Your iPhone vibrates. It’s Sandra, your sales executive. Enterprise customer wants to meet. ASAPissimo. Their churn sky rocketed, pipeline crashed. Help is needed, time is of the essence. They heard about your new “AI thing”. They imagine a combination of a Swiss army knife and a lightsaber. Showtime. You put on your Superman costume. You glue their logo on your standard demo. You grab your standard slides, write their company name on it. Pick some credential one-pagers and commercial benchmark figures. Preparation done in 20 minutes. Max. ????
That’s how you roll in presales? Then…
???? Congratulations. You will be extinct by 2025. Max. ????
At that time, your customer will satisfy their largest portion of research online without you, and your simple feature shows will be ran on-demand by trained monkeys. Sort of.
Your job in enterprise presales is to make innovation tangible, and value visible.
How to stay relevant? How you make the invisible visible?
Here are four techniques perfected by the famous German artist Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840). Techniques that couldn’t be more suitable for enterprise presales, too.
(1) Build an environment your audience knows
Friedrich looked for the divine in the ordinary. His main motif was nature. Something everyone can relate to. Friedrich’s main craft was to stage the ordinary world he painted in a way it would unveil its greatness.
⁉️ What it means to presales:
???? When you run your discovery, meticulously examine your customer’s everyday reality. What do they think? What do they do? Why do they do it? What are their factual challenges? KPI?
???? Listen for emotional undertones. How do your customers feel when facing challenge, pain or triumph?
???? Build your environment as close to your audiences reality as possible. “Environment” means your demo, use case selection, slides, story, whiteboard, and any other mean you use.
???? Why? (a) Building trust: your customer expects a return on investing time into your discovery; and (b) time-to-immerse: the more familiar your audience is with the basic environment, the faster/ better they can immerse in the story and look for the emphases you define.
(2) Alienate the known to change your audience’s perspective
Friedrich almost scientifically studied the nature objects of his paintings. Rules must be known well in order to break them.
Friedrich chose a scenery, his audience knew. Like the sea. He minimized the noise and distraction by using a minimal palette of colours for the non-essential components of the painting. He emphasized on a carefully selected aspects of his object, like the clouds in The Monk by the sea. As a result, “despite objective observation, clouds (…) thus remain sources of strong emotions and places of dreams“.
⁉️ What it means to presales:
???? Select carefully the aspect(s) you want to show. It has to be the aspect which is most relevant to your customer, according to what you observed to far. The better you have captured the customer’s status quo, the more any change to it will stand out
???? Reduce the effects in in your environment to a subtle minimum. Hide non-essential features, limit digressions, no blinking buttons. I know you want to. ???? Because there’s so much to show and talk about. Still: Focus on the customer’s immersion, stay on message, stay close to what they know.
???? Empasize on the magic you bring in, now. What is the new you induce into your audience’s reality that change the way how they think, do, and feel things?
(3) Bring your audience into the picture
Friedrich perfected the way immerse viewers into his paintings by employing the “Rückenfigur (rear figure) —a person seen from behind, contemplating the view. The viewer is encouraged to place himself in the position of the Rückenfigur, by which means he experiences the sublime potential of nature“.
The viewer is pulled into the perspective of the figure. As in Friedrich’s Wanderer above the sea of fog. The gaze of the wanderer gives meaning to the world he sees. Despite the nature being the main object of the painting, the human becomes the focal point of reference by which the natural phenomenon gain any relevance at all.
⁉️ What it means to PRESALES:
???? The value of your technology is determined in the eye of your beholding audience. Even though there is one price, there are many perceived values depending from where people look at it.
???? Use personas for your story. Personas are the protagonists of the story you are going to tell. Figures based on the behaviors, attitudes, desires, capabilities, tools, and perspective of the people you have been speaking to during your discovery – all in context of their needs that you discovered.
???? Design your personas. Design the personas for your story as close to their reality as possible, like you did with your environment. Bring in everything you learned about their factual and emotional world. Build a persona your audience can immerse into – because they can so much relate to the personality facets of the figure.
(4) Make your audience dream
Friedrich understood that, if he wanted to get his point across, he needed to combine (a) scientific observation, (b) meticulous craft, and (c) empathic and creativity.
In fact, he is credited with the quote: “The artist should paint not only what he sees before him, but also what he sees within him. If, however, he sees nothing within him, then he should also refrain from painting that which he sees before him.”
⁉️ What it means to PRESALES:
Coming back to where we started: strategic customers who evaluate whether they trust your company to help them on their digital transformation journey need more than a feature show. In summary:
???? Offer your audience an easy access the scenario: build environments and personas they can relate to.
???? Minimize noise and set well-dosed highlights: make it easy for them to understand what is important and how it changes their lives for the better.
???? Leave your audience space: Resist the urge of showing and talking too much. Leave your audience space to sink in the scenario. You want them to think and feel like your persona.
Like a viewer of Caspar David Friedrich’s painting, your audience will assign their own meaning and significance to what you demonstrate. Let it be. You want this. Remember: it’s your audience that determines the value of your technology.
- Caspar David Friedrich, Woman in front of Setting Sun https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Frau_vor_untergehender_Sonne.jpg
- Caspar David Friedrich, Moonrise by the Sea https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caspar_David_Friedrich_Moonrise_by_the_Sea.jpg
- Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog.jpg
- Caspar David Friedrich, The Monk by the Sea: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Monk_by_the_Sea_(Friedrich).jpg
- Caspar David Friedrich, On a Sailing Ship: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Auf_dem_Segler.jpg