Case Studies

Here are some challenges that our clients were facing, what we did to help, and the results they reported.If these sound familiar, we can probably help you. Click here to contact us today.

Too many presales engineers were being pulled into situations with too little preparation

Too many salespeople were scheduling introductory meetings - and demonstrations - with very little understanding of the prospect's situation. Often the demo 'preparation' was ten minutes with the presales consultant in the prospect's lobby. Then they either spent half the meeting trying to understand what they should have known already, or just went with the 'standard' demonstration. Either way, the demonstration came off flat, and looked much like the other vendors'.

We showed salespeople just how risky this was, and how only a little of the right information could produce a demo that proved you had exactly the right capabilities. And we showed the sales engineers a simple, natural way to quickly get enough information to focus their time on the capabilities that mattered most, connecting with prospects' critical issues and standing out from competition.

"I was really not aware that we were so reactive in our sales. I would have bet anything we were preparing more for our initial calls. This has made a surprisingly big difference in the traction we get with our demos and presentations." Regional Sales VP

“We have drastically limited the ‘scrambling’ we used to do. We prepare by focusing on presenting the things that mean something to someone immediately. We are more strategic. Salespeople are responding well to this approach, and it has been very effective.”  Presales Consultant

“Responding to a request for a demo, I asked the sales rep some questions about the business aspects of the new opportunity. Out of ten questions, he was missing six answers.  I dug into these from the IT side, and got answers to most of them. The demo was a hit, connecting with the prospect's most important issues. That salesperson now treats SE's as more strategic resources to help him understand the business issues. We SE's feel more like we are on board with strategies.” Presales Consultant

Evaluations and POC's were taking longer, costing more, and getting harder to predict

Prospects' evaluations were taking longer and tying up more support resources. Prospects kept adding new requirements and new people to the process. It was slowing down sales cycles and jeopardizing our ability to meet our targets.

We showed presales consultants a natural way to help prospects define success in terms of demonstrable scenarios. This was much clearer and more stable than trying to react to an evolving list of features and functions to demonstrate. We showed them how to get prospects to accept more economical forms of proof that hey shortened sales cycles AND inspired more confidence in success.

“The Proving Value approach helped us close our biggest win last quarter.  Not only did we win the evaluation, but the prospect had developed so much confidence in us that they did not require a proof of concept.”  Regional Technical Manager

“Our experience with the Proving Value Program?  Simple: more sales, fewer sales calls”. VP Sales

"We can now focus more clearly on the vision of success; understand what the prospect really needs to do and why it is important to the business. We can help the customer understand what success looks like more clearly, so we both have a clearer target. And looking back, we can now see that NOT doing this has been a major contributor to sales cycles that ran on and on, or resulted in 'no decision'. Presales Manager

Differentiating from competitors had become a serious problem

The competition had been steadily closing the gaps in functionality to the point where prospects said everybody's demos looked essentially the same. We were getting bogged down in feature/function battles. And when we won the evaluations, we often had to discount aggressively to close the business.

We showed presales consultants how to more quickly understand each prospect's situation; their big picture.  Then we showed them how to use that understanding as a framework and filter to concentrate on just the few most relevant capabilities. Then we showed them how to center their presentation and demo on the prospect's situation, not on their products and company. They learned how demonstrating an understanding of the prospect's situation and focusing on just those capabilities critical to their success put them in a class apart from the competition.

“A salesperson requested a general, high level demo for a new opportunity.  Instead of just doing this, the presales consultant called the prospect’s technical contact before the meeting to get more of the ‘big picture’. Then she used it to build a demo and presentation focused on the prospect’s specific situation.  The CIO and CFO were surprise attendees at the meeting, and the demonstration showed exactly what they were trying to do.  They fast-tracked the purchase based upon that one demonstration." Senior Salesperson

“A prospect called me back after our meeting and sincerely thanked us for making it meaningful and relevant to his situation. The sales engineer’s prep and delivery were excellent.  This Proving Value stuff really hits the spot! Senior Salesperson

“Before we responded to a call for a general demo and presentation, the presales consultant called the prospect to get the ‘big picture’. We got a more complete understanding of the situation. We also developed a better relationship with the prospect. They said they were happy to see that we were concerned about “getting it right”. We were much more credible than the competition, got the inside track from then on, and ended up winning.” Salesperson

”After our second meeting, a member of the prospect's evaluation team confided that they were formally tracking which vendors asked business-oriented (big picture) questions, which ones were trying to understand what the business drivers were. This was a important part of their evaluation! And they said that not every candidate had tried to understand their situation, and it had clearly hurt their chances.”  Presales Manager

Some presales consultants were excellent technically, but did not really understand sales

Some presales consultants were technically competent, but weren't helping sell. They stayed down in the weeds, focused on technology, unaware or uninvolved in the bigger picture. They struggled with relating their technology to solving important business problems.  They also seemed out of touch with the overall sales process. Salespeople hesitated to use them for demos and presentations. This shifted a lopsided load to the other presales people who could help sell. It also generated more 'four-legged' sales calls because salespeople were nervous about having them in meetings by themselves.

In our technical staff-only sessions, we explained the underlying importance of the prospect's big picture to the technical decisions; how technology evaluations are spawned by business needs, and how they are ultimately part of business solutions.  We explained the big picture decision process from the prospects' perspective. We helped them understand the hurdles salespeople face and the help they need to address them. We showed them how diagnosing project requirements can simultaneously help teams qualify from business perspective. And we convinced them that the presales consultants on the most successful sales teams provided this help.

”Now I’m consciously focusing on the business users’ requirements. I know how to step back from code, understand the ‘big picture’, and then show them that I understand. This has been super-valuable to me to surface the real issues and create confidence.” Senior Presales Consultant

“I use the ‘big picture’ approach now with salespeople and consultants, too.  We are extremely busy, and it helps us quickly understand and focus on the most important aspects of each new opportunity.” Presales Consultant

”It is much easier now to work with salespeople, to get a more complete picture of an opportunity.  Demonstrations are more focused, credible, and compelling.  The salespeople have been very supportive and appreciative.” Presales Consultant

Some salespeople were treating presales consultants like "techies," not respecting their contribution to the sales process

Some of the presales consultants were being treated like utilities to be checked out and returned. Salespeople were cutting off a key source of inside account information, and sending the most credible voice in the company into account situations ignorant of the sales strategy. Salespeople were unintentionally creating blind spots and undermining their value propositions. They were ignoring or fumbling some powerful competitive advantages.

We showed salespeople the compelling sales advantages of having strategic partnership with presales consultants; how they could qualify more accurately and get more sales traction when presales consultants were more in the loop. And we showed them that contrary to what their instincts might say, they could actually get more account influence and control by giving technical staff a bigger role on the team.

“Right after our workshop, a salesperson requested a demo.  When I asked for some background to focus the demo, he realized he was missing a lot of information.  So I approached the prospect from the IT side, and got almost all the information we needed.  This salesperson – who used to refer to sales engineers as ‘dancing bears’ - now treats me more like a trusted advisor. He counts on me to help him understand prospects' business issues and to create the right sales strategies.” Presales Consultant

“Some salespeople used to treat us like second class citizens on the sales team.  Now more of them work with us like partners, strategic allies.  It helps us sell better, and it frankly makes a big difference in how interesting and enjoyable the job is." Presales Engineer

“This workshop has been a great springboard for important change in the group. Salespeople now have a much better idea of what SE’s need to do their job well. We have always done a pretty good job of doing these things before. But this takes it to the next level. The salespeople have really appreciated this!” Presales Manager

Persistent blind spots hid what was really going on inside accounts

Prospects withhold information from salespeople to control the decision making process, or to build negotiation leverage. And sometimes prospect contacts in IT had a limited view of the big picture. We had to guess far too many times about whether there really was a business case, or what was most important to the prospect. Those blind spots made it hard to qualify, compete, and negotiate.

We showed presales consultants how to help reduce these blind spots by taking advantage of their role in the process. We demonstrated how to naturally peel back the layers of a prospect's situation, starting with technical requirements, then moving through the desired solution, and the business sponsor's ultimate target scenario. We showed them how to authentically convince prospects that it was in their own interest to share this information. And we explained why they needed to discretely get this information to the salesperson ASAP.

”I can get a much better sense of how qualified any opportunity is now.  One recent prospect did not want to talk about anything but technical specs, insisting that ‘this is all about technology’.  However, the presales consultant went back in alone, and the prospect’s technical people really began to open up with him.  They shared a bigger picture of business problems and their strategy to deal with them, even though they had initially insisted that it was purely a technical decision.” Senior Salesperson

”The workshop immediately helped us save a deal. The salesperson told the presales consultant that the prospect wanted to do a proof of concept. We called into the client, backing up to get the ‘big picture’, and found that it they had stopped looking at competition. We agreed that a POC was not necessary, that they were ready to go. We converted the evaluation to a paid pilot, getting services involved. This was a huge deal that was taken ‘off the market’.” Presales Manager

”Prospects’ technical resources can be great guys, but they don’t always see ‘the big picture’.  In one situation, I coached my technical contact to get a better understanding of the business initiative, the sponsor, and the picture of success. He clearly didn’t get it.  He and I went together to his users and both got their big picture. He got a much better view of the business’s real problems, and solid praise from his business sponsors for making the effort to get it right.” Presales Consultant

"Our salespeople now learn more about our opportunities by NOT being in meetings because our presales engineers and consultants can get much more of the truth when we are not there." Country Sales Director

Too many lost causes, weak business cases, and 'science projects' were still getting onto the forecast

We had gotten better at qualification, but we were still getting pulled into supporting too many long shots, competitive setups, weak business cases, and 'science projects'. Sometimes it was prospects who wanted free education. Other times it was salespeople trying to 'just get in the door' at an account.  We all agree in principle that these are not good uses of our time. But too many times, the consensus breaks down under pressure to find opportunities. In the excitement and confusion, we find ourselves once again wasting time on 'junk'.

We introduced salespeople and presales consultants to a simple model and clear vocabulary that helps them get right to the heart of a prospect's situation. Qualification is a simpler, natural process. Communication between sales and presales is much clearer, more obvious. We showed them how to base their decisions upon a clear understanding of the prospects' situation, not on hope or year-to-date quota standing.

“We are getting good at working together to ‘smoke out’ whether a prospect actually has a business case for buying software.  And when we can’t find one, the opportunity doesn’t make it onto the forecast, and we don’t waste time supporting it.” Presales Manager

"This is exactly what I had been trying to get across to our sales and presales people, but had not found the best way to articulate it. This is it. Now we have a clear, simple model and vocabulary that gets right to the heart of how qualified an opportunity is. Its simplicity minimizes confusion, and its big picture perspective makes it powerfully effective." Director of Technical Services

More and more 'successful' evaluations were ending up as no decisions

We were winning most of our evaluations. But too many times, the prospect did not buy.  Sponsorship didn't materialize. Budgets got shifted. 'Things got political'. We spent days or weeks killing ourselves supporting evaluations only to hear 'Thanks but we are not going to be able to move ahead right now'.

We showed them a better, simpler way to tell who is serious; to look beyond prospects' words, into their situation to make more realistic qualification judgments, no matter what the prospect was telling them. We demonstrated a straightforward way to tell the serious projects from the 'nice to have'. We showed them how to detect weak business cases before it was too late; and how to help their prospects build business support for real projects. We explained how to more easily detect a prospect misrepresenting an attempt to get free education as a real project.

”The Proving Value approach generated an extra week’s worth of selling time this month.  A salesperson found a ‘hot’ deal, and the sales engineer called to scope out the requirements for a demo.  Using the Proving Value approach, he got more of the big picture. Unfortunately, a very weak business case emerged.  It was a classic ‘no decision’, just waiting to happen.  Armed with a clearer view of the situation, the salesperson declined to support this ‘opportunity’.  Instead, he used that time to sell – and close- other more qualified deals on the forecast.” Regional Sales Manager

"We pay particular attention to sales cycles requiring onsite trials, or proofs of concept. Using the Proving Value approach, we have boosted our close rate on proofs of concept by more than 67%." VP of Presales Support