Today we have a WICKED AWESOME guest post and a bit of role reversal. Listen up, Product Managers, as the Cranky Sales Engineer schools you on what he wants from the product training you inflict on him during the annual Sales Kickoff meeting.
Now, the Cranky Product Manager must say that she does not agree with everything the Cranky Sales Engineer says. In fact, some of what he wrote makes the Cranky Product Manager craft a stern reprimand. Perhaps later.
Oh, and while we’re at it, go read the Cranky Product Manager’s earlier post on The Joy of Sales Kickoff.
It is freezing, the NFL Playoffs are almost over, and his office is abuzz with the frenetic contract-closing activity of year-end. That means that its time for the Cranky Sales Engineer to make travel plans for Sales Kickoff and sales training.
The Cranky Sales Engineer is as much in favor of the warm-weather debauchery associated with Sales Kickoff as the next guy, and he looks forward to a week of expense-report funded single-malt scotch. But in payment for the sweet sweet products of Scotland, he must endure hours of Product Managers trying to convince him to sell their products. In hopes of making his Scotch-free time as painless as possible, he is presenting his “top seven” list of tips for Product Managers, cranky or otherwise.
1. Do not spend time telling the Cranky Sales Engineer that computers are getting faster or that other obvious trends are continuing—The Cranky Sales Engineer sells in the high tech arena and he knows very well that computers are getting faster. He does not need this trend pounded home by a series of up-and-to-the-right slides demonstrating the wonders of Moore’s Law. He also does not need to be told that customers will be trying to save money in 2009 and that budgets will be tight.
2. Do not tell the Cranky Sales Engineer how to sell—There is nothing that pisses off the Cranky Sales Engineer faster than a Product Manager who provides pearls of wisdom like, “Make sure the customer has budget.” REALLY? REALLY? Oh thank God you provided free sales training because the Cranky Sales Engineer was going to stand on the street corner with a bullhorn and see if he could interest poor college students in your Stupendously Expensive Software v 7.2. Thank GOD you suggested they have money.
3. Do not tell the Cranky Sales Engineer how excited you are about the future—The Cranky Sales Engineer makes money selling real things that exist today. While a roadmap is useful, it is not a replacement for a product that works today. When simple features are missing or broken today, do not tell the Cranky Sales Engineer that they will be fixed in 2010 unless you want the Cranky Sales Engineer to start selling your product in 2010.
4. Do not lie to the Cranky Sales Engineer—If a feature is broken, and you know it is broken, do not tell the Cranky Sales Engineer to sell it. The Cranky Sales Engineer test the feature, learn it is broken, then he will find you and he will kill you. There is nothing that Cranky Sales Engineer hates more than losing a customer’s trust because he sold something that was broken. Well, there is one thing, selling something that the Product Manager knew was broken.
5. Do not mistake features for benefits—The Cranky Sales Engineer is duly impressed by your cleverness and the cleverness of your engineers, but he is not impressed by features that serve no value. If you cannot cite a benefit for a feature then do not mention the feature to the Cranky Sales Engineer.
6. Do not have more than seven words on a slide—If you deliver 90 slides with dense text and read them to that Cranky Sales Engineer, things will go poorly. The Cranky Sales Engineer can read faster to himself than you can read out loud. If you want to write the Cranky Sales Engineer a memo, then write that. If, instead, you write a memo on a slide and start reading it to the Cranky Sales Engineer, he will respond by answering the email on his Blackberry until you go away.
7. Bring the Cranky Sales Engineer some real references—The Cranky Sales Engineer got cranky by being slapped around by Cranky Customers. The Cranky Sales Engineer has never thrown the product team under the bus and has taken it on the chin for the product team. Therefore there is nothing that impresses him more than a real reference from a real happy customer who found real value.