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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

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).

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