Tuesday 27 March 2012

IT Sales – bit by bit

It’s a lot like the old adage about eating an elephant (one bite at a time). Selling is very similar in that it takes a number of steps to reach the end goal.

At each stage of the sales process you need to be clear about what you are trying to achieve. Invariably – the goal is to move the deal forwards – closing only comes at the end. So don’t get hung up about closing (although when you get there – don’t forget to ask for the PO!).

For example – if you are prospecting for new customers – offering products the first chance you get may be counter-productive. They have got to get to know you a little first. People buy from people – not from strangers.

As you build relationships, you also need to build trust. One good way of doing this is to ask questions and show that you want to know more about your customer and his situation. In IT Sales – the customer’s situation will include business and technical considerations – so build some knowledge and confidence in both these areas. You do not need to be a business or technical expert – but do need to hold credible conversations within these environments.

One great side effect of being clear about the next step in the sales process – is that you can track success even before you sell anything. Gaining commitment for a follow up call – that is success. Discovering an upcoming project – that is success. Finding new contacts – that is success. Once in the habit of success – great sales results are sure to follow.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Sales Superstardom – it’s all in the swing

You may think that your role in IT Sales is to sell more. This is not the case. It may well be your goal – but not your role. Let me explain.
Perhaps an analogy will help. It’s like in sport – let’s say golf. When you tee off on a long hole – you may think your role is to hit the ball hard so you can achieve the long distance. Wrong. If you focus on hitting the ball hard – you are likely to miss hit it and perhaps with embarrassing results. The key with golf – or indeed most sports – is to focus on using the right technique. With golf - it’s all in the swing.
So in sales, with a goal to sell more, where should you focus to maximise your results?
A good sales swing comes from focusing on buyers – not on selling products. No buyer means no sale. Or put another way – you cannot sell anything – unless you are engaged with a buyer who wishes to buy from you. It sounds obvious – but the implications are enormous. Your role is not to sell stuff – it is to firstly find a buyer – qualify that he has a real need and that you have products or services which address the need – then influence him to spend his money with you. If you succeed in this with enough customers – you will achieve your sales goals.
To improve your sales technique, think about the steps a customer goes through to make a purchase and figure out how to help him want to buy from you. Note that customers will follow this process with or without you. Your role is to make it with you.
We can break down the process as follows:

Every purchase begins with a need. In order to increase your pipeline – you must identify more customers with a qualified need. The only way to do this is to talk to many customers. It is still a numbers game in sales! The key is to ask open questions about their situation and challenges they face. In the process, you will uncover needs which your products and services may be able to address.

The customer will be faced with many choices both in terms of technology and vendors to work with. Your role here is to help advise him. Get closer to him and build your relationships and trust. By introducing technical expertise and helping your customer narrow his options by making informed choices – you can increase your influence.

By the time your customer comes to choosing – technologies and supplier – the influence you have built will greatly increase your chances of winning the deal.

At this stage, the deal is hopefully yours . You will need to ensure everything is lined up in your favour – which includes the customers trust that you can deliver, the right products and services in place and of course – the right price. Don’t forget to ask for the PO!

There are many techniques and skills required to be a sales superstar – but unless you keep your customer and his needs at the centre of what you do – you’ll find your pipe-line turns into a pipe-dream.

Monday 5 March 2012

What, Why, Who – the foundations for IT solution selling

If you are in IT sales, by definition you need to sell more technology (and probably services) to achieve your target.
Most of the time, achieving your sales target is going to be a stretch. If this is not the case for you – you can stop reading now. Mmm – I see you are still reading. Good. 
There are two main approaches to this challenge. The first is playing the numbers game – call more customers and ask them what they need. This does work but it will only get you so far. You will only skim the surface of the opportunity available to you. If you are early in your sales career – this may be a good start, but it’s not sustainable. Not if you have ambition to be a sales superstar.
The second approach is still a numbers game - you still need to speak to many customers – but it’s smarter because you take a more consultative approach. In consultative selling, you don’t focus on the products or services you would like to sell – instead, you focus on the customer.
Once you understand your customer’s situation more fully you will be in a better position to offer solutions to their problems comprising of your products and services. I will cover Consultative Selling in another post – but there is some groundwork you need to put in place first to maximise your chances of success. You need to understand the three W’s of the solutions you have to offer.

What , Why , Who - The Foundations for IT Solution selling


What is it? This refers to the technology or services in your portfolio. Step 1 is to understand what you have on offer. Of course, there will be many technologies that you are already successfully selling and I am sure you know at least a little about them. However, to grow your sales smartly, you need to broaden your personal portfolio. Learn about new technologies and services and so broaden your conversations with customers. The beauty of this is that you can have new conversations with existing customers. And we all know these are easier than with people that don’t know you at all.
2DeCipher.com is a great place to explore technologies which you can add to your personal portfolio.


Why is it needed? This may vary depending on your target market. So if for instance you predominantly sell to mid-sized businesses, or schools, or hospitals or whatever – what are the hot buttons for these types of customer which means they will be interested in this technology area? The “why” of a solution links directly to business value, which means you need to find out about your customer’s business to make these links. Understanding why a particular technology will be of value to verticals or segments in your customer base naturally leads to the third W and dictates who you might start calling to look for new opportunities.


Who needs it? At this level, we are not talking about market segments. You need to find out specifically if the customer you are about to speak to has a need for one of your solution offerings. The fact is you won’t know until you speak with them. The consultative approach is to find out about their situation and have a range of technologies in your personal portfolio which you can bring into conversation as and when appropriate.
In consultative selling it is always customer first – solution second (when appropriate).

www.2decipher.com will help you explore a growing range of technology solutions which you can add to your personal portfolio.