We tend to envisage modern desktops with keyboards and mice as something that appeared in the early 1980’s. Microsoft did a great job of commoditizing this for the masses, but they did of course get the idea (or copied the idea, depending on your point of view) from a Xerox research project that never quite made off the ground. Anything prior to the arrival of Windows stirs up visions of large mechanical devices with green text consoles and paper punch cards for input/output.
The reality is that the embryonic beginnings of the current desktop stretch back closer to 50 years ago, even before the Xerox project. I wasn’t aware of this until I heard about a 1960’s demo on a recent podcast (thanks Speaking in Tech). The video below is of Douglas Engelbart, who unfortunately passed away in recent weeks. This is probably the first ever large scale demo of this kind of technology. In this video, Douglas cuts a ghostly figure as he is superimposed on the film along side the desktop he is operating. Working as a Sales Engineer, I do a lot of demos.. you always like to feel like you’re on the cutting edge and showing your customer something new, but I think this video shows that although the technology changes a lot of what drives demos is fundamentally the same. Great demo from who should be considered both Jobbs’ and Gates’ predecessor.
To operate effectively in a pre-sales role detailed product knowledge is a must. You can not truly understand how a product works and it’s functionality without having some experience of it working on a real system. At the very least installing a demo or test environment will bring you closer to the capabilities of a product, but where possible get involved in real implementations, in real customer environments. Occasional secondments to the service delivery arm of your organisation can give you the opportunity to build some real world experience which can be applied to your current and future customer opportunities.
Practical experience is particularly useful in environments where you are working with multiple products and multiple product components. Understanding the underlying requirements of each component and how they will integrate with the other components can be of vital importance when proposing a solution. You may find that two of your components have conflicting requirements and simply can not fit together in the configuration you have designed. It is better to understand as much as possible about these dependencies early in the sales cycle as these can become show stopping issues which may become critical at the later stages of a sale.
Simple advice on this would be read the manuals, install your virtual machines, install the products, configure the products and run through some mock scenarios.
I love to travel. I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively, experience different cultures and have worked in many multi-national teams. I would definitely class myself as a travel nerd. I found this WebApp on Trip Advisor and have been looking to get more pins in the map ever since. Here’s my current travel map (to create your own, use the links below the map):
Maps and pins aside, working outside of your home country can be a daunting idea for some. Especially, if you are not used to working with different cultures. Here’s a list of quick tips which I hope are helpful.
Top 5 Tips
Tip 1: People are the same.
People are pretty much the same the world over. Of course, we all have different cultural quirks and ways of doing things but fundamentally people are the same wherever they are from. They all have hopes, dreams and motivations and you’ll find the same hopes, dreams and motivations in each country. If you’ve worked in your home country then working abroad is exactly the same.. the only difference is language and location. Continue reading →
As Pre-Sales resources we should have an in-depth understanding of the Sales Cycle and the traditional sales funnel. Although the Sales Manager orchestrates the deal, pre-sales should be aware of his strategy and the steps they are going to progress through to turn leads into closed deals.
I came across this video on YouTube. It is probably more interesting for Sales people, but I found it an interesting approach. The Interviewee hear has written a book called “The Funnel Principle”.
He argues that the traditional Sales Funnel is outdated and an artificially created process developed by Sales people for Sales people and not customers. The Buy Cycle changes the focus back to the customer, where you as a sales organisation are working to understanding the buying process of the customer and matching your activities to fulfil the procurement needs of the customer. The jury is out on this one for me, the Sales funnel is a time tested logical process for generating a large amount of leads which you can whittle down to closed deals.
The search engine has fast become the first step in any users attempt to access content on the web. Businesses and individuals alike have realised the massive potential of delivering your information to peoples web browsers at the click of a button. Targeting higher rankings on search engines, essentially pushing your content closer to the top of the search listings, has spawned an entire industry of it’s own. The act of creating, implementing and monitoring strategies for improving search engine rankings is know as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
I’ve recently been assisting my partner with her SEO strategies for her online perfume retailing website. It seems great prices on perfume, fragrances, aftershaves and gift sets isn’t going to get you to the top of google alone. Continue reading →
Depending on the organisation or industry you work in, pre-sales can mean very different things. The main perspectives people hold when categorizing pre-sales as a role are generally polarized at opposing ends of a linear spectrum. At one end we have technical activity and at the other we have commercial. The technical-to-commercial spectrum is widely used as a frame of reference. Some organisations expect their pre-sales employees to be very technical with an ability to dig deep into code where necessary and others don’t require any hands on experience at all. In reality, the definition of the role is flexible and the expectation is that a pre-sales resource will fall somewhere in between.
My loose definition of Pre-Sales: Pre-sales provides the medium to bridge the gap that exists between a customer’s business needs and the functional capabilities of the products and solutions provided a supplier organisation.