Archives For upgrade

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

All Budgets Lie

November 5, 2010 — Leave a comment

No budget!  How many times have you heard these words?  “No one has budget, there’s no money to spend, we have to wait until next quarter…”  So just go back to the office and tell you sales manager to hold off on selling until Q1.  No problem, I’m sure they’ll understand.  Meanwhile, can you raise my base so I can live a few more months?

What if the doctor said, “You’re about to have a heart attack?”  Would you tell him, “This is a bad time – Christmas is approaching and you funds are tied up, or maybe the economy isn’t great so you’ll have to hold off on treatment?”  No way!  You’d be there, reallocating, taking money out of savings, or even taking money out of 401K with a penalty if you needed it to live on while recovering.  Remember, you’re on commission, so if you’re not selling, you’re not getting paid.  Insurance might cover some bills, but you’re going to need living money.  Yet, you still take care of the issue.  Why?  Because it’s urgent!  Because budgets lie.

Security is urgent.  There is no budget.  This is why I am always talking about selling security, or tying risk mitigation to product and project sales.  Would you believe I bought Salesforce.com for security reasons?  That’s right, I was experiencing major problems with Act! and on the verge of losing my contact database.  After three corruptions I moved to a product used by major global companies, figuring that if Salesforce was experiencing problems, John Chambers would be on the phone pushing them toward a solution.  I bought is at a time when funds were low, but it didn’t matter.  I reallocated.

Find the urgency.  Every company is experiencing urgent threats, they just don’t realize it.  Be the one to show them the issues – but make sure you show the people that matter in a way they can understand it.  Then show them the solution.  If it’s as urgent as a heart attack, you’re in.  And for asset owners, losing 100 million credit card numbers borders on a heart attack.

© 2010, 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

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