VAR Video 10 Pre-Sales VAR Experience

What IT Pre-Sales Engineers Really Think About b2b Content Marketing.

Video 10 of 18: Pre-Sales IT VAR Experience

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An edited transcript of the conversation is provided below.

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Video 10: Edited Transcript

This section is all about the pre-Sales IT VAR experience.
And the first point I want to discuss with Matthew is in the post he wrote about RiverBed.

Matthew, you compared the technical side, the (IT) side of IT pre-sales for both VARs and vendors.
And if I interpreted your post right, you’re implying it’s difficult for a VAR to know about all vendors’ offerings, even in a space as narrow as Riverbed are operating in but yet, I guess, you come up against customers who expect you to be able to answer questions and do comparative responses.

How do you address that side of things in the VAR space – expected to know a lot about many things?
Sure, Mark. Would you want to buy anything from someone who knows nothing about the product, or competitors’ products?
You know, one of the things I do, and this may sound a little cruel but, if my kids tell me they want to go somewhere or do something, sometimes I’ll say; “well, sell me on it.
Sell me on why you wanna do this.
Or, sell me on why I should buy this game for you, or we should go to this restaurant.”

The ‘Value’ Top VARs Add To A Business

It really has to do with can you talk about something you’re interested in, or even not interested in, for that matter?
Are you able to verbalize why you believe this should happen?
To translate that over from the sale; on the technical side, I expect, if I’m buying something from you, for you to come and actually add some value.
At least, from a VAR.
If you’re a vendor, I know you’re going to speak highly of your product and that’s the one thing you love and everybody else (has) an inferior product.

Well, from a VAR perspective, add some value there.
So, yes it’s tough. Yes, it’s hard.
There’s plenty of times I’ve had to say, “I don’t know the answer to that.
I can find out but I don’t know the answer to that.”
And a lot of customers understand the sheer magnitude of all this information you have to be aware of.

But if you want to win, if you want to be good at your job, you gotta put the hours in.
And unfortunately, this is the lot you’re dealt in life (if you’re doing pre-sales for a VAR.)
You have to get beyond mediocrity if you want to consistently win deals.
So, it’s tough, it may not be fair. But that’s life.

So, Matthew, you’re doing a fair amount of studying then, I would imagine? (when you have a moment.)

Mark, there are some things that you work with enough to where it’s not as burdensome.
You know, we do a fair amount of routing and switching work, say, for Cisco or Brocade.
And it’s not too much of a burden for me to run through the various switching platforms from Cisco.
That’s an almost commoditized product where most of the time it doesn’t really matter which vendor you use.

But you start getting into other things out there, specific things, you know, WAN App, Load balancing, to a certain degree; network management platforms. And (then) you have to put in the hours.

And the more you do it, obviously the more comfortable you become with that solution and hopefully with the other vendor solutions out there but it’s always changing.

Why This is NOT an 8-5 Job

One thing I always tell people, if they’re wanting to get into this field, is it’s not an 8 to 5 job.
If you do this 8 to 5 you will lose consistently, over the course of your career.

You (can) pay people to hold a job down and hide in some large corporation somewhere, but if you really want to make the most of your career it has to be more than 8 to 5.
So, I probably study more working for a VAR than I did as an end customer.
Probably, to the point of (at least) 10 to 15 hours a week of professional development on the side.

I’m lucky I get to do some of that during the course of the day, if I don’t have work I’m supposed to be doing for a client.
My company is very, very focused on allowing the engineering staff to do professional development.
Because that makes us better overall.
Great, Matthew.
From reading some of your earlier posts that was one of the reasons why you left corporate IT and you chose the VAR challenge.
You realized that it’s going to require a totally different set of skills to juggle.
It’s very interesting to hear that learning never stops.
As you say, you’re gonna fail if it (ever) does.

Mark, I think working in a job where I could max out in six months, I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be happy.
So the beauty of IT is that you can never learn it all.
And I never will learn it all.

In twenty years from now, thirty years from now, when I retire, I’ll retire knowing that I only learned, you know, ten, twenty five percent of what I wanted to know.
That’s what makes it fun.

Yes, indeed, Matthew.
For everybody watching or listening to this call and interested in an IT career, pay attention to what Matthew’s telling you.

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