I'm a keen motorcyclist. I don't ride every day or commute but what I do like is multi-day touring holidays, clocking up lots and lots of miles and spending long hours in the saddle, riding 'in' the countryside (rather than 'driving' through it). Last year, Liz (my wife) and I toured the Alps (France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein (for 10 minutes!) and Germany) on our motorcycle. This year, I've completed three long-distance navigation rallies.
What I'm not keen on though, is any maintenance or cleaning. I'm a 'jump on it and ride it' guy. I've been on motorcycle maintenance courses, I know how to do an oil change, remove wheels, adjust chains but I still don't do it. I don't even clean the bike myself any more!
Many other bikers (motorcyclists) are horrified at my attitude but I just feel I'm not competent enough to service my bike; I don't trust myself. As an example, as there's only one or two nuts per wheel on a motorcycle, the consequences of not tightening a wheel nut properly are very serious. Almost every time you fall off a motorcycle you're going to hurt yourself, and if there's another vehicle involved or you're at speed, it could be life-threatening.
No, I'd rather let a specialist, qualified motorcycle technician, service and set-up my bike.
Some people love cleaning their bike; to them its almost meditative. I hate it. Having an adventure bike means it has wire spokes on the wheels which make it hard to clean and there's lots of 'nooks and crannies' for mud and salt to hide. I was ecstatic when I found out that my local hand car wash will, somewhat reluctantly, clean a bike for £3. Job done!
So what links my attitude to motorcycles and Cloud / SaaS applications.
When it comes to Apps, I'm a 'jump on it and ride it' guy.
We run our business on Cloud apps; Google Apps for Work for all our 'office' applications and mobile management, Insight.ly for CRM (with its super smooth integration to Google Apps) and Sage One for accounts. No need to worry about hardware, security and installation, all you ever need is a connection.
All in the Cloud, no wheel nuts to tighten, no oil to change, no chains to adjust and no boring cleaning.
Are we entering a new world where the normal Sales Consulting / Presales process is reversed?
It used to be Discovery, Demonstration, Value now its Value, Demonstration, Discovery.
Bob Riefstahl (the author of 'Demonstrating to Win!') wrote a brilliant blog a few weeks ago called 'Renaissance to Post-Modern Discovery'. Bob talks about how even in large deals, enterprise sales teams are now being denied the chance to do any discovery. You have to turn up, do your presentation, show your highest impact features or services immediately and then, if you've hit the 'right buttons' with the prospect, earn the right to improvise some light discovery.
Bob also talks about how prospects and their consultants are much, much better informed than they used to be.
They have a voracious appetite for any digital content (reviews, videos, opinions) on your solution or service; some of that information your company has published (and therefore marketing has control of), some of it may come from employee advocates through social media, but some of it will be from, hopefully impartial, third-parties.
In many cases, your prospects already know what the value of your solution is (or think they do) even before your first sales contact.
As a colleague said last week, 'prospects are now qualifying you' on how much of your intellectual property and unique selling points your company is willing to digitally publicise and disseminate through the social networks.
Of course, this isn't happening in every deal or industry. For many deals you still get to do discovery, a structured presentation (sprinkling with some value and benefits) and then present a final value proposition. However, at least for Cloud / SaaS solutions, this has rapidly changed.
Reverse Presales needs some new skills
So, as Sales Consultants / Presales, we need to learn some new techniques and take on some new responsibilities. As Bob says, we need improvisation and facilitator skills for the short, precious time we get face-to-face (virtually or in reality) with the prospect. We need to be absolutely confident we have the highest value, most memorable, best rehearsed, 'Wow', highlight of our solution and we need to have existing customers or industry experts / analysts backing us up.
We also need to take more ownership of the solution / service part of our company's marketing output that's being consumed, perhaps anonymously, at the beginning of the sales cycle. As Sales Consultants / Presales we have some unique communication skills that are absolutely critical in this new 'reversed' sales process. But that's the topic of a future blog post.
What do you think? I'd really value your opinion below.
I'm proud to announce the launch of my new venture, Winning Skills, the Authorised 2Win! Reseller for companies headquartered in the UK and Ireland.
2Win! are already helping Oracle, Microsoft, Workday, Salesforce.com, IBM, Cisco, Siemens and HP to name but a few. Its not just about being more successful selling software but being successful with any complex product or service sale
If you'd like to know more, please 'Send a message' through LinkedIn, Connect with me, Email me or start a conversation through the 2Win! website.
You can also book yourself straight onto an open enrolment Demo2Win! course (if you're quick, there are still places left on the next London course, November 24th and 25th).
So why 2Win!
When I first joined SAP 11 years ago, I thought I was a pretty good Presales Consultant (Sales Consultant / Solution Engineer) with lots of experience across different enterprise software offerings and a track record of success. That's why they hired me wasn't it?
Almost as soon as I walked through the door of the Clockhouse (SAP's London HQ), I was sent on an offsite 2 day Demo2Win! course.
I was intrigued and, if I'm honest, a little bit insulted that with all my experience, SAP thought I needed basic presentation skills. Was I in for a shock!
That Demo2Win! course fundamentally changed the way I think about Sales and Presales:
You can tell the course made a huge impression on me. It was a 'WOW' moment.
If we cycle forward through my SAP career, building SAP's Global Partner Presales curriculum (partly with Ross Jacobsen of 2Win!) and then becoming SAP's Head of Presales Development for the EMEA region, I always saw the 2Win! techniques as best practice in demonstrating or presenting complex products and services in a rapidly changing world.
Leaving a large corporate like SAP is hard (all those large company benefits) and I've a lot to thank SAP for but I'm really excited to be working with 2Win! through my new company Winning Skills.
The LinkedIn community has always been hugely supportive so please join me on the journey. It would be great to hear your thoughts and advice.
Thanks to Sarah Goodall for the inspiration.