Adam talks about the importance of process (and why that gives engineers an advantage), why you shouldn’t talk too much (which I screw up in the interview, giving you a good example of what not to do), how to uncover a solution rather than prescribing it, and more.
Here’s the link to Episode 3 with Adam.
The wine: Aegerter Pinot Noir for Burgundy (the year is 2012). Nice French Pinot, not as fruity as what you might be used to if you drink a lot of California Pinot.
Guest: Jason Cohen, founder, WPEngine, blogger at A Smart Bear (if you don’t read this, you need to, as soon as you finish listening to the podcast).
Jason talks about how you can use your technical background and lack of “sales skills” to your advantage, why so many small companies screw up in sales and double down on their weaknesses while ignoring their strengths, and more.
We had such a good time that I’ve cut the interview into 2 episodes (we might have had a third if we hadn’t run out of wine).
If you’re doing something that upsets your customers and prospects, whether it’s changing prices, revising a service plan, or removing the universal audio port in favor of a proprietary standard, don’t insist on giving yourselves credit for “courage” in front of your customers. Certainly, explain your reason(s), and don’t feel obliged to share everything, but even Apple can’t pull this off properly. (In fairness to Schiller, he was trying to paraphrase Steve Jobs, who put it more eloquently– not just “having courage”, but having “the courage of our convictions” and “being willing to take the heat”.)
Here’s a great drawing from Eric Burke (who’s site seems to be down, or I’d link there.):
Aside from being funny, this says a lot about not just products, but sales. “Your Company’s App” is complicated not because someone wants to make it complicated, but because the requirements are complicated. Sometimes, this is just because some things are complex. Often, it’s because people didn’t have clarity about the mission. Usually, it’s a combination of these factors.
When you’re an engineer doing sales and marketing, it’s easy to get sucked into the technical details. After all, you’re better at this stuff than most of the other folks in sales and marketing. Before you realize it, your sales cycle looks like the “Your Company’s App.” Too many details without clarity. The details are great, but they should come from a clear view of the overall mission.
I see too many proposals that have 10 pages of techno-jargon and no sense of what the prospect wants to accomplish, how they will measure success, or whether the vendor will be able to claim success.
Think of your sales efforts like the Google and Apple products– very simple to understand and achieve the goal, with a lot of hard work behind the scenes.