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6 Tips for Developers to Survive a Sales Call

September 22, 2016

By Bryan Soltis

Developers and salespeople are two very different species. 

Aside from the varied personality differences, sales and engineering speak on contrasting levels. On many sales calls, there is a need for these two opposites to join forces to win a client over. So what can a developer do to get through unharmed and help close the deal? In this article, I’ll give you some tips that might help you survive your next sales call. 

Navigating the Sales Call

Whether it’s as a sales engineer or the person actually closing the deal, developers are often brought into the mysterious and bewildering world of the sales team. For many enterprise deals, the discussions inevitably become technical, and developers are tasked with making the client comfortable with the solution, answering many questions along the way. While this may seem a bit frightening for many, there are a number of tips I’ve learned over the years that might help you navigate these mine fields and walk away in one piece.


Before any developer is brought into a call, they should have an idea of what it is they will be talking about. You, as a developer, should be aware of who is going to be on the call and what their level of technical expertise is. Engineers are often added to handle any high-level questions and reassure the client that a solution is possible. Understanding that solution is key to gaining the client’s trust and helping get the sale. Also, you should be aware of all the systems and applications that will be involved. Having this knowledge will give the client a full understanding of the project and what it will take to complete it. 


Depending on the type of project and client, developers may be asked to fill different roles for a sales engagement. In some cases, you are there just to make the client feel better with the knowledge that a technical expert is on the call. Other times, you are asked to step up the plate and take over, guiding the discussion in a particular way to achieve a specific goal. You should always work with your sales team to know which role you will be filling. If the client is particularly wary of the proposed solution, you may be asked to elaborate on certain areas to reassure them of success. Understanding your role is key to aligning your efforts with the account executive to win the sale.


If you’ve ever been involved in the fields of medical or government, you’ll know that they have unique languages for their systems and processes. It’s key that a developer on a sales call is aware of the specific terminology that the client uses and understands. Trying to explain a solution or system to someone with the wrong terms can quickly derail a conversation and lead to disaster. You should talk with the account rep and do your research on the client’s business and industry to make sure you speak the same language as them. 

4. CRUISE AT 30,000 FEET

One of my personal traits on a sales call used to be to get too technical. It was just my nature. As soon as I started hearing about a problem, I was always already architecting a solution in my head. While those thoughts and discussion are essential for the project, they don’t belong on a call with the marketing and sales teams. Using too-technical language and terms can be off putting to some and confusing to just about everyone. You should keep your comments high-level and general. Be careful how technical you get, even when asked directly. There will be plenty of time for those discussions down the road, so keep it in check during the sales engagements. 


Another fatal mistake a developer can make on a sales call is to elaborate the truth and oversell. I’ve cringed when I’ve heard a developers throw out flippant comments about how easy or quick something can be accomplished. Even if it’s true, these comments can force a company into a tough situation and commit them to deliver more than they expected. Always be honest on your sales calls, and only say what is necessary to build trust and close the deal. If you are asked about a topic you’re not familiar with, never say you are an expert on it. You are better off letting them know you’ll do your research and get back to them rather than trying to come up with an answer on the spot. 


Even with all the preparation in the world, you will always get a question on a sales call that you weren’t expecting. It may be about importing data from an in-house system to a technology you had no idea was part of the project. Always remember your audience, and give an answer that addresses the concern but still leaves you and your team open to a discover phase to find out more about it. Another possibility is joining a call where you expect to be a passive listener and are handed the reins to take over. More than once, I have joined a call expecting to be there simply for support and ended up taking over the entire conversation. Developers always need to be prepared for these types of surprises because sometimes it’s those changes that help win the client over and build trust.

Closing the Deal

Not all developers have what it takes to be a good sales engineer. Ideal candidates have to be able to speak on different technical levels, understanding the needs of the moment and the audience. It’s a daunting task to be brought in to close a deal by convincing the client that you are capable of delivering a solution. Hopefully, these tips can help you handle any situation that comes along and become a great resource for your sales team and company. Good luck!

Bryan Soltis is a technical evangelist at Kentico, a fully integrated ASP.NET CMS, e-commerce, and online marketing platform that allows you to create cutting-edge websites and optimize your digital customers’ experiences fully across multiple channels.

Follow Bryan on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn


Planning Your Epic Project Voyage

August 18, 2016

Project planning is an arduous task that is difficult to get right, but planning, research, and optimum utilisation of the tools and staff available should lead to success

Aligning your skills with the right tools can help you get to your destination, whether through rough seas or when becalmedEnterprise projects take a lot of planning and time to be successful.

Aligning project goals with the resources available is a challenging task, made especially difficult when you don’t have a good plan to follow.

Get ready for a slew of nautical metaphors and a lot of great tips for starting your projects.

Planning projects and keeping them on track is a tough gig. Just ask any project manager, marketing director, IT director, or anyone else that has been charge of designing and developing an enterprise-level application.

From deciding which platform to build the solution on to making sure everyone’s needs are met, there is no shortage of reefs that can beach your ship before you even get out of port.

So how does a company plan their project and ensure calm waters for the entire journey?

Only a fool heads to sea without a course

Understanding the needs of the project is the first step in the planning phase.

Without a clear definition of what you need, there’s no sense in even heading for the docks.

>See also: Gartner reveals seven best practises for effective project management

Smart companies will conduct the necessary research to identify and define as many requirements as possible, by hosting user groups, talking to all partners and customers, and getting input for all departments within the organisation.

Only then will you have all the information required to create your project plan. You will recognise the features you need to achieve your goals, identify potential issues, and take a huge leap to ensure your project’s success.

Rowboat? Skiff? Sailboat? Yacht?

Once you know where you want to go, you have to decide how to get there. Taking a rowboat around the world would take a lot of Red Bull. Steering a yacht down a mountain stream would make an insurance company really nervous.

Understanding when to use each is the key to travelling safely through any waters.

Every project can be different and matching the platform and tools to your requirements is essential.

You should select the right instrument for the job and know that you are set up for success from the beginning.

Find a solution that fits your needs, not the other way around. Evaluate your CMS platform features, extendibility, scalability, and customisation options to see how they align with your specific requirements.

If they have multiple versions, learn the functionality of each one to see which one aligns best with your current and future goals.

>See also: The five factors to de-risking your technology projects

Avoid a Mutiny

After selecting the right ship, the next logical thing is to get a crew to run it.

A $10 million yacht without a good staff is just a really expensive buoy. Finding a crew that can run the boat safely, get you to your destination on time, and, above all, not turn on the captain (you) are important parts of the process.

If you have a great development team, make sure they have the skills and experience to work with the platform you have selected. If they don’t, look into certified training to get them up to speed on how to use the product and best practices for implementation.

It may be an additional cost to the bottom line, but it will pay for itself by educating your team on the CMS and setting them up to maintain it in the future.

For training, focus on the features and functionality that match your project goals.

If you don’t have an in-house team, (or just not one that’s available), find an experienced partner to help you develop your application. Look for a proven track record, great references, and a deep pool of talent to handle the job.

There’s no sense in your project taking the hit of getting another company’s talent trained.

>See also: 5 ways to ensure the success of smart city projects

They should have several success stories with the platform, certified developers on staff, and a long list of satisfied customers.

Lastly, define a transition plan after the project is complete for your internal team to take over maintenance on the site. This will be key to ensuring that your needs are not dictated by someone else’s schedule and availability.

Mooring lines away

Once you finally know what you are going to develop and who is going to do the work, it’s time to get down to business. Crack a champagne bottle over the bow, lay on your whistle, or head out on deck and wave to the people on the docks.

However you do it, make sure all parties have a clear and definite signal that the project is underway, and the clock is ticking.

By now, you should have a thorough project plan, detailing what each party is responsible for. Stick to it!

You should make sure each task is broken down into logical and achievable segments. You should also note any potential risks for each step of the plan so that everyone sees them as soon as possible.

One of the worst things that can happen to a project is a catastrophic problem that no one saw coming.

Sailing by starlight

Congratulations! You have started your journey, and there is nothing but wide open sea in front you. You may deal with some swells and possibly find a castaway or two, but if you have a great project plan you should be just fine.

Assuming you keep charting your course and pay attention to what’s around you, you’ll avoid ramming any reefs or capsizing on an island full of sirens. The best captains will know how to read the stars and always find their way.

>See also: UK businesses must evolve how they approach project management - or fall victim to the productivity gap

Projects require a lot of attention along the way.

Deadlines have to be reviewed and adjusted.

Budgets should be tracked closely to catch any financial vortices. 

Your development should be iterative, with frequent reviews along the way, to be sure your requirements are being met.

Smart companies involve their marketing teams, as well as their developers, throughout the project so everyone knows what to expect and how they plan on measuring results.

Appoint a lead person from each department to be a representative for their area. This will ensure that everyone stays up to date on any new developments or changes, and this minimizes the pains of miscommunication.

After your project is done, it’s time to look at data. A lot of data.

CMS platforms collect a ton of great info, so be sure you track your traffic and have the right skills to understand the data.

Many CMS products offer training specifically for marketers, allowing your team to learn how to get the most out of the product. It’s also a great idea to get some of your developers knowledgeable on the marketing aspect of things, so they understand why certain things are needed. 

The main point is to communicate often and keep everyone headed in the right direction.

Moving forward

Every organisation is different, and all have unique needs and goals.

Aligning your skills with the right tools can help you get to your destination, whether through rough seas or when becalmed.

Just remember to hoist your mainsail and batten down the hatches before heading out to sea.

Sourced by Bryan Soltis, technical evangelist at Kentico Softwar


eCommerce Mistakes and Challenges Facing Malaysian Companies Today: Interview

June 21, 2016

Kentico Software's content strategy manager Duncan Hendy talks to Computerworld about Web content strategies for Malaysian companies in the eCommerce age. Despite any economic concerns, eCommerce continues to be seen as a burgeoning sector, according to local players. 

Let's start with what opportunities exist for businesses in the current eCommerce sector?

B2B (business to business) businesses are becoming more like B2C (business to consumer) in their expectations. With more and more innovations arriving every day, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as using the Google or Amazon button to collect customer data and allow customers to make purchases more easily. Because there are many different stores with similar products and price is no longer the only defining factor, it is now more about making the buying process easier.

By connecting existing services together and offering a seamless experience, you can offer the full package of services. It doesn't have to be only about going to the cinema, but being able to book the taxi to get there, the cinema tickets, the restaurant for afterwards and then a taxi home at the same time. Or using IoT to connect a company's stationary cupboard to the supplier to automatically order supplies when stocks get low.

In your view, what impact has eCommerce had on Malaysian businesses and businesses across the APAC region?

With Malaysia and other ASEAN countries' access to international markets drastically improved by the founding of the ASEAN Economic Community, eCommerce has had a chance to widen its impact in APAC countries.Taking advantage of the less-than-favourable economic climate in China, the US, and Japan, the ASEAN economy has been enjoying an annual financial growth of five per cent.

eCommerce's inherent global potential has been further helped in the region by AEC's stimulation of trading between member states through reducing the borders between ASEAN countries. This is increasing Malaysia's attractiveness to international businesses as foreign investors embrace the area's very real opportunities. While the region continues to improve its internal processes, a positive impact can be observed in AEC eCommerce's competitiveness. The ability for growth among small to medium businesses (SMBs), fuelled by the optimism that AEC brings, is reflected by its increase in international outreach.

What do you see as the biggest eCommerce challenges are for Malaysian businesses?

[The primary challenge is about] connecting the online and the offline world. Businesses have online customer data, but how do they use that in their offline store? Imagine a customer coming to their physical store and they already know everything about them. They would be able to direct them to a certain area of their store. Some companies use sensors in their stores to map their customers' movements around the shop and then via their loyalty card, they feed this into their online profile. 

It can be used to understand the psychology of the shopper and even to rearrange the layout of their store accordingly.

Choosing the right platform is another challenge. When starting, it is not just about having an online store. There are many technical aspects to consider upfront. For instance, if they have a global business, having a cloud environment and the store being available all the time, and then there is the order fulfilment process. Customers expect faster delivery rates. It might seem easy, but in the background there is a huge and complex mechanism of order fulfilment when stores can either have things in stock or use drop shipping, meaning the items can be shipped directly from the distributor so retailers don't have to carry physical stock.

Plus, understanding the customer expectations when it comes to global markets and being culturally aware-one marketing campaign does not necessarily work in all territories!

What helps or facilitates the online ordering experience?

It's definitely more about the experience. When you are searching for a product, the ability to find it quickly is a must. For example, if you are looking for a laptop with certain parameters, having filters helps you get to the product you are interested in.

Content personalisation - delivering a personalised experience. It's important that when visitors interact with the site and the site has some data on that visitor, it is pushing content that is relevant to their interaction with the system. It's the Amazon-like experience.

Also, websites must be a multi-channel experience. For example, typically, the day is divided by the device they are using at that time. It's quite normal for visitors to be on their PC/laptops at work, and in the evening, on their laptops/tablets/smartphones. So there is the need to be able to connect these devices and to collect their data to create a single view of the customer.

What are the biggest consumer turn-offs when trying to order something from a company's online store?

UX (user interface) issues. Imagine you have a multi-step process to check out, complicated forms, bad navigation, or even error messages. Also, when it comes to product delivery, sometimes the visitor needs the option of expedited delivery for a product faster than usual because of a forgotten birthday, etc. And if there isn't a faster shipping option, visitors will probably leave and go to a store that can fulfil their needs in the desired timescale. Then there are payment options. When a customer is unable to use their favourite payment method, credit cards, or a payment gateway, e.g. PayPal, it totally turns off the consumer.

Additionally, stock inventory being connected to expected delivery dates. It is necessary to know when the products will be delivered. It's important to have these trust factors. This even sometimes has to do with things such as the design of the website. If it looks ten years behind the times, it is difficult to trust that that business is competent. It is not just about the design, it is also about missing or bad images or thumbnails, these all attract people to go to the store and it helps them choose the right product. Plus, comments and reviews on the available products from other customers that are sharing their experience.

What are some of the most common mistakes businesses make when it comes to establishing an eCommerce platform?

The biggest mistake people make is they only focus on their current needs and do not think about the future. If they are only looking for a platform that fits their current needs, they may get into a situation, as they grow, where they will have to rebuild everything and start again from scratch because they cannot plug in more-sophisticated and necessary solutions into their system. So they need a platform that grows with them and does not restrict their ambition.

Having a platform that allows them to attract and market to customers, to collect data, to do tracking, these things can make them more successful. Not having these tools at their disposal will restrict their growth, and could lead to them making bigger investments of time and resources and needing to learn new tools.

In conclusion, how has the rise of eCommerce changed the way Malaysian businesses should market themselves to consumers and what opportunities exist?

The ability to unify the customer journey across all touchpoints and devices has been made easier by the improvement of access to the Internet (67 percent of the population) and a significant increase in mobile use. Malaysia is currently third in mobile shopping growth in Asia, according to a MasterCard's Mobile Shopping Survey.

And an increase in the use of logistics providers within the region for order fulfilment is a further indicator that eCommerce is on a significant rise.

All of these factors are great opportunities to make significant steps in user experience, digital marketing and personalisation. By treating each visitor as an individual and delivering them a personal experience across all of their access points is an essential measure to ensure that eCommerce stores promote brand advocacy.

Using marketing automation to nurture customers and email recommendations based on a comprehensive profile built up by monitoring how visitors interact with the site and their retail history will boost sales. And it is not just within Malaysia, it is about seizing the opportunities that international customers bring. By incorporating an effective order fulfilment process, by reducing 
the delivery period and integrating solutions, such as online marketing, eCommerce and the platform itself,

Malaysian companies can ensure they offer a seamless experience from the first moment a visitor lands on their doorstep. Plus, boosting the customers' trust by making sure that the site payment process is 100 percent secure will reassure visitors that the business really has their interests at heart. 


Can Current Apple Watch Owners Make the Next Model a Success?

April 16, 2016

Sixty-two percent of current Apple Watch owners already say they'll buy the next model.

If you own an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Watch, you probably really like it. That's evidenced by a recent survey from Fluent, which found 62% of current Apple Watch owners already plan to purchase the next model of the device expected to launch sometime this year. Still, Apple Watch owners are a relatively small group, accounting for just 8% of the survey respondents. Apple is estimated to have sold somewhere between 10.5 million and 14 million Apple Watches in the nine months it was available in 2015, below initial expectations for the device.

KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects sales of the device to decline in 2016 (despite three extra months of sales) due to his sources indicating the next model will only provide internal improvements similar to an S-cycle update for iPhone. Even with more than 6 million likely buyers built in, Apple Watch unit sales may not start growing until 2017.

What's holding back consumers?
The biggest problem the Apple Watch faces is that it's viewed as an accessory to the iPhone. An expensive accessory. Even with the recent $50 price cut at last month's event, the least expensive model costs $299.

Sixty-nine percent of consumers cite cost as a reason they haven't bought a smartwatch, according to a survey from Kentico, and Apple makes the most expensive models. Even current Apple Watch owners note that price is the biggest disincentive for purchasing the device.

But Apple is unlikely to cut its price much more after it announces the new device. The price cut for the current Apple Watch came about one year after its release, which is the same cycle for its other devices. It would be odd for Apple to announce a further cut three months later. As such, the new Apple Watch models will likely be priced the same as the original Apple Watch prices.

What could make the next Apple Watch model a success?
With price cuts all but ruled out, the only way for Apple to sell more Watches is to make the device more valuable. It can do this with either hardware improvements -- which are reportedly going to be incremental internal improvements -- or software improvements -- which it can design itself or rely on third-party app developers for.

There's still been no breakthrough application for the Watch, and the top uses are basic functionalities like fitness tracking and listening to music. The Apple Watch is very overpriced as a fitness tracker compared to competing devices with more of a focus on fitness.

But the Apple Watch is already the world's most popular smartwatch. That makes it an excellent platform for developers to try new software. Apps are largely responsible for the huge successes of the iPhone and iPad, and they'll drive sales of the Apple Watch as well (or a lack thereof will correlate with a lack of sales).

While Apple Watch owners are standing by, wallets in hand, to buy the next iteration of the device, Apple may have trouble growing sales. Keep in mind that most current Apple Watch owners are big Apple fans, willing to buy just about anything Apple releases, so that skews the numbers a bit. But without a breakthrough improvement in either hardware or software (which, by the way, could still happen), the Apple Watch 2 may "only" sell a few million units this year.

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Time to Get Smart?

March 30, 2016

By Duncan Hendy, Contributor

Each year, digital marketers are presented with the next big thing. Choosing whether to jump onto that current band wagon or pass it off as a fad means either being a digital pioneer, a disappointed optimist, or left behind and catching up later. Smartwatches are just one of those current trends. And while the adoption of new tech is much swifter these days, the danger that they are just this year’s must-have and nothing more can lead to a huge investment into something that fails to prove its worth, even in the long term.

In a recent survey on the Smartwatch Phenomenon, Kentico Software carried out extensive research of 1,000 Internet users aged 18 years and over, across three continents, to discover what the uptake, interest level, and respondents’ opinions of smartwatches are.

The survey revealed that, in the US, consumer interest in smartwatches is high, (nearly 60% would like to eventually own one – 36% within the next year). However, the figures for Europe and the UK are more conservative (under one third of Brits want to own one – 22% in the next year). This could be influenced by the fact that half as many Europeans as Americans know friends or colleagues with a smartwatch (22% in Europe, 44% in US). Peer pressure can have a lot of bearing on purchasing decisions when it comes to gadgets. The desire to be “in” can cause people to buy into a smart tech item based on want rather than need just so that they are not left behind.

When it comes to reasons for resistance, however, 75% of people in the US and 60% of Europeans blame cost as being the main obstacle to their adoption of smartwatches. The next biggest purchase barrier is the lack of a compelling reason to buy – one third of respondents in the US and 44% in Europe say this. This could be because smartwatch functionality is a rapidly developing sphere and is, as yet, still in its infancy – much like smartphones were in the ‘noughties’. As apps become more widespread and clever in the way they utilise the limited screen display, so will the understanding of their practical purpose and the uptake.

And speaking of their actual usage, 46% of Europeans cited the ability to email and text without having to pull out their phone as the most intriguing, while 37% favoured using them to get directions. The next most popular features are voice and video calling (32%), then safety monitoring (27%), real-time alerts such as those from an airline, bank or social network (24%) and finally tracking diet and exercise (21%).

Why Should Digital Marketers Care?

In terms of how smartwatches can be used as a digital marketing medium, the fact that the smartwatch is worn as an item of clothing means it is more integrated into the identity of the wearer – much in the same way a fashion accessory would be. Smartwatches can be perceived by the user as an extension to themselves – as a timepiece, the watch is already an item that they are used to referring to in terms of accessing information. This fundamental factor makes it a more immediate channel for receiving information than retrieving a mobile phone from a pocket or the bottom of a bag.

As another channel of engagement, it is necessary to consider the factor for delivering this content effectively. As the Kentico Digital Survey explains, “content must be retrieved from content management systems in the most efficient way using raw format with no additional markup other than the information that is being communicated to the user. Content management systems that are being used to support content delivery to wearables and IoT tech must provide developers with atomic, robust, and scalable API with tools that can be used to build platform-specific applications as part of an API First strategy. This involves defining the channels one’s API resources are made available on before beginning work on a website or application, making creating smartwatch and other wearable apps relatively easy when done with write-once, run everywhere development platforms.”

Smartwatch Content Will Soon Be King

Having this extra channel to deliver offers and messages based on the location of the wearer is a powerful tool for digital marketers. Trips to shopping centres where content producers can engage with smartwatch owners, enticing them to visit their store at the precise moment that shopper passes their shop front seems the ultimate in personalisation. But the question remains, at what point does this engagement become perceived as intrusion and spamming? The survey revealed that Brits feel strongly about privacy: the majority of British, 52%, would prefer to totally block ads (against 29% in US). And there lies the problem. How do you outsmart the smartwatch wearer?

As was stated at the start of this article, the cunning marketer is the one that keeps their eye on new technologies. And with the sales of smartwatches on the up – an estimated 30 million units sold in 2015, it would appear that they are here to stay. How their functionality and lifestyle adoption finally resolved themselves is anyone’s guess. As with all new trends in gadgets that we weren’t aware we were missing, the user usually defines the market.


The SmartWatch: Hands On or Hands Off?

March 01, 2016

Every digital marketer worth their salt knows that alignment of the customer journey through each channel is essential for proper customer engagement, but what happens when you have a new channel that is not only uncertain but also incredibly restrictive in what it can actually display? Enter the smartwatch.   Smartwatches have arguably been around since the 1970s. And just like the way in which mobile phones have made significant advances since their first foray into the Internet with WAP, smartwatches have also seen....

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