Learning to Pivot

It’s not just an iconic quote from “Friends”… According to Rachelle Cantero, it’s one of the most important things she’s learned to do on her journey in the presales profession. 

After almost two decades working in local government, Rachelle left her role to become a solutions engineer with CivicPlus – making a bold move into a profession she knew little about. 

I recently spoke with Rachelle and asked her to share some of her unique insights into making the transition to a presales role. What are the keys to her success?

One of the biggest adjustments for Rachelle stepping into her role as a Solutions Engineer II was learning to “improv” – to think on your feet and to be able to pivot – in any interaction, in any context, with any customer. 

When you’re trained as a solutions engineer, you’re often given a “formula” for how to handle situations; i.e. when X happens, do Y. When A happens, say B.

But what happens when that formula can’t be applied? What if it doesn’t work? You have to improvise. On the fly. Mission critical. Save the conversation. Save the deal. 

How do we know when that moment is upon us?

Find it. Ask. “Check your six.” 

For example, during a demo or conversation with a prospect, Rachelle will often just flat out ask:

“Give me a number from 1 to 10… 1 being you want to hop off this call immediately, 10 being you’re ready to move forward with the order… How’s this meeting going?”

Regardless of the response they give her, Rachelle emphasized that the feedback is extremely helpful. 

If the feedback is positive, you know you’re headed in the right direction. If not, it’s time to pivot, refocus, and show the product in another way that’s more meaningful to your customer. Ask clarifying questions, adapt, and draw on past experiences to reframe your pitch. 

Customers won’t always give you real feedback… but when they do, work with whatever they give you. 

We often become so passionate about our solution and want to show it in a particular way that highlights the features we’re excited about. But as Rachelle says, “It’s not about me. It’s about my client.” We have to be willing to abandon our agenda and our plan when we realize that it’s not having the intended impact. 

Learning to pivot and showcase our solution in another light or demonstrate other functionally is a critical ability for solutions engineers. It’s all about what will resonate with your client. 

Having the confidence, knowledge, and skill to make that shift mid-demo or mid-presentation is crucial – and it comes with practice, experience, and the will to serve your customers well. 

Selling is not about us forcing our ideas on people, it’s really about sincerely trying to find their problems or challenges, and determine whether or not we are able to solve them. Are there areas where we can help, or not? We have to be at peace with either outcome in order to do our job well. 

Looking for more presales tips and insight? You can find Rachelle Cantero on LinkedIn and learn more about her story by watching our full interview here