Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Product Managers: Make an emotional connection to your buyers

One of my long time favorite situations goes back to when I was a product manager. The mini-computer company already had a proprietary ring network that was decent, and sales knew how to sell this solution. Since I had the amazing new Ethernet solution, which included software support in the OS, a LAN controller in the system, and a terminal server for direct-to-network attached terminals. I gave presentations in the executive briefing center to large customers nearly every day.

Most customers were senior executives, CIOs and MIS directors who were decision makers and who did not usually physically handle equipment. I decided to create a bond between the customers and the new solution, so carried with me to each briefing a terminal server, transceiver and cable, and a controller with me. As I presented the solution and its value proposition, I passed the physical devices around the room, which was a “U-shaped” seating arrangement. For some human factor reason, the bond was created and at the end there was always further discussion and questions of intrigue.  We all know how Ethernet emerged some 25 years later!

                          (Photo: Hubspot) Make an Emotional Connection

Now, my favorite part – we were always asked to bid the new Ethernet solution as well as the proprietary ring solution, which was cheaper but did not have the network based terminal support which was a huge feature – the network based terminals. (I am sure many of you have never had this issue, but in the old days, remote logins required you to anonymously login through many “hosts” on the ring. If a system on the ring was down, you may not reach your destination system until it came back online even if it was just a pass through machine). I made lunch or dinner bets with the sales teams, that Ethernet would win the bid, regardless of a 20-30% higher cost and the potentials of the unknown.  I never lost once Ethernet was launched. I also never collected all my winnings because there were not enough days available to collect!

Over my professional career, I learned that creating the emotional connection and bond between buyer and the equipment or the solution being proposed and sold, could overcome many objections and obstacles. This translates today, to web-based demos/freemium types of software that allows an emotional connection to be made and the buyer can see themselves using or implementing the solution.

I was able to develop a sales guide for the Ethernet solution that achieved an excellence award from the Sales executives and my highest cash award prior to my executive days! I thrived on having the ability to help develop sales presentations and tools with emotional connections for sales and channel personnel.  I have educated my teams over the years to leverage these early career experiences. I have also always attempted to define and include “sexy” user interface or demo software package to make it easy for customers to connect with and understand the solution. The customers need to see themselves as users of the solution within their business.

What have you done and or seen to make this type of emotional connection to close the business?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Welcome to 2014! I'm back!

Over the past couple of years life has gone thru several changes for me, thus I have been away from blogging like I did when I started in 2007. I am changing this now, and will blog both here and on my TMCNet Enterprise 2025 blog ( where I will discuss technologies affecting the enterprise such as the Internet of Things (IoT), data centers, mobility and the consumerization and personalization of IT, unified communications, VoIP, video and perhaps a few surprises along the way.

On my personal blog here, I will write about my experiences and perspectives that will span my consulting and career experiences,  how marketing and product management have changed since my first product manager role back in the 80’s, and how baby boomers like myself have approached technology as it changes.  

My professional life revolves around technology as I have been involved in emerging technology since the 70’s when I was a real time operating system software developer and worked on unreleased products and custom software for various real time applications. I gained a love for being “in the know” on what was coming and I worked with and for experienced, smart and excellent managers who could not always deliver a roadmap on time or budget for any number of reasons (some could and did). I was fortunate to have great mentors along with way as well. My observations, participation and post-mortems taught me ways to predict, schedule, budget, and manage situations related to revenue connected deliverables for key customers.  I have heard just about every excuse in book for missing dates. 

Product management and marketing became my passion after I left software development and continues to be a prominent part of my professional life!

I feel blessed to have worked with great people, smart people, and all types of personalities from the “know-it-all” to the “avoid decisions at all costs” types. There is good and bad in each situation no matter how you look at it. I will share some experiences but put them into current perspectives 

Over the past couple of years I have taken on senior operations roles where I worked with each functional group and directly with CEOs and functional leaders to build strong foundational teams, culture codes, install repeatable optimized processes, and optimize communications amongst team members. The unfortunate part of my experiences is that some people lose their jobs along the way to “right the ship”. it is not always the persons fault, the roles change, scope changes, and personalities around people and process change. 

My blogging will share many of my experiences with the hope that I can help others improve their situation regardless of their roles. It’s interesting when a fresh face who has been around the industry for many years in several companies of different sizes can quickly identify issues, recommendations for improvements, and bring a wide variety of experience to the company.  I encourage your comments, dialogue and would appreciate sharing on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+ when deserved and valuable.

Enough about me. My next blog post will explore how traditional product marketing, which is most company means creating outbound marketing collateral, sales tools and programs has evolved and now includes content and inbound marketing, marketing automation and social media!