Sales Engineering discussion with Tim Davis

Published on: May 7th, 2021

Guest Speaker

Tim Davis

Director of Solutions Architecture at Zscaler

Tim Davis brings over 15+ years of sales engineering experience with him. Tim has worked in SE leadership roles at Bitglass, Inc. and Layer 3 Communications in the past.

About the Podcast

In this episode, Tim Davis of Zscaler joins the discussion with Vik. Tim is the Director of Solutions Architecture at Zscaler. Vik and Tim discuss the evolution of sales engineering, sales engineering leadership, the process of proof of concepts, life hacks, and much more.


Vik: [00:00:31] Hi, everyone. This is your host Vik Arya and this is the podcast, Proof is in the Pudding. Today, we have a very special guest. He has been in sales engineering leadership role for more than 15 years. Hello, Tim, how are you doing?

Tim Davis: [00:00:45] Hey Vik. I’m great. Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Vik: [00:00:49] Great, good to have you here as well.

And you know, I always start my podcasts most of the time asking people how they got into sales engineering. So, how has your journey, what’s your story about getting into the sales engineering?

Tim Davis: [00:01:02] Yeah, it was kind of an accident I was working at AT&T as a network administrator, uh, running the central office WAN for, uh, for those guys and was approached by somebody that had worked, uh, So, people that I was working with and was starting a practice, more, a networking and security reseller, and were looking for some technical talent to come on board with them.

And so, uh, started, you know, started some conversations and, uh, it was initially kind of targeted more for a post sales role. Um, but as they talked with me a little more, they they’ve kind of, and I started working there. I did started out mostly post-sales and doing a little bit of pre-sales and then sort of morphed over the years into more and more pre-sales along the way.

So, uh, it was kind of fun. So, uh, have a lot of, a lot of fun experiences along the way. Um, my first, my first, uh, I think it was a rite of passage for everybody, but my first, first time I did a security audit for somebody. Uh, we were using, uh,

[00:02:00] Nessus and Nmap and I ended up knocking down all their servers.

Um, so that was a little bit of a blackout. I think that’s a rite of passage for anybody that does anything in security. Um, but, uh, yeah, that was, that was kinda my first, uh, foray into uh pre-sales and then also having to deal with the unhappy customer that, uh, I had made unhappy, nothing like trauma, the fire, right?

Vik: [00:02:24] Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, this is interesting. Uh, recently I started this poll out of this curiosity on LinkedIn that how people got into sales engineering and, uh, almost 69 to 70% people said exactly what you said, that they started somewhere else. And they eventually got pulled into sales engineering.

But I think now in last, I would say four or five years, the. The role of sales engineering and the sales engineering organization itself is kind of getting more mainstream. It’s big evolving into like it’s having its own structure, its own processes, its own leadership and it’s kind of getting more and more mainstream.

What, what do you think is the reason for that? What, how do you see the evolution of sales engineering organization as such?

Tim Davis: [00:03:08] Yeah, I think, I think you’re right. I think your observations are spot on. I mean, you see companies that have sales engineering academies and training programs, right. Whether they’re pulling people out of, uh, out of college and sort of training them initially, uh, you know, when, when I got into sales engineering, you know, 15, 20 years ago, it was.

Much, uh, it was, there was not that it wasn’t a career track that anybody talked to you about. You sort of landed into it accidentally by being a good networking guy or a good security guy or good at some particular piece of technology. And then you ended up going to work for a reseller or a vendor, uh, and that’s, and you sort of learned as you went along the way there wasn’t really formal training or anything like that, um, to, to, you know, sort of teach you those skills.

So, it’s really kind of interesting to see. Um, you know, how that, how that’s evolved and, uh, you know, as to why, um, I think, um,

[00:04:00] you know, I think there’s probably a couple of factors at play. Uh, but, but I think it’s, uh, there’s some companies out there that have just realized that they wanted to be strategic about trying to identify some talent into these key roles, rather than, you know, hoping that people like me would just accidentally find them.

They wanted to actually, you know, go out and, and be strategic because they realize how valuable sales engineering is to their business and how critical a role that plays. And so, uh, rather than, you know, hoping hope’s not a strategy, right. So rather than just hoping they find good people, um, they went out to be intentional about creating, uh, that, uh, identifying and creating that good talent pool, um, that they could draw from.

So, it’s, it’s been exciting to see. Um, and, um, you know, even a lot of folks that become through some of those programs, have the privilege of working with and, uh, hiring into roles over the years and, uh, and they’ve been great. And so, um, so I’m really excited about that and really excited about a lot of things that I see out there, um, that other pre-sales leaders are doing as well to sort of

[00:05:00] elevate the position. Uh, and, uh, and elevate the, uh, visibility of the experience, both at the college level, as people are tracking toward a career, and then just in general, uh, within the, within the broader industry as a whole.

Vik: [00:05:13] Right, right. And, uh, you know, this is, yeah, really interesting. Uh, usually like even people moved about 15 years ago, typically, like you said, The, when people look for a sales engine, they said, oh yeah, this guy knows the technology.

So, if you have to show somebody a demo, he can show the technology. He can show the demo. But I think sales engineer’s role has evolved a lot more. They are participating in sales process more than, more than what they did earlier. I mean right now, like you said, It has to be strategic is it has to be how people will actually manage the customer relationship during the whole, uh, proof of concept or technical evals, how they’re delivering a perfect demo.

So, it’s a lot more than that. So, I absolutely, I agree with you. So, with that now, how do you see, uh, what is the most important part of a sales engineering role is how do they influence this pre-sales process? What do you think are some of the key factors are for the rule of sales engineers?

Tim Davis: [00:06:12] Yeah, I think there’s, um, there’s a lot. It goes into the role, right? It’s, it’s pretty complex. Like, like you mentioned, you know, years ago it was more around who could win the game of stump the chump, right. Let’s go find the smartest guy in the room and make him the sales engineer. Uh, so as long as. As long as he or she was reasonably able to communicate and talk to people or those that had to have, they did care a little bit about your soft skills, but mostly it was just how many RFPs could you quote or how many Microsoft certs did you have or something like that?

Um, but as it’s evolved, I think we’re really seeing it become more of a profession where, uh, your skillset around doing things like discovery, um, objection handling, uh, as well as being a good storyteller. Right. So, um, you know,

[00:07:00] I think we’re, we’re well past the days, thankfully of, you know, here’s this feature, here’s this nerd knob, this kind of thing, and we’re more into.

You know, telling a story and wanting, wanting to get a, uh, a perspective customer to buy into a journey that they’re going to go on with you as a vendor and win with the solution that you’re proposing to them. And so, you know, telling that story that they can see themselves, you know, adopting this product and then here’s the value.

Here’s the benefits. Here’s the. Uh, here’s how my life’s going to be better. Um, as a, as a technology professional, um, at this company, because, because we’ve gone with this solution, right. That’s, that’s the kind of things that. You saw very little up, maybe 15 years ago, um, that are becoming more and more prevalent.

And it’s great to see, um, because it’s, it’s really, uh, you know, I think that’s part of the elevation of the, the overall, uh, role in industry. Um, but it’s also, uh, just shows a. Uh, a good evolution of overall skill sets, uh, out there in the space,

Vik: [00:08:01] Right. So, you have been in sales engineering space for many years now, but 15 years, maybe more than that is a long time to be in a sales engineering leadership role.

And some of the things that are kind of becoming more and more important are how people do discovery. I mean, usually it is, it used to be. Initially, it was, uh, considered to be a sales function rather than sales engineering, but down now and now more and more, it is becoming a sales engineering function.

Actually, the real discovery I, or I would say not real, but more in-depth discovery happens in the presence of sales engineer or by the sales engineers or with the sales engineers. How do you see this process of discovery? Uh, during the pre-sales process?

Tim Davis: [00:08:46] Yeah, I think there’s, uh, I think you’re right. And there’s a couple of reasons for that one is I think that there’s.

Uh, perception that, you know, right, wrong or indifferent, that when you’re on the sales side, that you sort of have commission breath,

[00:09:00] if you will. And so, uh, lot of times customers and prospects are a little reluctant to open up and really share a lot of information with somebody that has a sales title.

Even if they’re very, very intelligent, very technical, I’ve worked with some, some great salespeople and sales leaders over the years who were extremely technical. Um, but because that was the title on their business card or on the slide, um, they, you know, no one’s willing to open up to them. So, I think.

Vik: [00:09:27] I definitely agree. I mean, this is personally, I felt as a sales engineer too. I mean, the customer was always ready to talk to a sales engineer, than they were ready to talk to account executive. So, I agree with you.

Tim Davis: [00:09:38] Yeah. And I think there’s a couple of reasons for that, but I think the biggest one comes down to, um, there’s, there’s sort of this perception that, well, if you’re the sales engineer, your you’re the smart person.

And so, this, the sales engineer, she she’s here to help me here. He’s here to, to answer my questions and help me understand things. Right. So, I think that leads to some of that opening up a little bit. Uh, and

[00:10:00] then I think there’s also a little bit more just of a personality kind of thing, right. Where, um, you tend to have in, in a sales role, typically not always a little bit more of that alpha personality.

So, there’s a lot of, kind of a gray here, you know, rapid fire questions, whereas, uh, you know, in a. In a discovery that’s done really well. A lot of times you don’t have that. The prospect doesn’t even realize they’re being asked questions. It’s just, you know, like one of the, one of the things that I like to do is just start on the whiteboard and just start drawing and saying, Hey, you know, okay, so you guys have some data centers.

Well, you know, where are they in? Okay, well, they’re here. Yeah. Okay. So, let’s draw these data centers and you’ve got some apps in here. Give me an example, a couple of your apps. Okay. And then how are you protecting these today? These got, you know, okay. We’ve got this infrastructure. So, you know, it doesn’t feel like, uh, you know, a game of 20 questions, right.

It feels more like a, a dialogue and a discussion. And. And, and just the fact that you’re drawing it out for them and providing your perspective on that is

[00:11:00] already adding some value back to that prospect. And so, it sort of creates that, um, that exchange of value, that exchange of relationship.

And so, you’re starting to build that, uh, sense of trust, um, as you go through. So, uh, That’s, that’s something. I think, I think that the sales engineer in discovery is, is just so key. Um, because cause they can do that where sometimes the sales person just is just can’t do that for whatever reasons. Um,

Vik: [00:11:26] You were spot on. I think sales engineers become like a go-to person for any questions from the customer. And that also brings some responsibility also that as a sales engineer, you have to build that kind of relationship where customer can just call you and send you a message saying, Hey, how does this work or. What’s your take on this sometimes sales, you know, customers, they bring their own problems and say, how would you solve this?

And that’s probably the perfect situation to be in, to be like the expert, be like, uh, uh, you know, like a person kind of a go-to person for any

[00:12:00] challenges, customers having. And that definitely helps closing the deal eventually. So, um, uh, so discovery is definitely one part of it, but then the other part of the discovery is when customer is not ready to go with your flow or your, the way you want them, they have certain objections.

It could be maybe they are using a product which already is fulfilling part of it. That you selling them to, or it could be a competitor that is, you know, has a better relationship with the customer and, uh, or are simply customer has their own way of thinking about certain problems. How do you see this happening in the field?

And, or should I say, how do you think the right way is to do the objection handling in the field for the sales engineers?

Tim Davis: [00:12:46] Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think that’s another place where. You know, again, you know, when I first got into sales engineering, objection handling was not something that the sales engineer did, unless it was just a purely technical,

[00:13:00] uh, objection. Right. So you were, you were supposed to, um, you know, be quiet, uh, and let the, let the sales guys, you know, handle the objections. Right. So, yeah. Uh, I think we’ve seen an evolution or on that as well, where, um, we’re really expecting and counting on SEs to be able to step up and handle some business objections as well as technical objections, um, during these discussions.

And I think for the reasons we talked about earlier here, um, it’s good for, uh, for an account team. Um, to have the SE doing some of that, because again, it’s, it’s sort of create some more of that credibility and some of that, um, uh, relationship, uh, that there’s just never going to quite be there with the person that has the sales title, um, for the reasons that we kind of mentioned earlier.

So, uh, so I think there’s a couple of things that I always like to remember when I’m going into a meeting and, you know, particularly if I know it’s going to be. Um, the case where, uh, Hey, they’ve got my competitor’s product

[00:14:00] and their install base with my, with my competitor. I know they’re probably happy with it to some extent.

And so, so I’m expecting a little bit of a, shall we say, hostile audience, right. You know, it’s the, uh, the court, like the courtroom drama where we gonna have, like, I’d like to treat the witness’s hostile. Right. You know, there’s going to be. Uh, the person in the room, that’s the, uh, the big, you know, fan boy or fan girl of your competitor.

And so, they’re gonna, you know, they’re gonna, you know, gonna gonna really try to poke it again. And if the, and if, if they knew ahead of time, then probably your competitors, given them all of their, you know, competitive, uh, they have on you. Um, to try to, you know, ask you to try to make you look stupid, if the can, um, and make sure your demo or your presentation falls down.

So, um, so I think part of the battle is just knowing that ahead of the time, knowing that, Hey, that’s going to happen, um, to you when you’re out there doing competitive selling. If you’re at the big market leader, um, maybe that’s not going to happen to you quite as much, but if you’re at a

[00:15:00] startup or you’re in a market, that’s still developing. And so there’s, uh, there’s, you know, there’s, there’s still a lot of competition in the space that you’re in. Um, then, then you just gotta know that and you gotta be prepared ahead of time for, for how you’re going to handle those things. So specifically, um, you know, what do you, what do you do when you get some of those?

Uh, some of those types of objections, the, the, the, I think the tendency that we all have as technical people, as sales engineers, um, is, uh, a lot of times these objections come up in the form of a question. Well, do you have this feature or how do you handle this corner case scenario? Um, or how would you do this?

Um, and so as a technical person, our, our, our, our inclination almost almost temptation, I want to say is to just immediately answer the question. Yes, we have that feature or are here, you know, and so. Uh, I, I think that, but I think that’s a place where we need to sort of fight our instincts a little bit and say step back and say, Hey, help me understand why, you know,

[00:16:00] why are you interested in that feature?

Um, is that something you’re using today? How many of your users are using that? Right. So that’s a place where you can start to ask some questions. Um, and I think that does two things. One is, one is it gets to the heart of why you’re, you’re getting this objection. Um, is this a legitimate objection? Is this, is this, you know, is this a real.

A business problem that they have, or is this just, uh, you know, somebody else’s advocate trying to sort of throw darts at you, um, uh, along the way, or, and then, and then the second thing it does for you, um, is it starts to tear down that wall a little bit, that, that, that, that person’s put up, um, because.

Now you’re getting them to talk, right. You’re getting them to answer some questions. You’re engaging with them. Uh, you know, one-on-one, you know, back in the pre COVID days, um, you know, when we would actually go meet with customers and prospects, that’s where, you know, if I was standing up to present or draw on the whiteboard, that’s where I, lot of times I would walk over to the person that was, you know, raising these

[00:17:00] objections and stand, you know, not right up against them, but stand close enough where it was.

Like we were having a one-on-one conversation, looked them in the eye and talk to them and, you know, try to establish a rapport. So, you know, to try to kind of tear down some of those walls. But I, I think that’s, you know, I think that’s key to doing that. It’s not necessarily about having the right answer all the time or giving the right answer.

A lot of times it’s about showing. The other people in the room, why the questions being asked, um, which is what you do when you start to push back and ask some of those, some of those qualifying questions. Um, and then that sort of gives you the path of how you would move forward. Um, is this a legitimate objection that we really are going to need to handle?

Or is this just, you know, somebody, you know, maybe having a little bit of a temper tantrum, if you will, about their, their toy, not being the preferred toy right now. And so, uh, you know, so we, we don’t want to shut the matter, uh, marginalize them. But you know, we, we want to sort of neutralize that in a, as a positive way as possible, right?

Vik: [00:17:59] I mean, I think you, um, you spilled out some of, really kind of, um, conference room dynamics that happen, especially where a lot of stakeholders are involved. You know, there may be a person who has spent, uh, months and years building something and they’re not ready to change now. And they may push it back or for any reason, but here you are, right.

There are different ways to handle it. Uh, pre COVID, like you said, was a bit easier I have for sure, because you could meet people, take them to a lunch after the meeting to kind of, kind of calm down the situation with COVID is a little bit challenging, I would say, but I think it’s providing flexibility. So, let’s see.

I think it’s still early on. I think we’ll be out soon. So, we’ll see. Now, I want to switch gears a little bit.

Tim Davis: [00:18:43] You know, when, when you know now that we’re in this COVID world and we’re doing everything virtually, I think there’s still some things you can do. Uh, one of the things that, uh, that I’ll do in that situation, when it comes up in a virtual meeting is, uh, is.

Just make sure I’m making eye contact with the camera. Um, so

[00:19:00] in a lot of times when you’re presenting, you know, you’re looking at which were white boarding with, or your demo, things like that. So, when you start getting those questions, start making immediate eye contact with the camera, because to the person that’s watching, that’s, that’s their, that’s your eye contact.

Um, and they use their name, right? So, you know, say, Hey, you know, Mike, I understand, you know, Hey, help me understand why your, is that feature? Is that a feature you guys need? Is that what’s the use case for that? How many users are impacted by the scenario right? So, you start using their name and, you know, again, that’s just kind of that personalizing, um, just some small things you can do, um, that can, that can make a big difference. Even in a virtual setting.

Vik: [00:19:38] I agree. I agree. That’s a valid point. So, I want to switch gears a little bit to a different topic. We talked about sales engineers, their roles, and I think this is really important because this is where the rubber meets the road. People run their projects, their demos, proof of concepts. Close the deals. Uh, but I want to switch gear a little bit

[00:20:00] on the leadership side. I’m sure the listeners who are at the leadership level, they will probably get this perspective they may find useful. So, what I want to ask you is, as a sales engineering leader, what are some of the metrics that you really care about?

Uh, when you run your organization that you care about and, uh, that shows that, you know, things are getting better, organization is doing better. Um, if there is anything that is not right, you know, how do you track, which are, so what are some of the metrics that are important for you?

Tim Davis: [00:20:32] Sure. So, well, you’re in, if you’re in a sales organization, the most important metric is revenue, right?

Vik: [00:20:37] Absolutely.

Tim Davis: [00:20:38] Whether it’s, you know, whether it’s a top line, top line, ARR, ACB, whatever, whatever, however it is, you’re measuring it in your industry, right. That if you’re not, if you’re not meeting your revenue objectives, Almost nothing else, man.

Vik: [00:20:51] Right, absolutely.

Tim Davis: [00:20:53] You know, that stated and that aside, right. What are some other things that you can look at to, um, to,

[00:21:00] to kind of get a sense of the health of your business and the health of your organization?

I think it varies, um, there’s going to be key metrics at different places and different because different, um, solutions are going to have different selling motions. Um, when I was selling, uh, route switch gear, um, wireless, wireless access points, things like that, um, working for different companies that did those things primarily.

Um, proof of concepts were kind of rare because people understood what a switch did or what, uh, what an access point does. And even, you know, even firewalls too, right? People you talk to people about, you know, what, something like that is, uh, and they, they understand what it does. And it’s the questions on differentiators, um, are you’re really just.

Yeah, dealing with a few percentage points of differentiators of things that are features within the product of the one can do that another can’t. Um, now when you get into software, uh, and selling software, or whether that’s

[00:22:00] security or whether that’s, um, you know, SaaS products that people use for product management or, uh, managing sales cycle or something in their business or anything like that.

Now you’re getting into things that people will understand a little less. And so that’s where I think, um, the demonstrations become really more important, um, in those sales cycle. So, um, all that to say that you kind of have to identify, you know, what are the metrics that, that matter for your selling motion?

Right. So, um, when, when I was running, um, a team doing, uh, selling a SaaS security products, you know, I really cared about how many, uh, POCs we had going on at a given time, because I knew we were almost never going to win a deal. If we didn’t get to POC, um, we had to, we had to show people what we can do, or we weren’t going to win.

We were a small company, real startup, and it was, um, we were just, weren’t gonna win it for that. Now, when I was selling switches and,

[00:23:00] um, access points. It was much less about getting to POC. It was more about just how I bats, right. So how many meetings were we in where we had SES engaged, how many, you know, where we’re tracking towards the deals?

Um, and so it was more, more about activity, um, than it was about. Um, specific things around, you know, what, what the activity was was that, uh, you know, specifically like a POC or POV. So I think I it’s, there’s, there’s always things you can measure. Um, but, um, I think it’s really gonna vary depending on your business and what your selling motion is.

At least that’s what I’ve found. Um, the other thing that I think is important is, uh, you know, you can look at measuring things within. Um, tracking health of your business. Um, but don’t forget about tracking the health of your team as well. Um, so, uh, you know, uh, you know, in some of this is less things that you can measure about pulling a report out of Salesforce or your CRM tool. Um, or your, your contact,

[00:24:00] uh, tracing tools or things like that. And more stuff that you, you have to measure. Um, but with empathy, um, but, but understanding, you know, who are, who are my key players and are they, are they oversubscribed? Um, where do I need to. When I need to get them some help, um, you know, is this a short-term thing or just a bunch of deals hitting one territory.

Um, and then it will kind of even out over time, whereas this is this thing about to take off and I need to make some adjustments along the way. Um, are, um, do, do the people on your team feel like they have a good career path? Do they know where they want to go? Do they, you know, if they want to go into sales or into SE leadership or into, um, maybe back to corporate to do, um, Uh, product, product type things, product marketing, technical marketing, uh, or maybe they want to track towards being, you know, an architect or consulting engineer and things like that.

Right. Whatever their career track is, do they feel like they have a good career track that they feel like you as their leader understand and support that and are helping them move towards their personal goals

[00:25:00] and their career. Uh, and then, um, are they getting the time to keep their skills current and up and up to date, um, to learn new things.

Uh, and not just about your product and your solution and your competitors, not the stuff that, you know, you get, um, uh, you know, fed through your sales enablement and things like that, but do they have time to learn other things? Um, so, you know, I used to encourage folks to do things, you know, pick something that’s, you know, adjacent, but not specific to what we’re doing.

Um, and go learn something about that. Right. And, um, fortunately I worked several places where we were. We’re able to actually get some budgets and training budget aligned to that. Um, so people could go out and do things like, um, Cloud Guru and they could go get an AWS certification, even though at the time we weren’t really working in AWS, but it was something that was cool that people wanted to know.

So, um, so I think supporting those kinds of initiatives are key as well. Um, and then where those show up for you is on your employees at surveys, uh, and the feedback that you get

[00:26:00] from your team as well as in things like retention as well. Um, certainly where they show up more meaningful, most meaningfully, well, Um, but, uh, that’s, that’s, that’s the metrics that I really cared about.

Um, and it was, you know, is hard to measure, hard to quantify, it was much more, um, Uh, quality than quantity quantatize. Um, but, that’s, that’s where I want to make sure that the people on the team are energized, engaged, um, and, um, that they feel like, you know, Hey, we’re invested in their success. Um, short-term and long-term.

Vik: [00:26:33] Right, right. No, that’s, that’s great. Actually, you touched on multiple topics, including the revenue, including tracking the outcome of POCs depends on. Uh, what the product is and, uh, try or tracking, or kind of supporting sales engineering teams, building a better team skill-wise and otherwise as well.

So, I think that covers a wide range of, uh, you know, metrics that people can measure.

[00:27:00] Uh, so I think that’s, that’s great, actually, you know, I think one last question I have for you before we wrap up this podcast today is. Any books that you enjoyed reading in your past, uh, or recently that you would recommend to people who are in sales engineering, or in sales that you found really useful?

Tim Davis: [00:27:20] So, um that’s a great question. Uh, you know, Read several of the major business type books and things like that. Um, I think some of those things are good. Some are not, um, a book that used to be really popular. That’s kind of fallen out a little bit, um, that I still think is very valuable. Um, is a book by Robert Cialdini called Influence: Science and Practice.

Vik: [00:27:44] Oh yeah. I have read that one. Really. My, one of my favorite book, yeah, really good book.

Tim Davis: [00:27:50] Yeah. That’s a book that I go back to and read, um, about, about every couple of years, I’ll reread that over and over again. And, uh, um, because this has got a lot of good information in there. I, in the first time I read it, honestly, I didn’t like it because I thought, you know, I thought it was exactly that.

I thought it was Jedi mind tricks. Right. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Right. I mean, you’d be like people to get into which one to try to get an outcome that you wanted. And maybe that’s some of it. But, uh, as a, as we’ve kind of grown as a, as a leader, what I’ve seen is more so. Uh, that those are just ways you can, um, try to understand people, better, try to understand their motivations, understand their reactions, uh, and that helps you as a leader, um, with your team that helps you, um, as that pre-sales person in the room or on the, on the zoom with, uh, uh, with that customer that’s maybe, you know, like, I don’t understand why they’re not buying in.

Um, you know, all those kinds of it’s, it’s got a wide application for, for you in a sales engineering career. So, uh, but with the recommend that, um, I’m not getting any royalties off of his, his books, so nothing in that’s right in grad school. And it’s one that stuck with me.

Vik: [00:29:04] That’s great. You know, before I wrap up, I got one more question for you.

And I promise this is the final one. So, uh, you know, while you were working with customers, internal teams with your, your sales engineering teams, have you identified any productivity hack that worked well for you, uh, and, uh, something that has made your life easier, it could be as small as, you know, uh, maintaining let’s say, a list of things to do every day or every hour or a music, because sometimes there are so many threads you can be pulled into.

Um, uh, what are some of the things, or maybe just one hack or something that trick or simple trick or hack. So that’s something that you found pretty useful or productive.

Tim Davis: [00:29:45] This is, I don’t know if this is exactly what you’re asking for, but this is something that, um, that I found is very helpful for me is, um, To, to not react to not, to not

[00:30:00] go with my first reaction and react right away. Right. So, um, you know, particularly when you’re in leadership, you’re going to get, um, you know, bad news sometimes, Hey, we lost this deal. Um, you know, there’s going to be conflict between the sales engineer and the, and the salesperson. Um, and so, um, you know, a lot of times that that escalation comes to you, uh, you know, we flubbed this POC, you know, messed up or whatever, right.

That escalation comes to you and you’re, you know, you’re, there’s this initial reaction of, I want to go fix this. Right. And, and so, and you, and we, we’re all human. We assume the facts. We are the information we heard first is, are the facts, right? So, um, so one of the things that I’ve learned, uh, over time is to not, not go with my first reaction.

So let me go get all the facts. Let me get the other sides of the story. Let me talk to all the people that I can, who we’re in the room, uh, let’s find out what was going on. Um, and then let’s get everybody together and

[00:31:00] solve the problem together, right. Rather than, you know, an approach of, of let’s solve the problem, whether that’s a training problem, whether that’s, uh, a tactical problem in our sales, uh, execution, uh, you know, uh, a strategic problem in our overall deal approach.

Uh, whatever it is, let’s solve the problem rather than, you know, go out and try to assign blame. So, um, I don’t know that that’s a productivity per se lesson that really stuck with me, uh, learned it the hard way early on in my leadership career. Um, but that’s, that’s something I always try to do is, uh, you know, take some time, uh, let it cool.

Um, get all the facts, uh, and then, then go after then you’re going to know much better, um, how to handle that situation.

Vik: [00:31:45] Yeah, I think that is not just a productivity hack. It’s a life hack. It can work in the leadership. It can work in the marriage too, you know?

Exactly. So, well, uh, Tim, uh, really nice talking to you, a great conversation and, uh, thank you for finding time and, uh, again, uh, will look over to connecting with you again. Maybe some other episode, but great conversation. Thank you so much.

Tim Davis: [00:32:10] Sounds great. Thank you so much for having me, uh, and uh, really enjoyed it. My pleasure.

Vik: [00:32:14] All right. Thank you. So, this was our guest, Tim Davis, and, uh, stay tuned for more episodes that we’ll be releasing again in every two weeks. All right. Thank you. Bye-bye.

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