My grandparents had cable TV. Big deal back then in the 90ties. Each time my parents announced a weekend overnight, I celebrated. Dancing. At 0600 in the morning 8-year-old me would sneak into the dark living room with its antique wood panels. Sit in grandpa’s comfy wing chair. And start watching cartoons until grandma had cacao ready at 0800.
Main question: Superman or Galaxy Rangers?
Two cartoon options to choose from in the morning. Galaxy Rangers it was. Easy choice. Why? They were human. They had bionic enhancements. They had different backgrounds, characters, flaws. And: special talents which would complement each other when the rubber hit the road. Zach gets a physical boost through his bionic implants, Goose changes his shape to adapt to his environment, Doc controls every computer system, or Niko has psychic abilities (and knows martial arts).
Superman? A beefy, bullet-proof, know-it-all. Boring and aloof. Like a streamlined, boilerplated, click-dummy presales drone would be. If you are in presales, don’t be Superman. Be the Galaxy Rangers. Here’s how.
Three Presales Foods for Thought
(1) Play your super power.
As a Galaxy Ranger you must know how to ride – robo horses and spaceships. As presales you have to learn the tricks of your trade, too: Customer-centric discovery, Storytelling and Communication, Value selling, Demo Delivery just to name a few.
Then there’s your bionic super power. Something that makes you shine and makes you being you.
If your super power is story telling, tell a story of why, how, and what to change. If you’re a demo guru, build something beautiful and immersive your customer will love. You’re a die-hard industry expert? Great! Craft a strategic vision your customer will love to implement with you. You’re many things? Excellent, then bring it all together!
Goal of presales: make innovation tangible and value visible to the customer. How you get there is up to you.
There is no single way to presales. That’s the beauty of it. Use whatever you do best to materialize your solution’s value to the customer. You are free to choose the means. Be creative. You are free.
(2) Cultivate your super power.
We established: presales includes a kaleidoscope of domains and skills.
Presales is used to work as a perfectionist one-man-army. Often times seeking to wipe out weaknesses and covering every single aspect of the job best.
Beauty of presales: it is many different things. Challenge of presales: focus.
Learning the tricks of your trade is important. Strengthening your strengths is even more important. If you try to get perfect in every aspect, you will improve and increase your average performance in each domain; but you won’t build that super power of yours.
(a) Comparative advantage. You are talented. You do stuff better and quicker than most. With a smile on your face. That is your comparative advantage. The spot of highest efficiency return of your invested time. Focus on this.
(b) Mastery takes time. There is a huge difference between good and great. You have to put in many hours of deliberate practice until you really master a skill. If you “spread your improvement time like one might spread peanut butter on toasted Wonder bread” you bear significant opportunity cost: an hour of improvement time put in your super power will return in greater growth than spend on a weakness. Don’t waste your time.
(c) Build a profile. You might want to be known for something you enjoy – rather than for being a jack of all trades. Your customer, just like 8-year-old me, doesn’t want Superman either. They want the best person for a particular job. They want a Galaxy Ranger.
(3) Complement your super power.
Super powers vary across individuals. This is true for Galaxy Rangers as much as for Presales. Good thing: Presales are “pack animals and mostly work better as a team“. So complement the super powers of the individuals on your diverse team.
Sounds simple, isn’t easy. Be clear and honest about our competitive advantages, your super powers. Defer to the right person with the right super power in the right moment to get the job done well.
Combine your immersive demo skills with your colleague’s hilarious rhetoric, and your second colleague’s whiteboard which drills down on how you going to solve this specific single key problem of your customer.
Presales magic: a diverse team using their complementary super powers
That’s when magic happens. You remember the last time you had this meeting that really sparked energy across the people in the room? That’s when innovation is made tangible, value is made visible, and people rest inspired.
Superman won’t get you there. Not even a group of Supermans. A team of Galaxy Rangers might!
Start thinking: What’s YOUR superpower? What are you going to do to strengthen it?