Learn more about how I can possibly help you at: www.linkedin.com/in/bkundra

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I am proud to have the honor of being a “trusted advisor” to thousands of telecom decision makers. I am known for my ability to learn new products and technologies quickly and for my ability to influence others to follow. I know how to ask the right questions and how to listen…and identify true customer needs. I have a reputation for excellence in delivering presentations and demonstrations. Telecom products excite me and I have a gift for being able to transfer my excitement to others. My goals are to help customers get the most value from UC/Telecom products...to help my employer grow sales revenue…and to be the best sales engineer in the industry.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Is Your Head in the Clouds?

A tough economy, a more mobile workforce and rapidly advancing technology...make it more difficult for businesses to make a long term investment in a new traditional "on premise" telephone system.  These systems require substantial up front capitol expenditures, are inherently geographically "isolated" from mobile and remote employees...and are in danger of becoming obsolete in a shorter period of time.  One solution to these business problems is to subscribe to cloud-based communications services.  These "cloud" or "hosted" services allow businesses to take advantage of the benefits of the latest communication technologies without the up front cost, complexity and risks of owning an on premise telephone system.  And they are well positioned to provide easy access to mobile and remote workers.  We are not talking about POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) here...today's hosted services include High Definition voice, unlimited local and long distance calling, presence, chat, audio and video conferencing, web meetings, call recording, Internet fax, smartphone apps, user and administrator GUIs, call centers, voice mail to email and much much more.  So...before you purchase your next telephone system...I think exploring cloud-based solutions to your business problems will be time well invested.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Real Life Benefits of VoIP

I was born to be a telecommunications sales engineer.  For years I commuted to an office to work...along with many other employees.  When you get right down to it...the reason I commuted to the office was that I needed access to company resources...equipment and applications that were costly...and served multiple employees...like the copier, fax machine and the office phone system. In the past...the traditional (circuit-switched) design of the phone system required that the telephone be installed on telephone wires and was located no more than about 1000 feet from the computer that ran the phone system.  But in the last few years I was able to take advantage of new packet-switched Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.  With this technology...the phone connects to a data network and the voice goes through the Internet to get to the phone system.  There are many advantages to using this technology...but removing the geographical distance limit between the phone and the phone system is one of the most important ones.  For the last few years I was able to personally benefit from VoIP.  The technology made it possible for me to work for a company that is located across the country from my home/office. And voice is not the only collaboration tool that made it possible.  Daily use of video conferencing, instant messaging, presence information, email, calendars, desktop and presentation sharing...and web access to over 30 corporate websites made it possible to work remotely and still "be tightly connected" to coworkers, customers and vendors. Remote teleworking is not right for everyone in every job...but for a self-motivated knowledge worker like myself...it is a dream come true.  Time to go home for a cup of coffee...I mean...I am going to walk upstairs to the kitchen now and pour a cup. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How to make your product unique

I have been asked by prospects "So what makes your product unique"?  And I struggled early in my career for an answer to this question...knowing it might be asked by the next prospect.  And then I realized...even if the next prospect did not ask the question...he/she would be thinking it...or should be thinking it...so I developed a presentation that answered the question before they asked and won points for being insightful.  So...what makes your product unique?  You may have an answer to this...but if you struggle...it is understandable.  If you pick any one feature...you are likely to find at least one other competitor that has the feature.  What makes your product unique is that you have done the investigation to find out what problems the prospect has...and you have identified features that solve those problems...and it is the combination of several features that you know can be applied to solve his specific business problems that is unique.  And you can actually state this.  Example: "You are probably wondering what makes my solution unique?  It is the application of a group (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) of features and benefits that you won't find together from any other vendor. The fact is that feature A may be in one competitor's product and feature B may be in another vendor's product...but your product is the only one that has all the features in a group.  Good Selling!

Anatomy of a sales engineering "transaction" (part 4)

Communicate the solution simply and with enthusiasm.  Prospects have their own businesses to run and usually they are not telecom experts...and they don't want to be.  But they do need to understand the benefits that your proposed solution will deliver.  So the idea is to speak to them without all the acronyms and buzz words.  Strive for simple English (non-telecom) explanations of features and benefits.  As for the enthusiasm...it comes naturally to me.  When I can "see" the problem and know my products will solve the problem...I get excited and want to tell them how great things will be.  It is really all about voice inflection and body language.  I am sorry...I do not know a tip to give you here...you either have it (a spark) or you don't.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Anatomy of a sales engineering "transaction" (part 3)

Asking the right questions is key to a sales engineering transaction.  The end goal is to find the best possible "fit" between the product you are are representing and the prospect's needs.  The better the fit...the higer the value to the prospect...and the more they will be willing to pay for the product.  So the task is to gain a deep understanding the product features and benefits provides and a good understanding of the prospect's needs.  The product features and benefits are a good basis for developing the lines of questioning.  But the questions that you ask a prospect are not about the product...they are about their business.  For example...if a product has a built-in ACD.  It is probably not a good idea to ask the prospect if they need an ACD?  They might not even know what the acronym stands for...or...they might have a misconceptions about what an ACD is (high cost or poor customer service for example).  A better question would be..."do you have any departments that take incoming calls where there is more than one person qualified and responsible to take incomming calls"?  Assumming the answer is "yes"...then "how do calls get distributed to those individuals now"?  I think you get my point...if my product did not offer ACD...I would not ask these questions.  And the prospect might not ask me if I have an ACD.  If neither one of us asks the question...then the value of the built-in ACD goes unrealized. This is just an example...there are litterally hundreds of features that need to be explored in order to be able to deliver the benefits designed into a telecom product.  By this method I have personally doubled the dollar amount of the original quote...and delivered benefits that the prospect might never have realized were available.  Asking the right questions to gain detailed knowledge of how well the prospect's needs match the product capabilities is one of the most valuable and rewarding sales engineering responsibilities.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The anatomy of a sales engineering "transaction" (part 2)

Product knowledge and business application experience are essential to the SE function.  Products are typically very complex and even being wrong on the smallest details can be catastrophic.  And there are so many small details that it is typically not possible to know them all.  My approach to product knowledge is to learn the "big picture" first.  What is the basic functionality of the product and what are the limits to these functions.  For example...it does you no good to drill down to figure out that the prospect needs 500 speed dial entries and your product can have 1000...and later on find out that they need 270 telephones and your product can only support 250.  Once you understand the big picture...you can slowly...over time...learn more details.  One trick I used was to know enough of the big picture...have equipment set up in the lab...and...if required...application by application...quickly verify the small details of proposed feature.  I did this because my target for accuracy in application details is 100%.  I wanted to see first hand proof of how a feature operated and how it solved the prospective problems and any limitations that it might have.  My target for accuracy is 100%...and...as good as they are...I could not trust documentation or other people's memories 100%.  Business application experience is the knowledge acquired by applying a product in business after business after business...so that you have a good idea of what features really deliver value and what features don't.  For example...if you have a really cool way of dialing a phone number...that is marketed as increasing efficiency...but it takes 10 button pushes to accomplish...and no one uses it because it is too cumbersome...then this feature...while well intentioned drops significantly in value.  Business application experience is important because the next time a prospect or sales person wants to discuss this feature...you can quickly dismiss it as a solution and steer the prospect away from it and hopefully toward a better alternative solution.  I view product knowledge and business application experience as my "quiver of arrows".  When a new prospect wants to investigate the fit for my product...I draw arrows from the quiver.  Let's take our product knowledge and application experience up a notch.  If you can identify features that are of high value to a business and unique...and spend time looking for homes for them...you will win lots of business and become a hero.  Next up is...asking the "right" questions...stay tunned for part 3.

The anatomy of a sales engineering "transaction" (part 1)

The most common activity in the life of a sales engineer is to respond to an application inquiry from a sales person (with a specific prospect's application in mind).  Understanding such an event may help you in your efforts to sell/buy a telecom solution.  I would like to use my own experience as a specific example of what a "transaction" was all about.  I want to do this because being in this environment was so much fun for me, because it was so productive for my company, because it was so productive for prospects/customers and because I think other people might benefit from understanding the SE function...and perhaps using some of these ideas to make their companies better.  Of course...take these ideas with a grain of salt...the details do not apply to every situation...but I believe that understanding how I operated may help.  I want to thank all of my previous managers for giving me the guidance, tools, resources and freedom to excel at my trade...sales engineering...a job I was born to do.

We should start with availability and response time.  I made sure...if at all possible...that a majority of the time I was available to be reached by phone...in real time...for a two way conversation with the sales rep.  While I handled thousands of calls directly from customers...the most valuable calls came from sales people.  Because they are coin-operated (commission based)they tend to invest their time in high probability...high dollar deals.  I needed to be available to be reached by phone in real time...out of respect for their time.  This means avoiding call forwarding, call back delays and phone tag...and avoid the use of non-real time or simplex media...like email if at all possible.  Response time to answering their specific inquiry needs to be fast.  I knew that if I did not respond to them within 24 hours...I might as well not respond at all...because the sales opportunity was "hot" and if the prospect is kept waiting for an answer too long...the deal will go to a competitor.  This is really where competition takes place...the timeliness of effective communication between the sales rep and the prospect.  Delays lose deals.  Responsiveness wins deals.

The ability to truly listen, comprehend and uncover business problems.  This often did not happen on the first call from the sales rep.  By asking the sales person a few questions about the application...it often becomes obvious to the SE and sales person that the prospect needs to participate in a detailed conversation...which often resulted in a conference call with the prospect/customer.  Try not to let the sales person bow out of this conference...for several reasons.  You can use this as an opportunity for the sales person to learn.  And the sales person is ultimately responsible for understanding what a prospect has been told presale.  And...two heads are better than one.  Often the sales person may have information about the account and can "steer" the conversation in the appropriate direction...to get to the heart of the matters faster.  The prospect does their best to relate their needs but quite often falls short of hitting the true needs.  This is where the SE can really help...by asking detailed questions to understand how well the product meets their needs.  Keep in mind that an SE does not only match product to customer need...they actually guide the prospect to a place where the SE wants them to go.  Changing the prospect's understanding of their own needs, and understanding of products and technology is part of this process.  Changing the prospect's understanding is done by asking them questions about their business/application.  Sometimes you (and the sales rep) might not like the answers...you might succeed in changing the prospect's understanding...but not enough to have a good fit between what they need and what you have to offer...but it is better to understand what the prospect is going to buy...even if you don't offer it for sale.  If you understand what they are going to buy...you can sell it to them.  If you can alter their vision to be in alignment with what you have to offer...you have a win-win scenario.  The key to asking the right questions comes from the SE's knowledge in two areas...product knowledge and business application experience.  Looking for more?  I will continue in (part 2).