The lion that was a cheetah

Alessandro Festa
Apr 30, 2014 · 4 min read

I admit it I was touched not many customer are so open and in my job it not happen so often to exchange compliments. and so I was a little bit sorrounded by emotions, but later waiting for the plane to fly me back home I thought at this.. I’m not a lion, at all.

I’m a presales, well I’m a technical presales that it means I stay in front the customer trying to convince them buying the solutions my company offer. What does it means? Let say I show up to a customer when he’s interested in one of our solutions so: first meeting equal presentation, second meeting a live demo and finally the moment it will come: the PoC.

For those that do not know what the term PoC stand for is: Proof of Concept. We (as we, in presales) say we may manage many things and so customers challenge us through a Proof of Concept.

Imagine this: I, as a customer, write down a certain number of test, the “use cases”. Those must be done in a way that convince me (the customer) to move on with you, as a vendor.

So best strategy? Well we’re in sales and we’re technical specialist so: accept an almost “impossible” number of use cases, complete them in a timeframe that make it hard to the next vendor to do the same, etc… it’s an old story all of us will always said that : We need to be honest in what we may do or not, we need to accept what is possible to do, etc.. but if you don’t take risks you’ll never win isn’t it?

So thinkin at the “lion” and why I don’t feel as suc here it comes what I’ve learned so far.

Be successful in PoC is not enough, you got few days, few hours, few meetings to build a strong trust relationship with the customer and you cannot fail, ever.

Some of us will act like a lion, others like a tiger…I’m a cheetah and I tell you why you should be too.


If you want to be successful in a PoC you have to prepare perfectly. You’ll say “even the lion and tiger do that”! Think about it: do they accelerate from 0 to 60 miles/km in 4 secs”. Make an incredible start, make it in a way that the customer will be so impressed that he will not believe you may do something like that. This will give you extra time, because he will know that you may do things in a way nobody can do. Do your “homework’s” and prepare yourself to push at the maximum power, at the maximum speed, from 0 to max in a way nobody can do. There is not “we got time”, there is not “the last day is the important one”, there is not “the important thing is to complete things not the time…” the first meter is even more important than the last.


Your body push at the maximum speed but where is your focus; you have to change direction quickly and sometimes is not an expected change. Your target is a moving target. Be focus, your body is following the flow; your head balance the movement and stay focused on the target. You react to the environment changes still pushing at the maximum speed but your eyes, your head stay stick on your target. No, not the use cases, the customer…use cases are just the path that lead to your customer.

Preserve the energy

You cannot run at maximum speed forever. So you have to be careful with what you may do or not. I have a rule, I know how many hours a PoC may ask me…and so I know I may sleep less for that time but I’ll pay later. I cannot count the time a customer told me in the last day “you seem tired”, well I am. I am tired because I pushed over the limit for days. Rest if it is not required to do otherwise, there are always tiny moment that allow you to do it, rest and use the energy, all the energy to push at your maximum from day 1 to the last day.

You have only one attempt

I learned that if you’re not a lion or a tiger you don’t have power enough to retake the attempt, if you miss the “magic moment” to get it, you’ll lose it and well guess what? Even lions and tigers got one single attempt because is a race, is a race at maximum speed and your target is moving fast. So do not waste time and energy in multiple useless attempt to convice the customer to choose you. Find the right time it will be in those PoC days, you’ll recognize it and it’s that magic moment when you know that what you say will make the difference. If you miss it…no sense continue to run you’ll go out of energy so do not miss it.

National Geographic Magazine: “Cheetahs on the Edge”
    Alessandro Festa

    Written by

    猿も木から落ちる。 (Saru mo ki kara ochiru) = (Everyone makes mistakes). @me = { [(blog) + (tweet)]/Product Manager@OneIdentity}

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