Posts Tagged ‘time’

The Worst Demo I never Got

by Wayne Turmel on November 16, 2009

demo wrongIf you’re the VP of Sales for a software or other service company I want you to listen to this cautionary tale.  It’s absolutely true and ought to make you ask some important questions about how confident you are in your inside sales or demo teams. More importantly, I can make some educated guesses about how they’re measuring this sales person’s performance and that really ought to make you go hmmmmm. At any rate I was able to avoid a painful experience and what I can only guess would have been the worst demo I’d ever seen.

A cold call/email for no reason: I got a voicemail from someone at a company who “wanted to speak to me” about their software-as-a-service product.  I suspect I know which list they got my name from but “that’s okay”, I figured… they’re trying to make a living. I then got an email at about the same time with the same kind of offer. Of course, there was nothing about their product other than the name and a hyperlink. My immediate thought was “If I don’t know what it does for me, why would I want to talk to them?” Something told me this person is cranking out the cold calls because they have a certain number of contacts they have to make. That’s fine, I’ve been there and done that, but I also know it’s not terribly productive except that it keeps their boss happy.

A kind offer to waste my time: I have great sympathy for sales people just doing their job so I emailed back and said (essentially) “tell me what it does and what it has to do with me and we’ll see”. I then got a response telling me what it is (an “email marketing tool”. Thanks for clearing that up!) in a single sentence, but I really should schedule time for a 30-minute demo so I could “really see what it can do”. Note: They didn’t ask or even assume what it could do for ME, just what IT could do. I don’t know about you, I don’t have half an hour (and is anyone foolish enough to think it will really only be 30 minutes out of my life???) to waste just watching someone tell me about a product I don’t need or want. Again, I figured their “sales management process” demands a certain number of demos a week. I know fully well the assumption is that if they do “X” number of demos, some of them will convert. Exactly what is their conversion rate? Do they measure it?  Imagine how high it would be if they only did demos to people who actually might buy the product to start with!

It would have been a complete waste of THEIR time too: Had this sales person asked a couple of questions they would have known I’m not a good prospect for them. Instead they invested a phone call, two emails and blocked out half an hour of their time (not to mention putting me in their carefully managed CRM pipeline) without ever asking a couple of basic questions which would have taken me off the list immediately. And let’s do some math: 5 minutes of questioning up front versus 30 minutes per demo to someone completely unqualified who will never buy.  It makes no sense, but if I’m being measured by how many demos a week I perform, you can bet I’m going to schedule them. And let’s face it; it’s less painful than filling that time with 15 more cold calls from an obviously flawed list of leads.

Here’s what I avoided:

By not taking up their kind offer of a “30-minute FREE demo” (are there people who charge for that honor?) I avoided several things:

  • A carefully scripted (we can only hope… either that or a rambling, unprofessional) 1-way monologue about their product and its features
  • A demonstration of all the cool bells and whistles without asking any qualifying questions about my company or goals
  • A not-too-subtle avoidance of the price and other key questions until the very end (although that’s probably one of the first questions I have and I’ll sit through the whole thing wondering about it)
  • If this person’s demo is carefully scripted, it MIGHT contain a call to action like moving to a trial account. (About half the demos I watch and review for people have no clear call to action so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here). My guess is I won’t have been asked who actually makes that decision or whether we’ve got budget for it (assuming they ever get around to telling me the price) until the very end of our time together.

I don’t blame the sales person here, at least not entirely. The big problem is some assumptions on the part of sales management:

  • Measuring activity will get results–  you can make 100 cold calls but if you’re calling people who aren’t good prospects you’re wasting a lot of time and effort and demoralizing the sales person
  • The demo itself will move the sale forward– Are we supposed to believe that a good pitch will move an unmotivated person to tears of joy and make a sale?
  • The function and features will make the sale- If I see the wonder of your product, how can I resist? I can think of 20 reasons not to buy something- starting with I don’t need it
  • All customers want the same thing and we can provide it- an interesting notion but you know it’s not true. Find out what I need and give me THAT, then we’ll talk
  • Product knowledge is really the critical part of a demo- asking the right questions, acting like you care about my business and showing me what I want to see (especially in the early stages of the sales cycle) is far more important to a customer than your User Interface or the fine details of your algorithm

Basically, I was able to avoid having a half hour or more sucked out of my life by a “well intentioned” person just doing their job and appeasing their boss. Not exactly a constructive way to do business but one we see all the time.

How are you using demos in YOUR sales process?

The Blinding Task Orientation

by Himanshu Jhamb on October 12, 2009

Task OrientationThere are countless instances in my life when I have wondered why my hard work has not paid off the way I had expected it to ‘coz I had heard so many times (from so many people) that it really pays to work hard. Evidently, I was missing something. My quest for solving this mystery led me to investing in my education (after a drought of almost a decade), finally, and I learnt why hard work, by itself, is not enough to get the results that we are after.

I realized that the way I was working was self-defeating in itself. Yes, I was working long hours (very long hours), I was tired, sweating-it-out and simply slogging it out. I was doing what I was told and I worked really hard to finish it in time and when I was done with that one thing, I went to the next task. What totally escaped me was that in “task-orientation” i.e. my single-mindedness of completing the task; I was simply blind to the overall purpose of what I was doing and in the process, did not end up producing much although it felt like I had moved a mountain (or two!).

If you can identify with this feeling… keep reading…

As an example of what “Task Orientation” looks like (or shows up as) in real life, a recent event comes to mind. I was working with a team member on a project where we were figuring out a piece of software on how we can make it work for using it to deliver some audio/video content. My astute colleague figured it out pretty quickly and I requested him to send out an email with detailed instructions on how to use the software to the rest of the team so that everyone can start utilizing it to do their work more effectively. My colleague sent out the email in the next 15 minutes with 3-4 brief steps and the final step (which was where the meat was) was garbled (perhaps a result of a shoddy cut/paste attempt). 3 out of 4 team members responded for clarifications and a flurry of emails followed to rectify the situation. Imagine how easy it would’ve been if my dear colleague would’ve given just a little more time to thinking of the PURPOSE of the request rather than treat it as just a “Task” that had to be taken care of quickly. The difference is admittedly, subtle, but the consequences, unfortunately, are not.

I have been culprit of many such emails in the past… (and I apologize now to all those who received those emails from me that added “Cost” to their life) and have learnt to take care by following a few simple rules to take care of my natural inclination to the “Task orientation” in my work and not get trapped in it. Here are a few of my simple rules:

  1. Know the recipients of your emails: Who are you writing to? Are they aware of the context of your email? If not, provide some background before you dive into what you have to say.
  2. Know your recipient’s proficiency in what you will be talking about in your email. So, for example, you will be writing a very different email if you are giving technical instructions to a group of developers vs. a group of managers.
  3. Make sure the links or any references you provide in your emails, WORK. Test them out yourself before sending the email out. It is “Very Costly” for the recipients to click on the links you provide in your email that do not work.
  4. Cutting & Pasting (especially software code or configuration stuff): If you are cutting/pasting anything that you want others to take “as-is”: Cut/Paste it in the email body and also cut/paste it in a simple text editor (e.g. notepad); save the file; attach it and then send the email. The attachment serves as a backup plan. It takes care of the situation in which any “hidden” or “Special” characters inadvertently find their way in your email and gives your recipient a “second-chance” to receive what you wanted to send them without them going through the trouble of sending you another email asking you to resend the cut/paste text. That’s a HUGE Cost Saving!
  5. Include your signature at the end of your emails: How many times have you received emails from others, had a question you wanted to speak to them about immediately but could not get in touch with them because all you saw at the end of the email was a “Thanks!”? Do your recipients (and yourself) a favor – Do not be that person.

Imagine the assessments you trigger at the other side of the email with your recipients in your everyday communications. Imagine how you’d show up for them in your emails  if you “took care” to write emails with these rules. You will show up as someone who really “cares” for their time and your time. On the other hand, “Task orientation” only produces lots of activity… not necessarily productive and leaves people with quite a few negative assessments about you.

The choice is yours… and so are the consequences of it!

Choose with care!

Help – it’s just more ROI!

by Guy Ralfe on July 29, 2009

Help maximize the return on investment

Description of Help (v):  to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist:

Help is surely something that you would like to have in abundance in your personal and your business endeavors. Have you reflected on how much help is around us, and what it is to us?

Last week I led a value workshop for, hopefully, a future client. Our sales lady has been in communication with this organization for over a year now and in an effort to offer them help to facilitate moving forward with a deal a one day Value Workshop was suggested to help them identify their solution needs. We used a method called Pain ChainsTM developed by Keith M. Eades. This organizational assessment method enables you to evaluate the impact and value of an organizations pains. The concept is that pains in an organization are felt by individuals within the organization. These pains are often as a consequence of some other interdependent individual’s pain within the organizational process chain.

As an outcome of the value assessment, one of the pain chains the participants estimated, increased the costs at around 7% of payroll and another contributed to the loss of revenue in the order of 8-10% of revenue in a primary division. This accumulated cost, in a single year, far outweighs the solution costs and to think that they have lost a year already in indecision and likely another year between making a decision and realizing the benefits of which ever solution they choose. Ironically this organization helps their clients through their product and services offering in a very similar way.

At the end of the value workshop we asked for feedback and all responded very favorably to the exercise and how it had opened their mind to the impact of their problems and the urgency with which they needed to address the situation. However one particular individual’s feedback really stood out – while very enthusiastic about the outcome of the workshop and what had been revealed to him he concluded that “ …there was nothing in the session that we couldn’t have done ourselves!

That assessment is 100% correct, but what it doesn’t take into consideration is at what cost to you and your organization. Yes anyone can do just about anything given enough time, but time is the one thing we have no control over which makes it scarce and expensive. That is why we need help and that is why when we get help acknowledge it and realize how much it is contributing to your Return On Investment (ROI)!