© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Practical Tips for Effective
Technical Advocacy
Jay Kruemcke
jay@kruemcke.com
Kruemcke.com
@chromeaix ...
2
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
How do developers become a technical advocates?
Pulled in to resolve a critical problem
– Wonderful ...
3
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Technical Advocate Key Goals
Positively improve the client and client sales team success. Your
overa...
4
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
• Establish a rapport with the client to allow you to act as a trusted advisor to help them
successf...
5
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Successful versus Unsuccessful Advocate Relationships
Successful
Regular communications with client
...
6
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
What is a Technical Advocate supposed to do?
Get involved fast! Contact the client / sales team for
...
7
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Best practices for Technical Advocates
Maintain contact by communicating regularly
– A simple email ...
8
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
You must work through the client sales team to be an effective advocate. Here are
some of the charac...
9
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Organization of Sales Teams
Sector
Accounts
Client Executive
or Sales Rep
Hardware
Sales Leader
Soft...
10
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Meeting the client
Before:
Understand the objective of the meeting. The sales account team should s...
11
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Communication Tips
Be truthful
– Lies will destroy your credibility
Calibrate your certainty about ...
12
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Scenario: Account team doesn’t respond
Scenario:
– Client account team does not respond to your com...
13
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Scenario: Can’t establish a rapport with the client
Scenario:
– Client doesn’t know you exist or ca...
14
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Scenario: Advocate as Crit-Sit Manager
Scenario:
– Client team (or Client) reaches out to you to he...
15
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Scenario: Dealing with Requirements
Scenario:
– Client (or the Client team) asks for specific chang...
16
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Summary
It takes time and effort to build a high performing relationship
with a client and account ...
17
© 2013 Jay Kruemcke
Advocate Cheat Sheet
Always take notes!
Establish contact with the client sales team
– In general, ...
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Best practices for engineering client advocates.

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Technical advocate best_practices_kruemcke

  1. 1. © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Practical Tips for Effective Technical Advocacy Jay Kruemcke jay@kruemcke.com Kruemcke.com @chromeaix @phastflyer A blog on this topic can be found on http://kruemcke.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/practical-tips-for-technical-advocates/
  2. 2. 2 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke How do developers become a technical advocates? Pulled in to resolve a critical problem – Wonderful relationships can be built on terrible problems Assist with a sales proposal / RFP – You best know the product capabilities Assigned to strengthen relationship – Important or vulnerable client Beta programs – Assigned to assist the client with the process Volunteered (or “got” volunteered) – You (or your boss) wanted you to meet “real” clients …
  3. 3. 3 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Technical Advocate Key Goals Positively improve the client and client sales team success. Your overall goal is to make the client and the sales team more successful by helping the client to use your technology more effectively. Establish a good relationship with the client sales team. All client interaction should be with the support and knowledge of the client sales team. You cannot be a successful advocate without them. Establish a good relationship with the client. The better you understand your client and build a rapport with them, the more successful you will be at being their advocate. Focus on helping clients exploit technology to meet the needs of their business through information technology Help your client exploit other resources. There are many resources to help clients be successful including your services team, support team and other developers. Use them! A Technical Advocate is a technical advisor who leverages their deep knowledge of technology and the relationships within the engineering lab to positively influence client satisfaction and revenue in an account.
  4. 4. 4 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke • Establish a rapport with the client to allow you to act as a trusted advisor to help them successfully use your technology • Understand the client environment: • Topology & applications • Future Goals and directions • Organization structure and goals • Actively engage with the sales / client account team to support the short and long-term account strategies • Provide high level assistance with architecture, performance, configurations, etc. • Channel escalations when normal processes fail • Feedback information to the engineering lab • A remote systems engineer • A pre-sales support offering • An alternative to fee based services Technical Advocates should not be: • A non-commission sales job • A critical situation manager • A requirements solicitor Technical advocates should not circumvent the normal support processes. Role of the Technical Advocate
  5. 5. 5 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Successful versus Unsuccessful Advocate Relationships Successful Regular communications with client team Regular communications with the client Client sometimes initiates communications with advocate Advocate understands client environment including key applications Advocate understands how client IT is organized Advocate knows how to leverage other resources in lab Unsuccessful Х Sporadic communications with client team Х Sporadic or no communications with client Х All communications are one-way Х Client doesn’t know you exist Х Client team only contacts you when there is a problem Х Advocate knows little about client environment Х Advocate doesn’t understand the client organization Х Advocate tries to do it all
  6. 6. 6 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke What is a Technical Advocate supposed to do? Get involved fast! Contact the client / sales team for the client and tell them you are their Technical Advocate Provide your contact info and a short biography that describes your skills and ways that you may be able to help support sales activity or to help resolve client issues. Understand your account. Meet periodically with your client team to understand: – Discuss the account strategy with the client team and how your technology fits into that strategy – Inquire about the status of recent sales proposals and what the next steps will be – Inquire about any unresolved issues related to your technology within the account – Participate in account planning sessions
  7. 7. 7 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Best practices for Technical Advocates Maintain contact by communicating regularly – A simple email now and again works wonders – Have a conference call at the beginning of each quarter Keep notes – It’s hard to remember clientdetails especially if you have multiple accounts Don’t circumvent the Support process – It can cause problems for you and the client Don’t promise the client new function or solicit requirements – Even committed plans are often changed – Always put caveats around any statement of future directions – Any commitments should come from senior management Keep the sales account team in the loop – CC the sales account team if you are working directly with the client Provide status to your area coordinator – Shows the value your provide to the client
  8. 8. 8 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke You must work through the client sales team to be an effective advocate. Here are some of the characteristics of a client sales team: Busy – Be respectful of their time Technology knowledge varies – Don’t expect everybody to be an expert (or care) Focused on solving a business problem – Technology is not a primary interest Calendar driven compensation – Activity focus changes throughout the year Several different roles in the team – Different responsibilities and interest Some Characteristics of Sales Teams
  9. 9. 9 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Organization of Sales Teams Sector Accounts Client Executive or Sales Rep Hardware Sales Leader Software Sales Leader BRAND SPECIALISTSBRAND SPECIALISTS Services Sales Leader BRAND SPECIALISTS Technical sales specialist resources also assigned
  10. 10. 10 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Meeting the client Before: Understand the objective of the meeting. The sales account team should set up the meeting, agenda, and objective of the meeting. Understand what you need to do to help them Understand the meeting logistics and dress code Try not to have a meeting when the client isn’t under unusual stress such as end of year processing or in a critical situation Find out who will be in attendance, their role in the company, what potential questions they may ask, what problems they recently experienced. Ensure your presentation, and verbal communications are well planned out. What is your message? Confirm the sales rep has the proper non-disclosure & confidentiality agreements in place Meeting the client: Introduce yourself, expertise and background - especially around areas of interest to the client Set the expectation of what you will be able to do in your advocate role Tell them you look forward to working long-term with them, that you are there to learn about their business so you can help them to be successful LISTEN to the client, their concerns, their challenges so you can look for ways you can help Don’t push your own agenda onto the client, especially up front in the relationship After the meeting, have a discussion with the sales rep to agree on the action items and who owns what. Be responsive with a timely reply to the client with any follow-ups that are your responsibility.
  11. 11. 11 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Communication Tips Be truthful – Lies will destroy your credibility Calibrate your certainty about the future – Plans change. Make sure the client knows that. Tell what you know, but not everything you know – You know a lot more about the technology than is relevant to the client. Focus only on the information that is relevant Don’t focus only on product limitations – It’s important to be honest about product limitations but talking only about the limitations will not provide an accurate picture Be realistic – It’s better to under promise and over deliver
  12. 12. 12 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Scenario: Account team doesn’t respond Scenario: – Client account team does not respond to your communications or only contacts you when there is a problem. Possible Root Causes: – Client team doesn’t know you or how you can help – Client team is “too busy”, particularly around quarter and year end – Client team doesn’t want to complicate their relationship with the client Potential Advocate approaches: – Wear ‘em Down: Reach out to the Client team often and remind them what you can provide – Alternative Path: Reach out to the Client Exec if the Power Brand specialist won’t engage (or vice versa). The Technical Sales Specialist can be a useful way to start getting involved at a tactical level – Prove your value: Leverage your expertise to help solve a tactical problem – Cut your losses: Not all Advocate relationships work out – if you can’t establish a relationship with the client team after trying lots of different approaches, then it may be best to stop being an advocate for that account.
  13. 13. 13 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Scenario: Can’t establish a rapport with the client Scenario: – Client doesn’t know you exist or can’t be bothered to communicate with the advocate Possible Root Causes: – Client doesn’t really know you or how you can help – Client too busy – Client team not facilitating the relationship with the client Potential Advocate approaches: – Really meet them: Try to figure out how to meet the client face to face. Either at their location or if they attend a briefing or conference. Phone / email only relationships are hard – Persistence: Engage the client (with the client team) regularly. Especially good times are right after we announce new technology and you could provide in depth information on your subject area. – Prove your value: Leverage your expertise to help solve a tactical problem – Cut your losses: Not all Advocate relationships work out – if you can’t establish a relationship with the client after trying lots of different approaches, then it may be best to stop being an advocate for that account.
  14. 14. 14 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Scenario: Advocate as Crit-Sit Manager Scenario: – Client team (or Client) reaches out to you to help them solve a bug/problem Possible Root Causes: – Client really respects you – You’ve done this in the past and they know you will do it – Client team wants to “throw this over the fence” to you Potential Advocate approaches: – Acknowledge the Client’s Pain: Yes there is a problem and let the client understand that you understand their frustration and disappointment. Like everybody else, sometimes they just need someone to vent to. Don’t take it personally but acknowledge that will solve their problem (note “”, not “you”) – Remind the client team/client about how Support escalation works: Unresolved problems should be escalated through the Support team by the client (e.g. Ask to speak to a manager) – Resist: We all want to solve the clients problem but you need to push the client team / client to use the established channels and resources to resolve the issue – One : Never point the finger of blame at another organization in front of a client. Doing so hurts the credibility of as a whole and erodes one of the key values of . If you need to have frank discussions with other teams in your company then do so away from the clients view but remember that we all make mistakes and the “blame game” doesn’t fix the client’s problem. – Work in the background: If the problem is within the scope of your technical expertise then offer to leverage your knowledge of the client by offering help to the Support team – not to the client. This can help to resolve the issue and keep you from getting into this mess in the future
  15. 15. 15 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Scenario: Dealing with Requirements Scenario: – Client (or the Client team) asks for specific changes in a product Possible Root Causes: – Client respects you and views you as their interface into the lab – You’ve done this in the past and they know you will do it Potential Advocate approaches: – Understand the request: Understand exactly what the client is looking for – inputs and desired behavior and the value to the client. Look for alternative ways to achieve the client’s goal since delivery of new function will generally take a long time. Clients sometimes ask for new functionality because they don’t understand the current capabilities. – Explain to the client how product requirements are managed: You need to let them understand that, just like them, we have more things we want to do than we have the resources to do. – Validate Opportunity: If the Client team is asking for a function as requirement to close a deal, make sure that the opportunity for a sale is fully substantiated. – Process the requirement: Use whatever process your team uses to manage incoming client requirements and be sure to provide the client contact information. – Be realistic: Make sure the client has a realistic view of when or if the requirement could be delivered. Clients always want the new function on the level of software they are currently running even though that is almost never the possible. Set their expectation low. – Resist the Urge to Commit: Plan changes happen all the time and even committed items can get pulled at the last minute due to overriding business needs Any communications about planned functionality should be layered with caveats such as “plans subject to change without notice” – Work in the background: Feel free to act internally as an advocate for the client’s requirement, particularly if there is a strategic benefit for the client and other clients. But be clear to keep any discussions of trade offs or commitments out of view of the client The near mythical $20M opportunity “If you just add …”
  16. 16. 16 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Summary It takes time and effort to build a high performing relationship with a client and account team Client sales teams operate under a different set of priorities than Engineering does Building empathy with the person on the other side of relationship is the key to building rapport and an effective and rewarding relationship
  17. 17. 17 © 2013 Jay Kruemcke Advocate Cheat Sheet Always take notes! Establish contact with the client sales team – In general, you should start with the Brand Sales Specialist and CC the Client Rep. • Send an email with an introduction and propose an initial meeting with you and the client sales team members • You may need a series of meetings to get the baseline of information Introduce yourself: – Your name, what area you work in – Technical knowledge that may be relevant to the client – Past contact with the client – Previous advocacy with similar clients – Your goals for the advocacy – what do you want to get out of it an how will it help the client team Determine the client sales team goal for that advocacy – Typical goals include increasing sales, improved client satisfaction, turning around poor client perception of – Watch out if the chief goal is to resolve problems – you aren’t volunteering to be a crit-sit manager – Look for ways to provide value to the account team and to the client Start to understand the client – Internet research of the company (e.g. What they do, where they are, etc.) – Physical IT locations – Type of IT equipment – Chief competitors in the account – Trends for in the account • Up? Down? Why? Start to understand the client organization – Key contacts and their roles – Friends in the account – Enemies in the account – History of key players (e.g., IT Director came from an Windows/X86 background) – Client IT Organization – • Who owns the IT equipment? • Is IT a service provider to the business units or do the business units own the IT resources and the IT team operate the resources? Client past history – Key applications – Significant recent sales – Significant failures – Strategic direction for IT? (e.g., Consolidate, distribute, replace with strategic outsourcing) – Key problems Now start building a relationship with the client – Find an excuse to engage with the customer (Reason of Call) – Examples: Client briefing, discussion of a specific problem, account planning meeting
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