Overcoming a Technical Sales Ambush Best Practice #1: Include the Sales Representative

September 30, 2015 Comments Off on Overcoming a Technical Sales Ambush Best Practice #1: Include the Sales Representative

As I recently depicted, a technical sales ambush is a scenario where a prospect convenes a technically focused “review” meeting with the hidden purpose of introducing impossible or unreasonable requirements that end up monkey wrenching the entire sale.

While ambushes can’t be totally avoided, their outcomes can be ameliorated through proper preparation. For example, sales representatives – at least those that are making or exceeding quota – are masters of interpersonal relationships and reading between the lines. I’ve found that the best reps can instantly sniff out an ambush or other situation where the prospect’s technical experts are not acting in their employer’s best interest, and are advancing their own private agendas instead.

A proactive sales representative will quickly take steps to stop an ambush in its tracks. This can include entirely rejecting the meeting without adequate representation from the business, or demanding a quid-pro-quo about what happens after the meeting (like setting up a proof-of-concept).

One of the most important things a rep can do is simply make sure that they’re part of the meeting: a sales engineer (SE) should never face this type of audience alone, especially when it appears that an ambush might be in the cards. Having the sales rep present frees up the SE to focus on making a good faith effort to address all technical questions, while strengthening the case that the vendor is making to the prospect.

Das Auto, der Algorithmus, und der Smog

September 19, 2015 Comments Off on Das Auto, der Algorithmus, und der Smog

Looks like Volkswagen is going to have some ‘splainin’ to do: the company has been ordered to recall 482,000 diesel-powered vehicles (including Jetta, Golf, Passat, Beetle, and Audi A3) by the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Justice, and California Air Resources Board.

VW is being accused of implementing an algorithm that detects when the car is being smog-tested and then applying full emission controls so that the vehicle will pass. At other times (like during normal road operations), the emission controls were programmatically relaxed and the car belched out much higher levels of pollutants such as nitrogen oxide.

You can read the violation notice here. Wow.

And as algorithms become more prevalent in everyday devices (i.e. “the Internet of Things”), there should be all sorts of entertaining stories to come. Some will involve felonious behavior, while others will just be the natural outcome of poor design or shoddy quality control.

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