A Complete Waste of Time - Redux

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Nothing really to do with time, but rather solutionism and one of its cures.


Back by popular demand. Seriously this was the email, "Thanks for an amazing session, again please." In this session we will use real partner-suggested examples of how to not provide an answer, but instead have a deeper more valuable conversation with a customer. If you sign up for this session, you must be willing to submit examples ahead of time so that Ed Kless, Sage senior director of partner development and strategy, can do less prep work, er, insert them into the presentation.

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  • We do. Outsourcing is a hot topic today and it means different things to different people. Would it be OK if I asked you about what outsourcing means in your specific context?
  • I believe this is absolutely doable. However, before we get started, would it be OK if I asked you a few questions about what the expected results of this would be?
  • Sure, I would be happy to send you a proposal, but before we do, can I ask what exactly do you mean by “generic part numbers” as this sometimes has different meanings depending on the context?
  • I do, and in my experience, customers mean many different things when they say “increasing the security.” Would you give me some background on specifically what you are looking to do?
  • I’d be glad to offer my thoughts. Help me out. Can I ask what it means when you say you want to improve communications internally and externally, what is going on?
  • We can definitely get you there. To do so successfully, I’ll need to know more about what is it you really want to accomplish. Would it be OK if we talked about that for a few minutes?
  • Doug Higgs - 2013
  • And we would love to help. At this point it would be presumptive of me to define what a new environment means. Can we perhaps start with a definition of your desired end state?
  • I’ll be happy to give you price once I understand exactly what you want to accomplish and at this point it would be presumptive of me to guess. Would you mind giving me some details about the holes you are trying to fill?
  • Before I sharpen my pencil, let me sharpen my definition of what you what to achieve. Would it be OK to talk about what kinds of remote support are you looking for?
  • Fair enough, SaaS is a hot topic right now. However, it would be presumptive of me at this point to offer my opinion since SaaS environments have different definitions. Could you give me yours?
  • We are hearing that from many of our customers. Of course, they all calculate TCO using different measures. Can you tell me how are you defining it?
  • The first thing that I’ll say about my experience is that everyone who asks for integrations with Sage 100 has something different in mind. Can you tell me about why you want to integrate so I can make my comments more relevant?
  • We would be glad to offer our assistance. However, at this point it would be presumptive of me to offer a solution. Can you tell me what your CIO’s definition of “improved flow of information is?”
  • Our belief is that processes and technology are interdependent. However, before I say we do BPR, can I ask what is BPR in the context of your situation?
  • We can definitely provide an ODBC link but at this point it would be presumptive of me to say I can get the data you need. Can you say what might be the benefit of having this information as a link?
  • Very likely. Before I give you a definitive answer, could you tell me what you are including in your current CRM hardware infrastructure?
  • S4 = Spreadsheet Server Salesperson
  • I have a concern. If we have no evidence or sense of impact of the problem, somebody, somewhere is going to seriously question the validity of this project. Is that possible?
  • I think we might have a problem. It seems that even if we identified a solution that meets your needs, there is little chance that it will get approval from the CEO. What do you think we should do?
  • I can’t help but thinking that you have been successful in addressing issues like this using an internal resource in the past. Is that an option you are considering?
  • I have a concern. It seems the cost of a solution may be larger than the problem itself and it makes little sense to continue moving ahead. Am I missing something?
  • Could I check something out? I noticed a moment ago an expression on your face. I am unclear as to what was going through your mind. Would you mind sharing what it was you were thinking?
  • I have a concern. Your question seems to indicated that you believe there should be no charge for an upgrade. Would you mind sharing why you might think that is the case?
  • I have a concern. I get the sense that even though this issue is clearly important to you, it is possible that others will not support it. Without that support there is a pretty good chance it will not be adopted. Do you share that concern?
  • I have a concern. I don’t know if your CFO is like our CFO. However, at our company, even if everyone thinks there is a problem, there needs to be a business case backing up the request before he will allocate money. Could that be a possibility here?
  • I am concerned. In my experience it is only likely for an organization to move forward on resolving issues when they are 9’s or 10’s, rather than something that is a 6. Is that fair to say?
  • I would like to check something out with you. It sounds like you already have a sense of who is going to do this work. Am I off target?
  • I think we have a problem. It seems that even if we develop a solution that meets your needs, there is reason to doubt a decision will be made one way or the other. What is your sense?
  • A Complete Waste of Time - Redux

    1. 1. P-123 A Complete Waste of Time: Redux Ed Kless @edkless
    2. 2. CPE Credit • In order to receive CPE credit for this session, you must be present for the entire session. – Session Code: P-123 – Recommended CPE Credit = 1 – Delivery Method = Group Live – Field of Study = Specialized Knowledge and Applications • Visit the Sage Summit Connect kiosks to enter CPE credit during the conference.
    3. 3. Two Drills • Review of moving off the solution • Dealing with Yellow Lights
    4. 4. MOVE OFF THE SOLUTION How to clarify by first asking permission (includes some presumptive moves)
    5. 5. Moving off the solution - clarify • Listen • Assuage • Move • Close probe
    6. 6. • We are looking to outsource our CRM training. Do you do that? • We do. Outsourcing is a hot topic today and it means different things to different people. Would it be OK if I asked you about what outsourcing means in your specific context? Clarify – Example 1
    7. 7. Clarify – Example 2 • Each month we create a couple hundred new customer files for prospects. These prospects have identical orders. It takes a lot of time. What would it take to be able to regularly mass create customer cards from an Excel file? What would it take to regularly create mass identical sales orders to a list of customers on an Excel file? • I believe this is absolutely doable. However, before we get started, would it be OK if I asked you a few questions about what the expected results of this would be?
    8. 8. Clarify – Example 3 • Sure, I would be happy to send you a proposal, but before we do, can I ask what exactly do you mean by “generic part numbers” as this sometimes has different meanings depending on the context? • I do want to discuss going to generic part numbers and would like you to write up a proposal for that project. Jeff is hot to get onto generic part numbers. Can you also include in the proposal that phases of the project and estimate of your cost and time?
    9. 9. Clarify – Example 4 •I be happy to, and in my experience, customers mean many different things when they say “increasing the security.” Would you give me some background on specifically what you are looking to do? • We are interested in increasing the security of our HR data. I hear you have some expertise in that area. Would you mind sharing your thoughts with me?
    10. 10. Clarify – Example 5 • I’d be glad to offer my thoughts. Help me out. Can I ask what it means when you say you want to improve communications internally and externally, what is going on? • We want to implement a more effective CRM system to improve our communications internally and with customers. How would you compare Sage CRM with Microsoft CRM?
    11. 11. Clarify – Example 6 • We can definitely get you there. To do so successfully, I’ll need to know more about what is it you really want to accomplish. Would it be OK if we talked about that for a few minutes? • We want to market our products on the Internet and don’t have that expertise in house. Can you get us there?
    12. 12. Clarify – Example 6 • And I would love to have a conversation with you about it. From your description, it sounds like this is also process related. Is that the case, and if so, can we talk about your current process? • I want to start a conversation regarding the tracking of warranty information. We take back returns that aren't necessarily 'defective'. They come back for a variety of reasons. Defective returns need to hit a different warehouse, and we need to track for vendor credit.
    13. 13. Clarify – Example 7 Presumptive • And we would love to help. At this point it would be presumptive of me to define what a new environment means. Can we perhaps start with a definition of your desired end state? • Our current system is ancient and I think I finally have approval to move to a new environment. We want your help in making the transition.
    14. 14. Clarify – Example 8 Presumptive • I’ll be happy to give you price once I understand exactly what you want to accomplish and at this point it would be presumptive of me to guess. Would you mind giving me some details about the holes you are trying to fill? • We need to fill in some temporary holes with our internal customization capacity. What is your rate for customization work?
    15. 15. Clarify – Example 9 • Before I sharpen my pencil, let me sharpen my definition of what you what to achieve. Would it be OK to talk about what kinds of remote support are you looking for? • We need a new company to provide us with remote CRM support and are looking for someone who can sharpen their pencil on price. How do you price our your services?
    16. 16. Clarify – Example 10 Presumptive • Fair enough, SaaS is a hot topic right now. However, it would be presumptive of me at this point to offer my opinion since SaaS environments have different definitions. Could you give me yours? • Our new IT director feels there are advantages to moving to a SaaS environment. I would like your independent opinion.
    17. 17. Clarify – Example 11 • We are hearing that from many of our customers. Of course, they all calculate TCO using different measures. Can you tell me how are you defining it? • We need to bring down the total cost of ownership of our system and are looking for any and all ideas.
    18. 18. Clarify – Example 12 • The first thing that I’ll say about my experience is that everyone who asks for integrations with Sage 100 has something different in mind. Can you tell me about why you want to integrate so I can make my comments more relevant? • I’m looking to integrate our BPM software with Sage 100. Ideally we would like to connect to the Sage database to read items codes, customer IDs and job numbers. What options are available to connect to the database?
    19. 19. Clarify – Example 13 Presumptive • We would be glad to offer our assistance. However, at this point it would be presumptive of me to offer a solution. Can you tell me what your CIO’s definition of “improved flow of information is?” • Our CIO has mandated that we improve our information flow in our ERP/CRM/HR system and we are looking for some help.
    20. 20. Clarify – Example 14 • Our belief is that processes and technology are interdependent. However, before I say we do BPR, can I ask what is BPR in the context of your situation? • Do you do business process reengineering in combination with your implementations?
    21. 21. Clarify – Example 15 Presumptive • We can definitely provide an ODBC link but at this point it would be presumptive of me to say I can get the data you need. Can you say what might be the benefit of having this information as a link? • I’m currently putting together a cost analysis by program which requires running GL detail reports in Sage 100 and then manipulating the data after exporting it into excel. Would it be possible to provide me with an ODBC table in MS Access which I can run queries against in order to pull the data that I need?
    22. 22. Clarify – Example 16 • Very likely. Before I give you a definitive answer, could you tell me what you are including in your current CRM hardware infrastructure? • We need help to revamp our CRM hardware infrastructure. Is that something you are prepared to help us with?
    23. 23. YELLOW LIGHTS Contrary to your normal driving habits you are supposed to slow down not speed up
    24. 24. Dealing with Yellow Lights • Listen • Express concern • Name the concern • Close probe
    25. 25. Yellow Light – Example 1 • I have a concern. If the S4 is unsure about this working, shouldn’t it be their reposibility to make that determination? • I received a call from a customer saying they would like to look at Spreadsheet Server because their controller had used it in the past. However, (the S4) is unsure if their software will work properly with ProvideX. So, the customer asks me to figure out how to connect to Sage 100.
    26. 26. Yellow Light – Example 1 • I have a concern. If we have no evidence or sense of impact of the problem, somebody, somewhere is going to seriously question the validity of this project. Is that possible? • The customer is pushing to move ahead with developing a solution to solve the problem without identifying the evidence of its existence and impact on the organization.
    27. 27. Yellow Light – Example 2 • I think we might have a problem. It seems that even if we identified a solution that meets your needs, there is little chance that it will get approval from the CEO. What do you think we should do? • The customer mentions that the CEO has not been favorable to the project in the past.
    28. 28. Yellow Light – Example 3 • I can’t help but thinking that you have been successful in addressing issues like this using an internal resource in the past. Is that an option you are considering? • You feel like you are being asked to design a solution that will end up just being done by the customers internal resources.
    29. 29. Yellow Light – Example 4 • I have a concern. It seems the cost of a solution may be larger than the problem itself and it makes little sense to continue moving ahead. Am I missing something? • You believe the cost of the solution your customer is asking for is larger than the cost of the problem it is intended to solve.
    30. 30. Yellow Light – Example 5 • Could I check something out? I noticed a moment ago an expression on your face. I am unclear as to what was going through your mind. Would you mind sharing what it was you were thinking? • As you were asking a customer a question, you saw a look on her face that make you think she was displeased in some way.
    31. 31. Yellow Light – Example 6 • I have a concern. Your question seems to indicated that you believe there should be no charge for an upgrade. Would you mind sharing why you might think that is the case? • Why would we incur costs if we do a Sage upgrade? Not questioning, just trying to understand.
    32. 32. Yellow Light – Example 7 • I have a concern. I get the sense that even though this issue is clearly important to you, it is possible that others will not support it. Without that support there is a pretty good chance it will not be adopted. Do you share that concern? • You get a sense that the only person at your customer’s company who will feel the issue you have been talking about is truly important is your contact.
    33. 33. Yellow Light – Example 8 • I have a concern. I don’t know if your CFO is like our CFO. However, at our company, even if everyone thinks there is a problem, there needs to be a business case backing up the request before he will allocate money. Could that be a possibility here? • Your customer does not want to take the time to develop a business case for the solution because, “everyone knows it is a problem.”
    34. 34. Yellow Light – Example 9 I am concerned. In my experience it is only likely for an organization to move forward on resolving issues when they are 9’s or 10’s, rather than something that is a 6. Is that fair to say? • In an attempt to qualify the importance of a issue on a scale of 1 to 10, the customer indicates they are a 6.
    35. 35. Yellow Lights – Example 10 • I would like to check something out with you. It sounds like you already have a sense of who is going to do this work. Am I off target? • You begin to feel that a decision has already be made to outsource this issue to someone else.
    36. 36. Yellow Light – Example 11 • I think we have a problem. It seems that even if we develop a solution that meets your needs, there is reason to doubt a decision will be made one way or the other. What is your sense? • You have done your best trying to elicit the steps your customer will take to make a decision, and it is unclear to both of you what will happen.

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