Hi John,

Hi John – I’ve just moved from one of our strategic SE teams to be the lead SE in a transactional small deal/run-rate team the company has just started up. It’s a great opportunity for me to learn something about leadership and demonstrate my capabilities .. but .. I’m having a problem with some of the salespeople in the business unit. I’m used to taking charge of the demo/technical presentation sessions, yet these reps just want to tell me “show product A, B and present C – that’s all that is needed!” They’re right maybe half the time. I know we’re not going to be conducting strategic selling here, but I need to regain control of what I consider to be the SE’s turf. Ideas?

Bill, Florida, US


Hi Bill,

Thanks for the question. It seems the first issue you are encountering is that the reps aren’t used to having help from high-caliber people like you and your team. So they are used to being very independent and direct. In a “run-and-gun” environment the salespeople live and die on volume and time. So if you can save them time and increase the volume of calls they can make (and cut down on the re-do’s that missed the mark) that is of great benefit to them.

I’d suggest you wait until you go through one of those calls where the rep totally missed the mark in what needed to be shown and why – then use that as a basis for setting the agenda of the next call. You can try and drive this through the first-line sales manager but that may be a tough cultural change. Instead you need to capture the belief of 1 or 2 of the salespeople and then watch it grow throughout the rest of the team.

My standard piece of advice for younger SE’s is NEVER to ask “what do you need me to show / demo / present”, but to ask “what do you want to have happen as a result of this meeting”. When you talk about customer behaviours instead of your behaviour in a sales call you can get the discussion back onto your turf. You and your team need to be consistent in this request and not buckle under pressure.

It’s a tough position to be in as a one-time transactional environment runs differently than the enterprise and strategic sides of the business. But one commonality is that if you turn up and show the customer the wrong thing – no-one will buy from you.


Hope that helps.

Good Luck!

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