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Bob Bruchey
Bob Bruchey

Summary

Bob Bruchey has over 39 years of sales and marketing experience with numerous companies in the Information Technology industry. He began his career as a sales representative with the Burroughs Corporation after graduating “Magna Cum Laude” from the University of Maryland in College Park. Bob worked at Digital Equipment Corporation for over 20 years, holding positions that included Global Account Manager, District Sales Manager, Director of Regional Marketing and Director of Federal Government Professional Services Sales. He also served as Director of Americas Professional Services Sales at Compaq Computer Corporation. 

Bob’s career continued with Vice President of Sales positions at a Price Waterhouse Coopers subsidiary, Wintara, Iponix and Cross Match Technologies. 

As a senior consultant in GDA, Bob uses his sales and sales management experience to incorporate powerful insights into his delivery of GDA consulting, skills, techniques and tools.

A Presentation and No Deal

It was early in my career.  I was a Territory Manager (another term for Sales Rep) for Burroughs Corporation in the mid 70’s.  Burroughs at that point in time was one of the largest computer companies in the world with a range of products from calculators to large, mainframe computers.  I was working a territory in Prince George’s County, Maryland calling on mostly small organizations.  Burroughs had a line of computers that fit the requirements and budgets of the small business marketplace.  It was my job to get the word out there about these offerings and, of course, close some business.

Most of marketing was done via cold calling.  You really grew up fast working deals from start to finish and, of course, learning things the hard way.   One of my first prospects was a small hardware wholesaler that needed a system for payroll, accounts receivable (billing) and account payable.  I made a cold call on the owner of the firm.  Over a series of meetings, I got to know the owner and his organization pretty well.  Everything was leading up to final presentation/demonstration I was going to make to the owner.  It was at the conclusion of this meeting that I was going to receive the “go-ahead” to put on order their new L6500 mini-computer.

The presentation took place on a Thursday afternoon in our office in Kensington, MD.    My boss, the Zone Sales Manager, welcomed the owner to the presentation and then turned it over to me for the “show”.  I had done my homework.  I spend time with the owner and knew what he wanted to see.  My demonstration of the various application areas ran smoothly and the owner was giving me all of the signs that I was on track.  Then something happened.  The owner asked me to demonstrate inventory control on the L6500.  There was only one problem.  The L6500 couldn’t do inventory control.   Inventory control required a much larger system.  

How could I have missed this?  Why didn’t the owner indicate to me over my three meetings with him that an automated inventory control was a need of the organization?    Well, as it turns out, the company uncovered a major problem in the current inventory system the week before that created a major customer satisfaction issue with their largest customer.    Since my last meeting with the owner was two weeks ago, inventory control was not an issue for him at that time.  

What’s a basic truth about customer needs?   They change all of the time.  How can you be sure that the needs haven’t changed?  Simple answer – you ask – every time.  A simple technique could have been utilized at the beginning of the presentation that could have at least salvaged my demonstration.  What if I summarized the needs of the hardware wholesaler before I started demonstrating my solution?  Would I have discovered that the owner had changed his priorities?  Yes.  Would I have been able to salvage the presentation/demonstration?   I think I could have.  I would have taken more time up front to better understand his expanded needs and offered some alternatives to solving his problem.   

So what ultimately happened in this account?   I didn’t have to go back to square one with this customer but I did have to spend more time with him to prioritize his needs and lay out a range of solutions to address those needs.  As it turns out, the most cost effective solution for the owner was to purchase the L6500 to address his accounts receivable, accounts payable and payroll needs.   A computerized inventory control solution was way out of his budget under his current operation, but I set the stage in building a relationship that would eventually address the inventory problem.  It took me an additional 4 weeks to close the initial piece of business but I learned a valuable listen.  Needs change.   Priorities change.   Every time you meet with the customer review your understanding of his needs to be sure you are still on track.  In particular, before you present your solution, confirm your understanding of your customer’s needs.   I was lucky.  It only cost me 4 weeks when I forgot to include a summary of needs before my presentation to the hardware wholesaler.  You may not be so lucky.  It might cost you the deal.

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