Tuesday 10 September 2013

Fancy a career in IT Sales?

We all know loosely what  Information Technology is, because it touches all of us on a daily basis. It is a term which has been around since 1958 when it appeared in the Harvard Business Review and has since been more formally defined by  the Information Technology Association of America as  "the study, design, development, application, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems". The fact that the term was coined in the Harvard Business Review gives us a clue as to its significance. It is not so much what it is as what it does that is of importance. 

Businesses have come to rely on Information Technology to improve  productivity (for example for automating production processes in manufacturers, for speeding up money transfers in banks and improving collaboration between workers in all types of businesses).  More recently, new businesses have evolved which could not exist without information technology (for example Amazon which started as an online only book store, Google which started as a search engine and Facebook which is at the center of the social media revolution).  The benefits that IT brings to the commercial world equally apply to the public sector and indeed to individuals. Now IT touches all of us during our working day as well as our personal time and as applications become  more mobile, more and more of our waking day is affected. 

The upshot of all of this is that selling IT is big business and if entered into as a career, is something that could last a lifetime - if you have the capacity and motivation to keep up with the constant change. IT represents a significant amount of spend (and therefore sales opportunity). Analyst firm Gartner reckons global spend on IT in 2013 will reach 3.8 trillion US Dollars (a growth of 4% on 2012 despite severely poor economic conditions). This figure is pretty meaningless on its own so let's compare with the International Monetary Fund's estimation for global GDP (Gross Domestic Product) which is circa 75 trillion US Dollars for 2013. This implies that about 5% of the world's available spend goes into IT. This is quite consistent with the levels of spend that organisations spend on IT as a percentage of their revenue. Of course, this can vary quite widely depending on the size of the organisation and the industry within which it operates. It should be noted that this spend is not just based on IT products purchased. It includes costs for services, support and maintenance contracts and some IT staff costs too. 

As any sales coach will tell you, one of the keys to winning a sale is understanding how purchasing from you will support the buyer by adding value either to his business or to himself personally. In other words - why customers buy IT.  In IT sales, gaining an understanding of how technology relates to business will help you become more successful. You also need to know who to speak to within your customer's organisation to win the deal.

You may be interested to know that many successful IT sales people are not technical by nature. Let me emphasise this point.
You don't need to be technical to be successful in selling technology.
I can hear many of you breathing a sigh of relief. Here is the catch though, you do need to  build trust and be able to influence buyers who are technical experts. IT conversations can become complex quickly so a grounding in what you need to know about technology can be invaluable.
A career in IT Sales can be highly rewarding in many ways - not least financially. There are many sales techniques that will help you on your way, but unless you can start talking the language of your customers, you may find yourself disadvantaged. So my advice is to spend a little time each week devoted to learning what IT is being used for and how it can help your customers achieve their goals.

To get started - check out www.2decipher.com