What buyers want from Trusted Advisor/Presales

What buyers want from Trusted Advisor/Presales

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  1. Educate me with new ideas or perspectives
  2. Collaborated with me
  3. Persuaded me we would achieve results
  4. Listened to me
  5. Understood my needs
  6. Helped me avoid potential pitfalls
  7. Crafted a compelling solution
  8. Depicted purchasing process accurately
  9. Connected with me personlly
  10. Overall value from the company is superior to other options
  11. Follow up with prospects within 24 hours, as promised.
  12. Know exactly where they left off in the last meeting with the buyer.
  13. Remember the key details of the deal (e.g. the prospect runs on AWS and MySQL; primary use case is process automation; the main point of contact recently adopted a puppy named Bosco).
  14. Capture feature requests and product gaps as they hear them and escalate blockers with the product team.
  15. Track evaluation plan items and success criteria to keep POC/POVs on track and avoid scope creep.
  16. Build rapport and relationship to become a trusted advisor.
  17. Take detailed notes of every meeting.
  18. Surface warnings signs to presales/sales leadership about poor deal health.
  19. Share everything they did with the post-sales / customer success team during a presales-to-post-sales transition meeting.

Aristotle triptych

Aristotle triptych

Tell them what you are going to say, say it and then tell them what you said.


  1. Tell them what you will tell them. This is your opener in which you lay out why you are speaking to the audience. Your message should be predicated on two things: what you want to say, and what the audience needs to hear. Too many presenters focus on the first half but not the second. Knowing what your audience needs to hear is critical to the leadership aspect of your message. You are there to provide direction.
  2. Tell them. This section is open ended. It is the time when you pour out all your content, and explain the details. As a leader, it is the best time for you to build your business case. Your message should ring with logic; that is, you need to emphasize the benefits of your points. But important messages also need to resonate with the heart. Put people in the position to feel why what you’re saying is important and how things will be better when they follow through with your ideas.
  3. Tell them what you just told them. Reiterate your salient points. For leaders, this is the opportunity to give people a reason to believe in your idea and in you. And then demonstrate how you and your team are the ones to deliver on the message. That is, if you are a sales person, how you will back up the product. Or if you are a CEO, how you will guide the company through troubled waters.

This is a formula but it need not be formulaic. That is you can imbue the structure with data but more importantly with your personality. Laden it with stories that amplify your points. Season it with numbers, add spice, sprinkle in humor. And relate the message to your audience.

Not only does Aristotle’s triptych work for formal presentation,

Sales Tips from HBR.org 6 Reasons Salespeople Win or Lose a Sale Article

Sales Tips from HBR.org 6 Reasons Salespeople Win or Lose a Sale Article



  1. Listen and understand and then matches solution to solve specific problem.
  2. Earn trust by making them feel comfortable and understand long-term needs.
  3. Challenges perceptions and teach new ways to solve the problem.
  4. Identify the person who will dominate the entire selection committee.
  5. Buyers aren’t necessarily fixated on the market leader and are more than willing to select second-tier competitors than one might expect.
  6. Understand your buyers preferences and previous experience and competitive landscape
    • 63% said they would select a fairly well-known brand with 85% of the functionality at 80% of the cost.
    • 33% prefer the most prestigious, best-known brand with the highest functionality and cost.
    • 5% would select a relatively unknown brand with 75% of the functionality at 60% of the cost of the best-known brand.
  7. The importance of price falls into three categories.
    1. Price conscious – product price is a top decision-making factor.
      • Example: Manufacturing, health care, real estate and fashion.
    2. Price sensitive – product price is secondary to other decision-making factors such as functionality and vendor capability.
      • Example: Banking, Technology, Consulting
    3. Price immune – price becomes an issue only when the solution they want is priced far more than the others being considered.
      • Example: Government
  8. Understanding the buyer approval processes, bureaucracy and project approval process.
  9. Match style to buyer preference:
    • Professional salesperson who knows their product inside and out but is not necessarily someone you would consider befriending
    • Friendly salesperson who is likable and proficient in explaining their product
    • Charismatic salesperson who you truly enjoyed being with but is not the most knowledgeable about their product [NB: This isn’t a option, just a by product of the industry]


Sandler Selling System

Sandler Selling System


  • Sandler Selling Rules – AH30085
three stages of a sale, Stage 1


Creating and sustaining a comfortable atmosphere in which to do business is your responsibility.

  • Develop a rapport with prospects.
  • Have a sincere desire to help them solve problems, face challenges, or achieve goals.
  • Control the selling process by establishing up-front agreements with your prospects about the progression of the selling process, and who will be responsible for what.
three stages of a sale, Stage 2


Always be qualifying.

  • Concentrate first on the degree of fit between what you have to offer and the prospect’s problem, challenge, or goal.
  • Determine if the prospect is willing and able to commit the necessary resources to acquire and use the product or service you will eventually propose.
  • Before you begin working on solutions and presentations, determine exactly how your offer will be judged—and by whom.
three stages of a sale, Stage 3


The objective of “closing” is to obtain a “yes” or “no” buying decision (or a decision to move to the next step in a multi-step decision process).

  • Closing activities only take place with prospects who have “survived” the qualifying stage and have agreed to make a decision at the conclusion of a presentation.
  • Presentations should focus only on the pains uncovered earlier in the process—nothing more; nothing less.
  • Post-Sell activities will “lock up” the sale and facilitate the transition of the relationship from buyer-seller to partners working toward a common goal of delivery.



  1. Efficiently identify and engage new prospects.

  2. Remove prospect stalls and objections from the selling landscape.

  3. Qualify stringently and close easily.

  4. Eliminate eleventh-hour negotiations or demands for concessions.

  5. Control the development process and keep it moving forward.

  6. Avoid making presentations to people who can’t make the required investment or a buying decision.

Influence Approaches for Different Personality Styles

Influence Approaches for Different Personality Styles

Pragmatic/Driver: Example – Jack Welch former CEO of GE. The pragmatic wants quick results, gets to the point, task-oriented, more controlling of others, acts first then thinks, assertive, risk taker. The best principles of influence when dealing with this personality type would be:

  • Authority – They may not care what the crowd says but prove your point with the opinion or experience of an expert or someone they respect or admire, and they’ll listen.
  • Scarcity – Drivers are successful because they win! Show them what they might lose if they don’t do what you’re asking and you’ll grab their attention.
  • Consistency – Their self-confidence makes them believe they’re right so they might seem like they stubbornly hold to an opinion. If you can tie your request to what they’ve said or done in the past your odds of success will go up.

Influencer/Expressive: Example – Oprah Winfrey. The influencer is focused on social groups and events, more in tune with people than tasks, imaginative, usually sway others, and likes innovation. The best way to engage these individuals would be using the following principles of influence:

  • Sarcity – Influencers don’t want to lose out on opportunities to move people to action. Talk about how they might lose an opportunity and you’ll have a good chance of hearing “Yes!”
  • Reciprocity – They understand how engaging with favors helps because they frequently use that tactic when they persuade. Do something for them and they’ll try to return the favor to build their network.
  • Liking – Expressive people are talkers and quite often like to talk about themselves. Pay a genuine compliment or ask about something they’re into and they appreciate you for taking interest.

Facilitator/Amiable: Example – Sandra Bullock. Facilitators like stable relationships, focus on feelings, less assertive, more people-focused, slow to change, and wants product support. The psychology of persuasion to utilize for this group would be:

  • Consensus – Because they’re so likable and want everyone to get along showing them what many others are already doing will help your case.
  • Liking – They naturally like others and want to be liked so use liking to come to know them and like them and you’ll increase your chance to influence.
  • Reciprocity – Giving small gifts, time, effort, etc. conveys thoughtfulness to the facilitator and will likely be returned in kind.

Thinker/Analytical: Example – Albert Einstein. Thinkers are task-oriented, slower to act, exert self-control, less assertive, data-oriented, prudent, systematic, logical, look to track records/trends. When dealing with this type of person you should look to use the following principles of influence:

Open, Academic, Leading and Closed-ended questions

Open, Academic, Leading and Closed-ended questions

Part of communicating effectively is to understand the difference between Open, Academic and Closed-ended questions and more importantly when and when not use each style of questions.

Too many annoying people use open-ended questions only and its counter productive to their own goals. IMO, people who always only ask Open questions, is a form of intimidation  and passive aggressive behaviour. Especially in Team environments, you are paid to come up with solutions and answers, not ask questions all day long. You are not made a wage to ask just questions all day, you get paid to come up with answers and accountability.


  1. What is your top priority for cyber security?
  2. Are these sponsored and budgeted projects?
  3. Do you have a timeline and what is the current phase of this project?
  4. Would you like me participate bid for this project?
  5. What next steps do you want to follow?
  6. I am sure you are looking for the best in class service and looking at other vendors, are you able to share who you are working with and what are the key focus areas for the your decision?

Don’t ever ask this;

  • How does that make you feel?
  • What is the meeting objective?

Here is a few Guides to help

  1. Value Prompter – Example Questions
  2. Value Prompter – Power Questions

Another important aspect is to understand when an opportunity is either, Transactional,  Solution and Partnership.

So, you need to use – Open questions for partnership, to discover more opportunities, yet, Closed for Transactional, and Leading for a solution

Sales Management

Sales Management

  • Decide if the customer is the right fit for your firm
  • Ask questions to discover the problems and challenges they have
  • Monetize the impact of those problems and challenges (both time and money)
  • Find out how long they have had these problems and challenges
  • Find out what else they’ve tried to address these problems and challenges
  • Get the prospective customer to agree that they have these problems and challenges and that they are significant enough to continue the conversation
  • Discover who else at the prospect’s company cares about these problems and challenges
  • Find out how they make decisions and bring on new vendors
  • Ask questions to understand the decision timeline
  • Ask questions to understand the competitive context (not just other potential providers, but also other priorities in their organization, or worse, the decision to do nothing)
  • Find out if they have the money to invest in a potential solution
  • Find out if they are willing to make the case to get money if it’s not in the budget
  • Get the prospect to agree to make a timely decision upon receiving a proposal
  • Draft the proposal, considering all of the information previously discovered
  • Present the proposal
  • Ask for the business
  • Finalize the terms and conditions
  • On-board the client for a successful engagement or project
  • And then start all over on the next problem, issue or challenge
  • Are you aware of the approval and key influencers?
  • Business Owners – Optimized Business outcomes
  • IT Director – Increased IT Functionality and Business Continuity
  • CIO – Lower TCO
    1. What are the defined Customer objectives?
    2. List the win themes?
    3. What is the customers Compelling event to buy?
    4. Have you drafted a Customer-focussed value proposition?
    5. What benefits will the customer gain?
    6. Have we demonstrated our capability?
    7. Have we minimised ours and the Customers risk?
    8. What are the proof points?