What is the Future of Technical Sales?

(by Sania Salman) With the advancement and continuous innovations in the field of science and technology, new product inventions and machines are always being developed. This augmentation of technology requires not only its accessibility but also its understanding and knowledge to make it more convenient for the usage of targeted audiences. People want machines to make their life easier and work efficient. When it comes to buying products for their businesses or work, not everyone is a tech geek and has the comprehension of technology or machines to make the right choice. That is when technical sales come into play.

What is Technical Sales?

Technical sales is the art of selling technology products by personnel having a core knowledge of scientific technicalities and specifications of the particular product. A unique blend of sales and technology ensures a much better buying experience since it provides the different aspects of a product to be known by the customer before the purchase is made.  Thereby the customer is well aware of the choice he is making in terms of having an efficient solution to his business needs.

Technical sales is quite different from most regular sales jobs. Like any sales job, a person has to be persuasive to make the buyer purchase the product.  In technical sales, the purchase depends on the sound knowledge, explanation, and demonstration of the product by the technical sales engineer or specialist. The consultative nature of the sales rep proves to be insightful to the consumer in fulfilling their business needs with a technology-provided solution.

“Keep on the lookout for novel ideas that others have used successfully. Your idea has to be original only in its adaptation to the problem you’re working on.”—Thomas Edison

The Future of Technical Sales

Talking about the future of technical sales, as we all know the future is technology, therefore, technical sales is only going to get stronger in the future. With many more inventions and scientific breakthroughs, the solutions provided by science and technology will be extensive. The only thing required is that sales engineers should be trained effectively and accordingly in order to fulfill the needs of the customers by providing them a resourceful guide to the product and ensuring a solution.

According to John Care, an SE expert and founder of Mastering Technical Sales, there will certainly be a growing demand for sales engineers in the future. The fact that advancements in technology will continue to rise in the future is undeniable but most importantly, people still prefer to work with people and don’t want robots to sell to them.   Human factors and empathy are the attributes that cannot be duplicated by robots.

An article in the Harvard Business Review analyzed the jobs and skills which are at a high risk of being automated and technical sales was way down at the bottom of the list- which further proves that the demand for technical sales will not decline as we proceed farther into the foreseeable future.

The employment opportunity for sales engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As a wider range of technologically complex products is being developed, sales engineers will be crucial to help sell such products or services.

The job growth chart provided by Data USA shows a steady rise in the field of technical sales. Strong industry growth is predicted in computer systems design and related services, which will greatly contribute to employment growth for the occupation. Based on this, the employment of sales engineers in this field is projected to grow 24 percent from 2018 to 2028.

While the field of technical sales is predicted to show growth in the future, people working in this field also need to evolve to adapt to the changing needs of the customers. Reciting products’ specifications ad features to the customers will not be enough, rather they need to understand the customers’ business problems and provide them a solution accordingly. They should not only be well-informed of the scientific notions and technicalities of the product but also consult with the customers and understand their needs properly to make it appeal more to the prospect.

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rodgers

Anything related to the field of science and technology is on the uptick and will remain so for the near future. The good news is that people still prefer to work with people and not with robots so technical sales roles will benefit. The bottom line is that with the surge in technology, technical sales engineers or product managers will become increasingly critical for a product’s success in the market.

Technical Sales Managers: To Get A Seat At The C-Suite Table, Show How Data Can Deliver Value

(By Freddy Jose Mangum)

A guide for technical sales solution architects, sales engineers, system engineers and presales managers that increases their visibility and impact in driving top-line revenue and improving margin 

Throughout my career I have been blessed to see some amazing technical sales leaders in action. And most recently in my role at Hub, I have had the honor to learn from stellar technical sales managers, at both private and public companies, on best practices that impact revenue, optimize margin and enable them to get a seat at the table with the chief revenue officer, chief financial officer, chief product officer, chief executive officer and even the board of directors. 

So what is the key to gaining influence, you may ask? Interpersonal dynamics and communication skills make a difference. But the most important pillar of influence is data that technical sales leaders utilize to focus on delivering value. 

Let’s first look at the six areas where technical sales leadership can add value. 

Manager Views

Analysis. Your ability to analyze the right data that shows what is working and not working with your processes, people, products you sell and solutions you develop is a tremendous value add to your C-suite. Make sure you correlate the right data elements, double click on the integrity of your data, and provide the right confidence levels on the data integrity that you have to work with. 

Insights. Measure and track insights from your analysis and then articulate them to the C-suite so they can determine ways to further fuel growth and optimize margin. For instance, your insights may indicate that winning certain types of business is not profitable to the company, given their associated cost of sale. Or you may discover that by getting technical sales involved earlier in the technical discovery sales process, you are able to reduce the noise associated with poor opportunities and increase capacity to process more high quality business opportunities.

Gaps. Identify blockers that are impeding revenue associated with net new business, expansion, upsell and cross-sell opportunities. These opportunities may require new feature enhancements but in some cases may require actions outside of development, such as compliance to mandates like FedRam certification. With data you can have more productive conversations with product management, as illustrated in this most recent post, “How to Align Technical Sales and Product Management Differences on Product and Solution Gaps.”

Forecast. Complement existing processes and tools utilized by the C-suite to further improve forecasting of meeting or exceeding upcoming quota. In both private and public companies, it is a best practice to be 100% accurate on forecast, so the C-suite will greatly appreciate your efforts to help achieve that 100%. 

Investment. Help quantify with accuracy the cost and revenue generated by technical sales professionals in your organization. If you provide these metrics, you can justify where to make investments in talent, process development and tooling, which can influence growth and the attachment rate to all opportunities in the funnel. Additionally, map out the leverage your technical sales professionals have across your various go-to-market initiatives as outlined in the post “The Technical Sales Leverage Effect On Quota.”

Action. Increase your value with the C-suite not only by providing look-back metrics and visibility but also offering leading indicators and real-time corrective actions that can put opportunities on the right track to success.

Now that we covered the six areas of value, let’s ask ten questions to help you to determine your capabilities to get access to the right data that tracks and measures your team’s activities: 

  1. Where does your team’s data come from?
  2. Is your data quality high, medium or low? 
  3. How is that data updated on a daily basis by your team members? 
  4. Do you have administrators at your disposal overseeing systems that house your data? 
  5. How quickly can you get access to your data?
  6. Are your individual contributors supportive in giving you the data you need? 
  7. Does data input and collection hamper individual contributors’ productivity? 
  8. Do you have what you need to track your team’s daily activities? 
  9. What blocks you from getting the data you need? 
  10. What can you do to improve the quality and timeliness of your data? 

With the right data on your team’s activities you can deliver value across the six areas. However, if you don’t have what you need or are inclined to improve data on your team’s activities, consider these three steps.

1. Optimize your general-purpose customer relationship management (CRM) system. Data hygiene and data input are some of the most prevalent challenges for technical sales professionals. If you have administrative and development resources at your disposal, develop initiatives to both cleanse data and develop features to minimize the burden on individual contributors entering the data you need. 

2. Implement a personalized productivity technical sales platform. To greatly enrich the quality of your technical sales data, evaluate a personalized platform specifically built to help technical sales’ individual contributors with their daily work. Selecting a commercial vendor whose sole purpose is to provide a personalized platform for technical sales can very well give you additional capabilities that further enrich your data, minimize the operational costs associated with custom development of general-purpose CRM systems, and accelerate your ability to win more business and deliver value to the C-suite. Also look for systems that can securely interoperate and sync data bidirectionally with your general-purpose CRM system, so that you can preserve the integrity of your sales data in your CRM.  

3. Ingest data from common productivity applications that your team uses. Whenever possible, sync data from tools used by your individual contributors into your personalized technical sales system and your source of record and/or your general-purpose CRM system. 

Whether you are overseeing ten or thousands of technical sales professionals, you play a key role in the company’s success. Delivering value across these six areas — with access to timely and reliable data — will increase your influence within the C-suite. 

Freddy Jose Mangum is the CEO of Hub, which provides a productivity platform to help technical sales professionals win more business. Freddy has over 25 years as an operator in businesses pre-revenue to $1B+ in revenue.

Leveraging Strategy to Improve B2B Sales

by Dean de Jongh, CEO at Kamelian Tech

High-value B2B deals seldomly follow a linear path and often take unexpected routes to close. Account-based marketing is proving to be a successful approach to B2B sales. B2B sales happen in changing environments which, regrettably, are now regularly turbulent with the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘Winging it’ or simply ‘going over the top’ to win or keep an important account is far riskier now. There’s also less room to learn from costly mistakes which can be avoided or mitigated with sensible and relevant sales strategies. Preparation and thinking strategically can take the sales team a long way in closing a deal effectively and more quickly.

B2B sales cycles can be long, gruelling and testing – in time, it’s easy to lose perspective while being led from pillar to post. A documented sales-strategy which considers a client’s unique circumstances can be a valuable map for navigating the targeted client-organization and demonstrating value. Even in a basic form, a sales strategy is a ‘battle plan’ to gauge progress, record failed manoeuvres (in order to avoid repeating them), and a map of the possible ways forward. Collectively, your battle plans become a valuable playbook to fast-track current and future deals while aligning the sales team. Your playbook is also a repository of learning experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly, to be built upon.

So, what makes up a sales strategy for an important B2B client or prospect? Essential elements for the client strategy are the positioning statement (supported by current tactics and backup tactics); key options (to access and convince the decision makers and the consumers/users); plausible scenarios (including responses to possible blockages and objections); solutions to the client’s needs (understanding key stakeholders and their demands); dealing with competitors (being ready with counter proposals); all underpinned by sensible and relevant research and analysis (a client-needs assessment, SWOT analysis, market analysis). With the right tool you can quickly craft and share winning strategies with your sales team.

Execution and communication are vital and will bring your sales strategies to life to close those important deals and shorten client sales cycles. Basic execution-planning is essential, taking note of key steps, as is the timing and content of communications. It’s also worth taking the time to put some key-performance indicators in place to assess how the client sales strategy is doing in order to take corrective steps in good time. It’s also important to think about and prepare for the critical success factors which need to be in place for the strategy to succeed – these include things like the client having budget approval and operational approval, and being ready with measures to make these happen.

The great thing about modern technology is that it’s much easier now to craft a sales strategy for each key client account. The era of account-based marketing has dawned so let’s embrace it. We at Kamelian Tech will be working with NAASE to prepare blue-print strategies which NAASE members can adapt and use to build key-account playbooks. We also invite members of NAASE to share their experiences with us and community members. Together, with the right knowledge, strategies and tools, we can all improve our B2B sales and build lasting high-value relationships with clients.

Game on!

Excellent and Practical Insight from one of the Leading Pro Resume Writers

“65% of job candidates do not grasp the importance of their resume.” – Rob Richey, CMRW

NAASE had the privilege to speak with Rob Richey, President of PRO RESUME out of Memphis.                     (  https://proresume.biz/   )

We wanted to talk about many timely topics and questions on the minds of our membership.  Richey, a Certified Master Resume Writer, gave us some great insight.  The following are the key takeaways from our conversation, which was focused on the technical sales landscape:

NAASE: Should candidates consider using an infographic resume?  When?  Why or why not?

Richey: Generally-speaking, probably not.  You need to make sure it would be ATS-compliant (ATS = Applicant Tracking System), and most are not.  If you really want to try it, make sure you hire a real professional to create one for you.  In addition, it would depend on what kind of position, and at what level, you are applying for.  I don’t think anyone is applying for a Vice President position using an infographic resume.

NAASE: What are some of the basics a candidate can use to get their resume passed a company’s ATS?

Richey: That is somewhat of a hard question to fully answer.  The quick answer is, it will vary and it needs to be updated regularly.  In addition, not all ATS’ are the same.  There are certain general guidelines, like only using specific fonts within your resume etc.  But in general, it would be best to reach out to a professional resume writer who can tailor your resume to a specific position and company.

NAASE:  What can you say about the current job market in general, and how the rest of 2021 looks?  Is the worst behind us?

Richey: In my opinion, I think the economy and hiring in general is good right now, and should only get better as the months progress.  If you are in B2B sales, selling a solution or a system– I think you are in need.  Especially if you are selling directly to the end-user.   For software or other products that literally change every 2-3 years, this is even moreso.  You sell a client, and then in a couple years you go sell them an upgrade.

NAASE:  Talk to the person that has been out of work and seeking a job for several months, and isn’t getting very far.  What should they do or try?

Richey:  We place candidates all the time by shifting their industry, but maintaining their same skillset AND their same Rolodex.  (Google Rolodex- for any reader under 40 years old…)   A lot of skills translate well to other companies or industries.  A technical salesperson that has worked in conveyor equipment could just as easily work for a company that manufactures plastic bottles.  You have to be willing to think outside the box and step out of your comfort zone.  And don’t be afraid to learn something new.

NAASE:  Is it worthwhile and relevant for a candidate/professional to get certificates or professional designations?

Richey:  Certificates or anything like that are a means of outside validation.  Companies and HR managers do like to see that.  When an HR person sifts through tons of resumes, they are listing and charting different credentials and accomplishments.  These can have a cumulative effect.  If a person has 3-4 “bonus” criteria, and the other candidate has zero or 1, its likely that the person with more “bells and whistles” will get the interview.

NAASE wants to thank Rob for his time and insight; please consider checking out their website if you’d like to see what they are about.

The Five Signals of Buyer Intent in SaaS Sales

(by Neil McLean) The modern software buying process is long. Buyers consider many different vendors when exploring software options. In fact, according to Gartner research, SaaS vendors today are only involved with the last 45% of the sale process (Gartner). The other 55% of the time consists of buyers searching for the market for solutions to their unique business challenges. Today’s enterprise software buyers want to learn all there is to know about the vendor marketplace before making a purchasing decision. This “self-education” can be expensive for sales teams and can quickly result in a lot of unqualified demos for sales engineers.

As a sales engineer, your time is valuable. Giving demo after demo to unqualified leads is not a scalable process and quickly leads to burnout!

Are the leads your marketing and sales teams are giving you as qualified as they may think?

The following Five Signals are helpful guideposts to determine rough prospect qualification across the buying cycle but should always be considered holistically. One triggered signal is not necessarily a cause for concern, but multiple triggered signals should raise eyebrows. Use these Five Signals to help filter through the noise and focus your efforts on the prospects who are actively looking to buy today.

Signal 1: Omni-Channel Engagement

How are prospects finding and reaching out to you? Answering this question is a key in determining active interest and buying intent.

A vast majority of the prospects requesting a demo on your website are “just browsing” with no intention of buying from you, or your competitors, in the short term (Peter Cohan – Ignition Demos). These self-educators are looking for information about your product and the market at large, but are not yet ready to buy.

Given that the modern SaaS buying journey is long and vendors are typically only involved in the second half, exploring how your prospects find you is a key indicator of interest in a near-term purchase. Prospective buyers that engage with multiple channels (e.g., email outreach plus marketing website engagement) are much more likely to have a vested interest in your product offering when compared to those prospects who find you via a single outlet. While this is not always the case, this is a strong signal of buyer intent, especially when considered with the other four signals.

Signal 2: Volunteered Information

We’ve established that self-educators are only looking to learn about the market rather than buy. Filtering out the self-educators to focus on the active buyers is an essential step in the presales process to better utilize your time and resources. A simple request for information is a strong tactic to help weed out the window shoppers from the qualified buyers.

Self-educators are looking for quick facts and do not want to volunteer up unneeded information about themselves to sales teams. Tools such as web forms and “contact us” links both help collect useful sales information and act as a filter to block out the self-educators from the active buyers. Explore how much information your prospect is providing to help determine if they are a serious sales candidate or just looking for quick information.

Signal 3: Company Profile and Fit

Stepping back to take a holistic look at the prospect’s organization is an essential step in filtering out the noise to determine buyer intent and fit. Compare the inbound organization to your existing customer base. Does this company match your idea of an ideal candidate for your product of service? Does the company have similar pain points and business challenges to your existing customer base?

Explore publicly available metrics such as company headcount, funding stage, and operating vertical to determine if the prospect’s company falls within your typical base. When aiming to meet quotas, sales reps and account executives do not always consider these factors when passing on leads to the demo stage of the sales process. A significant mismatch from your ideal customer profile (ICP) can be a serious cause for concern.

Signal 4: Active Content Engagement

A key strategy to differentiate between self-educators and active buyers is tracking level of engagement with your publicly available content. Prospects can engage with a variety of content made available on your website to collect more information on your product offering. These channels may include video tours, whitepapers, case studies, or interactive product demos. Lack of active content engagement prior to the demo stage can be an indicator of lack of interest or a self-educator just looking for a quick product overview from a sales engineer.

How do you track this engagement? Metrics such as page views, link sharing, and exit rate help craft a comprehensive story about each user’s engagement.

Before ever sitting down to deliver a demo or product tour, sales engineers need to work with sales and marketing teams to track how prospects have previously engaged with available content and resources.

Signal 5: Follow-Up Interest

The fifth and final signal to help gauge buyer intent is around follow-up engagement. Does the prospect respond to follow-up notifications or marketing campaigns or was the prospect a one-time viewer?

Self-educators will take the information they want and leave. Serious buyers will want to stay involved in the vendor’s selling motion. This can come in the form of requesting addition to a marketing list, requesting additional pricing quotes, or requesting a call back with a rep. 

In a market test evaluating response times for 433 companies, Drift found that only 7% of these companies responded in the first five minutes after a form submission. More than half didn’t respond within five business days (Drift). If your customers are requesting more information about your product offering or actively looking to move forward in your sales cycle, enable them to do so! This follow-up engagement will not only better qualify the leads that are progressing through your sales process, but also help convert those self-educators into future buyers.

Conclusion

In the fast-moving SaaS world, sales engineers are stretched thin. There is not enough time in the day for dozens of one-on-one product demos. While sales and marketing are incentivized to push prospects through the pipeline to the demo stage, sales engineers should ensure that the leads they are given are truly qualified.

As an SE, use these Five Signals of buyer intent as a framework to structure your thinking around prospect qualification. Again, one or even two of these signals raised is not a dealbreaker. While every company is different and factors such as deal size and level of effort required should always be considered, it is when you identify three or more flagged signals when you should raise concerns.

If you find this to be a common occurrence at your organization, work with your sales and marketing counterparts to communicate that there is a problem in your existing sales process. Back your points with data around your slipping demo-to-close rate and showcase which of the Five Signals are most commonly being triggered by unqualified prospects. Explain that numerous unqualified demos to the self-educators of the world does no good to help the overall success of the company. At the end of the day, make the most of your time and focus your sales and demo efforts on qualified prospective buyers.

Author Bio: Neil is the CEO and co-founder of Navattic, a sales and marketing solutions to enable sales and marketing teams to create and share interactive demo experiences for prospective customers. Navattic enables teams to position the product demo as a growth engine for sales and marketing success. Prior to co-founding Navattic, Neil supported various sales engineering roles at Oracle focusing on SMB through enterprise deals.

The Association: We Are Our Contributors

(by Matt Mahoney) Many times companies and curious people ask us who and what exactly is the North American Association of Sales Engineers?  We typically point them to our home page, which states:

“The North American Association of Sales Engineers (NAASE) is a group of professional and dedicated sales engineers/ technical sales representatives/ solution consultants from a wide range of industries. We help run the technical engine of the broader economy.”

While that is true, we think a better indication of who we are and what we are trying to accomplish can better be realized via a simple listing of all the great contributors that NAASE has had since our June launch, either via our Blog page or our interactive Forums.  So without further ado, we offer the following partial representation:

Peter Cohan   Great Demo! Software Demonstration Skills       https://mysalescoach.com/peter

Olivia Brito     Director, Business & Talent Development            about.me/olivialoison

Bernie Doyle   President/ Consultant                                         https://salesnerds.com/

Freddy Mangum        CEO                                                            https://hub.inc/

Roger McNamara      President                                                    https://www.guide2interchange.com/

Marc Cox   Author/ Consultant                                                       marccox@thecompanyspirit.com

Misha Bartlett   Sales Coach & Trainer                                       www.mishatamiko.com

Dean de Jongh       President                                                           https://www.kamelian.tech/

David Alto     Author / LinkedIn Profile Makeovers                     altoadvance.com

Ludovic Tendron   Author / Expert Negotiator                            ludovic.online/page

Aileen McNabb     Presales Coach                                                  http://mustangppd.com/

Edson Zogbi     Innovation Management                                      https://www.ezinnovtools.com

Tony Matos     National Presales Director                                    https://www.citrix.com/

Terri Franklin   Client Success Director at FeedGap                    https://feedgap.com/

Robert Gallagher    Manufacturing Sales Consultant                  gallaghersolutions.com

Agim Xhelilaj     Sales Growth with AI Technology                      https://www.abovethestandard.net/

We have several others, but for the sake of space here- we think that is enough to make the point.

NAASE is a meeting place…. a repository of best practices…. a place for career advice and potential next job leads….a group that advocates for the need within a company for hiring and promotion of technical salespeople.

NAASE is THE professional association for technical salespeople- regardless of industry.  We focus on men and women that live and/or work within North America- but with the global marketplace and remote working some of those parameters are blurred.

If you want to learn more, or possibly to join, please check out our website and all its pages at www.sales-engineering.org .   Joining NAASE is simple, and quick. We look forward to welcoming you, and speaking further.  

Job Crafting: Strategies to Improve Life at Work

By Olivia Brito

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/job-crafting-strategies-improve-life-work-olivia-brito/?trackingId=

By Olivia Brito

Uncertain times like the present can add challenges to our work-life balance, hinder wellbeing and if left unattended could lead to burnout and other health consequences.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious or even inadequate from work issues, or you wish your work was more enjoyable and meaningful, you can proactively improve your working life via “job crafting”. Below a few strategies that can help.

This is ever more important than ever. For instance, in the US more than half of workers say they aren’t emotionally or cognitively connected to their work, according to the latest Gallup poll. This unengaged 53% usually show up from 9 to 5 but do the minimum required.

This causes lower employee morale, health and happiness and, unsurprisingly impacts the company’s bottom line too. It’s a no-win situation

.

Whilst good companies invest in their staff to try to improve their wellbeing at work, remember that job crafting is a proactive process that you can do for yourself. It’s not your manager’s job to make you happy at work.It’s a very personal inside job.

The good news is that you can reshape your work environment (and your mindset) to make your job fit you more closely. Read on for some helpful strategies.

Job Crafting TASKS

What can be done differently? Reviewing your job description and daily activities is usually the first step.

  1. Identify your strengths. I’m an advocate of using the assets you already have and cultivating your natural talents. Think about what you love doing and what you do well. Get a boost of confidence by finding your unique strengths (try the “Strengths Finder” online or the book).
  2. Reallocate your time. Find which tasks can be delegated, and bear in mind that whilst not all unsexy tasks can, creating systems for these will help you to complete them more efficiently.
  3. Find the Fun. How can you bring joy and play into your work? Compete with yourself or suggest a friendly contest with the rest of your team.
  4. Respect your limits. Avoid taking on more responsibilities than you can handle. If you find it hard to say “no”, try practising not committing small requests. Start with your top priorities and expand your duties gradually.
  5. Consider others. Hopefully, you and your manager will agree on the new direction you want to take. However, your preferences may conflict with business needs and your coworker’s routines. Be willing to compromise and work towards mutually beneficial solutions.

 Job Crafting RELATIONSHIPS

How can you strengthen your existing interactions? Can you broaden your network for new quality contacts? Better relationships at work will improve your workday.

  1.  Listen closely. Working on your listening skills can transform your workplace relationships. Focus on what others are saying instead of rehearsing your response. Ask relevant questions, show interest.
  2. Visit other departments. Collaborate with colleagues in other parts of your company. Invite them to meetings and propose joint projects.
  3. Socialise. Use office events and communications to get to know others on a more personal level. Make time for small talk. Let others know that you care about their interests and opinions.
  4. Network online. Big conferences may be on hold for now, but you can still communicate online. LinkedIn is a great place to build your network, join groups and participate in relevant conversations.
  5. Share feedback. Help create an office culture rich in open and constructive communications. Provide tactful and specific feedback. Welcome input from others and thank them by using their suggestions to make positive changes.

 Job Crafting YOUR ATTITUDE.

There will always be events beyond your control BUT you can always change your own thoughts. Like any positive change, job crafting begins in your mind.

  1.  “Purpose” first. Find meaning in the work you do. Create one if all fails! Understanding the reasons behind what you do will make your work more rewarding. Figure out why it’s significant and connect with a mission bigger than yourself.
  2. Continue learning. My mum used to say “what you learn is yours. No one can take that away”. Seize opportunities to expand knowledge and skills. Keep growing.
  3. Embrace you. List your wins and achievements, all of them, personal, professional. Make an inventory of successes. Define what success means to you (rather than comparing yourself to others).
  4. Balance perspective. Remember to pay attention to your personal responsibilities, needs and wants, as well as your career. Sometimes “smart sacrifices” must be made but, are these more the norm than an exception? if so, it’s time to get perspective on what’s sustainable and re-evaluate your priorities.

We spend most of our waking hours at work so it’s worth the while, a must even, to make those hours happier and more productive by crafting your job into a more fulfilling workday. 

 ——

Former MD, I am a business psychotherapy expert helping managers replace anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, with self-belief, perspective and confidence so they can start living a fulfilling career, in just 6 weeks. 

What’s the Ideal Win Rate, and Does it Even Matter?

(by Bernie Doyle)

A sales leader recently asked me this,
What is the ideal Win Close Rate for a B2B company?
I couldn’t answer, for a couple of reasons.

  1. It doesn’t matter.
  2. Win Close Rate means different things depending on the equation used.
  3. I never saw an isolated number have any meaning.
    The real answer is a calculus of the Win Close Rate. What I mean is, a singular Win Close Rate
    (whatever formula you use) is useless without comparison to other Win Close Rates of similar
    time periods. For example the Win Close Rate of 2019 vs the Win Close Rate of 2020, how
    much did it change and in what direction? We’ll call it the “Delta” of Win Close Rates.
    Another red herring with these aggravating sales metrics is the idea of an industry standard
    Win Close Rate. Everyone knows that in any industry there are a small number of firms who are
    simply killing it and making a lot of money and the rest are just a bunch of mediocre ‘also ran’
    companies. So why take an average of a lot of mediocre companies combine it with the
    leaders and arrive at some useless number. It never made sense to me. Finally, time has proven
    that the leader will not always be the leader.
    The same logic about an industry Win Close Rate applies to your own organization, you have
    20% top players and 80% of the other guys, why would you take both their W/C rates and mix
    them together, it just results in a murky number without meaning, and most importantly it isn’t
    actionable.
    So Win Close Rates don’t matter, what does matter is the change in them over a period of time
    (delta). Furthermore, this is truly only meaningful if it is applied to the individual sale person.
    The only real meaningful scope of Win Close Rate is at the individual level and the only way it
    becomes meaningful is if it is in comparison to another time period and a story can be
    extracted which is actionable.
    I’ve seen markets change causing Win Close Rates nose dive and then sales people get pissed
    on by management. This is why I think Close Rates and other numbers are dangerous, they
    give management a sense of false understanding. Numbers need to be carefully considered,
    correct stories need to be extracted and thoughtful actions need to be taken. This is a rare
    daisy chain of what are actually really simple concepts.
    I’m geeky, and I decided to deviate from the other salespeople in my office and I started to use
    3D models in zoom presentations back in 2019. It was extra work, but I did it anyway because
    it made me feel like I had an edge. I didn’t really close more deals either. But then the
    pandemic hit, I didn’t change a thing in my selling process but all of a sudden I had a higher
    win rate.
    Here’s the take-away. The delta of two Win Close Rates tells a story, but that story still needs to
    be surmised to be of either of two meanings: the market has changed or the sales person has changed.
    Either or, both give you something to take action about. But think about it first.

Don’t get sucked into vanity numbers like Win Close Rates, just check in with your sales
people and use the numbers to find out how you can help them be better. It’s the only way that
numbers can help you in the end.

(Bernie Doyle is the Owner of Sales Nerds, and can be contacted via https://salesnerds.com/ )

10 Predictions For Technical Sales In 2021

(by Freddy Mangum) Technical sales professionals are the unsung heroes of technology sales. Without them, high-tech sales don’t happen. But despite their critical role, technical sales professionals have to make do with fragmented tooling — Excel, PowerPoint, Word and general-purpose CRMs — and fight for more training to refine both their technical and sales skills.

Fortunately, I predict attitudes about technical sales will undergo a radical change in 2021. Based on various conversations I’ve had with C-level executives and boards of directors at both public and private companies, I think we’ll see additional investment in tools and support for these sales workhorses who contribute to the success of so many companies.

Here are my top 10 predictions for technical sales in 2021:

1. Value

Companies will invest more in hiring, training and scaling technical sales professionals, rather than spending more on marketing, such as conferences and tradeshows, which are no longer an option during a pandemic. They will also more closely scrutinize hiring quota-carrying sales representatives before they determine if they can leverage technical sales to gain more efficiencies with the people they have. MORE FOR YOU!

Here’s why: If you look at one technical sales practitioner who earns a median salary of $166,000 per year ($120,000 base and $46,000 variable) and has the capacity to support three sales representatives who each have a $1 million quota, you essentially see a technical sales professional having a direct impact on a $3 million quota target. If additive investments can be made in tooling and training to increase technical sales’ capacity to support an additional $1 million of quota, that would allow technical sales to support one additional sales representative carrying a $1 million quota or increase the sales representative quota capacity to $1.25 million each.  

2. Velocity

Technical sales will continue to play a crucial role in accelerating TTV (time to value) by streamlining the sales funnel across a broad set of products, solutions and services. 

3. Virtual

The pandemic has forced technical sales to meet with clients virtually, but in a post-Covid world, I believe technical sales professionals and, more importantly, buyers will adopt virtual habits that will become the new normal. Not only that, but it will be hard to rationalize the need for travel and related expenses if sales can be done without that additive cost. 

4. Visibility

Technical sales are the hub of technology sales because they interact with a broad array of internal constituents (product management, customer success, sales and marketing) and external ones (buyers and resellers). The C-suite and board of directors will mandate a deeper analysis of technical sales activities to identify growth inhibitors and accelerators. 

5. Collaboration

Improved tools that are purpose-built to streamline technical sales’ day-to-day work will emerge and go far beyond what Excel, Word, PowerPoint, email and general-purpose customer relationship management systems can offer. These new technical sales tools will yield greater technical sales efficiency and provide a greater convenience level for the buyer. 

6. Consistency

Sales organizations will codify best practices in technical sales to do more with less and repeat processes that are known to win business. 

7. Conversion

The stages of technical sales that include discovery, presentation, demonstration, solution, services and evaluations are typically a black box to most go-to-market leaders, C-suite executives and boards of directors. That will change in 2021. As macro-economic factors drive the need to optimize all aspects of the sales process and funnel, the C-suite and the board will mandate that technical sales’ role and processes be demystified to better understand the value of technical sales actions to improve sales funnel conversion efficiencies will also get executive sponsorship. 

8. People

Executives will allocate greater investment to understand the skill and knowledge gap of technical sales. The goal is to help develop both technical and sales skills, thereby enhancing technical sales productivity.

9. Process

Companies will revamp internal and external selling processes that rely exclusively on tribal knowledge or general-purpose customer relationship management systems to help technical sales productivity.

10. Product

Technical sales professionals showcase the strengths and manage the weaknesses of solutions, services, software, hardware and SaaS products. As such, they will have a much greater influence on product road maps as they improve their ability to better contextualize product strengths, sell around product weaknesses and prioritize requests for feature enhancements by mapping dollar amounts to capabilities that must be addressed by product management and engineering.   

In 2021, technical sales professionals will no longer be unsung heroes. The go-to-market team is like a football team: Sales reps are the quarterbacks, and marketing professionals are the promoters. But technical salespeople are equally important. They are the running backs, special teams and offensive and defensive lines. Without technical sales, you can’t play the game, let alone compete for the win. I predict this is the year that technical sales will get the appropriate attention from the C-suite and board of directors, and we will see the game improve. Get ready!

They could never be in Sales

(by Roger McNamara) One of my Sister-in Laws has a great personality, she is very comfortable engaging people in conversation with a very pleasant demeanor. She is intelligent and articulate and conversant in many different subjects. For years I have been telling her that she should be in sales. While it might be out of her comfort zone initially, she could adapt and beside the income potential is somewhat limitless with the right product and organization. My Sister-in Law does not agree with me, as I think she sees selling and the profession as some kind of less than respectable career. Why is that? I remember my Mother years ago when I told her that I had received my first sales job. Her response was that she was not sure Sales was a career. I remind her a lot about that comment.

In the US today by some counts as many as 42.8 Million people are involved in the sales profession, selling some kind of product or service and that number is growing. Think about this, roughly 13% of the population is involved in some sort of direct selling as a career. Now that can be from Retail to Enterprise, it is all selling. This is a truly amazing number particularly as I have never met someone who went to College to get a 4 Year degree in sales. By the way, I too fit firmly into this category with a 30-year sales career having acquired a Degree in Marketing Administration…….huh.  I mean Doctors go to school to get medical degrees, Engineers go to school to get engineering degrees, Lawyers go to school to get Law Degrees but generally no one goes to school to get a sales degree.  Why is that?

You often hear young children being asked by their parent what they want to be when they grow up?  Ask yourself, have you ever heard. “Mom, I want to be an Enterprise Sales Director.” No, you typically hear a profession like a Doctor or Lawyer or Professional Athlete of some kind. The reality is little Johnny or Mary is more likely to grow up to be in Sales of some sort, and I for one do not think that is a bad thing. I guess though you must let kids dream a little. So when is the right time to start shaping a career? For Sales that seems to be late in a 4-year College term or even after it when the job hunting begins. That is a shame because these students could have spent productive time developing and acquiring skill and knowledge in school for the profession.

Sales is the lifeblood of every business. Without sales there is no revenue, there is no profit, there is nothing for the shareholders. Without sales there is no growth and nothing for Management to argue about and point fingers at. As Jack Nicholson said in a Few Good Men. “You need me on that wall, you want me on that wall.” Yes, Salespeople are on that wall 24 x 7. And unlike any other function of the business, salespeople are paid on performance. We know that typically salespeople have lower salaries than average Staff employees or no salaries at all, with the bulk of a salesperson’s income dependent on their performance. What a great proposition for the employer.  You pay for success, now there is a concept. Try doing that with others in the company. Wouldn’t you love to see Marketing folks paid on the number of great leads they produce? I think not.

In this blog we will not solve all the ills of sales but is nice to dream out loud and imagine a world where salespeople were revered as much as great doctors. Where companies valued Salespeople as much as they valued their product and services. After all, if your product and services were that great, why do you employ salespeople in the first place, simple it needs to be sold. It would be nice if salespeople did not have to endure battles over shrinking compensation while other parts of a business bloat with expense. It would be nice if parents encourage their children into careers that worked for their personality rather than what worked for show with their relatives and friends. It would be even greater if guidance counselors mentioned sales as a career option to High School Students before they got to college and dispel the myths of the profession. Hearing from a person of trust that a career in sales is less like that of selling cars and more like a professional career would be great. It would be very nice if more Colleges offered a 4-year degree in sales. One because I would like to meet a graduate that could claim this but more to a give a chance for individuals to learn the profession that has so much upside and where it could accelerate people to higher levels of sales more quickly.

Roger McNamara Bio:

Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple Industries and across the globe that include : Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales,  B2B and Wholesale. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces in general to be able to better position their products and gain share particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at Guide2Interchange@gmail.com

Meet the NAASE Advisory Board

Here at the North American Association of Sales Engineers, we are honored to have a great Advisory Board involved, to help us steer the way in 2021 and beyond!  In addition to President Ken Lambert and VP/GM Matt Mahoney, this group of volunteers and industry professionals are part of what makes NAASE unique.  We strive to represent the interests of sales engineers from all industries and sectors.

Without further delay, our current and slightly revamped Board:

Damian Hanna– Sr. Director, PreSales Engineering (US Enterprise), CITRIX:  Damian is based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with over 23 years of technical software sales experience.  His focus over the past 12 years has been in a leadership capacity, running large PreSales Engineering organizations across the US East Coast.

Robert Bernasconi–  Senior Project Manager, Sodexo / Sanofi USA:   Robert has worked for several years as a project manager and a sales engineer for a couple of well-known firms in the Greater Boston area.  He has a keen understanding of specifications and programming requirements.

Diana Diaco Cervantes– Senior Business Analyst, Configure One:  Diana has nearly 15 years of experience working in the Chicago technology space. Her experience spans roles in product management, over 5 years in sales engineering and most recently, customer success in the manufacturing CPQ space.

Jerome Sanders– Infrastructure Sales Manager, Unistress Corp:  Jerome has more than 20 years of experience in the engineering field and currently works as Infrastructure Sales Manager in the New England area. He specializes in infrastructure, utility, & civil products and projects.

Stephanie O’Connell– Solutions Engineer, LBMX:   Based in Ontario, Canada, Steph is a Senior Solutions Engineer with a B2B SaaS technology company specializing in business marketplaces for buying groups, their members, and suppliers. She has over 7 years experience in the software sector, with experience in technology support, implementation, account management and sales engineering.

Adam Joyce– Director, Technical Sales & Services, Copley Consulting Group:  Adam is based out of the Denver, Colorado region, specializing in software and professional services sales of data analytics, business intelligence and cloud application solutions. He began his career as a Sales Engineer and has since moved into management positions, leading a team of technical sellers and solution consultants.

As always, the Advisory Board and the Executive Staff welcome your questions, suggestions, and inquiries related to what NAASE can do to help further the sales engineering and technical sales profession.  Please reach out anytime via email, LinkedIn, or even the phone (267-350-9396).  Thank you-

How Companies Get Bragged About Today

By Marc Cox- Over the years I have become increasingly interested in company culture and 12 years ago I founded The Company Spirit. Nowadays I get hired by CEO’s and Leadership Teams from all around the world, including the USA, to help them understand what their company stands for and what makes it different. To do this I help them create an authentic set of values, sense of purpose and beliefs which their employees get, and customers feel. This is what I call the Company Spirit.

When I started my company, part of what made my approach different was the use of the word love. It was very polarizing with a lot of senior people seeing it as a very soft and fluffy idea and nothing to do with business. So to help me overcome these objections, I set about creating a business case for why love was important. I have now used this with my clients over the last decade and ultimately led me to the writing of my book. Visit https://www.thecompanyspirit.com/ for more information.

My start point was my own experiences and observations. Which companies did I love and why? The more I looked into this, the more it seemed to me that these companies, both big and small, and regardless of category, behaved in a different way. They worked hard with their employees to engage them around a clear sense of purpose and company culture. They were proud and confident of what made the company different and they all had the mindset of wanting to create a memorable customer experience. These companies seemed to have a winning approach and right for the times we lived in post 2008, whilst many others were losing their appeal.

In simple terms it became clear to me that if a company wants to have a strong and emotional relationship with their customers it needs to do the same with their employees. When this happens employees who love what they do, normally care more and are more productive. Whilst customers who really do love the experience  are more than happy to tell others. The company gets bragged about and their business grows in a sustainable way.

This is what I mean by the business case for love.

So why does love matter in business, and why will this be even more important as a consequence of Covid-19?

In my work, I always start by asking people to talk about a customer experience they love and why? Over the years 100’s if not thousands of people from a variety of countries , companies, jobs and ages have given their own answer. The types of companies and experiences mentioned varied greatly. Everything from major global brands to the local independent store, the latest app, restaurant or even favorite sports team.

The reasons given are always a mixture of what I call ‘Heart and Head’. A strong emotional connection balanced with practicality, such as ease of use or a consistent experience every time.

What has become more pronounced over the years is that as customers we want the companies we are loyal to, and spend money with, to have a clear set of values,  which are lived by the employees. After all why spend money or do business with a company where the staff do not care or believe in the company they work for?

In parallel to this, something else has changed.

Partly as a consequence of the breakdown in trust in many of our well known companies, particularly banks and other financial organizations since the Financial Armageddon of 2008. Partly  as a result of the frequent appearance on the ‘front pages’ of our media by Business and CEO’s for bad, sometimes criminal behavior.

Today, the vast majority of employees I have come across, wherever they are in the world, really want to feel proud of the company they work for. They want it to have a clear set of ethics and a strong authentic company culture. They want to trust what it does and says. They increasingly reject working in a toxic culture with narcissistic leadership. An attitude that is particularly strongly felt amongst millennials and even more so amongst Generation Z.

What has also struck me is that these very same companies who are loved almost always aspire to behave as ‘best in class’ Company. To be the best at what they do. Yet, the majority of companies do not have the same level of ambition. Instead they become obsessed by being ‘best in category’ and spend all of their time comparing themselves with how they are doing vs their immediate competition.

Knowing what your competitors are up to is good, but if that is all the company does it creates a very narrow frame of reference. It breeds complacency, a lack of ambition and little to no innovation. Perhaps that is why so many customer experiences feel the same.?

The trouble is, as customers we do not think like that. We have this Rolodex of experiences in our head and judge what we feel and what we think against that. Back in the day when we were allowed to fly in Europe we would judge that experience not just against other airlines but how it fared vs the last trip to the Apple store, the on-line chat with the energy supplier or the ease of use of our favorite shopping app.

So what does it take to be a ‘best in class’ company?

Through a combination of my own experiences as a customer, observations about how winning companies behave and, most importantly listening to the comments and opinions of the hundreds of people I have worked with, I have come to the conclusion there are six. I write about each one in some depth within my book and here is the headline summary.

  • Image and experience match

(Get really clear on what the company stands for and what makes it different. Then say what you do and do what you say)

  • Constantly Inside The Heads of The Customer

(Get out from behind the desk and be out: not in. Be curious, talk listen and understand what people are thinking and how people live their lives)

  • Brave yet disciplined

(the confidence to have new ideas but the discipline to make sure what the company does fits with what the company stands for)

  • Constantly innovating

(the more people listen, the more insights they will get and the more ideas they will have. Bring them to life)

  • Create memorable customer experiences

(start with the customer experience you want to create and work backwards to the product offer)

  • Personal values and company values match

(recruit for cultural fit, not just skills)

None of these six are difficult to do. They apply to any company and any category. They are, after all, largely a mindset.

In normal times all are important in helping a company be loved by its employees and customers.

In the time of the Covid-19 they are crucial in helping a company navigate through this pandemic and be seen as a ‘hero’ not a ‘villain’ or a “predator’.

They are fundamental to helping a company get bragged about today.