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New Member

Pre sales query !

Hi all,

Guys this is not a technical query but i really didnt know whom or where to ask so i am putting this question here for all experts (whom i respect by heart)

Sir how do you guys become expert in pre sales. I mean client can ask anything from anywhere. They can ask me on the fly that how many ports or modules are in 3900 series router ? they can ask me if stacking between 2960s and x is possible ? what about 3560x and 2960x and such. How am i supposed to remember all this stuff ?

I know there are experts here who may know it all but what is the approach for getting such expertise ?

Please guide me guys i will really appreciate your feedback on it.

2 ACCEPTED SOLUTIONS

Accepted Solutions
Silver

Re: Pre sales query !

I suspect a lot of it is read off the Cisco Data sheets on the fly.

That's right, you'll spend a lot of time reading these, so worth bookmarking the common ones in your browser.

Cisco has a configurator within their CCW section. These is very useful, because it lists out all the possible part numbers associated with each product. You still need to do your research, but it's better than nothing. For example, it won't tell you that you only need one VPN license for a HA pair of ASAs. It won't tell you that you'll need a single 1m stack cable and for a large stack of 3750 switches.

There is so much Cisco product information that you can never learn it all. I keep my notes updated and list out key points for the common products. MS OneNote might work well, although I still keep everything in a huge Word doc. If I learn anything new and important, then it gets added. Can be a pain, but it's a great reference. The only downside is that old info must be cross-checked, because things change. For example, features can sometimes drop down the IOS feature sets as time goes by.

Take the most commonly sold products by your partner and build up some good notes on these first. Perhaps create some tables identifying key features, or use columns with tick boxes - i.e. Dual PSU?, stackable?, etc.

Make sure you understand how the part numbers are constructed for your key products. For example, the part number for a common fixed-chassis switch like the 2960 or 3750 will tell you the number of switchports, type of switchports (RJ45/SPF), PoE (none/low/half/full), type of uplinks (RJ45/SFP/both), speed of uplinks (1/10GbE), type of IOS feature set etc etc

Learn the key differences between the IOS feature sets for the most common products. This is important. You don't want any nasty post-sale surprises where the device won't perform a feature requested by the customer. It can be expensive.

Cisco CCDA and CCDP exams will help with any design work.

Cisco Live! 365 videos are good, so worth signing up www.ciscolive365.com

Cisco Design Zone can be useful, but will depend how low-level your pre-sales role will be. Some roles are quite high level.

Learn Visio (or similar) and create a base template to work from - i.e. get all your common icons and components ready, plus your subject box (i.e. title, customer, author, date, internal reference number etc)

Template a nice long list of common caveats to add at the end of your proposal - i.e. customer to schedule network outage window, customer to supply fibre patch leads, customer to make available necessary rack space etc etc etc. Just take out the ones you don't need each time.

Ask colleagues to vet your proposals whilst you're still learning.

There's probably more, but that should help get you started.

Hall of Fame Super Gold

Re: Pre sales query !

Sorry Sir if you misunderstand me. I didnt mean to say you guys are here to answer our queries.

My apologies.  My last post was NOT meant directly at you.  It's meant for other people who think that they must get the answer to their questions quickly.

I dont even know what to memorize from data sheets.

Don't.  Just don't memorize the data sheets.   The best way to learn about a product is to use it yourself.  In some cases, you need to be technical to in order to sell something.  The reason is because there are some clients who are not technical and they make the wrong decision and buy the wrong set of equipment.

No amount of memorization can save you (or your customer) if you don't know your product.  Personally, I don't know all the products and their capabilities but I can get away with saying a potential client, "Errrr ... what do you think are you trying to do?  That ain't going to work because ...."

Since you are new to the job, stick to one product and know it.  Pretty soon you'll be able to cross-associate the product with others due to some similarities.

Personally, I don't like being "conned".  There's a saying, "If you feel like you've been conned, chances are, you were.".  If your client feels like you've given them the raw deal, you've blown it.  I would appreciate if a pre-sales person would be able to give me the good news as well as the bad news.  You have no idea how many people have posted threads about "how come my pre-sales didn't tell me this".  And our response are always, "because they are pre-sales and it's their job to sell (and not tell you the pros and cons)".

8 REPLIES
New Member

Pre sales query !

Experience in installation can help. If you work for a Cisco Resller you can always lean on the channel's presales resource for help. Also the CCDA and CCNP design exams.

I have even opened a Cisco TAC and got assistance from Cisco directly with presales questions.

Pre sales query !

Having never worked in Pre Sales, I have no actual experience but I suspect a lot of it is read off the Cisco Data sheets on the fly.

I have called several pre sales department and the staff tend to know the basics and then look anything more obscure up from the manuals or data sheets.

Cisco are one of the better ones, HP are terrible in terms of switches.

Silver

Re: Pre sales query !

I suspect a lot of it is read off the Cisco Data sheets on the fly.

That's right, you'll spend a lot of time reading these, so worth bookmarking the common ones in your browser.

Cisco has a configurator within their CCW section. These is very useful, because it lists out all the possible part numbers associated with each product. You still need to do your research, but it's better than nothing. For example, it won't tell you that you only need one VPN license for a HA pair of ASAs. It won't tell you that you'll need a single 1m stack cable and for a large stack of 3750 switches.

There is so much Cisco product information that you can never learn it all. I keep my notes updated and list out key points for the common products. MS OneNote might work well, although I still keep everything in a huge Word doc. If I learn anything new and important, then it gets added. Can be a pain, but it's a great reference. The only downside is that old info must be cross-checked, because things change. For example, features can sometimes drop down the IOS feature sets as time goes by.

Take the most commonly sold products by your partner and build up some good notes on these first. Perhaps create some tables identifying key features, or use columns with tick boxes - i.e. Dual PSU?, stackable?, etc.

Make sure you understand how the part numbers are constructed for your key products. For example, the part number for a common fixed-chassis switch like the 2960 or 3750 will tell you the number of switchports, type of switchports (RJ45/SPF), PoE (none/low/half/full), type of uplinks (RJ45/SFP/both), speed of uplinks (1/10GbE), type of IOS feature set etc etc

Learn the key differences between the IOS feature sets for the most common products. This is important. You don't want any nasty post-sale surprises where the device won't perform a feature requested by the customer. It can be expensive.

Cisco CCDA and CCDP exams will help with any design work.

Cisco Live! 365 videos are good, so worth signing up www.ciscolive365.com

Cisco Design Zone can be useful, but will depend how low-level your pre-sales role will be. Some roles are quite high level.

Learn Visio (or similar) and create a base template to work from - i.e. get all your common icons and components ready, plus your subject box (i.e. title, customer, author, date, internal reference number etc)

Template a nice long list of common caveats to add at the end of your proposal - i.e. customer to schedule network outage window, customer to supply fibre patch leads, customer to make available necessary rack space etc etc etc. Just take out the ones you don't need each time.

Ask colleagues to vet your proposals whilst you're still learning.

There's probably more, but that should help get you started.

Hall of Fame Super Gold

Re: Pre sales query !

I know there are experts here who may know it all but what is the approach for getting such expertise ?

Nearly all of us here specialize in certain aspects.  Although we don't work for Cisco (or haven't worked for Cisco), we are familiar with some stuff but mostly boils down to the collaboration with some of the partners (like Simon and Marvin), vendors (like Scott) and Cisco staff who also actively contribute to this forum (too many of them to mention).

Bear in mind that all of us, except for the moderators, are here of our own free time.  So don't expect us to QUICKLY answer your queries. 

New Member

Re: Pre sales query !

Sorry Sir if you misunderstand me. I didnt mean to say you guys are here to answer our queries. I know you are doing of free will and its highly appreciated. I just wanted to know the approach because i have joined a partner as pre sales and my knowledge sucks :-(

I dont even know what to memorize from data sheets. Clients sometimes ask such absurd questions that i dont even think of

Hall of Fame Super Gold

Re: Pre sales query !

Sorry Sir if you misunderstand me. I didnt mean to say you guys are here to answer our queries.

My apologies.  My last post was NOT meant directly at you.  It's meant for other people who think that they must get the answer to their questions quickly.

I dont even know what to memorize from data sheets.

Don't.  Just don't memorize the data sheets.   The best way to learn about a product is to use it yourself.  In some cases, you need to be technical to in order to sell something.  The reason is because there are some clients who are not technical and they make the wrong decision and buy the wrong set of equipment.

No amount of memorization can save you (or your customer) if you don't know your product.  Personally, I don't know all the products and their capabilities but I can get away with saying a potential client, "Errrr ... what do you think are you trying to do?  That ain't going to work because ...."

Since you are new to the job, stick to one product and know it.  Pretty soon you'll be able to cross-associate the product with others due to some similarities.

Personally, I don't like being "conned".  There's a saying, "If you feel like you've been conned, chances are, you were.".  If your client feels like you've given them the raw deal, you've blown it.  I would appreciate if a pre-sales person would be able to give me the good news as well as the bad news.  You have no idea how many people have posted threads about "how come my pre-sales didn't tell me this".  And our response are always, "because they are pre-sales and it's their job to sell (and not tell you the pros and cons)".

New Member

Pre sales query !

Thanks Sir i really appreciate your response.

New Member

Pre sales query !

Hi,

Your answers adn explanations really helps alot.

May I know where is Configurator in CCW? I couldn't find it exactly?

Thanks in advance.

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