I’m fortunate to say that I work in the exciting profession of sales – for more years than I care to say. As with any profession or job, it can be very easy to go on autopilot in terms of how you do certain things.
In my years, I’ve had countless ‘first call meetings’ with prospective clients. I go through the same preparation routine each time: do some research on the company for recent successes or announcements, find out who my audience will be and do a bit of background research on them and then outline the meeting objectives and goals to ensure everyone’s expectations are coming from the same place. It is a simple process, and it has served me well over the years.
In my current position, I sell consulting services to implement PeopleSoft ERP applications. I’m a former PeopleSoft salesperson, and I fully understand the value and need for good partners. For instance, it’s important to work with the Oracle sales teams and demonstrate how I can help them grow their PeopleSoft footprint in existing accounts. In this role, you always have to think outside yourself and ask how you can help someone else be successful.
Recently, I was asked to join an Oracle Application Sales Manager on a call to provide subject matter expertise in the area of enterprise asset management (EAM). For those of you who frequent this blog, you are already aware that we have more expertise in this area than most other Oracle partners, due to the fact that we have participated in almost every PeopleSoft EAM implementation out there. So, I was happy to help.
In preparation for the meeting, I asked what the client was interested in and her statement was, “Well, the IT Director said they are very interested in learning how they can manage their assets throughout the enterprise.” The Oracle ASM knows our reputation and strength in Asset Lifecycle Management applications and gave us a call. Excited that we may be able to help Oracle, I lined up our SME for ALM to join us via phone.
After an internal prep call for the upcoming meeting, we were excited to meet with the client.
The first red flag came right after we opened the meeting with introductions so our SME knew who was in the room. Attending from the client side were the following roles: Customer Services Manager, Director of New Technology in R&D, Manager Design Services, Industrial Designer and an IT Director.
This is definitely not an audience who would have information on how they currently manage their assets or perform preventative maintenance in an organization. Not even close.
We had a room full of the wrong people given our subject and plan for the call.
We quickly learned that their interest in ‘managing assets throughout the enterprise’ was not even close to what we had imagined, much less prepared for. We had interpreted that statement to be ‘we are interested in Asset Life Cycle Management applications.’ We had interpreted poorly.
Here is where a couple of decades of selling experience came in handy – we danced! Our SME went on to talk about how they may be able to enhance their product information, get feedback on how their product is performing and overall improve the customer experience.
In the end, the client ultimately learned that PeopleSoft is truly a full blown ERP system which has tremendous potential to help them in their organization. We, on the flip side, learned the importance of validating and restating what the customer says they want to discuss. Two very different mental models were in play, and it was up to us to validate we were on the same page before something like what happened happens.
That’s the beauty of a job like this: even after a long time in the business, there are lessons if you’re willing to listen. Or, little reminders that your usual process isn’t carved in stone and failproof.
Just because you think you are looking at a scenario clearly, it’s up to you to ensure that everyone else’s mental model is cruising at the same speed. This is such a simple on-paper lesson, but it presents itself not-so-clearly sometimes in the real-world.
Have you ever experienced anything like this? I would like to hear your story in the comments.
MIPRO Consulting is a nationally-recognized consulting firm specializing in PeopleSoft Enterprise (particularly Enterprise Asset Management) and Business Intelligence. You’re reading MIPRO Unfiltered, its blog. If you’d like to contact MIPRO, email is a great place to start, or you can easily jump over to its main website. If you’d like to see what MIPRO offers via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to have you.
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