Getting them to drink the Kool-aid…
I have to say that one of the most incredible feelings is walking away from a demo or presentation knowing that the audience got what our product does and how flexible it is to deploy. I just get a rush when technical folks start drinking the kool-aid and ask questions or regurgitate our product’ terminology. Even better is one of your prospects has done their homework and starts advocating the benefits or the value proposition to their own colleagues!
I work with a product that is a niche product that is both software and hardware and has many flexible options. The sky’s the limit and when a serious prospect starts formulating how our solution will retro-fit their environment and helps you map out the architecture before the meeting is finished, you know there’s no denying the fact they are onboard and ready to get their hands dirty with your product.
In one such engagement recently, I walked into the room, one immediate credibility with the tech team as had been on the other side of the table with the same pains before doing a Sales Engineering role. I opted not to do “death-by-PowerPoint” and went straight to the white board and started mapping out their requirements and architecture while explaining the product and features at each tier of the design. Customers respond well to a reference architecture as it provides a mapping to their existing infrastructure and allows them to absorb your infiltration of product knowledge in digestible chunks.
Some of the things I do to engage them are:
- Ask them tons of questions about thier pain and what they are doing to deal with the problems today
- Let them come up to the whiteboard and draw their architecture
- Build trust with the technical folks but also try to deliver the techno babble to the middle ground (there are always non-tech people present who’ll get bored if you don’t engage them)
- Offer to give them whitepapers, admin guides, specs, etc – techies love to read!
- Let them take you off script and drive the demo (show them what they want to see)
- Manage difficult questions by qualifying the purpose for knowing the answer
Being an SE lets me sell, train, demostrate, propose, design and essentially talk people into buying a solution to suit their needs, but the job is so much easier when I’ve established a repore with the right people.