Just Like in Baseball, a Winning Demo is a Team Victory
Habit #1 of The Six Habits of Highly Effective Sales Engineers is to partner with your sales counterpart. I like to say that “Sales is a Team Sport”. These are nice words in theory, but how does this actually translate to the field? Sticking with the sports theme, allow me to offer an analogy.
When a pitcher takes to the mound and throws a shut-out win or no-hitter, he (or she) is largely given all the credit for doing so – and rightfully so. They are the ones who delivered the right pitches, in the right locations, at the right velocity, consistently throughout the whole game.
But what about the rest of the team? How much credit do they deserve? The catcher typically calls the pitches to be thrown – and is usually the player that knows the batters’ tendencies, batting averages, favorite pitches, etc. And they must catch all of those pitches thrown, and do things like make plays at the plate, pick off runners trying to steal second, etc.
How about the infielders and outfielders? Without them making plays in the field, the chances of a shutout win, or no-hitter are infinitely small – whether that’s catching hard hit balls to the warning track or scooping up ground balls and beating baserunners to first with a strong arm.
Of course, there’s the coaching staff as well. Baseball teams are notorious for their hand signs and signals. Can you imagine the result if the pitcher, catcher and second baseman weren’t on the same page for a pitch out? Disastrous! There’s a reason the coaches in the dugout and the players on the field use all those hand signs – they are constantly in communication, on every play!
They must be on the same page at all times.
Consider the reverse. Can you imagine a team sending a pitcher out to the mound – expecting him or her to pitch a great game – without expecting to give him or her the support they need? No communication from the catcher. Little effort from the infield and outfield. Lack of involvement from the coaching staff. Just go out there and throw some good pitches and we’ll just respond and react accordingly. It’s preposterous, of course.
How is that different from bringing a Sales Engineer or Solution Architect in to do a demo for a customer or prospect in the context of an important opportunity without providing them the support they need to “make the perfect pitch”? They need context for the demonstration. There needs to be collaboration and alignment between the sales rep and the technical PreSales engineer. The sales presentation and technical demonstration need to be orchestrated and aligned. There needs to be effective communication before, during and after the meeting and engagement.
The reality is that a shut-out win or no-hitter performance in baseball or softball is not just an individual accomplishment – it’s a team accomplishment. No doubt the pitcher still has to go out there and deliver the right pitches, but they must be in sync with the rest of the team in order for those pitches to succeed.
The same holds true for a winning sales demonstration. The Sales Engineer or Solution Architect needs to be knowledgeable and skilled. They need to be effective in front of an audience and know how to engage effectively with customers. They need to be an expert in their field and know how to deliver a compelling demonstration. But they must also have collaboration and alignment with the team – whether that’s their sales counterpart, or a team of colleagues involved in the sale, from BDR, to account exec and potentially other Sales Engineers responsible for other parts of the overall solution.
Just like a no-hitter or shut-out win in baseball or softball, a winning sales demonstration is a team victory and requires team participation. For the sales professionals out there that sell enterprise software, please don’t expect to call your sales engineer out of the bull pen, prop them up on the mound and expect them to throw a no-hitter without support and collaboration from you. Get engaged in the preparation and planning of the demo. Make sure their script or outline is aligned with the key points you plan to make in your presentation. And keep your head in the game while they are delivering the demo – especially during these times, when virtual meetings are the norm and it is so easy for everyone to become distracted.
And Sales Engineers, when you do pitch the perfect game – i.e. deliver a winning demo – remember to give your colleagues the credit they deserve for their part in achieving the Technical Win. Because just like baseball, Sales is a Team Sport.
Chris White is the Author of 'The Six Habits of Highly Effective Sales Engineers' and the Managing Director of Demo Doctor.