’ve actually got to be somewhere.  I flew JetStar four times this week, back and forth from Sydney and Melbourne.  Each time, I would sit in the airport listening to announcement after announcement of JefStar delays and cancellations.  While the staff seems nice enough, you just can’t count on them.  I am still wondering if they will compensate me for the extra hotel stay and meals.

So I ended up flying out of Sydney on Tuesday…scheduled to be home on Wednesday evening.

The Importance of Presales Consultants

More importantly, we finished up our training class on Friday in Sydney…this class was directed specifically to presales consultants / presales SEs.  Most companies fail to train their presales consultants.  It’s assumed that sales people can sell when they’re hired, so they rarely receive updated sales training – but the role of the presales technical person is more likely to be ignored.  I guess the assumption is that the sales person will take care of the selling part – but that’s wrong thinking.

Presales consultants have a very important role in the sales process.  Teaching sales and marketing skills to presales consultants is a great investment.  In fact, of the many classes I conduct over the course of a year, these attendees seems to be the most appreciative.  It provides clarity to their role and a process to follow in moving the sale forward.

NOTE: You might consider sending your presales people to my upcoming online security sales workshop

In class, I encourage sales people to position their presales technical people as mentors of the client’s IT group.  Rather than having sales people peer with IT, it is better to set up this mentor relationship with people the IT group will look up to.  IT doesn’t tend to look up to sales people simply because they don’t value the sales process.  They value technical insights which sales rarely has.  When sales people try to peer with IT, it leaves the presales person out – positioning them simply as a supporting role, rather than someone to be respected and looked up to.

When the presales person takes on the trusted adviser role with IT, they are advising them on technology and career direction.  IT needs this kind of input. When done correctly, it is valuable to the IT person – far more so than the sales person will ever be.  But it also frees up the sales person to move up in the organization without causing IT to feel like they are going over their head in the sales process.  Some of the comments I received after class:

  • “This is a great way to explain our role.”
  • “Best training I’ve ever received.”
  • “All the training we’ve received has been product oriented up until now…not very helpful.”
  • “This will allow me to play a much more strategic role in the sales process.”
  • “I think I have a better understanding of how I can work to support the sales people.”
  • “If only my sales counterpart understood this – we could really close some business.”
  • “How can we get more of our presales people to understand this?”

It’s been a great trip – I’m looking forward to seeing my family.  Unfortunately, when I landed at LAX this morning, I found that my connecting flight is delayed until 3:30 – getting me home at 11 tonight.  That would be okay, except I have to fly to Chicago at 7:30 am tomorrow…another character building day with the airlines.

© 2013, David Stelzl


SEs in Bangalore

SEs in Bangalore

Is your business case enough to justify the sale?  We completed our second day of systems engineering sales training in Bangalore India yesterday.  On the first day (read about it here) I taught on security trends, identifying the need, accessing the right people, and building justifications through assessments (or a change in the discovery process).  Today we spent our time on presentation skills and building various components of a presentation.  We crafted verbal responses to questions like, “What do you do?”  and “What is your company doing in the area of security?”

The Business Case

Somewhere along the line we’ve been taught that the business case is enough to justify the sale – of course you need a business case.  You don’t want to be selling technology to someone where no real need exists.  That would violate the very definition of Trusted Adviser.  But is it enough?  It’s not…

Great Motivational Speakers Understand How to Sell

Think of all the great motivational speakers.  The speakers that get their audiences eating healthy, starting a new diet to lose weight, or taking up running or some other regular exercise program.  Is their recommendation needed?  Of course it is – but most of their listeners where already aware that a good diet or exercise was recommended.  Everyone knows that eating yummy desserts every day, living on fast food, and sitting around all day are just not healthy…was it the facts and figures that motivated that attendee to action?  Of course it wasn’t.  It was the stories, the emotion, the energy generated by the speaker’s passion that pushed that lethargic individual into action.  It may not last unless a real heart change has occurred, but while the emotion is high – new resolutions are made.  That explains why it is helpful to continually fill your mind with the right stories, movies, books, and social encounters.  A constant source tends to keep that emotion going – driving the will to make better decisions.

Good marketing and selling does the same thing.  It identifies real needs among real people, discovers viable alternatives, and sets a path before the buyer. But then it encourages the right actions through an emotional response.  By the way, deceptive marketing does just the opposite.  It identifies something that a company or person wants their audience to do that just isn’t wise – like taking up smoking; and then encourages an emotional response by making that person think they’ll be happier, sexier, more desirable, more popular, or more independent.

If you’re selling – make sure your product fits the first category – a wise direction for people with a certain need.  Find those people, and start working on your story.  At this point I’d point you back to Simon Sinek’s excellent video on Starting with WHY.

© 2013, David Stelzl



We completed our first day of security sales training, but more importantly, here’s an update on Bangalore pizza!  On this trip I was happy to see that Marriott (my preferred hotel chain) finally has a hotel in Whitefield, just outside of Bangalore India. The last time I was here I wrote about the surprisingly great pizza at the Oberoi Hotel.  I was disappointed to find that the Marriott does not have a pizza on their menu – however, when I showed up for breakfast yesterday, there was a pizza on the breakfast buffet!   Notice the egg in the middle of this pizza…if you are looking for my expert opinion on this pizza, you’re out of luck – This is just a little too weird for me…so I opted for a picture instead.  The crust looks pretty good for international pizza, but that’s as far as I can go.  The good news is, the rest of the breakfast buffet was outstanding.

Our training session was a great experience for me.  I love learning from sales teams around the world, hearing about their experiences and how different cultures approach the sales process.  Last time I was here it seemed that the Indian run companies were not that interested in security – they felt like they had it covered and the threat was not that great.  Things have changed.  The tech business is going strong, and the level of security awareness is high.   Our class focused on the systems engineer’s role in presales support…my goal here is to give them the tools they need to identify security opportunities emerging from their existing projects – mostly data center, VDI, and core infrastructure as well as mobility projects (BYOD).

The SE role is an important one – and with a little sales training, and some coaching on public speaking, this role can become a tremendous asset to the sales organization.  And since most companies neglect giving their engineers this kind of training – those who do create a amazing competitive advantage.

The SE should be the bridge between highly complex technology and the business leader who doesn’t have time to wade through mounds of technical jargon.  They need to make decisions.  In a two day board meeting there might be 30 minutes on the agenda to review the company’s security posture.  Most CIOs are not going to be able to accurately pull together the company’s position, provide accurate insights into the top threats, show how likely the company is to experience loss, and show whether the company’s security posture is trending up or down.  IT most likely can’t provide this information either, in a format board members can consume.  So who will be that bridge?  It should be the presales systems engineer…

Over the next 12 months technology providers would be wise to add this skill set to their existing engineering group.  It may make all the difference in the world.

© 2013, David Stelzl