Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Presales Anxiety – Not Knowing All of the Answers…

Many presales people share concerns about being sufficiently deep with respect to product knowledge (and industry knowledge, and customer knowledge, and competitor knowledge, and 3rd party knowledge, and systems knowledge, and VM’s and laptops and tablets and smart-phones and on and on…).  A reasonable concern!

Here’s a rescue:

You are not expected to know the answers to every question in the universe (the answer to the question about life, the universe and everything is, of course, 42…).

Your objective is to know the answers to just enough questions to be perceived as competent and credible.  Your responsibility – and the expectation on the part of the customer – is to be the conduit of answers (of questions that you don’t know how to answer) back to your customers, later on.  Post meeting, your job is to access the appropriate resources to get those answers and then deliver the answers back to your customers.

The use of “Parking Lots” in managing questions is an excellent approach in managing and tracking questions (and answers).  Many Great Demo! practitioners use a Word document to capture questions – and then use strike-through text to show questions that have been adequately addressed in a session, leaving the unanswered questions in normal text.  This provides a written record of what was addressed in a demo meeting or Discover session and what remains open.  Very elegant!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Land and Expand Great Demo! Tactics

Here are a number of Great Demo! tactics that folks have reported have been working particularly well for teams doing “Land and Expand”:

-          Transition Vision and tracking through Value Realization:

Customers will only expand their licenses once their original license has been successful, in their eyes.  This is certainly not the date the order is placed (although many sales teams are only concerned with this)!  Interestingly, deployment into production use is also not the key event on this timeline, although very important.  Rather, it is the date when the customer is able to declare a victory (can be a small victory) with some kind of Value Realization event. 

Successful Land and Expand practitioners work with their customers in Discovery to determine what and when define a Value Realization event – and then track progress all the way through that date.  It is at that point in time that, if successful, the customer becomes willing and able to help expand the licensing more broadly.

-          Asking, “Who else might find this useful?” in Discovery and related pre-expansion questions:

A number of Land and Expand teams have reported that they include expand-oriented questions in their initial Discovery conversations with customers.  Examples include:

“Who else might find this useful?”
“Which other groups have similar challenges?”
“Who else is impacted by your current problem?”

-          Applying the Menu Approach:

Finally, a large number of Land and Expand practitioners are singing the praises of the Menu Approach – it is proving a terrific way to do vision expansion both at the Land and Expand stages:

o   Using the Menu Approach in Discovery to give the customer ideas of where else the tool(s) can be applied
o   In Lunch-and-Learn sessions
o   In Webinars (and before webinars, in the invitation emails)
o   At customer-specific “trade-shows” (very similar to lunch and learn, but less structured)
o   At EBC presentations (Executive Briefing Center) – a very good tactic for working with executives, who may simply want a high-level understanding of what is possible

In addition, combining the Menu with accompanying Illustrations for each Menu item is proving very effective at accomplishing crisp, engaging Vision Generation.

Any other ideas to suggest?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Implementing Methodology Training – How to Move the 40%

In most organizations, participants of any methodology or skills training tend to cluster into three groups:

-          Group A:  Those who “Get It” – they understand the new concepts and are eager, comfortable and confident to put the new ideas into practice right away.

-          Group B:  Those who understand the new ideas – but aren’t yet entirely comfortable to apply things right away.  They want to see success with their peers before they try on their own.

-          Group F:  Those who say something like, “I’ve been selling/doing demos for 20 years and you can’t tell me how to sell/demo…!”

For many methodology training outcomes, Group A represents about 30% of the total, Group B 40%, and Group F the remaining 30%.  What can be done to improve adoption?

Group A – simply needs to feel good about what they are doing.  They need positive feedback on the changes they’ve made and obstacles removed that might impede their progress.

Group F – well, voluntary or involuntary attrition will take care of them…!

Group B – here’s the biggest opportunity!  They need to see success stories from their peers as one mechanism, so that they are more comfortable to try out the new ideas.  They also need to gently (but firmly!) be pushed to adopt the new habits.  Periodic manager coaching helps with this – but what if there were a way to enable coaching and guidance to take place with every important interaction?

I’m very pleased to note that FactorLab offers a really elegant solution called GROW ( – “Making Success a Habit” – what a great line!).  After each interaction (or demo, in the case of Great Demo!), team members simply tap answers to a few quick coaching questions in an App.  While subtle, these actions help to reinforce the key ideas of a methodology and build desired habits.

For example, in the case of Great Demo!, the GROW App asks if the Situation Slide was complete (really key, correct?), did the demo start with the Illustration, and a few other important ideas. 

Participants can use the App to coach themselves and/or ask for help from their managers – what a delight!  Check it out at 

[Note:  in the case of Great Demo! Workshops, customers report that Group A is often larger than expected – and Group F can be very small!].

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

[Warning: Shameless Self-Promotion Alert] Great Demo! Public Workshop March 5-6

The March 5-6 Great Demo! Public Workshop is now full – our next Public Workshop will take place May 21-22.  You can learn more about it here or contact me directly (

Monday, February 3, 2014

Skills Training and Managers - The Good, the Bad, and the Truly Ugly

See if this sounds familiar:  a manager organizes skills training for his/her team and, on the day of the training, the manager kicks things off and then disappears.  Assuming that the manager has not had this particular skills training, what’s wrong with this picture? 

It is unlikely that this manager will be able to coach or provide guidance to his/her team on the specific skills, reducing that manager’s ability to achieve one of his/her biggest goals – to grow and develop the team.  We can, accordingly, categorize managers into three groups:

The Good:  Those who actively participate in skills training (and are therefore enabled to coach their teams).

The Bad:  Those who attend skills training, but who spend 90% of the time reading and writing emails, often with noisy, “clacky” keyboards (and are, by doing so, unconsciously telling their teams that the skills being learned are not sufficiently important for the team’s attention, either).

The Truly Ugly:  Those who don’t attend at all (and are therefore unable to coach or support their teams).

The moral?  Managers should embrace skills training with the same commitment and “presence” that they expect from their teams…

(There is, of course, a “Great” category for managers as well:  those who attend the training, pay rapt attention, support and reinforce the ideas during the training, and then take steps to learn how to coach their team…!)