Seven Red Lines (2): Technical Sales Meeting Mistakes

The biggest mistake made by the vendor involved in the Seven Red Lines / “The Expert” video is that from a strategic standpoint, they are failing to defend their technical resources.  However, there are a series of other mistakes that are common as a company develops its technical selling skills which are worth noting.

Documentation

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Your technical team’s time is a strategic resource.  Use it wisely.

This meeting shouldn’t occur unless the Customer has put together a Request for Proposal (“RFP”) and the vendor has a standard Statement of Work (“SoW”).  Some kind of written interaction should have occurred prior to this meeting, and a huge amount of the confusion consists of fluctuating definitions that have not been put down on paper.

Documentation forces an internal dialog about what will be delivered.  It forces alignment of resources within the vendor and then between the vendor and the customer – failing to have any kind of documentation heading into a technical sales meeting or an initial project meeting as is depicted here, is a recipe for disaster.

Meeting Preparation

Anderson the Expert, Walter the Project Manager and their boss should have spent some time together preparing for this meeting – it looks like they’ve all just met each other.  That meeting prep should have covered the aforementioned documentation and also a conversation about what they will and will not cover in this meeting.

Unprofessional Dialog

Walter’s comments to and about Anderson are unprofessional.  He’s both promoting him as an expert and using it as a snarky comment to make himself look more important.  The customer lead is already losing her patience with the vendor team.  Unprofessional dialog brings efforts to clarify some of the technical gaps to a halt at several times in this dialog.  With only five people in the room, it seems as if there is more focus on point-scoring than there is on finishing the project with both parties happy about the outcome.

Walter’s Presence

Walter doesn’t need to be in the meeting, and depending on what the real next tasks are, his presence is not well justified at all in this business.  Having extra personnel on any kind of technical project leads to idle, empty and unhappy hands.  Walter spends most of his time justifying his presence by scoring points against Anderson, the only person in the room who appears to have real value.

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