This is the second segment of the conversation I had with Ian.
In Part 2, Ian and I talk about:
- Making your technical sales process seamless for the customer
- Don’t leave the sales team without support
- Keep your team small, even when growing
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Ian is an amazing entrepreneur, business owner, and an amazing individual. Ian grew up surrounded by design, engineering, accounting, and entrepreneurial people. Ian always had the desire to work for himself. After working as an engineer and designer for over a decade within startups and companies like HP, Adidas, Robot, and Nike, Ian founded the Peterman Design Firm. The firm has been named one of the top design and branding firms of 2019 by DesignRush, Clutch, The Manifest and Visual Objects.
Ian has been in the branding world for 7 years now running two different design firms. Social media isn’t a have to, it’s a get to and it’s a huge opportunity for brands to engage with people at all stages of their relationship to offer education, build trust, and share value. When done right, it’s an avenue for being seen, well understood, and garnering powerful loyalty with your ideal clients and customers.
E197 – Transcript
Jason: Hey, welcome back to the sales experience podcast. So glad that you’re here. This is part two of my conversation with Ian Peterman. Make sure to check out all the information online, cutterconsultinggroup.com show notes, transcription as well as his links. And if you haven’t subscribed to the show, iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, it’s also on SoundCloud, Google play, you can find it on the website everywhere. Subscribe, make sure to be a part of this and get all the episodes every time they come out. And here is part two of my conversation with Ian.
Ian: When that happens, you know you don’t need a ton of technical expertise. What you need is listening skills. So you listen to the customer and you listen to the engineer and you bring the information together and let that process guide you. And when that happens and that focus isn’t so much on trying to, it does lengthen the sales process a little bit because you are going back and forth between two information sources. But that’s been the most successful in my experience of non-engineering sales.
Jason: Well, and I will say from my experience on a customer side recently, let’s say in the past couple of months, there’s been some different, you know, software solutions I’ve been looking at for some of my consulting clients, and I didn’t even realize it at the time, but literally we set up a conference call, we did a zoom call, and then the next thing you know there’s two people on the call. There’s my sales rep that I had started interacting with. And then there’s another person who turns out to be that technical programmer, kind of designer person. Sales rep kind of starts the process, ask them questions other person takes over is giving advice, giving kind of clues and where it could go and what the solution would look like and when done right. You know, and this is good advice to any organization, anyone listening when done right, it shouldn’t feel like there’s two different parts, right? So there’s a sales salesperson engineering like, I’ve got to go talk to this, or we’re two different parts. It should feel like one whole kind of unit that’s helping with the sales product. Because as you’re talking I’m thinking, wow, I didn’t even realize what happened cause it was so smooth and easy.
Ian: Right. Yeah. And that’s the relationship part is you have to keep it easy and comfortable and yeah, as easy as possible for their customers. So there’s no hiccup, there’s no rough edges. And that’s, you know, that whole process actually is part of the branding work that we do is consulting companies on the fact that that can’t ever be a break. Your engineers and your salespeople have to be able to communicate to outside people in the same way to match your company.
Jason: So there’s going to be probably two different kinds of salespeople listening to this episode of you and I talk. One is the salesperson who is not selling anything technical, so maybe selling something simple or they don’t have to deal with sales engineers or technical engineers, programmers, designers, whatever that might be. And then there’s the ones who are already doing it. They’re already in it and they’re already experiencing this every day. For the ones who are currently doing any kind of technical sales, you know, involving another part of the organization to make things happen. Like what’s the one piece of advice you give to them outside of what we’ve talked about or the one area you see organizations just struggle and fail where you know, you come in and kind of, you know, give them guidance. Like what’s that, what’s the big things you’re seeing
Ian: With sales it’s a lot of not pulling in the right resources earlier enough. Is, you know, kind of getting caught up when you’re not the technical person and you’re doing the sales process and it’s obviously you can, you can sell things without understanding them if it goes really well, but it’s better to pull in and organizations don’t always do this. They don’t allow engineering to spend the man hours supporting sales always as much as they should. And so you end up having sales sitting over in their pocket wishing they could talk to an engineer and your engineers making products that may not fit what they’re actually trying to sell. And so there needs to be in, if you are one of those sales people that don’t have the technical knowledge and they don’t have that technical support, it’s something that you should advocate for in your, in your role as it having a technical support of some kind.
Ian: Even if it’s one engineer spending a couple hours a week being involved on a sales call or even just technical training, just not, you know, not training the sales team to be engineers, but letting them dive into the technical background of it to ease that. It just depends on how many people are involved in your organization, but that kind of a lack of connect of information. The invisible wall that typically is a one of the bigger hurdles that I’ve seen. And it’s not so much in smaller as your really small, everybody seems to know a lot about everything and it works really well. But then as soon as you hit the tipping point where you first start breaking your company into divisions and you have different, you know, head of Zion, head of engineering, head of sales, that early stage is very dangerous because you start segmenting that and you feel like you need to be super rigid.
Ian: And so I see a lot of companies that are extremely rigid in their first, or, we’re divisions. You’re a sales now, you only do sales, you only do engineering where we have different budgets, we have different, and you know, as you get bigger you start to have a little bleeding between the groups typically because they can not hire entire sales engineer teams. But it’s a very dangerous thing is of dividing your company a little bit too harshly in lines on the sand. And there’s gotta be intercommunication and knowledge flow between your engineering or sales. Cause when they, the first couple of salespeople you hire, you know they’re not going to be the first salesperson you had who knew everything and talked to the engineers and everybody did everything that those first new hires, once you have that division is they are just sales or they don’t have the company background that you know, the early sales team had experience from.
Jason: Yeah. And I think that’s a really valid point. Very interesting. Because as I’ve seen with my experience with companies, when it’s really small, most likely everyone is in kind of the same room, right? Like if it’s really start up mode, whether it’s, you know, it’s an open office or you know, total garage mode, everybody’s in one room, sales, engineering, customer service, account management. Yeah. All you gotta do is turn around and ask him, Hey do we have this or can we do this? And sometimes that’s usually good for information. It’s bad because sometimes engineering programmers say okay cool, we’ll add it and there’s no process. Then all of a sudden you have just a thousand features that either don’t work right or nobody’s using. Cause it was a one off thing and that’s when it gets right. And then the large one, I could totally see what you’re saying is when it’s large enough then there’s this sales engineering where there is the bridge and it’s deliberate and it’s kind of you know, covering that gap between those two silos.
Jason: But it’s the middle size as you’re growing org charts gets separated, there’s silos. Then there’s people who feel like sales is my domain, engineering is my domain, marketing is my domain. And so then they’re kind of protecting it. But I also know from the other side, which is okay and I’ve seen this where it’s okay we want to open communication, we want to have sales and engineering or marketing or whoever it is, kind of talk with each other. And then there’s ones who will take advantage of that and it’s too much and it’s too distracting. So I think it’s very valid. What you’re saying is, you know, make sure there’s some process in place and even if it’s just a few hours a week, whatever that is, you don’t want it to be like a free for all. Where sales is just going to engineering, engineering is distracted not getting what they need to get done because sales is always bringing them into everything. So you want to make sure the structure and accessibility, you know, and not to separate.
Ian: Yeah and I think that process too is, you know, you start to silo, but the second you silo part of that should also be creating the bridge. The bridge should be there. The second there’s a silo, you just are controlling the information foot. Like you said, the engineering team isn’t swamped by sales constantly asking them 24/7 questions and just that that process, when you do hit that point and you say, okay, well we have design, we have engineering, we have marketing, we have sales. Make sure that at least that there’s one point of contact in each team that can communicate with all the others and this, that minimal amount of time. And one point of contact has done wonders. I’ve been in companies where even having separate engineering departments for, you know, you have electrical engineering over here, right. The engineering gets separated so much.
Ian: That company they had to get, I think it was two or three points of contacts in each division and they had to have weekly meetings, just them outside of management, even doing anything just to make sure that things were happening and there was enough communication between departments because the head, you know, VP of engineering 1 and VP of engineering 2, they only have so much time and when you have huge and as kind of, when you get a little bit bigger and you have 20 person teams in multiple areas, I’m making sure that communications flow is there from the get go is it saves a lot of pain. That company lost a lot of money. When you have that disjointed, you’re spending more money on one thing when you should be spending on something else. Recovery is always hard.
Jason: I bet. Well, and from what I’ve seen, the organizations that do it right are connected at the top, somewhere above those divisions. And the culture is such where they see those as two parts of the whole, not two separate entities, right? Like if there’s a VP of sales and engineering, then their branch under one person who’s going to join them together. Once it becomes VP of sales, VP of engineering, VP of marketing, then it’s kind of everyone fighting for their territory or everyone’s busy with their own kind of mandates and their own budgets. And so for organizations, small, medium size, especially the more you can keep it joined right above those divisions with some kind of leadership and the culture is one of working together. It’s always for the best.
Ian: Yeah, and culture is so important. There’s quite a few companies that they don’t think about their culture when they start to, and that is a huge part of some of the branding work that we do is correcting and helping guide people’s company culture and having a culture of communication and working together and things like that.
Ian: It doesn’t just happen. You know, you don’t just happen to throw a bunch of people in a room and say, now be friendly and communicative. You have to really think about it and create that culture and maintain the culture. I mean, that’s, you know, that’s why huge companies are hiring VPs of culture. And I think I’ve seen some sea level of culture where it figured out that it’s so important that they now they have to have roles in order to help guide and curate and grow the culture in a specific direction instead of just hoping it’s going to work out.
Jason: Alright. That’s it for part two. Make sure to subscribe so you can catch the other parts. I will see you tomorrow for part three. As always, keep in mind everything in life is sales and people remember the experience you gave them.