By Rawy Iskander
A year ago, I joined TandemLaunch Technologies to assume the business development function. Our mission is to deliver to our client base of large Consumer Electronic (CE) companies customized technology scouting and transfer across our vast global network of universities.
In this post, I reflect on the fundamental differences between the sales role with my previous employer Ericsson, where I spent more than 10 years in different sales roles, compared to TandemLaunch Technologies.
1. Customer requirements: At Ericsson, most of my customers had a pretty clear vision of their requirements. At TandemLaunch, we target organizations that have emerging demands that cannot be clearly articulated. There is no such thing called ‘established demand.’ In fact, the less our client is clear about their requirements, the higher the value TandemLaunch can deliver. At Ericsson, a sales person is primarily on a fact finding mission to identify customers’ unmet needs. We would then use this information to design a sales proposal in what was termed “solution sale”. At TandemLaunch we design our sales process to help both us and our customers “discover” their unrecognized needs.
2. Customer purchasing processes: At Ericsson, our customers had very well-defined and established purchasing processes. At TandemLaunch, our primary contacts inside these large organizations must be agile and flexible in purchasing decisions.
3. Customer Champion: At Ericsson we were trained to find an internal customer ally who was able to “coach” us through the maze of a complex organization and decision making. The bulk of the deal closing effort was ours! At TandemLaunch, such a profile cannot take us too far: our champion(s) must be able to initially challenge our proposals and help us quickly gravitate towards winning ideas. They must also be internal evangelists and go-getters. In fact we do the initial coaching but the bulk of internal persuasion must come from them!
4. Engagement timing: At Ericsson, the optimum time to engage with a customer was as soon as a need surfaced and we had identified that one of our solutions could help them. At TandemLaunch, we engage long before a need emerges since our role is to help our clients discover their future needs.
5. Sales engagement format: At Ericsson, the best engagement format was through customized well-rehearsed presentations that pitched solutions to identified customer needs. At TandemLaunch, we prefer customer workshops where we come in with many new concepts and work with our clients to discover what is useful and what is not. A well-thought-out, well-designed PPT flow prior to a meeting is quite useless. Interestingly, I realized that presentation skills are slightly less critical at TandemLaunch compared to Ericsson! This may come as a surprise to many people (including myself J) since we continuously pitch new concepts. The fact of the matter is that it takes a long time to find a winning concept that is a good fit for a company to be fully-pitched. A longer and more critical aspect of the sales activity is to jointly discover these rare gems with our customers, so facilitation skills, thought leadership and the ability to challenge the status quo are more valuable skills with our business model.
I would love to hear your feedback, and insights on sales + business development activities. I am particularly interested in listening to your experiences on what worked and what did not…feel free to contact me!