Pre-sales, gurus, solution architects, subject matter experts, wizards or whatever you call them in your organization, they are critical to winning complex deals.Many a holiday house has been purchased by a sales person off the back of a guru who wowed the client with their consummate mind-boggling expertise.If you have one, anoint their feet with ylang ylang oil and buy them the complete series of 'Breaking Bad' just to show you care.However, there are other pre-sales experts who, despite best intentions cause more pain for clients and in fact actually lead the client to say 'Nope... too hard, I'm going with someone else'.Here are my top ten things pre-sales and experts do that can kill the deal.1. 'Telling clients everything you've ever learned since you finished University''We know you have more letters after your name than a fake Nigerian Prince with an inheritance to share, but the client doesn't need to hear every teensy weensy detail on the origin of the technology, financial instrument or manufacturing process.You may think it demonstrates expertise. It doesn't. It demonstrates you're as boring as listening to their Uncle Bert's incessant medical complaints.Filter the content and only discuss the stuff that is highly relevant to them2. 'It's not a Debating Club'You may not agree with the client's views but it's not an opportunity to stand there proudly rebutting the finer points because you may be technically correct to three decimal places on software revision 3.0115.If the thing won't actually work, then you can succinctly guide the client to that fact but nit picking, pedantic points and correcting small errors on behalf of the client just pisses them off.3.' No, Nyet, Nup. Forget it. Can't be done'Really? The client seems keen on exploring a few options on how they might solve a problem only to be met with multiple forms of No.
You might think that there's only one best way to do things because you've tested it in the lab or for another client but there are nearly always more ways to address issues than you first thought.'I'm not sure yet, let's look into it a little further is much more likely to keep the client engaged than a flat 'No, that can't be done'4. 'Let me tell you everything that could possibly go wrong'We know you have to cover your butt and set expectations but telling the client you can't guarantee the solution if the wind's blowing the wrong way on a Wednesday or if they miss a deadline by a minute or they don't complete their side of things in time or if there's a nuclear explosion within 200 kilometres, subject to Wireless working which it often isn't, plus all their people need to be trained and accredited blah, blah.I feel like self harming just writing this.It's not helping the client. It's scaring the hell out of them.
5. 'Let's show you a 4 Hour demonstration''Come into our office and we'll make you feel like you've just watched 'Titanic' twice back to back including the Celine Dion soundtrack on repeat loop.'If you need hours to demonstrate your widgets, you don't understand the client well enough.Try more discussion, enquiry and research and less actual demonstration. It is possible to show how things work in minutes, not hours.6. Contradicting a colleagueWe know you don't want the client to get the wrong advice but when you blatantly say something like' Bob, I don't think what you've said is quite right' you become the married couple at the dinner table that everyone talks about afterwards taking bets on how long before the divorce lawyers buy new Ferraris.It screams no teamwork, no cohesion, no chemistry and no deal.If Bob is wrong, take him aside in a break or afterwards and let him correct the situation,7.' If I were you, I'd buy Solution X'The problem is you're not them. Clients have different prejudices, politics, budgets, perceptions and agendas.Just because you think it's great doesn't mean it fits the client's way of doing things.If that was the case 99% your clients would have Solution X, but they don't do they? Bigotry is death to many deals.8. Mitigated languageThis is the first cousin of 'Can't be Done'Phrases like 'hopefully', 'possibly', 'perhaps', 'maybe', 'might', 'potentially', 'all things being equal' and 'in the long run' fill the audience with as much comfort as sitting next to the smelly, fat guy on QF 464 to Sydney.Quite simply, will your solution do the things you say and deliver the results you're promoting or not?9. InterruptingKnock, knock
Interrupting cow wh... MOOO!Nobody likes to be interrupted... ever... under any circumstances. The client is sharing their story and you get excited about an area that's right in your sweet spot.You've just interrupted them in full swing so they stop telling you all that juicy stuff about their business and for what?You then proudly share your rich knowledge which they might appreciate but you've only learned half the story, assumed the rest and now the momentum is lost. Don't Moo!10. Staying too longThere is always someone at the party who outstays their welcome. You've subtlely put on your dressing gowns, yawned five times, talked about going to bed and they are still sitting in your lounge room drinking your Johnny Walker Blue Label.Clients want you to visit for a while too, share your expertise, explore alternatives and see what you've got and then they have better things to do.Get to the point. Then, get out of there, Windbags aren't invited back.Experts who communicate professionally are always welcome.