Discover the magic of revenue, cost, and risk.
- I'm often told by vice presidents of sales that my engineers are technically great but they need help in relating our amazing technology back to our customers' business issues. It's not something they teach you in school. How can you do that? I'll share a simple memory aid that I know you'll find useful, and that's the three wise men. Practically every single technology purchase is driven by one of three major business issues. They are revenue, cost, and risk, and those are the three wise men.
Let's talk about the first wise man, revenue. You want to ask yourself, "What can my product do "to help my customer increase their revenue?" For example, perhaps it can decrease time to market for a new product or enable better cross selling or open up new markets. Next is the second wise man, cost. You want to ask yourself, "What can my product do "to help my customer decrease their costs?" For example, perhaps it provides productivity improvements or reduces cost of goods sold.
The third wise man is risk. You ask, "What can my product do to help my customer "mitigate their risk, both professionally and personally?" For example, perhaps it provides compliance and protection from legal issues. Maybe it protects your clients from security breaches. Every time you speak about a feature, a product, or an overall solution with your client, you need to have at least one of the three wise men in mind. There's certainly occasions when, as a sales engineer, you are presented to a bunch of techies in the conference room in the basement with the leaky pipe.
Then it's okay to be technical, but as soon as there's someone in the room with manager in their title or above, that's when the three wise men come into play. It's also situational, as some of the three wise men may relate to your solution better than others. For example, if you are an IT infrastructure company, affectionately known as a plumbing company, then cost and risk will be stronger than revenue. Most applications companies have an easier time with revenue.
CIOs care more about cost and risk. CMOs care more about revenue. So, I challenge you to think about what you sell and come up with as large a three wise men list as you can as it relates to your customer. Then, apply that list to make your products relevant in every single customer-facing situation, and that is what distinguishes the good SE from the truly great sales engineer.
- Roles and responsibilities of the technical sales engineer
- Matching technology to the business
- Making the pitch
- Putting it all together for the win