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.

Game plans are not a game

by Dean de Jongh, CEO at Kamelian Tech

Why bother with strategy? You may have played the sales and key-account game over and over. We’re going through major shifts due to the Covid-19 pandemic so we need great strategies to survive and grow again.

Strategy brings remarkable change – just look at SpaceX and governments’ Coronavirus strategies.  Strategy is crafted and like all craft, it can be done well with discipline and the right tools. The principles of strategy apply to business as much as they do to politics and other spheres. Strategy should never be a once-a-year exercise which updates or produces a ‘sacred’ master plan. The world is live, continuous and in constant flux – Strategy needs to be dynamic, adaptive and relevant. Sales and key-account management in particular, have much to gain from well-crafted and up-to-date strategies.

Many organizations have great sales and negotiation strategies, and to their advantage, many others don’t. In both instances though, their strategies are often scattered about in presentations and documents. Alongside this, the underlying strategic analysis often lies dormant in slides or worksheets, or even worse, discarded flipchart pages from team breakaways or a person’s mind. Surely, strategic data should at least be treated with the same care and rigour as operational data? Data is the new oil after all and strategy steers operations.

Strategy Platforms in B2B Sales

Kamelian Tech has developed new practical tools for crafting sales strategies and negotiation strategies – both vital for growing and defending the key accounts and customer segments which carry businesses. Robust strategies can be built from the bottom up and easily updated to stay relevant. Precious strategic intelligence is captured and made accessible for future re-use. Decision intelligence is at your fingertips to inform pivots and pitches. Tactics are also garnered to contribute to an arsenal for future battles for clients and sales.

There’s a myriad of third-party strategy platforms out there but these are typically at an organizational level and they can be quite rigid. Our strategy tools are functionally oriented and are customized quickly and affordably. They can tap into your existing systems behind your firewall for extra analytical enrichment and added perspective, while keeping an eye on strategic alignment across the organization. Our purpose is to craft and customize strategy tools for you which will keep you in the game so that you can win and grow more sales and bigger client accounts.

B2B sales are probably going to get a lot harder for the foreseeable future. Purchasing teams are tasked with cutting and avoiding costs to stave off bankruptcies and customers are tightening their wallets. We built our sales-strategies tool to compliment the key elements which purchasing managers base their sourcing strategies on – to give you a better chance of closing sales and growing accounts. Negotiations will be highly contested in these trying economic conditions – preparation is vital for successful negotiations and our negotiation-strategies tool can assist you tremendously with this.

Times are changing and there’s no way we can stop it. Reach out to us and let’s craft strategy solutions for your team and organization to win sales, grow and defend your vital key accounts. NAASE members are eligible for a 2-for-1 deal on Kamelian Tech’s strategy tools.

For more information, please visit https://www.kamelian.tech/kamelian/kamelian.php

Guerrilla Marketing for B2B

“Guerrilla marketing” as a term and technique has been around for a long time, but typically it is associated with B2C endeavors. However, guerrilla marketing can also be used in the B2B world. As competition is always fierce, and as everyone’s attention span gets shorter and more jaded, perhaps more AEC firms should implement some guerrilla tactics.

First, what exactly is guerrilla marketing?

One thing it is not, is GORILLA marketing. That is a very specific niche of marketing not super relevant to the AEC field.

“Guerrilla” marketing is often low-cost and UNCONVENTIONAL, and it aims to be out-of-the-box while often surprising its viewers/readers. In some ways it can be seen as less dignified (??) than normal marketing schemes. A firm does not need a large marketing/advertising budget to partake in guerrilla marketing- but one does need to be creative and also willing to take some risks.

In the B2B arena, there are several tactics that could be implemented. Several are noted below, per a recent blog post on Stratabeat:

  1. Crash The Party / “steal” attention from your competitors
  2. Deploy Temporary/ Pop-Up Shops
  3. Revamp Your 404 Pages (Webpage error message landing page)
  4. Utilize Billboards
  5. Create Exclusive Events

A few points on the above article and partial listing.

  • Your firm is not “above” doing guerrilla techniques. Salesforce was very successful in crashing the party of a competitor’s event- and Salesforce is now a $13 billion / year company- and the leader in its field.
  • I don’t see a lot of relevance or ROI on altering your company’s various 404 web error messages. If people are already on your website, that kind of gimmick shouldn’t be needed.
  • My old employer, a medium-sized real estate developer, utilized “mobile billboards” for a while to advertise his newer townhouse development. He paid a banner/ A-frame truck to drive around in a few towns, and when it was done it parked all night/ after hours at a very busy intersection on the main road in town. Many eyes were on that large sign every day. It certainly brought some brand recognition- if nothing else.
  • For the AEC industry specifically, I would say #5 is maybe most relevant and is the most used. As we all know, there are TONS of events and offerings. Maybe we do need to be more creative with these events though.  Topics, locations, attendees, environments, etc.

As we roll into 2021 and the unknowns of the market and commercial activity, it may be even more needed to market and set yourself apart from competing outfits. Guerrilla marketing is not a bad word, and may be worth looking at closer.

(NOTE: this article, by Ken Lambert, was originally published on the website of Society of Marketing Professional Services in January 2020.)

Is B2B Purchasing Overly Cumbersome and Inefficient?

(By Ken Lambert) This topic, and lament, is nothing new- but it does appear that over the past several years things have gotten even more convoluted.  Everyone in B2B sales knows what I speak of:  The hurdles and delay involved with selling based on the “consensus buying decision” which is prevalent at most medium to large companies.

According to this 2017 article from  https://www.roi-selling.com/blog/manage-consensus-buying-decisions , there are an average of 5.4 people actively involved in a company’s purchasing decision.  This number excludes indirect persons like Accounting, Legal, etc.

Whenever I have been giving a sales presentation/demo to a buying group at a potential client, I often calculate just how much it is costing said company to have all these people in the room for that hour or 2 hours, etc.  Let’s do a quick math exercise, even though the actual numbers of course will vary.

Assume 5 people will determine the purchase, and you must meet with them a total of 4 hours, over the course of 2-3 meetings.  5 x 4 = 20 hours.  Let’s assume the average person in that meeting is making $65/hour (obviously some make less and some make considerably more).   Add 30% burden on top of that wage rate; that would equal $84.50 per hour per person.  The company may spend the 20 hours in a meeting with the service/product provider, but then internally they will need to discuss and review and try to arrive at a “consensus”.  So let’s throw on another 8 hours; that then equals 28 hours x $84.50 which totals $2,366.  But, this assumes that they only met with you.  Of course that is not the case- they likely met with 1 or 2 other vendors.  So we can add another 40 hours of meeting time.  Now we are at 68 hours x $84.50/ hour = $5,746.   This is the raw cost in this example; we are not talking about the fact that these 5 employees are not doing their main jobs and tasks during this whole purchasing endeavor.

I do realize that $5,700 is not an enormous amount of money, but I wonder if companies that are early on in thinking about a new product or service consider the needed money and TIME they will have to spend just to make a decision- never mind the implementation.   Do some firms just say “Nah, just forget it; we are fine” because the popular “consensus” buying decision is needed or promoted?

I have 2 general issues with this current status.

One is the theory that a company needs to reach a consensus to make a purchase.  Do we think that is a true consensus?  If 5 or 6 people need to fully agree on Brand A vs Brand B or C, do we really think that these 5-6 folks are on the same page and like /need the same Brand? 

Life, and business, has taught me that if you get a room full of people together and bring up a topic, you cannot get the 6 people to actually agree on anything that is debatable.  Pick any 6 people off the street and lock them in a room and tell them they have to completely agree that chocolate ice-cream is better than vanilla ice-cream.  It likely will get ugly, and I doubt if there will be a unanimous verdict.  People may SAY that they agree, but it may be just to get out of the meeting and to move on with their day and their to-do list.

The other question I have is:  Why can’t a VP or a Department Manager (etc) just make a decision and buy or contract Vendor A, vs. Vendor B?  It just seems that there is a pervasive phobia of making a decision.   We assume that the Departmental VP who makes $180k (??) per year is competent, and he/she knows his staff and knows the issues.  Why does he/she need a team to make a decision?  I understand that at many companies that is the protocol and the rule- but why?

Along with technical sales, I spent over 12 years working as a project manager.  The precise industry is irrelevant, but any PM knows that most of the job is: making decisions.   Every single day I, myself, made many decisions which directly effected the project and effected the fiscal (and other) success of my company.   The President of the company hired me to use my discretion and knowledge, and general business sense, and make decisions.  I’d estimate that 90% of the decisions I made on a weekly basis were fully my own; I did not clear them with anyone else- and I did not reach any consensus.  One key reason was there was no time to attempt to reach consensus.  But more than that, the C-suite trusted me to use my judgment.  Sometimes I made a bad decision- that happens in business (and life).

To the larger firms out there- is there any desire or internal push to make buying decisions less complicated and less focused on team consensus?  And similarly, is there a such thing as “analysis paralysis”? 

This article is merely pointing out some general business observations, and is the work and opinion of Ken Lambert.  This is not the formal stance of the Association.

How Many Software Firms can the Economy Support?

In my daily and weekly perusal around the internet in general, and especially on LinkedIn, I am amazed at just how many software companies exist.  Some are US-based, but of course many are not.  We are in a global marketplace and generally a software developed and sold out of India, or Belarus etc, can function just fine within the US for a US company.

Right now, depending on who you believe, there are between 600,000 – 700,000 software companies in the world!  Some experts believe by 2027 there will be a cool million.  Right now, in 2021, how many of these 650,000 (??) are profitable?  That is a tough question to answer.

It is often said and estimated that, within 5 years, 90% of start-ups will fail and go defunct.  Clearly if they are not profitable, they are going out of business.  Do we extrapolate that and assume that only 10% of the 650,000 software firms are profitable on a regular basis?  Perhaps.  If so, there would be roughly 65,000 active and at least borderline successful software companies in the world today.  But more and more come online every day.

What can a healthy and robust economy support exactly?  If there are 65,000 today- can the world economy support 90,000 software outfits?

I’ll make a comparison to an industry that is very different from software, for whatever that might be worth.  Let’s take a quick look at the auto manufacturing industry.

There are 30 auto manufacturers within the USA; worldwide the total amount is 62.  Sixty two brands in the world, to service 7.8 billion people.

It appears that with these 62 companies there is enough competition, and variety, to adequately service everyone’s needs in regards to cars and trucks.

Of course making autos and developing software are 2 different worlds, in many aspects.  The barrier to entry for a new auto manufacturer would be enormous, and that is why we rarely see them.  Conversely, to create and then sell (online) a new software program is relatively “easy” and cheap- in many cases.  Overheard is fairly minimal, and as such it does not take a crazy amount of sales to turn a profit for some of these small software companies.

Software marketers naturally point to widespread digital transformation, and also more likely software use in developing nations/ economies.  Once you start looking around, there really is a software program for nearly every conceivable business and purpose.  So maybe the optimism is warranted.

In conclusion, there is no true conclusion.  Start-ups in software will continue unless and until it doesn’t make fiscal sense to do so.  But I do wonder where we are on that industry growth curve.

What is Reverse Marketing?

(the following article is courtesy of Above The Standard)
Reverse marketing is a form of marketing that utilizes people who are trying to sell and/or
market their product and/or service to you.
Best Results with Reverse Marketing?

  1. Lead with Questions.
  2. Get permission from the person (permission marketing).
    Three Things SHALL Happen (from the person who is contacting you)
    • Not be interested.
    • Hear more about you, what you offer, and your company.
    • Build a long-term client and networking relationship.
    When Someone Calls or Meets with You …
  3. Person starts talking to you.
  4. Hear what the person is offering from their business.
  5. There might be a benefit to work together with leads in your business – your local
    insurance agent, local banker, local CPA, Lender, Business Planner, Venture Capitalist,
    etc.
  6. If there is not a benefit to both parties (you and them), let them know about what you
    are doing.
  7. Tell me about your business (Let them talk).
  8. Build a rapport and relationship on the phone and/or in person.
  9. Ask Questions. How is your company? How long has the company been around? How
    long have you been involved? What is your name, email, phone, and company?
  10. Find out where they are at with their commitment to their business.
    You Never KNOW Who Knows Who
    It is about listening and valuing each person, as well as letting each person know what you do.
    You want business relationships that are give and take, not just one sided.