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B2B Sales Tip–Jargon Can Make You Credible

Lots of articles claim that you should avoid jargon when doing presentations, demos or sales interviews. I think that’s bad advice–especially in B2B technology selling. Here’s why:

1) Two-thirds of your audience uses jargon daily – In B2B technology sales at least 1/3 of your audience will be technical; another third will be familiar with most industry terms, even if they’re non-technical.

2) You should never talk down to your audience – If you don’t use proper terms, you’ll sound like a tyro, a noob, a neophyte… You get the idea. Worse yet, you may come off as condescending by dumbing down the language.

3) People in the know expect it – If there’s a proper industry or technical term–use it. If you don’t, your audience will wonder why.

4) Management gets it – Senior management is usually plenty savvy about terminology and jargon if they have spent any time in the industry.

One final bit of advice

The key to using jargon in sales is to keep your focus on the business value of technology. Never gratuitously sprinkle “buzz words” into the conversation just to sound smart.

I once knew a guy who was a master at using jargon incorrectly; kind of a “Norm Crosby” of technology. (If you don’t know Norm, check out the YouTube video at the top of this post–funny stuff!)
We were selling OEM Circuit Boards (AKA single board computers) and in one meeting he managed to call “pull-up resisters”, “jump-up resisters” and “hardware error checking”, “hardware air checking”!

Needless to say, it was tough to recover credibility after that!

In summary, use jargon to highlight the business value of technology. Be sure you know how to use a term or don’t even try; If you mess up, your credibility will be shot for good!

B2B Sales Tip–Fast Follow Up Wins More Deals

Ever have a prospect that contacted you but didn’t call back when you responded? They just might be working with the rep that got back to them first!

Prospects have a myriad of choices at their fingertips. A quick Google search yields a screen full of your competitors to contact. If you want to win, you must get back to prospects quickly!

Busy prospects simply don’t have time to chase sales people. When they contact you, it’s probably because they’ve put your company on their “short list” of vendors to consider.

Next time you get a lead be sure to call right away and keep calling until you reach them.

If you don’t, someone else may be cashing your commission check.

B2B Sales Trends for 2010–Are You Ready?

The rules of B2B sales are changing. You need to address these changes or risk being left behind and losing sales.

B2B sales challenges for 2010

New trends in the B2B market are having a dramatic effect on sales success. Here are some of the biggest changes along with some steps you can take to address them.

Prospects have more information and knowledge than ever before

Social media and the web are having a huge impact on how prospects get information about technology, products and companies. Gone are the days when prospects relied on salespeople to keep them abreast of the latest products and technologies. Today’s prospects can subscribe to RSS feeds, twitter, LinkedIN and Google alerts to get timely updates developments in their market.

Social Media has made it simple to check up on your companies reputation

The wisdom of crowds is in full effect. You can join user groups and forums and ask people directly about their experiences.

Prospects don’t contact sales until much later in the sales cycle

Since information is so easy to obtain, prospects often wait until they have a solid understanding of what they want and what it will do for them. They have also created a “short list” of vendors that look like they can help. Armed with this list they finally contact vendors to ask specific, detailed questions.

Prospects are demanding much more from sales people

Once a prospect contacts you they are often very direct and expect quick accurate answers to their questions.

Prospects are even more difficult to reach and busier than ever if you do

If you decide not to wait for prospects to contact you and reach out to them, you will find that they are hiding behind voice mail and email and can be almost impossible to reach. If you do manage to reach them, you have very little time to capture their interest before they blow you off.

Impact on B2B sales

All these changes have a direct effect on your world. Let’s take a look at how they can affect your success and how you can start thinking strategically about addressing them.

Sales has less time to make an impact

Since prospects are contacting sales later in the process and they are busier than ever before, you have a very short window to impress them. You need to:

  • Gain their trust
  • show that you are knowledgeable and can help them
  • Demonstrate that you and your company will be around for the long haul
  • Understand their needs

Salespeople must be more knowledgeable to keep pace with prospects

By the time you engage with a prospect they have probably seen a webinar, read several white papers and seen product demos on the web. They know a lot and if you expect to earn their business you need to know more.

Sales needs to provide feedback to marketing to ensure better qualified leads

Marketing is working hard to keep up with increased demands from prospects as well. to that end, you can help marketing by providing detailed feedback on why prospects buy your product and the types of problems they solve with it.

In the next installment of this series we will look at why this issues make it crucial to change your sales approach.

Sales Tip – Getting the Name Has Never Been Easier, Now What?

Getting the contact name is easy

Most savvy salespeople know how to get a contact name at a target company almost instantly using a quick web search or services like Jigsaw, LinkedIN, Hoovers, etc. Couple that with some quick research and you are ready to “dial for dollars”, right?

Maybe not. Here are a couple of reasons why just having the name and a bit of information can be a big waste of time:

  • If you know how to get the name, so do hundreds (thousands?) of others
  • If all those sales people have the same name and contact information, the prospect will be inundated with calls and email
  • Some of the salespeople contacting the prospect may be less than professional and tick off the prospect
  • Prospects become jaded and hide behind voice-mail or delete your message as soon as they realize you are a salesperson
  • Most sales people sound like self-serving sales slime by using a standard product based pitch when they contact the prospect

Faced with these challenges, you need to separate yourself from the herd. Here’s how.

Get a referral

While not always possible, if you can get someone to refer you you will have a much better chance of connecting.

Research shows that referrals are the number one source of leads that result in closed business. Before you call or email, ask the person referring you if the prospect might need your type of product. Also ask about the types of challenges the prospect may be facing that you can help with.

Armed with this information you can put together a cogent, effective plan for contacting the prospect.

Get social

You signed up for twitter, LinkedIN, etc… a while back but, like most people, you probably haven’t been using it much. Here’s your chance.

See if the contact is on twitter or linkedIN and see if you know any one in their circle of “friends”. If you do, ask for an introduction. If not, you will need to spend some time understanding what’s important to your contact so that when you do connect with them you have something relevant to say.

Offer something of value

Your goal for a complex sale is to qualify the prospect and to start a conversation. To do this, you will need content that is relevant to the problems faced by the prospect.

Most of your competition will call the prospect and say something like:

“Hi, this is Jane from ABC. We make Enterprise software that helps secure your network from hacker attacks and protects your sensitive data.”


“This is Jane from ABC. We help companies like yours protect their data from hackers and loss due to crashes.”

Savvy prospects will know right away that this is a sales call. In one call out of 500, you’ll get lucky and they will be in the market for your type of product–the other 499 times, they’ll blow you off by saying something like:

“Send me information”

“I’m Not involved with that type of product”

“I hear an alarm bell going off, I have to go” –this was an actual response one of my sales training clients got!

A much better way to connect and start a conversation is to offer something that you think they’ll be interested in based on your research. For example, if they’re members of a data security group on LinkedIN or you have seen them following tweets from security experts, you could offer a specific type of content based on that interest.

The goal is to get permission to nurture them, to provide value and to gain their trust.

Using this approach, they will typically accept the offer and the dialog has begun.

If they are not interested, you can ask about the types of data they do find helpful and counter with that if you have it available. As a side benefit, if they are the 1 in 500 that happens to need your product, they will let you know and nothing is lost.

B2B Sales Tip: Touring the Prospect’s Facility is Pure Gold

On-site facility tours are one of the best ways to learn about your prospect’s needs

Gathering information about an account is an ongoing process–you need to ask lots of questions over time. Here are some quick tips to help you gather information the next time your prospect says: “Would you like a tour?”

Do your Homework

Visit their web site, talk to members of the team. Once you have a solid understanding of their world, you’re ready to ask insightful and effective questions during the tour.

As the prospect extols the virtues of their products and processes, you can ask questions that direct the conversation to areas you want to explore.

Create a List of Topics to Explore

Throughout the life of a sales call, you can only ask a finite number of questions before the call starts to look like a scene from Perry Mason.

The tour represents a fresh start to the sales conversation. The prospect will be more open to questions since they are in the role of tour guide. Use this time to ask more detailed questions that you have not been able to cover so far.

Ask Process Questions

To show how your product or service can improve the prospect’s situation, you need to understand their unique challenges. The best way to discover ways to improve a situation is to ask questions about how things are done today and what would they like to improve if they could. As they explain how things are done, think about ways that your product could help.

Ask Forward Looking Questions

As you take the tour, be sure to ask what the plans are for the future. What are the goals and initiatives they are planning and how do your products map into the plans.

Be Sincere not Pedantic

Never ask a question just to show that you did some research. Show genuine interest in the prospect and what they are doing. Think about ways that your product or service can better their situation and focus on that.

Let your Prospects Talk

I have been on calls with sales people who don’t understand the basic purpose of a sales interaction: to let the prospect tell you about their situation. On a facility tour remember to ask your question, then be quiet. Allow your prospect time to answer, and only chime in if they stop talking or if clarification is required.

Understand Before you Pitch

Ask for additional detail to be sure that you have a complete understanding of a topic before you even think about talking. You want to be sure that you fully understand the situation as well as the effect it has on the prospects world. Armed with this information, you can begin to formulate a presentation that specifically addresses the needs of you prospect.

If you enjoyed this article why not let us know in the comments section.

5 Tips to Make your Next Software Demo More Interesting

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A client recently asked me how to make their software product demos more interesting. It’s a pretty common question for people working to improve their presentations or technology demos so, I thought I’d do a quick post on it. Here are 5 key tips to make your demos more interesting:

1) Know your Audience

The most common cause by far of boring demos is too much detail; in other words your demos are too long!

Your product has a ton of killer features, but if our prospects don’t care about them they will make the demo look confusing and bore your audience.

The only way to avoid showing too much is to learn who will be there, what their role is and what they care about.

Armed with this information, you can pare the demo down to 2 or 3 key things and keep your focus on the decision makers in the audience.

2) Be Enthusiastic

Enthusiasm is contagious. Don’t be afraid to smile and enjoy yourself.

3) Have a Strong Opening

The opening is crucial to an interesting demo. This is the best time to draw the audience in and grab their attention. Here are a few ideas for a great demo opening:

  • Open with a question
  • Make a provocative statement
  • Tell a short customer success story that relates to your prospects needs

Regardless of the opening you choose, be sure the opening is relevant to the unique needs of your audience; you want to engage them without distracting them.

4) Show a Day in Their Life

To keep prospects engaged, you need a demo that shows them how your product solves their unique problems. The closer you can come to their situation in your demo, the more interested they will be. I find that a time-compressed demo that reflects the typical tasks they need to accomplish works best. To keep things as streamlined as possible, be sure to focus on the decision makers in the room and their needs first.

5) Add Some Spice

Once you have a demo that you are comfortable doing, you can begin to improve it. Try adding a little spice to sections of your demo such as:

  • A bit of humor (related to their needs)
  • A prop that shows a complex topic in an easy to understand way (perhaps a schematic, a block diagram or a 3-D model)
  • A question, designed to bring home a point

Have any tips on making software demos more interesting? Let us know in the comments section below. If you want to improve your demos, you may want to check out our Demonstration Skills Training or download our FREE Winning Demo Ebook.

What Sales Teams Must Know about Technology Demonstrations

Technology Sales Teams are typically comprised of a sales rep and a sales engineer.

This so called, “4-legged” model can be very effective since it lets the team cover the technical and business aspects of the sales process. For team selling to work in the technology marketplace, teamwork becomes a paramount concern. Here are several tips that I cover in my demo training workshops that can make or break a sale:

Pre-Demo work is the foundation for a great demo

If brevity is the soul of wit, then knowing your audience is the key to an effective presentation. By the time you do a demo, much of the sales process has occurred. As you research the prospects needs for the demo focus on:

  • Understanding their issues and how you can help them
  • How similar customers have been successful with your products
  • Who wants to see what and who has the power

All pre-demo research should be focused on these topics. If you have to guess if the prospect is interested in something, you are very likely to create objections or at least to bore them with unnecessary detail. Be sure to involve the sales engineer in all aspects of the process to be sure that they have what they need as well.

A short, customer-relevant sales presentation is mandatory

Step away from the corporate slideware should be the mantra of every sales person as they prepare the pre-demo presentation. The prospect only wants you to do the following, and NOTHING else–they are here for the demo:

  • Recap what their issues are and how the demo will show that you have the solution
  • Verify the agenda and the time frame; revise as necessary.
  • Introduce the sales engineer
  • Sit down and take notes

The product demonstration must focus on business issues

Sales should actively coach the sales engineer, and help them build a demo that shows your product as a solution to the prospects needs; brevity is critical.

Like the author Elmore Lenard said about why his writing worked: “I Cut out the parts that people will skip”. To make your demo story interesting, encourage your sales engineer to cut anything that is unnecessary from their demo.

Sales must help out in time of crisis

Demos are risky, especially when beta hardware or software is involved. Work out a signal to let sales know that the “bad” thing has happened so that they can run interference. Sales can interject and get the attention of the audience while the sales engineer attempts to recover. I have suddenly “remembered” a bag of Oreos that I “forgot” to put out and used them to attract attention at a critical moment.

Never talk out of turn

Sales and sales engineering should know who will cover what topics. Sales will cover price and licensing, sales engineering will do the technical bits. Don’t step on each others toes. And sales, if you ask for the sales engineer to show something, be SURE to ask them if they can do it before you get in front of the audience.

Have a demo horror story or a tip on how to make things run smoothly? Please share it in the comments section.

Remote Web Demonstrations: Tragedies Tips and Training

Would you believe… The Cone of Silence

Remote web demonstrations are marvels of modern technology: inexpensive, powerful and ubiquitous, but if you’re not careful they can be your worst nightmare.

If you have never seen the TV series “Get Smart” you’re in for a treat. Watch the clip below. It perfectly captures the dark and funny side of communicating with technology (the fun starts about 23 seconds in):

I think the “Cone of Silence” gives you a pretty good idea of the kinds of things that can go awry with remote web demos. Lets take a look at common web-based demonstration problems that arise and how to deal with them.

Is everyone on the bus?

Getting everyone logged in can be a big hassle. Most web conference systems are pretty good, but they all have quirks.

Make it a point to provide clear instructions and encourage everyone to log in a few minutes early.

As the host, jump on the line at least 5 minutes before the call. Finally have a back channel (phone number and or email) for those having problems. Publish an email address and phone number for anyone to use if they have issues signing in.

Audio Issues

Audio problems are very common. To avoid most issues, try these tips:

  • Use a land line when possible (cell reception is still not perfect)
  • If you must use a speakerphone, verify the quality
  • Try a headset
  • Don’t use the Internet Voice (VOIP) option unless you have tested it with all attendees
  • Explain to all how to mute and unmute their line

Can you see what I see?

Be sure that all attendees can see the screen. A sales person at the prospects site is a great way to get feedback. You may also want to try logging in from a second system at your desk so that you can see exactly what the audience is seeing.

Show everything that’s pertinent to the demo

Showing your software is a given for most demos, but what about hardware. If you are using an instrument, tool or some other piece of physical gear–show it. You can often do this with a web cam. If you don’t have a web cam, take a picture so that you can reference it as you explain what’s happening.

Be Exciting Be “E” Exciting

OK, maybe I watched one too many cheer-leading comedies! The point is that you need to keep the audience engaged. Ask questions, use polls if the software supports it. If you feel yourself prattling on and on, check in and make sure the group is still with you.

If you do remote demos as part of your job, you may want to check out our Demo Training Programs and Workshops.

Have other issues with web demos, share it with us in the comments section.

Improve Trade Show Demos–4 Tips to Success

Need to improve your trade show demos? Here are four tips that will improve your demos and trade show success rate.

Stop doing “Drop off” Demos

Drop off demos are where the sales person walks up to the demo guide and says: “Joe from Amalgamated wants to see a demo”, then wanders away leaving the sales engineer alone with the prospect.
Sales should be asking qualifying questions before they initiate a demo.
By asking simple types of questions like:

  • What do you hope to accomplish with this product?
  • Do you have something you use for this today?
  • What types of functionality are important to you? Why?

Armed with the answers to questions like these, sales can make a smooth and productive introduction to the sales engineer. Using the information from the intro, the sales engineer can focus on specifics and not waste time trying to cover everything.

Do a quick sanity check

Review the items they want to see, make sure you are in sync with the prospect. This is also a good time to provide a brief menu of other things they may want to see.

Qualify more deeply during the demo

The introduction from sales was a great help in understanding what the prospect wanted to see, now it’s your job to find out more. As you do the demo, ask probing questions like:

  • How would this work in your environment
  • How do you do this today
  • What would be the value in terms of time, money saved…?

As you drill down, you can uncover more needs and more fully understand the prospect’s situation.

Maximize the conversation

As you do the demo it may become clear that the prospect is not a good fit. Maybe sales didn’t get a chance to fully qualify them. That’s OK, you can still get useful information and maybe make a contact in the process. Here are a couple of things to try:

  • Ask if they know of someone who would be a fit in their company, also ask if it’s OK to use their name–this works remarkably well at trade shows.
  • If they don’t use your type of product or handle things another way, ask about it. This is great information for the marketing department.
  • Try to help. If you know of a company or product that can help, suggest it. Pass the name along to the other company’s sales staff; giving leads is the best way to get leads.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help improve your trade show demos, please visit our demo training workshop page.

Web Demos–Winning Sales in Your Pajamas or Flying Blind?

Remote web demos are great.

You don’t need to travel or tote around heavy equipment. You can work from your office with all the resources and support you need at your fingertips. Some lucky people can even do them from the comfort of their own home.

With all this Internet demo goodness, what are some of the shortcomings of remote demonstrations and what can we do about them?

Remote demos have a hazy kind of feel to them

You show the money shot–the software dashboard! Lots of great information, great organization… Audience Response: silence and a blinking cursor. You can’t tell if they’re watching your demo or checking their twitter account.

Worse yet, what if your internet connection cuts out and they lose the visual.

Remote demos stifle your ability to see, hear and “read” your audience. Anyone who has done face-to-face demos knows that being able to see, hear and relate to your audience is a big advantage. So what can you do to make up for the lack of feedback in an internet based demo?

Coming back to your senses

Here are several things that I have suggested to students in our Demonstration Training Classes:

Fly-on-the-wall – Have your sales person on-site with your prospect during your demo. They can act as your eyes and ears, providing valuable feedback to keep you on track. You still save 50% on travel and reap the benefits of being in your office.

Ask Questions – Open the phone line or use the built-in chat function in your web conferencing software to ask them if this screen is relevant to the way they do things. (With hope, you will already know this from your pre-demo discovery questions.)

Watch your own demo – A second system logged in to watch your demo is an excellent way to be sure that your audience sees what you want them to see. Be sure to watch with the sound off to avoid feedback issues. Some companies use a partner to watch the demo, allowing you to focus on the demo itself.

If you’re interested in learning more about improving your web demos, please check out our Software Demo Skills Training page.