Overcoming a Technical Sales Ambush Best Practice #3: Request a Prospect Business Executive to Observe
December 31, 2017 § 1 Comment
The next installment of this ongoing series about thwarting technical sales ambushes highlights the value of having a line-of-business executive from the prospect participate.
Recall that a technical sales ambush is an ad-hoc, often last-minute meeting meant to derail a highly complex technology sale. Of course, I’m not referring to legitimate questions that may arise at any point in the cycle, but am instead warning about bad-faith efforts to stop a sale that is progressing towards a successful conclusion. I’ve seen my share of technical sales ambushes, and very often they’re initiated by relatively low-level staff that are threatened by the progress that you represent.
In the absence of more senior staff – particularly business executives, the technical staffers will go back to their management and report that the vendor (that’s you!) can’t or won’t meet one or more important requirements. Unsurprisingly, this bulletin delays – or torpedoes – the sales cycle.
A good way to head off these unfortunate situations is to request – and even insist – on a representative from the business side of the prospect’s organization. They’re much more capable of seeing the big picture, and often are the ones who will benefit from the product or service that you’re selling. To keep things simpler – and give you the appearance of innocence – your sales partner should make this request. The executive is much more likely to keep things moving, and avoid the dreaded technical “fishing expedition” that can demolish even the most well-planned sales opportunity. As an added perk, the low-level technical staffer is likely to be on much better behavior, since they’ll wonder (and rightly so) if their business colleague will see through their plan!
November 30, 2017 § 1 Comment
Most Sales Engineers (SEs) have rare skill combinations that are only present in a fraction of the workforce. They’re technically skilled, yet they understand business requirements while also generally possessing strong interpersonal intuition. But this isn’t always the case: a not-insignificant number of SEs are surprisingly brusque in their dealings with others.
As someone who’s hired lots of SEs, I was often under pressure to get the job filled ASAP, which routinely meant lowering standards. One of the first requirements to go out the window was the candidate’s perceived ability to conduct interpersonal situations. We often felt that we could leave the relationship management to the sales rep, but the upshot was that we ended up with team members that demonstrated behaviors that weren’t as tactful as the circumstances demanded.
This shortfall manifested itself in a number of ways, including tense relationships with co-workers (especially in product development) and other peers such as SEs or salespeople. But the worst outcome was how they handled the inevitable provocations that came their way from prospective customers, particularly technically-minded people. The old adage that no one ever won an argument with a customer is doubly true when the client is still a prospect!
While it’s quite common for tactless SEs to stay in their jobs, it does hurt their ability to get promoted. I can also state this with confidence: if I had to choose between two equally technically talented SEs to let go during layoffs or other downsizing, I’d always select the one who was more abrasive. So if you’re an SE worried about your own vulnerabilities here, take some time to think about your interactions – written or verbal – with others, and correct where necessary. I’m not suggesting that you sit silently by when you’re being unfairly challenged, but there are proven polite, respectful, yet firm ways to disagree or otherwise make a point. Learning how to master this skill will help advance your career, and make the daily grind that much more bearable.
You can learn more about the overall topic of sales engineering here.
October 31, 2017 § 1 Comment
As I’ve been writing about for years, sales engineering is an intellectually stimulating, challenging, and financially rewarding career. Despite that, it’s natural for talented sales engineers to periodically evaluate the next step on their journey. In this post (which is part of a larger series of posts dedicated to progressing on from the sales engineering role) I’ll briefly describe the transition from sales engineer to post-sales consultant.
The most successful sales engineers tend to have strong technical skills. and some of these professionals elect to become post-sales consultants, either for the vendor or a third-party consultancy. I define this role as people who are responsible for deploying a complex technical product or service. By the way: it’s also quite common for post-sales consultants to become sales engineers, so it’s a two-way street!
Here are some of the most notable advantages and drawbacks for a sales engineer becoming a post-sales consultant:
- Gain much stronger technical expertise
- Help drive a product deployment all the way to production
- Offer deeper insights into actual product/service usage
- Uncover opportunities to develop a separate business of your own
- Possibility of a failed engagement: often through circumstances beyond your control!
- Lengthy projects, commonly involving extensive, long-term travel
- Lower compensation: commission (if even offered) is generally much less for consultants
- Pressure to deliver enough billable hours
Is this the right move for you? The answer is generally ‘yes’ if you feel unsatisfied with short engagements that you can’t see through to conclusion, and you want to build your technical skills. On the other hand, this isn’t a good move for you if you don’t like open-ended projects, considerable travel, or are motivated by money.
If you’re interested in being notified of future editions, subscribe to the blog or follow me on Twitter: @RD_Schneider. You can read other sales engineering-related posts here.
August 31, 2017 Comments Off on SoapUI training & certification track at SmartBear Connect on September 12
If you’re going to be in the Boston area on September 12, and would like to learn how to deliver high quality APIs by applying robust functional, performance, and security tests, be sure to check out the special training course that will take place during the SmartBear Connect user conference.
This all-day class – which is usually only available for private organizations – will be delivered by SmartBear’s Mike Giller using a significant subset of the training materials WiseClouds presents during private sessions. Mike will discuss:
- The ReadyAPI Platform
- Establishing Connectivity to your APIs
- Developing Functional Tests
- Validating API Responses with Assertions
- Data-Driven Testing & Programmatic Test Control
- Performance Testing & Virtualization
- Best Practices for ReadyAPI
Along with increasing your skill levels, attending this class will prepare you for the optional SoapUI certification exam. And to make things even more interesting, there will be additional tracks and events dedicated to the other major components in SmartBear’s far-reaching product portfolio.
You can learn more here.
July 31, 2017 Comments Off on On-demand graph database design and modeling training/certification now available
Until fairly recently, the impressive benefits provided by graph databases have been restricted to the most sophisticated – and deep pocketed – technology organizations such as Facebook and LinkedIn. But with the rise of flexible, powerful, and affordable offerings such as OrientDB, it’s now possible for every enterprise to realize the advantages of graph databases.
I’m happy to announce that WiseClouds is partnering with OrientDB to produce a series of training courses and companion certification exams. These classes are available in a variety of formats, including video-on-demand, multi-day live courses presented over the Web for private enterprises as well events open to the public, and onsite deliveries.
If you’re interested in learning how to take advantage of everything that a graph database has to offer, I encourage you to check out the OrientDB Multi-Model Database: Modeling, Design & Interaction class. A subscription through the end of 2017 is available for a limited time at $49, which also includes the official OrientDB certification exam. It provides 2 ½ hours of valuable content, including:
- RDBMS Challenges
- Introduction to NoSQL & Supporting Technologies
- Graph Databases Overview
- OrientDB Capabilities & Multi-Model Architecture
- Modeling a Graph Database
- Taking Advantage of Inheritance and Polymorphism
- Interacting with your Graph Database via APIs
- Writing Powerful Queries using Standard SQL
To help you get up to speed quickly, all the lessons are bolstered with easy-to-understand illustrations and multifaceted examples.
June 30, 2017 Comments Off on Three day graph database training in July
For years, graph databases have underpinned core operations at the most sophisticated social networks (such as Facebook and LinkedIn). Thanks to factors such as software advances and more affordable hardware environments, these databases are now within reach of every business and government entity, much as numerous other advanced technologies have now graduated into mainstream deployments.
Many enterprises are now using graph databases as the foundation for diverse applications such as financial fraud detection, targeted advertising, and genomics – to name just a few. I’ve been working with – and writing about – relational databases for many years, and I’m tremendously excited about how graph databases will change everything about the way data is gathered, stored, and most importantly: utilized.
If you’re getting started on your graph database journey, I encourage you to take part in our upcoming training class featuring OrientDB: the industry-leading multi-model database which is equally adept at working with graph *and* document data. Over the course of three days (July 17 – 19), we’ll provide in-depth coverage of essential topics such as database design/modeling, application development, and administration.
You can learn more here.