Many companies are looking to improve upon the speed, security, and accessibility of business technologies, especially satellite and broadband connections to the internet. While customers are becoming more savvy, many don't speak 'tech-ese,' and they still are baffled by terms such as routers, IPSEC, T-1s, WIFI, and broadband. While these buyers may have a genuine interest and need for the products they investigate, more often than not their sales experience ends up a frustrating and confusing one.
Don't Talk Tech!
Salespeople are often caught in the hype for their own products. It's easy to lose touch with a client's perspective with this approach. The other major blunder a tech salesperson may make is their need to be perceived as experts in their field. Talking tech to the point of no return does not usually yield a promising sale. How does one handle the tendency in tech sales to "show up and throw up?" It is critical to address ineffective sales approaches in the tech market, because these mistakes are often the most significant barriers to high performance.
Communicate Don't Baffle
Bringing the human side to selling high tech products is not easy, but it must enter into the equation or else a salesperson's success is at risk. Communicating with clients, not baffling them, is key to building long-term relationships. Technology is evolving, and the customer needs to become aware of the new technology and not be intimidated by it.
Focus on Client Needs
I conduct high technology sales training throughout the United States for a variety of clients. For sales professionals in the high tech field, I often stress the need to shift the focus from the salesperson to the client. This is difficult, because products are complex, and sales people get caught up in the innovation and creativity the product may provide rather than focusing on the client's needs. Typically, a salesperson approaches the client with a laundry list of questions or a lengthy Powerpoint presentation. Sometimes the questions are canned, or the presentation is a reflection of the salesperson's agenda. The questions or presentation are designed to steer the conversation towards the highlights of the products for sale or the expertise of the salesperson.
Turn the Tone from an Interview to a Conversation
Instead of assuming knowledge of the client's needs, I recommend a salesperson begin the first meeting by asking the client about their expectations. I also advise them to cancel the list of leading questions. Replace this with a list of results the client desires and their potential business challenges. Shifting the focus from the salesperson to the client will change the tone of the meeting from an interview to a conversation.
Ask the Right Questions
The art of selling is still about asking good questions. They simply must be framed with a different purpose. Try building in questions that put the client in the driver's seat. For example, 'What would you like to learn more about?' or "How can I help resolve these issues?' These questions can generate a host of answers that relate back to the product and the solutions technology offers.
Shortened presentations that focus on companies' capabilities and how to expand them through technology help close deals. Info dumps are a bore and can even damage the sale process because the customer is not engaged. If high tech salespeople lose themselves in touting the capabilities of the product, they lose their most distinguishing feature ? themselves.
About The Author
Amy Fox has designed and delivered sales training for Fortune 500 telecommunications and technology firms for companies such as Global Crossing Telecommunications, Cincinnati Bell, and Trivantis. Ms. Fox has taught M.B. A. courses at Xavier University on creating a coaching culture. Amy Fox founded Accelerated Business Results in 2003. Visit www.acceleratedbr.com for more information; firstname.lastname@example.org