Monday, July 28, 2014

What Engagement Manager Should Remember During Each Pre-Sale or 17 Useful Tips

What will take you to make your pre-sale phase successful? 

When it comes to pre-sale of some it-services, there are  many challenges to get each pre-sale from first/initial contact to contract signed phase. There are several factors to consider. Get these 17 tips and learn some good practices which could help you to get to success. 

The specific of these findings/recommendations is related to Engagement managers working in offshore software development business.

1. Language is not a secret. You are an engagement manager, this means that you should have really fluent English. Furthermore - you should have 'rich' language. By this I mean using of phrasal verbs, idioms.

2. Try to avoid overloading of non-tech people with tech stuff.

3. Stop generating a lot of recommendations how you can improve client's product during pre-sale. You can do few recommendations, however you are there not to make a revolution! They mostly need you to solve some of their most critical issues and some particular problem, they need  you to simplify their life. Focus on this.

4. Stay positive and catch positive signs. You should be careful during listening and catch following stuff: "With you we need to change...", "You should help us with...", "We expect from you ...". This could help you to build some predictions on 'chance to win'.

5. It's not a good idea to keep silence while you are waiting for something/someone during onsite visit. Fill the gap - tell about yourself, what is your role/responsibilities, etc.

6. During presentation of the company try to be focused on client's biz domain and your expertise there. Clients are not really interested in your success stories within not related to them/their domain areas.

7. Even if you joined company recently - you should know all the history and success/fail stories. Use "we did" instead of "my team", "I..." - use WE.

8. Try to catch what is client's way of doing business, his preferences in management and be agile with your approach. I had a problem with some German(financial domain) client who doesn't really like US way of doing things. By this he meant - structured, well-organized approach. Per him west part of Europe prefers more informal/unstructured/not really "Boolean" way. But this doesn't mean that all German companies prefers such approach or all US companies are structured and well-organized. 

9. Be specific. Try to avoid general descriptions of company's track record.

10. Try to avoid judgment! Never tell anyone that something is "stupid", "wrong", etc. 

11. Tell them that you do the same! If you see something similar in processes, values, etc in client's organization encourage them with this.

12.Try to focus on covering of following: we have .... service for you. Using us and this service you should not care anymore about this, this and this. Allow us to take care about ....

13. Be calm and friendly as much as you can. But be prepared to protect your product/company. But not aggressively, with facts.

14. Stakeholders analysis - nothing special, really common step. But really often forgotten. Never forget about this. Define decision makers and try to figure out their problems which you could help them to solve.

15. Discussion of quality assurance should always take place during pre-sale. Try to cover how they ensure quality, using which tools, approach. Talk about possible approach of working with you.

16.  Go big by doing small. Pilot project. Balance between challenging task and something you could really deliver (due to the fact of different phases through which you should go with client's team - storming, norming, performing). Be honest - tell them that you don't want to screw up. However you wish to deliver something valuable. Due to the fact that there will be some storming at the beginning of the relationships you should consider something challenging however not really complicated (due to the fact that team performance is lower during storming phase). But it's important to explain that you are not trying to avoid something hard, you just want to produce right expectations. Which means that once this done and we successfully passed storming phase, we can switch to something more complex/complicated/challenging.

17. If you specialize on out-staffing business it's important to have kind of 'incubator' office for pilot project/discovery phases of development. This will be like going to restaurant/movie, having a date with your fiancee before getting married . Both sides should get to know each other in real life situations before serious and long-term relationships.

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