Tuesday, October 20, 2020

October 27 Webinar - Updated Registration Link

If you had trouble registering for the upcoming "Why Your Discovery Calls Are Hurting Your Sales" webinar on October 27, here is an updated link:  https://www.linkedin.com/events/whyyourdiscoverycallsarehurting6721789899978108928/ 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Why Your Discovery Calls are Hurting Your Sales - Live Webinar


Great Demo!’s Peter Cohan will be joining the fine folks at Demodesk for this webinar:

“I hate to break it to you, but your discovery calls might actually be hurting your sales...

The discovery call is the first time you have a real discussion with your prospect. It sets the tone for the entire deal. It's important. 

But so many sales reps are unknowingly repeating the same mistakes call after call.

Why is that? And what can they do to fix it? 

We're answering those questions and more in a live webinar with veteran sales coach Peter Cohan and Demodesk's Joachim Van Erps.

Join us on Tuesday, October 27 at 5pm CEST / 9am PST for a live webinar that will help you identify common discovery call mistakes and give you the tools to address them.

You'll get:

  • Live sales coaching to elevate your discovery call process
  • Insight into Peter Cohan's "Ignition Demos" framework
  • Special offers and supplemental resources
  • A chance to ask your questions

Register for the webinar to save your spot.

See you there!

CEO, Demodesk” 

Friday, October 9, 2020

Lunch and Learn Demos

Lunch and Learn demo meetings are terrific vehicles for securing renewals and driving expansion.  

For those who are unfamiliar, these sessions are typically presented by presales or customer success folks to existing user populations or to mixed populations of existing and new users.  They are organized after Go Live has taken place to serve as refresher sessions and to expose users to additional capabilities or use cases.

For your Lunch and Learn sessions, determine the nature of the attendees before the session, when possible.  How many are existing users and for what use cases?  How many are new to the product?  

If you aren’t already intimate with your customer’s use cases, consider doing a “Why Did You Buy?” exercise to gain clarity on the objectives targeted, problems faced, capabilities needed, and value returned through the use of your software.  

If you don’t have prior information, start your session with the following questions for attendees:

  1.  What is your name?
  2.  What is your job title?
  3.  What are your objectives – and do you have any specific topics you’d like to explore?

The Menu Approach is a fabulous method for starting Lunch and Learn sessions.  Organize what you demonstrate in accord with the results of your Menu review and subsequent poll, starting with the use cases with the most interest (or highest-ranking job titles) and apply the Inverted Pyramid approach.  If you run out of time, schedule another session to complete the list!

Note that what you learn from Question 3 above can help to populate your Menu.  You can add items dynamically, as they are raised, and show the voting accumulations as well.

For new use cases, offer Vision Generation Demos – just enough to generate interest.  Your objective is to sow the seeds of expansion in these sessions.

Pro Tip:  You may want to use a slide to show the timeline of the relationship between you and the customer to-date, showing the purchase, implementation, and Go Live dates.  Use this to reinforce the value received by other users in the organization and describe how the current group can leverage the existing implementation to share the successes enjoyed by their peers.

Pro Tip:  Describe relevant Value Realization Events – and the time-to-value for those events that current users within the organization have enjoyed. 

For helping attendees with existing use cases and workflows, expect to do a bit of digging to understand their questions.  Use Illustrations when possible to show (and confirm) the desired end result – and apply “Fewest Number of Clicks” when executing any pathway.  Let the audience ask the “Can it do X?” and “How do I do Y?” questions to Peel Back the Layers as appropriate (and avoid the convolution of “if”, “or” and “also” – see our article Stunningly Awful Demos – Two Words to Avoid).

Lunch and Learn demos can be done face-to-face or over the web.  If face-to-face, there is generally an expectation that you, the vendor, will provide lunch – do so!  For web delivery, contemplate the same idea using DoorDash or similar, if possible.  As a user, wouldn’t it be a delight to have pizza delivered a few minutes before the session was scheduled to begin?

Most Lunch and Learn sessions are scheduled for an hour.  Note that these should not be positioned as training sessions, but you may be expected to help users with specific workflows or features.  Group sizes should be large enough to make your time investment worthwhile, but not so large that users feel uncomfortable participating or asking questions.

Lunch and Learn demos are fabulous ways of building relationships, increasing software utilization, and improving user experience – all great steppingstones on the pathways to renewals and expansion.

Copyright © 2020 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.


Monday, October 5, 2020

Presales Collective Webinar Recording – The Competitive Play: Why, When, and How

As presales professionals we deal with competition daily. Join presales veterans Peter Cohan, Nidhi Shah, and Marjorie Abdelkrime as they shared stories and provided insights on how you can better manage (and outflank) your competition:

· What to say (or not say) about your competition
· Some horror stories we’ve experienced
· Setting “land mines” (and exposing competitor’s)
· What if their product is really that much better – leveraging “whole product analysis”
· Navigating head-to-head evaluations

You can find the recording here.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Why DID They Buy? – Fabulous Fuel for Sales, Presales and Customer Success

Here’s a novel idea:  Go visit your new customers a few months 
after they purchased your software and well after they have deployed it into production use.  Ask them, “How are you using our software?  What use cases have you implemented?  What value are you receiving?”

What you learn is tremendously important!  


You’ll capture success stories and establish references that help you make your next sale, secure renewals, expand deployment into existing customers, and possibly open new markets.  


This information is like concentrated fuel for sales engines – enabling BDRs, SDRs, sales, presales, customer success and marketing to achieve their goals more rapidly.


Very Valuable, But Very Rarely Collected


If you are in sales or presales, wouldn’t it be wonderful to know – ahead of time – the goals, objectives, and Critical Business Issues faced by the new prospects you engage?  Wouldn’t it be delightful to understand the underlying problems that make it hard for these prospects to achieve their goals, and the specific capabilities they need to solve their problems?  


Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have a strong understanding of the value prospects might gain by using your offerings – well before your first conversation with these prospects takes place?


Interviewing current customers to collect this specific information enables customer-facing teams to address prospects more efficiently, and to secure renewals and expand sales to existing customers with greater precision.  This same information helps presales and customer success teams create and deliver more compelling and more effective demonstrations.


This is the essence of reference selling – sharing how other, similar customers addressed their problems using your offerings.  This information is truly like concentrated fuel for sales!


It’s called “Why did they buy?” – simple, extremely valuable interviews with current customers to capture the use cases and value gained, enabling you to use that same information when selling to new prospects, and in upselling and expanding your offerings with existing customers.


Sadly, most companies do not actively collect and leverage “Why did they buy?” information today.  While there is a certain amount of “tribal knowledge” gathered for a few key reference accounts, vendor teams largely have only limited personal experiences to draw upon. 


Many vendors complete “win/loss” analyses every quarter – but the major focus is on “why we won the deal” or “why we lost”.  Both analyses focus on the mechanics of the deal-making and closing process – neither provides reference or success stories that support future sales.  


The sad summary is that most companies simply do not collect this information – no formal process – and thereby lose very important opportunities.  Let’s change that!


What Can You Learn?


Customers that are happy with your offering may be willing to serve as references and allow formal reference stories to be promoted on your website and collateral.  These are the Formal Success Stories that all marketing departments crave.  And these same references provide fuel for sales, when prospects ask, “Who else is using your product that we can contact?”


But – you need to have the conversation in order to identify potential references…  


When you do sit with your existing customers to have the “Why did you buy?” conversation, you’ll learn what they like about your product as well as what they dislike or desire to see changed – this information is a good starting point and should be captured.  


However, your objective is to uncover complete use case information.  During a “Why did you buy?” conversation you’ll likely learn two wonderfully useful sets of use case information:


  1. Use cases your customer has deployed that you and they expected to implement.
  2. Use cases your customer has created that were unexpected or unanticipated at the time of purchase – but were discovered and implemented by customers on their own.


Both sets of information translate into success and reference stories that help field and marketing folks sell to new prospects, expand existing footprint and address new markets.


Expected Use Cases


The first group are use cases that your customer planned to implement when they purchased your product and did indeed roll out.  In collecting these use cases, you should ask:


  • What use case(s) did you deploy?
  • Who are the current users and how many?
  • What value, in terms of time, people, or money, have you gained as a result?


We recommend using Situation Slide format to capture this information:


Job Title/Industry:    For each individual you interview…

Critical Business Issue:  What top level challenge was that individual facing?  What goal or objective was at risk (and did they achieve it or are on their way)?

Problems/Reasons:  What was the pre-solution situation?  What did they have in place before (or not have in place)?  What were their "pain" points?

Specific Capabilities:  What capabilities, in particular, was this person looking for in a solution?  And what Specific Capabilities are they now consuming from your software that provides the solution?

Delta:                        What value has this person gained or loss avoided?  (This is best expressed as tangible numbers in terms of time saved, people redeployed, money gained, fines avoided, etc.)

Critical Date:             Was there a date or event that drove the need to have a solution in place?  Did they meet that deadline?


This information becomes the basis for reference and success stories.  While a handful of Formal Success Stories may be captured and used in collateral or on websites as references, many more “Informal” Success Stories can be gathered and used for reference selling.  


Informal Success Stories – Low Hanging Fruit!


For every Formal Success Story captured by a vendor there are likely dozens of Informal Success Stories that are awaiting harvest in your customer base.  They are the low-hanging fruit – easy to capture and easy to use.  [Yes, I’ve changed the metaphor, but just for this section…]


Informal Success Stories are the sanitized versions of the Situation Slide information described above.  No customer name needs to be associated with the story – which makes them more broadly useful and easier to attain.  No legal review, no executive approvals.  Just the raw success story, ready for harvest – delicious!


Sales and presales teams find this information invaluable when prospecting for new customers.  Presenting a prospect with success stories of how other customers in similar situations addressed their challenges generates real interest in learning more.  Informal Success Stories enable sales and presales teams to establish credibility with their prospects to move the sales process forward faster. 


[See our article, Vision Generation Demos - The Crisp Cure for Stunningly Awful Harbor Tours for an example of using Informal Success Stories with new prospects.]


High-performing sales reps know that prospects are much more interested in learning how your organization has helped other, similar customers solve their business problems, as opposed to being flogged with another interminable corporate overview or product presentation!


Customer success teams know that success stories catalyze adoption, renewals, and expansion – particularly if these success stories come from within the customer.


Astute marketing professionals and product managers know that these success stories are the single most important asset of their go-to-market materials.  Great marketing teams produce templates of high-probability use cases supported by these success stories to equip the field.


Sales, presales, customer success, and enablement personnel take these same use cases and success stories and integrate them into specific sales process steps and sales motions (e.g., Vision Generation Demos and Discovery discussion prompters).


Unexpected Use Cases – High Octane!


How many times have you visited a customer and found that they are using your software in ways that are truly terrific and wholly unique?  When you see these use cases, don’t you get excited to see the novel ways customers are using your software’s capabilities?  (You should!)


What does this information represent?  


These new use cases and success stories enable you to expand your footprint into existing customers, entrench current users more deeply and engage new users – while providing additional and unanticipated value to drive renewals.  These use cases are often the vehicles to enter new markets or address new players in existing markets.


These unexpected use cases are truly remarkable opportunities – they are high octane fuel! 


But like an internal combustion engine, gasoline doesn’t magically flow into your car’s fuel tank on its own – you need to have the “Why did you buy?” conversation with the customer.


Fill the Tank!


We strongly recommend that companies organize to collect both the expected and the novel use cases and success stories and disseminate them to the field – this is a perfect use of sales enablement tools.

[Note:  Why do customers attend users’ group meetings?  Three reasons, typically:

  1. The free bar, of course (at face-to-face meetings).
  2. To see the product road map (and contribute to it).
  3. To learn how other customers are successfully using the vendor’s software – and to learn about new use cases – these are often the most important reasons!]

Identify which group or groups should engage customers in these conversations and establish regular cadences based on how long it takes for your specific products to begin to deliver value.


Who Should Collect This Information?


It would be wonderful if salespeople took the initiative to collect this information.  What a pleasant surprise it would be if a salesperson visited a customer and said, “I’m not here to sell you anything today; I would just like to better understand how you are using the tools you’ve already licensed from us!”  (How delightful; how refreshing; how differentiating!)


While truly exceptional sales performers often do have these conversations, most sales staff do not.  Their motivation is driven by compensation to achieve quota – which generally means moving on to the next prospect as fast as possible…


The most effective customer success staff often take responsibility for meeting with existing customers to collect this information.  They are a natural hub for capturing, publishing and disseminating the success stories and use cases they acquire.


Sales enablement groups are also structured to gather and broadcast “Why did they buy?” stories.  As the implementers and managers of salesforce automation and enablement systems, they can take advantage of the available tools and technologies for archiving and delivering these success stories to the field.  


Finally, presales staff are particularly well-positioned to gather this information.  Why?  Because customers perceive them as trustworthy and credible.  Presales folks are able to sit side-by-side (in a real or virtual sense) with their customers to see and discuss the use cases in action.  Customers are generally delighted to share the work they have done and often welcome the opportunity to do so.


We recommend implementing a structured approach to capturing and disseminating this information – one or more of the groups above should be selected and assigned concrete objectives to meet with customers to collect “Why did they buy?” information.  Objectives can easily be defined and progress measured to track the success of the effort.


Timing Is Important


When should you collect “Why did they buy?” information?  Timing is indeed important.  


Too soon after “go live” and customers may not have sufficient data for the value elements of the discussion.  Too late and they may have forgotten the previous pains – how long it took previously (vs. now), how many people were involved, how many steps, etc.  (For Great Demo! practitioners these are terrific Deltas…!)  


As memories fade, trying to calculate the value associated with the change from your customers’ previous state to operating with your solution in place will get harder.  Account teams with regular customer “check-in” meetings or QBRs should make “Why did you buy?” conversations part of the plan.


Specific timing will depend on the nature of your offering – and specifically the time-to-value.  Schedule “Why did they buy?” conversations a few months after initial Value Realization Events have taken place.  Make it part of your standard post-sale process – this is an opportunity to differentiate…!


Oh – and a small note:  do not schedule “Why did you buy?” conversations with your customers a few weeks before renewal is expected to take place – that’s way too late!


It’s Fuel for Your Business


Acquiring these use cases and success stories takes work, but the return on this investment is truly terrific – it is the fuel that feeds your high-performance sales engine.


Since most organizations do not have “Why did they buy?” programs in place, this is a critical opportunity to differentiate.  While companies without programs are starved for field-enabling fuel, your teams will be purring smoothly (and rapidly) on all cylinders…!


So, fill the tank and be one of the successful vendors that goes back to your customers to learn how your customers are using your products today.  “Why did they buy?” conversations provide the use cases and success stories needed to achieve quarterly quotas, dominate current markets and establish new marketplaces. 


It is, after all, why you are in business!




Copyright © 2005-2020 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Subtle, But Important “Solution” Suggestion

I frequently hear vendors talk about "your current solution..." in Discovery conversations and demos with prospects.  Interestingly, using the word "solution" implies that the problem is solved or partly solved - and hence, the "current solution" may be sufficient.

Our objective is to move the customer away from the status quo - and therefore using "current solution" as part of the description of their current environment may be counterproductive.

Accordingly, I'd suggest using "your current situation", "your current state", or similar phrasing to help you position the customer's current condition as problematic.

Other suggestions, folks? 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Demo “Storylines”: The Journey, The Destination, or Both


Many software vendors talk about “The Journey” or “The Customer’s Journey” as a storyline for their demos.  We need to ask ourselves, however, what is important to the customer?


Is it really the Journey or is it the Destination – or possibly both?


Let’s think critically about promoting the Journey vs. the Destination before deciding how to best position our demos…


It’s All About Value


Here’s a very simple way to determine if the Journey, Destination, or both should be the focus:  Where does the customer get value?


-        If the customer gets value along the Journey or if there are sufficient waypoints of value along the way, then the Journey should be promoted.

-        If the customer only gets value from the Destination, then push the Destination.

-        And if both, then both…!


But be cautious about making assumptions.  For example, a “Journey to the Cloud” could entail both – but you need to assess this carefully.  For example:


-        If the Journey is just a series of tasks and steps to migrate a customer’s existing environment to the cloud – and there is no real value returned to the customer at each of the steps – then the Destination is the correct positioning.


-        Contrariwise, if the customer enjoys value realization at several (or all) of the steps, then you should likely promote both the Journey and the Destination.


When It’s Not the Journey…


Many vendors try to glorify the workflow(s) enabled by their software as “Journeys” but may be misunderstanding the customer’s perspective.  Vendors, after all, are often in love with their own software.  What does the customer think?


After all, a workflow is still work:  A series of steps or tasks that need to be completed.  Most software products automate and streamline traditional workflows, often embracing a broader range of functions, while making them faster and with fewer possibilities for errors.  But is a workflow a Journey?


Here are a few examples where the Journey is likely not the desired experience, from the customer’s perspective:


-        Anything to do with Set-Up Mode:  Anything done once to implement a system is not a good Journey storyline for a demo, particularly if there is no value associated with the Set-Up steps. 


For example, entering information into a database or CRM system delivers no value to the user; it is only when the database is large enough to provide useful search results and analysis that value is gained.


-        For an executive or senior manager, most workflows are not particularly interesting and don’t make for a compelling Journey.


 Workflows are simply sets of tasks that need to be executed by staff members.  Senior management does want to make sure that their staff will be comfortable using the software, but that is (potentially) the staff members’ Journey – not management’s.


-        For staff members, workflows are the tasks they likely do repeatedly – this is not a Journey.


Anything you do over and over and over at work, is just that:  work.  Commuting 45 minutes in heavy traffic to an office twice a day is an example of a workflow – definitely not a Journey!


When It’s Not the Destination


This is actually harder…  It is more difficult to think of software products where the Destination is not a desired deliverable.  Perhaps:


-        Ad hoc exploration of large masses of data – looking for novel trends or unanticipated relationships could be an example.


(“But,” I hear you cry, “aren’t finding the trends or relationships actually Destinations…?”  Hmmm, I think you’re right…)


Again, we can apply the simple test:  where does the customer get value?  If there is no value in a Destination, then the best positioning is the Journey.  Note, however, that the customer needs to get value from the Journey – or this particular product is at risk!


When It Is the Journey


-        Employee onboarding:  This could be a good example journey, leading from hiring, through initial HR onboarding forms and documents, to receiving hardware, to identifying and executing training, ongoing development, career advancement, etc.  As with life, one’s career is (hopefully) a Journey, with waypoints of accomplishments along the route.


Note, of course, that these waypoints may also be Destinations in their own right…!


When It Is the Destination


Frankly, it is likely that most software solutions focus on Destinations – for example:


-        Finding and addressing problems.

-        Identifying root causes.

-        Delivering reports.

-        Providing alerts.

-        Exposing opportunities.

-        Surfacing exceptions.

-        Achieving governance.

-        Enabling a process.

-        Facilitating continuity.

-        Establishing and confirming compliance.

-        Optimizing systems, processes and workflows.

-        Improving performance.


Even avoiding loss can be a Destination (think about it…).


If the customer receives all of the value based on arriving at the Destination, then position accordingly.


A Matter of Perspective


Another point of view on the Journey vs. the Destination is exactly that – it may depend on the point of view of the customer.  Here’s an example: 


You are flying (pre/post Covid-19) overseas for a vacation at a beautiful resort…  Is it the Journey, the Destination, or both that matter?


-        If you are flying in a cramped middle seat in coach – in front of the couple with the teething child, struggling for part of the armrest with your neighbor in the back of the plane for 11 hours, and getting up every hour for that same neighbor to go to the lavatory – it is probably not the Journey that is of interest!  It may be an experience, but perhaps one that you wouldn’t like to repeat…  (Are you getting value from the experience?)


-        On the other hand, if you are in first-class, enjoying the first-class lounge and fine dining, comfortable seats, unlimited drinks, a lie-flat bed and noise-cancelling earphones – then the Journey might be worthwhile as well…!  (Are you getting value from the experience?)


-        In both cases, the Destination is definitely important – that gorgeous resort (fill in your own description of the perfect vacation paradise!)…  (Are you getting value from the experience?)


Perspective may also depend on job title. 


For senior managers, the process of achieving critical objectives may include components of both Journey and Destination – and value is likely gained for that manager through both components. 

A vice president of sales celebrates each rep’s newly closed business, growing and developing the team through the year, while working towards achievement of the quarterly and (especially) annual goals.  Journey and Destination.


Staff members doing individual tasks will likely only gain value from each task’s completion, however – task-based Destinations.


The accounting staff closes the books every month, producing reports for management.  The process of closing the books is a repetitive series of tasks – so it is the Destination they desire, not the Journey. 


A story:  Many years ago, I was flying from San Francisco to Switzerland to attend my first European Users’ Group meeting.  I was in coach on a 747; my vice president of sales and CFO were in business-class.  I can share with you that the Journey was not a pleasant experience for me – but senior management had a great trip!


A Few Additional Ideas


Many software products enable the same end-result to be achieved (the customer’s current situation), but faster, better, or cheaper.  This is a case of the same Destination, different Journeys (different methods of getting to the Destination).  Analogy?  Drive 1000 miles to visit a sick relative vs. flying. 


If you have ever been the customer and previously (or currently) used the product – you are in a terrific position.  Ask yourself, “Did you enjoy the Journey or was it the Destination that was desired – or both?” 


Finally, most people want to get to their Destination as fast and smoothly as possible.  Ask yourself:  How well aligned is that desire with the Journey as your demo storyline?


It’s All About Value (Again)


When you are determining the best positioning and storyline for your demos, consider where the customer gets value:


-        If the customer gets value along the Journey or if there are sufficient waypoints of value along the path, then sell the Journey.


-        If the customer only gets value from the Destination, then sell the Destination.


-        And if the customer enjoys value gains from both, then sell both…!


And so ends this Journey…  (Did you get value along the way?)



Copyright © 2020 The Second Derivative – All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Upcoming Presales Collective Webinar – The Competitive Play: Why, When, and How

As presales professionals we deal with competition daily.
 Join presales veterans Peter Cohan, Nidhi Shah, and Marjorie Abdelkrime as they share stories and provide insights on how you can better manage (and outflank) your competition. 


What you can expect to get out of the webinar:

·     What to say (or not say) about your competition

·     Some horror stories we’ve experienced

·     Setting “land mines” (and exposing competitor’s)

·     What if their product is really that much better – leveraging “whole product analysis”

·     Navigating head-to-head evaluations


When:  October 1 at 11:00 AM Pacific Time; 2:00 PM Eastern Time


You can register here for this webinar – looking forward to your questions and comments during the session as well!