Episode 006 – Discovering Your PreSales Potential: Pathways, Strategies, and Success with Paul Pearce and the Great Demo! Approach

Summary

In this episode, we sit down with Paul Pearce, a PreSales veteran and certified Great Demo! trainer, to explore the exciting world of PreSales and its potential to transform your career. 

Paul shares his expertise in conducting impactful demos, the importance of discovery, and his journey through 22 years of executive and technical sales leadership. Learn how to harness your unique skills and experiences to excel in the PreSales profession, and make a lasting impact on your organization and clients.

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Key Takeaways

  • When you’re in PreSales, you’re like an F16 fighter pilot
    • You plan, you prep, you’re in/out, and you get to solve a lot of problems from a strategic perspective
    • There is a ton of excitement, great rewards, and you become catalyst for a lot of groups within the organization
    • We’re always moving and impacting so much
    • You can become one of the most respected and valued members of the entire company and the clients you get to work with
  • There are so many different paths into presales, so have confidence in your background
    • Paul highlighted how some of the best presales consultant start the role almost as a 2nd career.
    • The transferable skills and level of expertise in some regard or domain from your initial career path can give you instant credibility, as a trusted advisor with your clients, if you become a presales professional for a software company focused on that domain.
      • Example 1: Transitioning in from education background —> look into SaaS software companies that are serving educational institutions
      • Example 2: Transitioning from Healthcare —> consider focusing your initial path into PreSales via a HealthTech company or startup
  • If you have the opportunity to join an academy program, and you can find a path or recommendation into those programs, you should go for it!
    • Paul mentioned that VMware has one, as do some of the other larger software companies
    • There are also great programs like PreSales Academy and many great books focused on the role that you can dive into, such as Great Demo!, the book by Peter Cohan that is the foundation of the training that Paul delivers
  • Lastly, take time to go back and re-listen to the useful analogies that Paul shares on discovery and demo best practices
    • He talks about the importance of learning how to discover what a potential clients most critical problems are, and then aligning your demo and approach to your findings from there.

Contact Info & Resources

Ways to connect with Paul:
Resources discussed or mentioned:

PLEASE NOTE: I use an AI-based service for episode transcriptions, so please forgive any transcription typos found below!

[00:00:00] Matt Madden: Well, hey everyone, this is Matt Madden and welcome to another episode of Path to Presales. Today I'm honored to have Paul Pearce on the show. I'm gonna let him introduce himself, but we're gonna really get into Paul's journey throughout the way and he's helped so many people progress throughout their pre-sales career.

And I know this is gonna be a, super valuable episode. So, Paul just wanted start by saying thanks for coming on the show.

[00:00:22] Paul Pearce: Hey. Well, thank you Matt. I appreciate the opportunity. It's been great to getting to know you a little bit and, and I'm thrilled to share some stories, some war stories, and hopefully points of inspiration for folks wanting to break into presale. So it's one of my favorite topics in the entire world. I think it's one of the best career choices in the entire world.

And, uh, man, I'm just happy to share anything that I can. I'm anxious to see where the conversation goes today.

[00:00:46] Matt Madden: Awesome. Well, we're gonna dive right in and that sounds excellent. And I wanna start where I normally do with my guest, which is. If you could take us on a journey back to when you first learned about the role of pre-sales and specifically, how you broke into tech and if you learned about pre-sales, in that process or at a later stage, if you wouldn't mind taking us there.

And, Anywhere you wanna go with that ball, but I really would love to kind of start at that point and then work our way forward, if that's good with you.

[00:01:18] Paul Pearce: Yeah, that sounds good. Well, hey, real quick. Currently I'll tell you about that and then I'll tell you how it got started back, uh, many, many years ago, about 26 years ago. So today I'm, uh, running operations for Great Demo!. and Doing Discovery. Great Demo! Is one of the world's leading pre-sales methodologies, and I started with essentially learning Great Demo! Back in 2004.

I was a director of solution consulting for a California-based company, and I was new as a director and I wanted to figure out how to train my team, and I found Great Demo! And the author Peter Cohan. And I called him and got to know him a little bit and he came in and trained my team.

I've done a lot of training with different companies and so forth, but I always went back to Great Demo! Because I thought it laid just the perfect foundation of which to build a career. So for folks moving into the role, folks I've worked with, that's always been the established baseline, if you will.

And, uh, I've had three global presales leadership roles. And believe it or not, I started as a pre-sales person, myself back in 1996. And, uh, we learned in college as well as another, organization right outta college that I guess I can present and speak. Okay. So I first joined, so just a little bit more I guess in the background before I get to your question.

Uh, when I came outta high school, didn't know what I wanted to do. I drove a semi, I was a Ford mechanic. I joined the International Guard and figured bunched my dad's advice that, look man, you gotta invest in yourself and learn technology. So I started in communications and computers in the Air Force and the International Guard. And it was interesting because of that technology bent, and focus, that's essentially what got me my first job out of college as a finance mba. in college, but it was always the technology that I loved, and that's the thing that opened the doors for me. So as a grad assistant, as a tech, at a university and a ceo, e o came out and, the, uh, head of the department told his CEO that he needed to know me.

So we, uh, started off with a great conversation. I moved in to technology. But I was gonna be a programmer, essentially. And I went through a system engineer development program. It was like six to eight weeks of a really intensive training, 20 hours a day, did massive projects. And when I moved out of that role, I entered into a consulting project.

It'll answer maybe something we'll talk about a little bit later. Like, you know, when you're like, I don't know if I can actually do this, and how to portray myself as a, as a person who can, but essentially that background is what moved me into pre-sales. So with the technology background, we started creating software products and I had an opportunity to move into, into selling and representing those way back in 1996.

So that's, um, a little bit about myself. And then how I first learned that prey sales existed was at that organization, the head of salesperson, and I don't even know if the company itself knew it was truly pre-sales. They just said, look, you know, technology, you know our products and you're a pretty good speaker, so, We're gonna have you go out and give some demos to some customers and do some trade shows.

And, uh, after about a year or so of that, I had an opportunity to move into what I considered my first real pre-sales role, where I was specifically hired to be a solution consultant or a sales engineer. and, uh, life has been just full of blessings ever since. And so that's, uh, that's how I got transitioned, at least into my first pre-sales role. now, Matt, I've done a lot of things. Like, I've been in sales, I've run sales.

Uh, I've done a little bit of implementation work, but the best, in my opinion, like the best job in an entire company since I've done numerous, is in pre-sales. And this is what I've told my teams numerous times. I take it all the way back to my International Guard days.

I said, like, when you're a pre-sales dude, you're, you're like an F 16 fighter pilot. And my team always thinks like, what are you talking about? It's like, well, think about this. Like you just start the war. You don't, you know, you don't have to clean it up. But essentially like you're sitting there and the alarm sounds, you go to the mission, the briefing room, which is meeting with your account executive.

You get the details of what you need for us. Maybe we'll do a little bit more discovery and find out more coordinates and ordinance about, um, about our clients, but then, It's like you hop in that F 16 and it's full speed ahead after burner's blaring, man, and you are racing to that customer site a little bit more.

So when we were basically doing more face-to-face than what we're doing now with Zoom. But even today, it's like, man, you're there. You get there as fast as you can. And then we drop our ordinance, right? We hit the target, we nailed the demo. We pull back in full throttle again and we're out of there. Right.

We get home as fast as we can. There's always an amazing meal, right? You know, when I was in the Air Force, the, the fighter pilots always wore their jumpsuits to the bar, so everyone knew they were a pilot.

But it's kinda the same thing, man. We get amazing meals, great stories, and then we get briefed on the next opportunity.

We plan, we prep, we get our coordinates and flight path and everything down, and then we go do it again. We don't, we don't have to go clean it up. We're not, you know, we're not the first one there. We're not the Marines and we're not the army. And clean it up afterwards to say, I mean, we're in it and we're out.

And I think I, I love that because we get to meet tons of customers, we really get to help solve a lot of problems. So from a strategic perspective and a focus and a knowledge, which a masses so many different things. Across the middle, what I call middle of the funnel sales activities. It's fantastic. So tons of excitement, great rewards, and I really think we're the catalyst for a lot of groups within the organization.

I mean, we have to work with services and transition or knowledge and customer support, customer success after they're implemented. And if we're really following along with our customers, we can establish some really. Lifelong or, or career long relationships with some amazing customers. Um, but we're always moving and I, and impacting so much.

So I love that being one of the most respected and valued members, not only of just the sales team, but of the entire company. So if you're listening to this podcast, when you're thinking about joining the role or getting a pre-sales job, hang on man. Uh, it's awesome. And if you've just got started, Man, I think you chill is a wonderful career.

Uh, so

[00:07:53] Matt Madden: I wish people could just see your excitement in speaking to that because I love that analogy so much. And I don't do video podcasts yet. Maybe I should at some point. But that's just such a great journey you took us on and laying the groundwork for where you're at today. And I jumped right into your past.

But I'm glad that, thank you for speaking to where you're at today, cuz I wanna. Zoom forward to that now that we've got this great foundation it's amazing to hear that even after leading sales functions and, after being, in the military, and again, thank you for your service during that time and.

to everybody out there. We know there are a lot of folks that obviously come out of different branches of the military and they get a lot of great technical training there, but, You know, the role of pre-sales probably doesn't necessarily exist as a function within the military, but there's so much transferrable skills to so many organizations where what they've learned could be really extremely valuable within, uh, any organization that, requires pre-sales professionals.

And so I, I really hope that, we can reach them with this message today. And, Just help them consider this, this is a path that could work really well for them. and, just blending those transferrable skills with, the soft skills they have built to this time.

And really, I guess for everybody. But I just love that analogy too cuz I have family in the military and I just think about, how hard people work in there to not only serve their country, but also. Work towards putting themselves in a position to really help, set themselves up for a successful career.

Learning these skillsets that are just gonna continue to pay dividends,when they, move into their civilian life. So, thank you for that.

[00:09:31] Paul Pearce: You're welcome. I guess a fresh perspective on that in comparison to the military is no one dies in a demo, so congratulations. You got a pretty safe career too.

[00:09:42] Matt Madden: exactly.

So could we, as a starting point now, as we start to move into some of the things that are. More tactical for people that are maybe at the stage of they've just heard where we're at in this conversation or they've been looking into pre-sales, and what are the skillsets and the things that they should be thinking about if they want to, transition into the role or break into the role.

Maybe they're just coming out of college and they're learning about this, or, you know, they will be soon. Could we start broad before we get into specific methodologies that might be part of Great Demo! And the training that, that you helped deliver today, which I definitely want to hear more about, but just, you know, 30,000 foot view on general domains of learning and skills and things that, should be on those folks radar as they're looking to, break into the role.

[00:10:36] Paul Pearce: You got it. You know, it's, it's, it's interesting that you ask that because especially in the role that I have today, I work with so many different software companies, uh, and, and I'm still learning so much about different industries that the software serve. Actually, surf software impacts almost every industry.

Whether, you know, whether it's construction to finance, to, you name it, it's all covered. And so first of all, this one may, this one is an interesting comment and, and don't take it too much at face value, but I think the best pre-sales consultants start pre-sales essentially as a second career. And I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from jumping in from college.

Let me start with that first. Because I think when you have this level of expertise in some regard or some domain, then you've got like this immediate level of trusted advisor and respected advisor for your clients. You can challenge them. Uh, and so that's why I think sometimes the best transition is one from folks who've got tremendous amounts of career experience.

But I've also worked with numerous organizations and seen just some stellar. Um, academies and different, uh, onboarding programs essentially for pre-sales that really take into, you know, sales focus, to pre-sales, to technology, to, uh, storytelling, to executive presentations and presence to so many other things.

And so I think when, when there's young professionals who are looking at. You know, jumping into the role, the first thing I would say is if you can get into an academy program like VMware and SaaS, and I just talked to, uh, a customer or potential customer today that's starting an academy program and, uh, these things mean that they're gonna invest a significant amount in you and take you from your college experience and some of your general knowledge and then build it very, very specifically for that company and that role.

And I think that's the first thing I'd suggest if you can find one of those. And you can find someone that'll recommend you into those programs, man, jump on. Because the, the intensity and the level of the training is almost like a master's degree to some extent in this role and, and how to really make an impact like an organization.

And I think you can st I think you can really build a career at organizations like that. Cause that means they're really focused on it. And then there's others. I think if there's, first of all just an area that you're really interested in. Right. So if you're really passionate about something and you, and you know it, if you're using something today, um, anything from your background, you know, for example, I mentioned way back first outta college, I was driving a truck.

I've actually done Great Demo! Training to folks who drove trucks and now build trucking software, right? So you can use every experience that I think you had and if there's something that you feel you've got an edge on. Focus on that because now you can take that passion and you can apply it to technology and software and start solving problems and helping customers achieve, you know, greater levels of a successive efficiency.

I dunno if I answered your question, uh, specifically, but just some initial thoughts on ways maybe to jump in and, you know, I'd ask you, Matt, did you want me to focus maybe more on specific skills and other attributes, but

[00:13:57] Matt Madden: No, I love that initial answer and we can definitely dive into specific skills in, in that, but I think that was an excellent starting point and I certainly can relate when I think about before moving into a pre-sales role, for me, my background was, as I've shared on other episodes thus far, A mix of inside outside sales roles.

It wasn't purely technical, some were more technical sales than other, but it wasn't, along the lines of a solutions consulting or sales engineering role, et cetera. but for a w a while I thought, man, these different verticals that I've worked in, N there certainly isn't a clear connection from one to the other.

Some might not be useful ever again in terms of that domain expertise that I built back at that time. And it's been amazing to see as I've, worked within pre-sales and certain. vertical focuses have taken place within one org or another where some of that, learning during that time has come to be very useful.

And, you know, to where people are looking at me like, and I acknowledge I'm not a subject matter expert by any means, like somebody that's been working in that vertical for, you know, 10, 20, 30 years their whole career. But I've got some perspective there that I think can be helpful at this time. So I, I'm really glad you, you mentioned that angle too, because I'm, I'm sure a lot of people, it's easy to struggle when you're thinking about transitioning into any new field with.

You know, the effect of imposter syndrome making you feel like, who am I to try to go and break into that, space and, and lose sight of the fact that those transferrable skills that you have are actually probably holding more weight than you're giving them credit for.

[00:15:36] Paul Pearce: Absolutely man. Don't underestimate any experience or any relationship that you have in your career or your life.

[00:15:43] Matt Madden: Mm-hmm.

[00:15:43] Paul Pearce: just amazed even today, so I'm 52 years old. I've been, I said I've been doing this for like 26 years. But I'm just blown away at today of like life experiences, weird things, hobbies, interests, people I know seem to come around and help me have a better understanding and grasp of ways that I can help my customers.

And, just definitely, um, there's so much that you get to leverage and there's, there's only one you, you're very unique, but, uh, you know, you admission, imposter syndrome and, uh, it's real. It's, I've suffered from it as well. Um, But don't undervalue yourself. Actually, you know, I dunno if you wanna jump there in the, in the discussion, but I'd love to tell you a story

[00:16:24] Matt Madden: Yeah, let's do it. That'd be awesome.

[00:16:25] Paul Pearce: my career that was, I was actually at my first real, I guess, pre-sales job.

It was my second job outta college.

[00:16:32] Matt Madden: Hmm.

[00:16:33] Paul Pearce: and I didn't feel like I belonged there.

I felt like everyone else had earned the right to be there and, and perhaps I wasn't quite qualified and that I was still qualifying myself, or I was still so new under the role. That I just didn't have the, I guess the, the level of knowledge that I needed.

And I remember at times being a bit apologetic about it. And there was this buddy of mine who was working with me at the time, he was from Dallas, his name's Jason Schmidt. And Jason, uh, pulled me aside one time, like we both had about the same level of experience. He just had a different perspective.

And he said, dude, you got the job. You were hired and I hired you. Because of your skills, your experience, your knowledge, and he said, you, you earned a seat at the table. You're here. He said, stop feeling like you're, you're not worthy or you don't have what it takes. He said, because you, you've already passed that test.

He said, I want you to have confidence in yourself because you're crushing this job and everyone loves you. but it was something along the lines like, you've already earned it. And that stuck with me so many times. So the day you get the job, own it, right? Doesn't mean you have to be overconfident, but, uh, you know, it's okay.

It's okay to be on your learning path. We all are, we still are probably even greater paths of learning today than I had 26 years ago because of technology. Uh, but man, once

you're there, just. Grab it, grab it and own it. And think of my buddy Jason, cuz he certainly had a huge impact in my career with literally a, a 32nd conversation.

[00:18:08] Matt Madden: man. So that was a tipping point for you, just in terms of your confidence moving forward, it sounds like.

[00:18:13] Paul Pearce: It wasn't the way that I even presented myself. I think I've always been a humble person. Uh, I've probably learned it confidence over the years, but very, very humble and, and I think that did it built confidence. And then just gave me an entirely new perspective. Look, I have the right to be here. I have done what I needed to do, and, uh, maybe someone's got enhanced or skills that compliment mine, but everyone's got a unique skill and a unique gift.

And, so continue, own it. Now. Let me honor that with something if, if we could, doesn't mean you can be overconfident. I recently was doing some interviews and decided not to hire someone. because they were a little bit younger in their career and way overconfident, my question was, how do you, how well do you know this technology?

And the answer that they gave me as a very young individual, fresh outta college was, I'm an absolute expert in that. I laughed to myself and I thought, you know, how many times I've heard that from construction people who mess up projects cuz they're experts to, to young folks who are, who maybe have a little more confidence or overplaying their confidence.

So I think there's always the right level there. And perhaps this person could have told me, Paul, I'm extremely confident in my skills and where I'm at in my knowledge, but one of the reasons I wanna partner with you is because I don't know what I don't know, but I tell you what, man, I got the passion and the drive and the energy to figure it out and learn everything I can to rock this position.

And if you wanna partner with me, then you know I'm on board. That answer would've got that person the job,

[00:19:45] Matt Madden: Yeah. Gosh. I'm glad you shared that cuz some of the best professionals in general, not just pre-sales professionals, but folks that I've learned from on my journey thus far have. Certainly just reflected and been a great example of owning what you know and being honest about what you don't, you know, you don't know what you don't know, but not trying to fake that.

Uh, being transparent about, where your, your knowledge stops. And having that mindset, like you described of. open to learning, partnering with the right people to figure it out together, and just how far that can carry you in staying humble in the process as well. I think if you've got that mindset, like you were talking about, you're naturally approaching it from a place of being humble with where you're at today, what, you know, being confident in what you know, but also, I think I've heard the phrase,strong opinions loosely held, and I think that's kind of true here in, in this approach.

[00:20:47] Paul Pearce: back in the year 2000, I took a, a course. It was, uh, it was a discovery course. probably one of the second best courses, of course, next to the one I teach that I've ever taken in my career. And, um, when we started the class, this was just so eye-opening to me, the instructor said, Hey, on the first page of your workbook is, a list of skills and a rating of like one to five, and all of those skills.

Rate yourself at how much knowledge you think you have. Perhaps like asking the right types of questions, one to five, can you do it or not? As an example. And so I remember filling that out at where I was at, maybe a three or a four, thinking I was skilled in areas and maybe weaker than others. And after this two day class, the instructor said, now I want you to go back to page one, and I want you to update your chart, but here's the twist.

He said, I don't want you to tell me where you now think you are. I want you to go back and rerate yourself at where you now think you were knowing what you know. And so all my threes and fours went back to ones and twos because I had learned so much more that I realized I didn't know near as much, um, as I thought.

Right, because there's different levels of, of competence.

[00:22:05] Matt Madden: I think what you're highlighting there speaks to, it seems like in most domains of learning, whatever the, the skill or the methodology might be, the deeper you get into it, the more experience you get with it, the more you realize. The depth of variation that's possible and the things that you probably didn't know that you thought when you just quickly.

Did a snap judgment. You're trying to, like, we all do, we're human. We try to put things into buckets that are familiar with us, but you might have put it in an oversimplified bucket and been really confident in where you place that out the gate and then you get into it and you realize, wow, there's a lot more to this that I thought I knew that.

I just don't. And so I think it's great for people to hear because you know, we all, we all do it. And even, you know, if you. Find yourself in that position when you started a new role? and you feel really good about learning something. I've found it to be just helpful to not beat myself up if somebody comes along within the organization and helps me learn.

Wow. There's a whole nother element to this, or I was thinking about this a little wrong. Um, and just being open to that teaching, you know, as you go versus beating yourself up or, just Feeling like you gotta be in some, smarter than the other battle or something to that effect, you know?

[00:23:18] Paul Pearce: Yeah, the word I was looking for is unconscious incompetence versus conscious incompetence. Um, and so when we're, um, Unconsciously incompetent. We don't know what we don't know. And that overconfidence at time can be kind of risky, but that wasn't what we were talking about. I guess it was the complete o other side of that.

Right. Of uh, just not feeling that you've earned the right to be there yet.

[00:23:47] Matt Madden: Yeah. Well, you know, one of the things that I've. Certainly turned to, to just help me overcome that imposter syndrome. And I know this can just be a tried and true method is consistently showing up in your learning effort and your habit and routine, whatever you're trying to learn to break into a new career or just build a new hobby.

You know, for me, for a long time that was guitar, which ended up, turning into an education path as totally different part of my journey before pre-sales. But you know, whether it's a skill, for, your life outside of work or you're, you're trying to grow within, your path professionally.

What are some of the. Tips, habits, recommendations you would have for folks that are, uh, struggling with imposter syndrome. When you think about, from what I just described, things that they can work on that can really just help them be more consistent and help them, just keep showing up.

Um, anything come to mind for you, Paul, that you wanna share?

[00:24:50] Paul Pearce: Absolutely. actually, I think you alluded to this, Matt, and I thought it was brilliant. It, it, I would use the word discipline. you said keep showing up, but it's the, the discipline to continue to do what you know needs to be done until it becomes a habit, uh, an unconscious, action that you take.

And so I think that discipline's very important. I think part of discipline, if you're new into the role and you're feeling like an imposter is working a little bit more than everybody else, you know, if you, if you work 12 hours and everyone else is working, eight hours a day, you've essentially got a half year of experience on 'em.

By the end of the year. Year two, you've now excelled folks by a year. Right? You got 50% more experience than they do, which is working a little bit harder. And people will recognize that. So I think it's the perseverance. It's the determination, but I think it's actually just having the discipline to do the things that are a little bit harder.

One of the best pieces of advice I had from that CEO that hired me outta college, amazing guy named Mark Dren, and he said, look, man, when you were young, he said, it's, that's when you invest. He said, you can work your tail to the bone until you're in the mid thirties, and if you use those 12 hours, and really focus on your career.

The level of experience you'll have in your mid thirties drives you to the leadership positions. He said, you know, in those times, then you can pull back and you can coast a little bit, focus a little bit more on your family because you've built the routines, the discipline. You've built that knowledge, at a far greater level.

And so his advice was really invest in your career when you're young, get that knowledge and differentiate yourself. Differentiate yourself quickly. There was something else that I think might help with imposter syndrome. if nothing else just standing out is, uh, volunteer for as many special projects as you can.

Like if,

if if you can do that, you can build better relationships, you'll get fresh, new experiences and all those things add up into like your level of credibility in your experience. There's been times I've had to make basically like retention decisions and downsizing. Were two equal candidates, basically were sitting in the front of me and had to decide as it A or B.

It was the people that had done special projects or were doing special projects, were safe in those moments because they were, they were needed, to fulfill those types of things. So I think there's just some, the basics of that imposter syndrome. I think just believing yourself and believing you've earned the right to be there, first of all, continuing to invest in your education.

learning is gonna be a way to make yourself a hope, feel more comfortable in where you're at in the business. What do you think about that?

[00:27:27] Matt Madden: I agree with that perspective a hundred percent. I'm not just saying that to make you feel good, Paul, but, I've certainly can reflect on. Just my journey and the journey I've seen of others that I try to emulate. how they approach professionally, getting involved, taking on more to, to dive in, thinking about the business overall, not just, what they feel their core job functions are and the value that can bring, not just.

To themselves, but obviously collectively, for their growth and, you know, learning different skill sets that are gonna be just so huge. So definitely agree with that. And I think it's a great segue when we talk about learning into, I'd love to start from a scenario of. Let's say somebody is listening to this.

They heard you speak to Great Demo! At the beginning, and they drop it into Google. They're gonna see the excellent book, by Peter Cohen, and maybe start to learn, get on your website. See wow, there's some amazing content here that can really help them learn about just best practices within, being a pre-sales professional, delivering demos of course, but also doing discovery.

So, Let's say they they then order the book on Amazon. They order the second edition of, of Great Demo! Today. What advice would you give for them as they dive in, or is it a book that you think they should start with? Is there a book you would recommend before they start getting into the methodology of Great Demo!?

Just because you've, you've been teaching it for so long, you know it well, and you've worked with so many people at different stages of their journey.

[00:29:01] Paul Pearce: yeah. Well, first of all, I, I would recommend the book. it's the reason I've established essentially my now career is because I believe so much in it, but I. Think that the demo, and you had mentioned discovery are tools that we use in order to do our job. And I think people jump in at times and I think there's a select group of folks that believe that doing the demo is their job and it isn't necessarily the, the sole purpose of that pre-sales role.

And there's something, I think there's really brilliant and it, and it expands upon a lot of just sales methodologies in Great Demo!. And it's not specifically about how to do the demo, it's how to understand what your customer needs. And in Great Demo!, we call it the critical business issue, and the world loves to talk about problems.

I've got this problem and I need to get it fixed. But problems don't always sell. Software or solving problems doesn't always sell software. Um, but a critical business issue does, and the difference is perhaps a business issue is a problem, but it's the criticality that makes it something a customer has to fix that has a major impact on their business.

And for you to do your job effectively and to create a solution, you need to move a company's business and provide some form of value, but by understanding what the criticality and the, and the critical business issue is, then we can articulate value and the demo and the features and all that stuff.

They forget it anyway. Quite honestly, your demos will be forgotten within a week. 80% of what you do within a week is forgotten by your customer. So it's all about how can you focus on helping the customer. People will tell us in this career, like, I don't wanna be in sales. Yeah, okay. You don't have sales in your title, although you are a major component of the sales team.

What if you change your perspective and you just wanna help people and now you don't have to be their savior or their Superman, but what if you just truly just want to help people and help organizations and look at the massive impact that you can make with a piece of software and the processes, uh, or supporting the mission of, of an entire organization.

Because when we allow them to do that more efficiently, more productively, right, then they advance their cause. So if their cause is saving children, why don't you wanna be a part of that? And so really the, the focus doesn't necessarily have to be on how do I click correctly in a demonstration to sell software?

It's how do I understand the criticality of the business issue? Uh, here's an analogy that's in the book. We, we teach it in training as well, which is, um, let's, let's take, let's take your car, Matt. Tell me, uh, if you don't mind me asking, what kind of vehicle do you drive?

[00:31:34] Matt Madden: I have a Chevy Traverse

[00:31:36] Paul Pearce: Okay. Um, is there anything about this traverse that kind of bothers you? A rattle, squeak, anything that might annoy you? Stains

[00:31:44] Matt Madden: cold outside, the brakes do squeak when I back up.

[00:31:48] Paul Pearce: okay. Interesting. Hey, have you

[00:31:50] Matt Madden: Little thing. Little thing.

[00:31:52] Paul Pearce: Hello? Annoy the crap out of you. I'm sure. Have you had it to the mechanic to figure out what it'd take to fix it?

[00:31:59] Matt Madden: I have not, it's not that big of a problem for me.

[00:32:02] Paul Pearce: Okay. What would make that be a really big problem for you? How bad would that squeak have to get before you took it to the mechanic? Or how bad would the whole situation have to be?

[00:32:14] Matt Madden: That's a good question. Not to discredit your other questions cuz I, I try to be mindful of saying, that's a good question, but I think that, The, it would have to be clear. We're moving beyond a little squeak into one of these tires is gonna go, and I don't know which one it is, but something is going south quick.

So, yeah. Uh, that

[00:32:37] Paul Pearce: absolutely. And then at that point you might go talk to a mechanic. Right, and, and get a price or a quote, it would cost too much, or you don't see enough value in it yet, or the problem isn't critical enough for you to fix it. You'll probably sit on the quote for a while until one of two things happens. Um, first of all, it gets so bad. For example, your wheels about ready to fall off and the safety of your children and your wife and your family is at risk. You're gonna pay money to get that fixed. Or you have an ability, an ability to get to work or drive to the grocery store or whatever you need to do.

At that point, your issue became pretty critical, right? Which means you're willing now to spend money on it. But in deals that we do in software deals and sales that we do, customers do the same thing. You could go talk to You're a mechanic. It doesn't mean you're gonna fix it right away, right?

Um, And since it's not even critical at all, it's just an annoyance, but that's in the world of software. Customers talk about problems all the time. Doesn't mean they're gonna fix it. until it gets critical. So we need to know, understand the criticality of the business issue, because when it's critical, you're gonna spend money on it.

But if you're gonna focus on how you're gonna help a customer, don't, don't you wanna help customers, you've got real big issues and critical issues that you can solve that have dramatic and huge amounts of associated value to solving it. Um, just as,the follow up on one point, I said there's two reasons that you would fix that.

First is becomes super critical. Like it's your brakes. Are your will's gonna fall off or you can't safely. Move your children. The second reason is because your wife told you, don't come home if you don't have that thing fixed. Right? Like, you're never driving our children in that vehicle again. Uh, which means boss just told you to get her done.

So I think, you know, going back to the grid demo methodology, it's, it's really understanding, first of all, What's critical, how we can help, what value we can provide, and then identifying the vision for how we're going to do that with our solutions and technology and capabilities. Then we can formulate a demo path and a plan to help the customer get there very, very specifically, without doing what most young professionals do when they're starting doing demos, which is showing 'em all the neat stuff, all the things that they don't need,

[00:34:54] Matt Madden: Hmm.

[00:34:55] Paul Pearce: I mean, think about another analogy. Let's say, um, you're out walking with the kids. One of your children falls down and skins their knees, um, and they're skin up pretty good. They got a nice cut on their knee, their hands bleeding. Their elbows are kind of, you know, they hit the gravel. And it may be the stuff on the curb that gets brushed up, maybe like a little limestone pebble.

You're faw and having one of those get embedded in your hand and you're, you're rubbing it out and, uh, it stinks and it burns, right? Let's say you're, you're there with your kid who's now crying, bleeding, you're trying to clean him up, and someone comes and offers you something that's just not helpful at all, right?

They ask you maybe like, Hey, would you like an umbrella? And you look, you look at 'em and you're probably thinking, are you crazy? Are you an idiot? Like my kid's bleeding, right?

[00:35:46] Matt Madden: Don't you see what's going on? Yeah.

[00:35:48] Paul Pearce: Yeah. Yeah. What's going on? Yeah, it, but the difference is, so that person you're probably gonna be very annoyed with and ask 'em to excuse themselves from the situation,

[00:35:58] Matt Madden: Hmm.

[00:35:58] Paul Pearce: and hope they don't reappear, or they may have came up and just said, oh my goodness, I just saw what happens.

I've got some Neosporin in my, in my purse or my bag. I've got a few bandages. And a sucker for your kid, right? So let's get 'em cleaned up. Let's get him healthy. Let's get him a sucker. Make him happy again. If you need a ride home, I've got you. Whatever it is. That person all of a sudden is someone that you love and respect or adore and you appreciate cuz they helped you in a time of need.

And so the analogy is when you're learning the Great Demo! Methodology and you're learning these concepts, once again, we haven't talked about the demo, we're just talking about helping someone in need. And when we construct our demonstrations in the appropriate way, we're giving the neosporin and the bandage and the sucker.

We're giving the customer what they need first.

[00:36:48] Matt Madden: Hmm.

[00:36:49] Paul Pearce: Because your customer is in a time of need and crisis. That's why they're speaking to us. That's why they invested time and they've done the research and they got a project and they went and got budget and all this other stuff. And so one of the, the main concepts that I want folks to remember when they're doing demos or moving into the role, it's not about the features and it's not about your diatribe standard boring demo.

It's about first figuring out what your customer needs and helping them and taking that and articulating that with your solution. So if the customer sees it and you just do that first, cuz they don't care about all the other stuff.

That's what I love about Great Demo! Cuz you'll still learn how to tell the story. You'll still learn the right way and how to keep 'em engaged in the conversation, but it's, First of all, they just solve their problem

[00:37:32] Matt Madden: it reminds me of, I was watching recently, a webinar by consensus that. Peter Cohen was leading around discovery and he was speaking to, uh, analogy similar to what you shared around. Diagnosing and if you went to the doctor and let's say you just had flu-like symptoms and you're pretty convinced you have flu.

I don't want to totally retell his story. I would recommend people go watch that webinar. It's excellent. and it's centered around seven levels of discovery and very helpful. Especially as if you're out there and you're like, what do they mean?

When we're talking about discovery, cuz you know, there's just a new term. There are lots of new terms. They demo, short for demonstration and so on. It just helps tie all these together. but certainly that discovery piece, like you're talking about is, is so huge

And I, I just love those analogies too. So, one thing that came to mind I think would be helpful for people, let's say that

They've been in the interview process, they just landed a pre-sales role, and their manager on day one kinda lays out a path of here's what we're gonna do for the first week, you know, the first month, the next, 30, 60, 90 days or so on. And a big chunk of that might understandably be, I need you to become an expert in the product and it.

Puts on this lens. I feel like when that's the case, and I've certainly been that position, and it's very important obviously, to know the ins and outs of the product, but how do you temper that with what you just shared,

what advice would you give to them when you know they're getting that recommendation as here's what you should focus on first. keeping in mind obviously what you just shared is, is what's gonna move the needle ultimately when they get into the conversations and start to learn about, the struggles and pains of buyers that are potentially a really good fit for their solution.

but the importance of kind of peeling things back and really get understanding where they're at today. do you have any advice, in that scenario,

[00:39:17] Paul Pearce: Yeah, I do. I think that's step number one, is you have to learn the product. you have to learn it very well. I'm trying to think of the right word. Maybe you can help me with this, Matt. Uh, it, it's like a to-go bag and I'm, I'm thinking like, uh, military folks, I just can't think of the right word.

They leave it in their closet. It's ready to go. It's always packed. Right. And in the time of crisis, they, they opened the

closet, they grabbed their go bag bug out bag. That's the word I was looking for. Thank you. You're awesome.

[00:39:42] Matt Madden: no

[00:39:42] Paul Pearce: the bug outback. I mean, when you're going through that 30, 60, 90 days, you're essentially establishing your bug out bag, right?

You're, you're putting all the skills, all the knowledge, everything that you need. So when you get called and you grab your bug out bag and you run to the customer, you've got everything you need. It doesn't mean that you pull everything out of the bag. But it means that anytime you get asked the question or a customer has a need, you've got the solution and the idea or the capability or the feature to help solve it.

And so I think that's, that's just the basis and the groundwork. But here's where I want, I want folks to remember this is after you've gained some level of competence or expertise in the product, you need to stop. Stop doing demos the way you learn the product. And change your focus on new demos onto how can you then use what you know, to give it very specifically in bitesize components, based upon what they need.

So you're not always gonna pull the ax out of that, bug out bag, but you may need your first aid kit, right? Or whatever it is. I don't know what's in everyone's bag, but so learn it. Yeah. Become the expert there, and then learn how to basically tweak it and tell it in a story in a way that's meaningful to the customer.

Here's one thing I want you to remember as well, write this

down. If you do the exact same demo every time to every customer, first of all, you suck. and they're gonna replace you with, automation and technology and, uh, You know, John Care, he's another industry, pundit and an expert like Peter Cohen.

Uh, love the guy. He's written, several books as well, and mastering technical sales is, one of the books he's most famous for. John had an article a couple years ago and he said, SM presales, how do we ensure we're relevant in the year 2025? He said, with, you know, you mentioned consensus and vivin and a lot of different tools used to automate.

Capabilities, but consensus is awesome, right in, in recording demos and automating demos and helping customers see the path and some of the capabilities of your solution. So we can already record demos, but what, what John said, which I thought was amazing, was the way you become relevant and remain relevant in the year 2025 is by articulating value and by doing it very uniquely based upon the customer's need.

And so I would go back and say, you, you certainly have to know the product. You have to get that expertise. But if you're just giving the same demo every time, you're no longer relevant, you can be replaced. And to be relevant, you have to uniquely position your product to every customer who uses it differently and articulate the value that that customer will receive from using it.

And that's something that right now, Automation doesn't allow us to do it. Genericize value, it doesn't personalize value, and that's where you're different and that's how you become great.

[00:42:41] Matt Madden: Love it. Uh, such good device, man. well, Paul, we're kind of nearing the end of my questions here. We've dove into so much and the books you mentioned, including the one from, John Care that you just spoke to, and then obviously Great Demo!, Doing Discovery, gonna have links to those in the show notes, for today.

And I wanted to give you the opportunity as one of our closing questions, to speak to, Great Demo! A little more. Is there anything you'd like to share in terms of maybe a specific resource on the site or just the book that would be helpful for people as they might, you know, dive into those links or follow up from hearing today's episode?

[00:43:19] Paul Pearce: You bet, uh, on the Great Demo! Website, Peter, as well as myself and others. For years have been writing amazing white papers and articles. Just one a week. And if you go to the resources tab on Great Demo!.com, man, there's, blogs, podcasts, webinars, and articles, hundreds of them. Peter hasn't written a new book.

He's got, uh, addition three coming out, in the near future. So stay tuned for that. But he had said for years, I'm not writing the third edition because I've written it. And every week I put a new chapter to the book@greatdemo.com and my blog posts and my articles. Let's go out there and just pick articles and quick reads.

Peter's always got an amazing story. you'll find a small sampling of things that I've used for my career and experience and different things that I learned from customers, as well. So go out there. it's a great resource. For you as you're building your career, if you're struggling or having challenges.

The other thing you might wanna do is join the Great Demo! and Doing Discovery LinkedIn Group. It's another place just to have some fellowship within the role of pre-sales and, ask, thousands of peers questions. And so two resources that are available from Great Demo! Free of charge, based upon well over 20 years of experience in pre-sales.

[00:44:39] Matt Madden: That's amazing. And I know you must stay extremely busy between the work you're doing with training and so on. I mean, are you on the road a lot, Paul? I'm just curious with that and could you just give people a flavor of some of the different teams that you've been working with more recently.

You don't have to name companies, but

would love to hear that if people are curious.

[00:44:58] Paul Pearce: Yeah, I'm on the road about every other week. So usually if I'm in the office, we're doing, some type of virtual, training.

Uh, I'll be traveling. Arizona next week to spend four days with an organization that's training folks on Doing Discovery and Great Demo!. Kind of a cool little, retreat.

I'm excited about that. but yeah, you name it. Any software, that we've worked with from advanced Scientifics to, cybersecurity has been a real big one, this year as, as well as to, you know, I've actually seen now services companies that don't have or even demonstrate software using components of Great Demo! And how to communicate with.

Their audience members and to do proper discovery. So there's really not an industry that software serves that we can't help with the methodology. More importantly, just learning how to talk to customers and understand their needs so we can solve their problems, help them advance their mission, which really gives us purpose to what we're doing.

Sometimes it's a, it's a subtle way of doing it. When you multiply the efforts and the effects that we can have on an organization through the value of our software, and then amplify that to millions of people around the world, it's pretty, pretty amazing. I mean, what we do and the value of your demo maybe is ever, it'd be hard to measure, I guess, truly the impact that you could have on the world by helping customers, fulfill their emissions more effectively.

So, I don't know. I guess in conclusion I'd say we have 16 fighter pilot, man. Go, uh, go save the world. Enjoy your job, man, and, this is a great career. I'd also say, if you wanna reach out to me, let me know. It's Paul Pearce. I'm on LinkedIn. you might put a link there. My email address is p Pearce, p p e a r c e@greatdemo.com.

And if there's just anything I can ever do to help anyone. In this career, get started, get over a hurdle, career advice, more crazy analogies and stories. Man. I'd love to help you.

[00:46:53] Matt Madden: Paul. Thanks so much. this has been just loaded full of value, I know for listeners, and I'm excited to just help, point them in your directions. Again, we'll have the links as mentioned in the show notes. Bear with me, I'm catching up a little bit on my show notes there, getting into my podcasting rhythm.

So appreciate you guys, uh, being patient, but I'll, have those live, with this episode, is the goal. And, if there is any other questions as well. resources you're looking for, things you want to hear about, that are relevant to what we talked about today, let me and Paul know as well.

I think that'd be really helpful for both of us. I'm certainly curious to hear what piqued your interest, what's most helpful for you. and with that, just wanna thank you again, Paul, for, coming on the show and I look forward to, catching up with you again sometime soon.

[00:47:36] Paul Pearce: Yeah, my pleasure. And Matt, I just gotta say, man, I love what you're doing here, just serving in this community and pulling this together, man. I just, uh, love and respect what you're doing here. So for me, to you on behalf of the industry, thanks man. This is, uh, a great conversation and a great avenue for a lot of folks getting in.

Maybe even a reminder for folks who've been in, in a while and some of the best practices. So man, just kudos and thanks to you.

[00:47:58] Matt Madden: Thank you, Paul. I appreciate that.

[00:48:00] Paul Pearce: You are welcome.


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