In our 2nd episode of #NutsAboutPreSales, we chatted with the fascinating Tom Banton, GVP of Solutions Engineering at eightfold.ai.
Hear from one of the industry leaders as he covers what it takes to be a solutions engineer, why you need to know your audience by name, what he loves about preSales, and much more!
Watch the full episode now or read the transcription below:
What’s your name and where do you work?
My name is Tom Banton and I’m the Global Vice President of Solutions Engineering at eightfold.ai.
What’s the craziest thing a sales pro has done on a call?
We had a demo that just was going south for multiple reasons, and ten minutes into it he said, “You know what, I’m pulling the plug. It’s obvious that we’re not aligned here, so rather than waste your time and ours, we’re just going to pack up our things and go.”
You really need to know when to do that, but this was absolutely the right time to do that. And again, we were invited back, we took the fall saying we weren’t prepared and they let us back and I’m pretty sure we ultimately won that deal too.
What makes a good presales pro?
You have to be a people person. You have to like people. But then I also think you need to like to solve problems creatively. And I think if you have those two combinations and you’re willing to learn technology then you can be a great presales person.
What’s your best presentation hack?
When we do introductions, I’ll write down everyone’s first names and the department they’re in, and then if I’m showing something that I think that person cares about, I’ll say “Hey Barry, I’m about to show this thing that you might care about,” and try to pull them into the conversation.
What’s the secret to a good sales and pre-sales collab?
You got to know each other outside of work and you’ve got to trust each other. So I always coach my pre-sales team: spend 15-30 minutes at least getting to know your AEs, find out what they’re good at, and let them stay in their swim lane of what they’re good at and try to encompass what they aren’t good at.
What do you love the most about pre-sales?
So I’ve been doing this since the 90s and I just love meeting new customers. I loved being on the road, especially when I was doing manufacturing software and seeing how things were made. Meeting new people, solving new challenges—this job is never boring.
What’s your sales style?
This is about relationships so you got to find somebody that you click with in every meeting.
You’re best relationships during a sales cycle become your best references, so keep relationships after you’ve closed the deal.
Sell me a walnut!
So I do have walnuts in my fridge and I chop them up and I’ve been putting them in my pancakes, just to make them a little more interesting. So I do have walnuts in my fridge right now.