Financial literacy is uncommon because the majority of most companies’ employees don’t know how to read Balance Sheets and Income Statements. Why is this? Most instruction about finance pertains to personal concerns such as checking accounts, insurance, mortgages, certificates of deposit, etc. Balance Sheets and Income Statements are excluded because they are much larger and complex topics, most often included in business school curricula.
Unfortunately, the lack of financial skills prevents a company-wide connection with corporate and customer financial goals. That is, shareholder financial objectives can be an abstraction for many department heads and employees. These work associates, talented as they are, don’t understand the exact mechanics of, and risks to, Income Statement profitability or Balance Sheet health. Also, customers can sense that your staff’s skills and activities are not focused on their financial needs and objectives.
Finance Insights, LLC reduces this costly knowledge gap with its 90 minute in person training module that explains financial statement structures and demonstrates how companies achieve profitability by growing and controlling specific line items on their Income Statements. If this type of instruction could be helpful to your organization, a Finance Insights presentation at your next employee gathering or training session will be a worthwhile addition. At the end of the seminar, attendees will be able to:
With Finance Insights, LLC’s 90-minute format, financial statement literacy can be conveniently delivered in a variety of settings ranging from one-off staff meetings to formalized training sessions. Presentation content is effective and interactive while lively and entertaining. For more information, please visit www.financeinsights.us
If you are in B2B within a SE or presales role, it is smart to consider what is happening on the “other side” of the table- the buyer/prospect’s procurement team. This has a significant affect on whether your company will make the sale. What are they looking at? What are they analyzing? Why would they buy a product/ SaaS from you instead of someone else or retain what they already have?
In considering these questions, I read a recent article from Edgeworth Box, titled Good Procurement Practices Massively Lower Costs:
Their article has a few key points: “Internal discussions about procurement tend to focus on cost above all else. The procurement department exists to beat down suppliers and ensure that they get the best price or to enforce policies and procedures intended to curb waste, fraud, and abuse.
An interesting study from researchers at Yale University, Columbia University, and the University of California, Berkeley highlights two key contributing factors to higher costs in procurement: the capacity of the procurement department executing the purchase, and insufficient competition among bidders.”
They claim that a strong procurement team typically spends about 30% less on needed products and services than an average procurement team. In addition, “Understaffing of procurement talent means that states outsource work to expensive third-party consultants. Consultants may not be as motivated to drive an optimal outcome. This is also complicated by poor specification of the project or the need to change the project mid-stream. This is noteworthy given well-documented reductions in procurement workforces.”
There is a lot to consider here.
For one, most procurement departments are understaffed. Too few people doing too much. This is a big reason why B2B purchases and contracts can take FOREVER. But also, they are looking for anything to simplify their jobs and decisions. Thus, try to make it easier for them to select you.
On the Sales side, our job is to differentiate our product/ our software so that the prospect cannot truly compare our product to several competitors. We don’t want it to be all about price. In many cases we may not want there to be an “apples-to-apples” comparison.
However, that is exactly what the procurement team, or their 3rd party consultant, will be doing. They will compare the several considered products or software by features, other factors, and of course upfront and ongoing costs. Generally, the procurement department is not your “champion” at the company. They likely have never met you and there is no personal or direct relationship with you or the Account Executive.
The procurement department wants to select an option between several different bidders/vendors. They don’t want a unicorn. They cannot compare a unicorn to other similar companies. However, many companies pitch their product like it is a unicorn. “You can’t compare us to XYZ Company”, etc. We in Sales can say that, but we will be compared to XYZ Company. That is the reality.
Knowing what the other side values and will do is important in any B2B scenario. Know in detail how your product compares to others that are related or semi-related. And try to make the protocols and provisions easier for the procurement department when applicable.
They have a job to do, as do you. The goal is to align those jobs and outcomes as much as feasible and realistic.
Last June, I had the privilege of participating in a fascinating conference held in the vibrant city of Manchester, UK. As a sales engineer two years into my PhD in Business Administration, I have managed to combine my practical sales experience with dedicated research in areas related to sales, marketing and sales team management. During my stay at the conference, I was given the opportunity to be a speaker and share my research advances in optimizing the management of sales departments. Let me share with you some details of this research and the insights that emerged in this enriching context.
Within the framework of the conference, I explored how the application of the Viable System Model (VSM) can revolutionize the efficiency and effectiveness of sales processes in small and medium-sized industrial enterprises (SMEs).
The global crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for industrial SMEs, especially in their sales and marketing operations. However, by implementing VSM in combination with proven management tools, such as Porter’s famous Five Forces, these companies can achieve a deeper and more contextualized understanding of their sales processes. This gives them the ability to make informed strategic decisions aligned with their internal objectives and capabilities.
VSM is a methodology that provides companies with the ability to analyze both external competitive interactions and the broader factors that govern their environment, without neglecting the organization’s internal adaptability and management. The synergy between VSM and Porter’s Five Forces leads to greater value creation in the business environment, paving the way for better informed and contextualized strategic decisions.
From this perspective, it becomes essential for SMEs to consider the possibility of redesigning their sales structures together with other management tools to achieve exceptional results. Shouldn’t we ask ourselves whether it is feasible to reengineer the business model of each SME? This question gives us food for thought.
For industrial SMEs seeking to optimize their sales processes, the application of VSM emerges as an invaluable tool. By merging this methodology with other management tools, organizations can obtain a holistic and contextualized view of their sales processes, which in turn facilitates data-backed strategic decision-making aligned with their internal goals and capabilities.
Now, moving into the additional tools I discussed at the conference, we explore Porter’s Five Forces as a complement to the Viable System Model.
Michael Porter’s Five Forces analytical framework stands as an essential resource for sales engineers to understand the competitive dynamics of the industry in which they operate. By internalizing these forces, sales engineers can strategize to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities.
The five forces are:
By understanding these five forces, sales engineers can develop strategies that enable them to address challenges and capitalize on opportunities. For example, if rivalry among competitors is intense, sales engineers can focus on developing differentiated products or services that offer unique value to customers. When facing a strong influx of new competitors, tactics can be employed to establish substantial barriers to entry, such as cultivating recognizable brands or securing patents. In situations where the threat of substitutes is high, sales engineers can focus on improving the quality and value of their offerings. If the bargaining power of suppliers or customers is significant, strong relationships can be built or pricing and service strategies can be adapted.
By applying Michael Porter’s Five Forces and utilizing them, sales engineers possess tools to effectively tackle challenges and maximize the opportunities existing within their industry.
Thus, the conference in Manchester marked a milestone in my doctoral research, leaving me with the next step: refining the findings for eventual publication in a research journal. I optimistically assume that this path will culminate in acceptance in the short term. Following the conference, I had the opportunity to explore London, Paris, and some cities in Spain, which undoubtedly added an unforgettable dimension to this enriching experience.
Luis Armando Vasquez
Sales engineer & technical copywriter
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Potenciando Ventas en PyMEs Industriales: Un Enfoque Estratégico con las Cinco Fuerzas de Porter
El pasado mes de Junio, tuve el privilegio de participar en una fascinante conferencia realizada en la vibrante ciudad de Manchester, Reino Unido. Como ingeniero de ventas con una trayectoria de dos años en mi Doctorado en Administración de Empresas, he logrado combinar mi experiencia práctica en ventas con una dedicada investigación en áreas relacionadas con ventas, marketing y gestión de equipos de ventas. Durante mi estancia en la conferencia, se me brindó la oportunidad de ser ponente y compartir los avances de mi investigación en la optimización de la gestión de los departamentos de ventas. Permíteme compartir contigo algunos detalles de esta investigación y las ideas que emergieron en este contexto enriquecedor.
En el marco de la conferencia, exploré cómo la aplicación del Modelo de Sistema Viable (VSM) puede revolucionar la eficiencia y efectividad de los procesos de ventas en pequeñas y medianas empresas (PyMEs) industriales.
La crisis global generada por la pandemia de COVID-19 trajo consigo desafíos sin precedentes para las PyMEs industriales, especialmente en sus operaciones de ventas y marketing. Sin embargo, al implementar el VSM en combinación con herramientas de gestión probadas, como las célebres Cinco Fuerzas de Porter, estas empresas pueden alcanzar una comprensión más profunda y contextualizada de sus procesos de ventas. Esto les confiere la capacidad de tomar decisiones estratégicas informadas y alineadas con sus objetivos y capacidades internas.
El VSM es una metodología que brinda a las empresas la capacidad de analizar tanto las interacciones competitivas externas como los factores más amplios que rigen su entorno, sin descuidar la adaptabilidad y el manejo interno de la organización. La sinergia entre el VSM y las Cinco Fuerzas de Porter propicia una mayor creación de valor en el ámbito comercial, allanando el camino para decisiones estratégicas mejor fundamentadas y contextualizadas.
Desde esta perspectiva, se vuelve fundamental que las PyMEs consideren la posibilidad de rediseñar sus estructuras de ventas en compañía de otras herramientas de gestión para lograr resultados excepcionales. ¿No deberíamos cuestionarnos si es viable una reingeniería del modelo de negocio de cada PyME? Esta pregunta nos lleva a reflexionar.
Para las PyMEs industriales en búsqueda de optimizar sus procesos de ventas, la aplicación del VSM emerge como una herramienta de invaluable utilidad. Al fusionar esta metodología con otras herramientas de gestión, las organizaciones pueden obtener una visión holística y contextualizada de sus procesos de ventas, lo que a su vez facilita la toma de decisiones estratégicas respaldadas por datos y alineadas con sus metas y capacidades internas.
Ahora, adentrándonos en las herramientas adicionales que abordé en la conferencia, exploramos las Cinco Fuerzas de Porter como complemento al Modelo de Sistema Viable.
El marco analítico de las Cinco Fuerzas de Michael Porter se erige como un recurso esencial para que los ingenieros de ventas puedan comprender las dinámicas competitivas de la industria en la que operan. Al interiorizar estas fuerzas, los ingenieros de ventas pueden trazar estrategias que les permitan superar desafíos y capitalizar oportunidades.
Las cinco fuerzas son:
Rivalidad entre competidores existentes: Este factor hace referencia al nivel de competencia entre las empresas que integran una industria. Una alta rivalidad puede dificultar la ganancia de cuota de mercado y la obtención de beneficios.
Amenaza de entrada de nuevos competidores: En este caso, se trata de la dificultad que enfrentan las nuevas empresas al ingresar a una industria. Barreras de entrada elevadas pueden actuar como obstáculos para nuevos competidores.
Amenaza de productos o servicios sustitutos: Aquí se evalúa la disponibilidad de alternativas que pueden satisfacer la misma necesidad que el producto o servicio existente. Una alta amenaza de sustitutos puede ejercer presión sobre precios y beneficios.
Poder de negociación de proveedores: Se refiere al nivel de influencia que los proveedores ostentan sobre las empresas en una industria. Un poder de negociación alto puede encarecer los costos y limitar la obtención de beneficios.
Poder de negociación de los clientes: Este aspecto se relaciona con el nivel de influencia que los clientes ejercen sobre las empresas en una industria. Un poder de negociación alto puede llevar a presiones en los precios y los beneficios.
Al comprender estas cinco fuerzas, los ingenieros de ventas pueden desarrollar estrategias que les permitan enfrentar desafíos y capitalizar oportunidades. Por ejemplo, si la rivalidad entre competidores es intensa, los ingenieros de ventas pueden enfocarse en desarrollar productos o servicios diferenciados que ofrezcan un valor único a los clientes. Si la amenaza de nuevos competidores es alta, se pueden implementar estrategias para erigir barreras de entrada sólidas, como la construcción de marcas reconocibles o la obtención de patentes. En situaciones donde la amenaza de sustitutos es elevada, los ingenieros de ventas pueden centrarse en la mejora de la calidad y el valor de su oferta. Si el poder de negociación de proveedores o clientes es significativo, se pueden construir relaciones sólidas o adaptar estrategias de precios y servicios.
Mediante la comprensión y aplicación de las Cinco Fuerzas de Michael Porter, los ingenieros de ventas tienen a su disposición herramientas para afrontar los desafíos y maximizar las oportunidades presentes en su industria.
Así, la conferencia en Manchester marcó un hito en mi investigación doctoral, dejándome con el siguiente paso: refinar los hallazgos para su eventual publicación en una revista especializada en investigación. Asumo con optimismo que este camino culminará en una aceptación a corto plazo. Posterior a la conferencia, tuve la oportunidad de explorar Londres, París y algunas ciudades de España, lo que indudablemente añadió una dimensión inolvidable a esta experiencia enriquecedora.
Luis Armando Vasquez
Sales engineer & technical copywriter
I often say Sales Engineers are like the special forces of the revenue team – we’re brought in to not only highlight technical features but also champion customers’ pain points and demonstrate how the product can best address them practically. In my 8 years as a SE, I’ve evolved beyond creating product demos and coding in pre-sales activities, taking on multiple hats – some even say I moonlight as a Swiss Army knife for the revenue team!
In this thrilling journey, I’ve become proficient in everything from CRMs, Product Management software, to creating business cases for new initiatives. So, it’s no surprise that like special forces, SEs like me adopt cutting-edge tools to stay razor-sharp. This is how I became an early adopter of ChatGPT, and using AI as a force enabler has multiplied my productivity while keeping both internal and external “customers” happy. Here’s a rundown of the various ways I’ve harnessed the power of ChatGPT as a Sales Engineer:
There are other avenues where SE’s can also use AI for enablement, such as collaborating with marketing teams to create content like blog posts, whitepapers, and case studies or analyzing historical data to create accurate sales forecasts and identify potential pipeline bottlenecks. So the use cases will continue to grow as AI becomes the force multiplier it is.
Now for the disclaimer – while productivity gains have been significant, it’s essential to consider the potential privacy concerns when using ChatGPT for these use cases. Some concerns that organizations may have include:
To address these privacy concerns, both SEs and their organizations can take the following measures:
There’s no doubt that the AI revolution sparked by ChatGPT has made it an invaluable tool in my Sales Engineer toolkit, boosting my productivity and efficiency across a multitude of tasks. After all, AI is here to stay beyond just ChatGPT – we will all be seeing products and tools which Sales Engineer’s speak to incorporating AI more and more. By harnessing the power of AI, I can focus on what I do best – solving complex customer problems and driving business growth. While privacy concerns are valid, with the right precautions and responsible usage, organizations can benefit from the incredible potential that AI solutions like ChatGPT have to offer. And just like that, we’ve leveled up in the game of sales engineering!
Special thanks to the author of this article Faraz
Upon graduating from college, I networked and got my first job as a Technical Application Consultant at Kronos, now UKG. I found myself, in terms of what motivates me and brings me joy. I had several amazing experiences that allowed me to sum up my “why” in a clear cohesive way. I called it my three T’s which stands for Technical, Train, and Travel. It’s ironic because as I write this post, I’m mid-flight to Melbourne Australia, reviewing APIs docs, in preparation to deliver a 4-day workshop and training session to a prospect. Let me dive into what I mean by these three T’s a little further.
Technical – I love learning about new technology and how the tech can be used to efficiently solve problems. The outcome I’m searching for is how to streamline workflows to give people their time back to reinvest in solving higher caliber business concerns. Whether I’m advising on the right API for the job, recommending the best partnership integration to manage a business, or submitting a bug fix to patch the code, this is what brings me happiness.
Train – I believe in never keeping a good thing quiet. I love sharing knowledge, my learnings, and helping others acquire necessary skill sets to do their jobs. I initially found this passion on my first day teaching as an undergraduate teaching assistant at Indiana University under the guidance of professor Charles Pope. We were learning how to build websites and I witnessed students use their creativity to build something that reflected what they were passionate about. My love for teaching has evolved into the workforce and encapsulates both enterprise and small to medium sized businesses.
Travel – Who doesn’t love to see the world? Traveling to new places, immersing myself into various cultures, and living like the locals are parts of life that I discovered were most important to me. By incorporating travel into my career I found I was getting the best of both worlds. I use my experience in various locations and share it with my clients. I share stories on how other businesses are solving their problems in their own unique way and find relatable ways to solve problems in a global fashion.
This article was written by NAASE Advisory Board Member Mary Carter. To learn more about Mary, visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryecarter/
In recent years, the phenomenon of nearshoring has gained momentum in Mexico, which has significant implications for the United States in terms of trade and investment. Nearshoring refers to the outsourcing of services and commercial activities to suppliers located in nearby or neighboring countries, rather than doing so in distant or off-continent locations.
In the case of Mexico, the entry into force of the T-MEC (United States-Mexico-Canada
Agreement) in 2020 has been a catalyst for the increase in nearshoring, as the treaty
establishes new trade rules among the three countries, promoting investment and economic growth in the region.
Nearshoring in Mexico has significant implications for the United States, as many of the
investors and companies that are outsourcing services and commercial activities are American or have their headquarters there. Therefore, nearshoring is expected to increase trade and investment between the two countries, as well as increase competition in national and international markets.
It is time for suppliers to take advantage of this opportunity and offer world-class products and services to the industry arriving in the country.
For sales engineers in Mexico, this implies that they must be prepared to meet the needs of the new companies arriving in the country through this phenomenon. This includes a deep understanding of the needs and expectations of these companies, as well as the ability to communicate and relate effectively with them. Now more than ever, it is important to act as a consultant when selling and know how to assist others.
In terms of skills that sales engineers should acquire to show their products or services to new companies with appropriate professionalism, it is important to highlight the following:
Market knowledge: Sales engineers must have a detailed knowledge of the market in
which they want to sell their products or services, including the industry, competitors,
market trends, and local regulations.
Effective communication skills: Sellers must have effective communication skills to
establish trust relationships with customers, understand their needs, and convey the
benefits and features of their products or services.
Intercultural skills: Given that many of the investors and companies outsourcing
services and commercial activities in Mexico are American, sellers must have
intercultural skills to communicate effectively and establish trust relationships with clients
from different cultures. Of course, English language skills are essential to add value.
Technical knowledge: To sell technical products or services, sellers must have
adequate technical knowledge to understand the technical features of the products and
services they are offering.
Negotiation skills: In the sales process, there will always be situations that require
strong negotiation skills. Sellers must have the ability to understand the customer’s point
of view and be prepared to make concessions to close a deal.
In conclusion, nearshoring in Mexico has significant implications for the United States in terms of trade and investment. Sales engineers must be prepared to meet the needs of the new companies arriving in Mexico through this phenomenon, acquiring skills that go far beyond quality, price, and specification compliance. With these skills, sales engineers can establish solid and lasting business relationships with companies that are outsourcing services and commercial activities in Mexico, allowing them to make the most of the opportunities offered by nearshoring and T-MEC. In summary, sales engineers who are prepared and acquire the appropriate skills can thrive in the context of nearshoring in Mexico and capitalize on the growing investment and trade market between the United States and Mexico.
Thanks to the Author of this article Luis Vasquez.
What makes the ideal Solutions Engineer or Pre Sales Engineer for a SaaS Financial Technology company?
I manage a global team at GoCardless and want to help folks, worldwide, decide if this role is right for them! When hiring I’m seeking at least three core traits; Collaboration, Curiosity / Drive, and Ability to prioritize.
When I reflect on my time as a Solutions Engineer, across a few organizations, I found some of the most rewarding experiences were when I exercised these traits.
1. Collaboration – As my previous mentor, Matt Doar at ServiceRocket, used to say, “We don’t hire a**holes”. There’s something special about a person who’s vulnerable enough to admit they don’t know the answer and can ask for help when needed. Taking that a step further, once you’re in the role you’ll need to work across teams to solve complex problems. Understanding what my product teams were building, the KPIs they were benchmarked against, and why it was exciting to them was crucial. It’s important to do this before I needed their help with collaborating on an opportunity. By knowing these things before a sales call, it allowed me to be an advocate for my product team. I could brag on their behalf and talk about projects they’ve successfully implemented against timelines. Based on my catch ups with the team, I already knew about all the hard work they put into their projects. It illustrates the complete picture a prospect needed to see before buying. By having a tight relationship with my product teams we were able to move together in a truly team-oriented way.
2. Curiosity / Drive – Having a natural sense of curiosity, attention to detail, intrinsic motivation, and pride in your work are crucial aspects that roll up into this trait. Are you proud of the work you are delivering? Does the company and industry align with your personal why? These are the questions I’ve asked myself, or simply know about myself, before delivering against my quota. 3. Ability to prioritize. I like to ask this question during interviews, “how do you go about prioritizing work when you have many teams competing for your time?” The ability to prioritize in a thoughtful, proactive, and productive way is crucial to your success and success of the overall business. Quite often you are the only one that can make a quick decision on how to manage your workload. Is your decision criteria process going to set you up for success? When I deliver on the higher prioritized tasks, I often solve more problems that way. It’s a bonus to the last person who gets my help because likely I’m more attuned to other solutions that may be problems they aren’t even aware of yet and could help them in the future.
3. Ability to prioritize. I like to ask this question during interviews, “how do you go about prioritizing work when you have many teams competing for your time?” The ability to prioritize in a thoughtful, proactive, and productive way is crucial to your success and success of the overall business. Quite often you are the only one that can make a quick decision on how to manage your workload. Is your decision criteria process going to set you up for success? When I deliver on the higher prioritized tasks, I often solve more problems that way. It’s a bonus to the last person who gets my help because likely I’m more attuned to other solutions that may be problems they aren’t even aware of yet and could help them in the future.
This article was written by NAASE Advisory Board Member Mary Carter. To learn more about Mary, visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryecarter/
Today NAASE conducted our first industry conference call, for Association members and for other invited guests. We discussed several topics, including the best tips on being successful as a SE, as well as how work has changed due to COVID19 and what that might mean 6-8 months from now.
Professionals from a variety of industries, including software/IT, building materials, automation, and industrial, came together for an open exchange. Some tidbits that came up include:
Why does my partner Account Executive make twice what I earn?
Is the SE “road warrior” mentality of 2019 and prior really gone for good?
How being stagnant/complacent in your position can be the true career wrecker.
The North American Association of Sales Engineers wants to thanks those the registered and those that attended our first event. We aim to provide similar engaging conversation in the months to come. Please check out our website and our Blog Page for regular timely industry articles from a variety of sources, and consider joining us a member.
Ken Lambert, President