this week I went to yet another training class. This week I was fortunate???? to get relegated to the sales methodology training. Ok, I’ve been in sales for what 15 years now and hardcore research/engineering for 10? I thought that I had seen it all. I remember one class I took at Sun where I was told to become my customers best friend, have their kids play with mine, have their older kids babysit my kids. What garbage. I understand the concept but I never liked the touchy feely/Bridges of Madison County approach to selling.
I did like the methodology that I heard in this class, understand your customers problems and look at it from their perspective. I get that. I have been doing that for a while. Imagine myself as an engineer trying to solve their problem. How would I attack the problem. Layer on top of that is the product that I am motivated to sell the right solution for the problem. If it is, how do I recommend it? If it isn’t could it if you looked at it with your head tilted north and your tounge sticking out the right side of your mouth? I know that sounds like an unreasonable request but some sales reps get desperate when it comes to the end of Q4 and they are 80% of goal.
The key items that I got from the sales methodology class is that you must get to know your products, your competitors products, your customers goals and ambitions, and your customers problems. Look at it from their perspective and try to solve the problem. Correlate the technical issues to the technical people and the business issues to the management level. Engineers don’t care about making a process 8% more profitable, they care about making their part of the process work efficiently so that no one will bother them with questions later. Managers are concerned with cost, quality, and all of the other Dilbert buzwords that the pointy haired manager throws about.
One fact that I didn’t know was the difference between the professional golfers stroke averages and their paychecks. There is a one stroke difference between the number one golfer and the number 20 golfer. It is interesting to me that Carl Pettersson is the 30th best golfer when you look at averages but the 12th best when you look at money. Nick O’Hern has played in half the tournaments and makes less than half the money. Nick O’Hern is 7th in shot average with almost a whole shot better for this year. Who is the better golfer? The one who has the better average or the one who makes more money? Interesting perspective.
We also did an exercise that was interesting. We were broken up into teams of four. Two of us were given puzzle solutions, one was given the puzzle pieces, and one was assigned to ask questions about assembling the puzzles. The ones with the solutions could not show the picture that had the solution on it to the one asking questions. The one with the puzzle pieces could not talk to the ones with the solutions. The exercise was very interesting because it tested your ability to share information, ask the right questions, and get to the solution. The simplest answer was to show the puzzle pieces to the two that had the solutions and let them put it together for you. Doing this risked having the person with the solution clam up and not share any information because that dosen’t seem fair. Asking too many detailed questions will frustrate the solution holders because they want to share more information but you are asking the wrong questions. I ended up messing up and asking one person too many questions and not knowing enough about their puzzle. I was able to get a solution for the second puzzle based on the information I gathered from the first. It was a very interesting exercise. It gave me a new perspective on asking questions to see what a customers problem might be.
I’m mostly glad that the class was only two days long. The nuggets that I came out with were interesting but there is so much more that I want to learn and need to learn to be effective. Right now I am working on learning our products to the best of my ability.