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Technology plays a significant part in our professional lives. Knowing how to sell IT solutions is therefore an invaluable skillset.
However, IT sales and marketing teams are struggling to capitalise on this and generate sales.
Why? In short, the expectations of potential customers have changed, and the old sales processes are no longer working.
So, how can IT salespeople breathe new life into their sales approach?
Traditionally, an IT sales rep was probably a middle-aged man, more than likely a technology buff, focused on the nitty gritty of their product’s technology. This model worked when they were selling to IT teams who engaged with the jargon.
But there has been a seismic cultural change, and many who procure IT services and products today are senior decision makers in non-technical roles. These buyers are likely to switch off when faced with the technical approach employed by traditional IT salespeople.
With so many competitors, it’s not enough to have the best product out there. You have to help your buyers understand how your products or services will deliver tangible benefits. In other words, technology in and of itself doesn’t achieve business outcomes – you need to help prospects understand how it will solve their problems.
Boasting about your IT business services isn’t enough to generate sales these days. Aligning your content marketing accordingly is essential for generating demand among potential customers.
An IT director might want to talk about the product, but a financial controller will probably be more interested in its potential financial benefits. Having a varied content library is therefore the best way to demonstrate your ability to solve their problems.
Some buyers would rather focus on facts and figures, others concentrate more on whether you’ve built a relationship and trust with them. Aspirational buyers want to know where your business is going, and how they fit into that as a customer. Then there are those who prioritise reliability – what have you done in past that lets them know they can trust you? This is where previous case studies and testimonials are invaluable.
Modern IT sales reps should be problem solvers, educating their prospects and always adding value before they extract it.
Studies have shown the strongest buying emotion is pain, be it financial, reputational, or operational. So, show your prospect how you can take this pain away.
One of durhamlane’s nine sales mantras is “Be interested to be interesting.” That is to say, the more interest you show in your customers’ challenges, the more likely you are to become of interest to them. Question-based selling becomes important here – ask the right questions to unearth the issue. Tease out the root of their problems, then educate them on what they need to do, and how you can help. Make them realise you’re there to genuinely help their business, not just rinse them for commission.
If you can’t solve their pain, be upfront and honest, and direct them to someone else who can help. This way you still earn a reputation as a problem solver, which will pay off in the future.
Some prospects aren’t ready to buy yet, and that’s okay. From reading one of your blog posts to becoming a paying customer – sales cycles can take years. But don’t give up on them.
That being said, it’s important to know the difference between when a prospect has genuine potential, and when they don’t. Don’t be afraid to disqualify prospects that aren’t going to go anywhere by using a qualification system, such as durhamlane’s Magic 35 toolkit.
One reason to disqualify is to avoid falling into the trap of being used for free consultancy. Your time is valuable, so don’t give too much of it away for free. If your prospect doesn’t respect your time, then it is liberating to recognise when it’s time to walk away and move onto the next opportunity.
Use your professional persistence and don’t throw in the towel too easily.
A prospect could be genuinely interested in your product but may not have had time to get back to you after your initial contact. This is when you use your qualification system to know when it’s worth keeping going.
Agree tangible KPIs and outcomes that you want to get from each of your touchpoints. Decide what the acceptable outcome from your next call could be. If they say they need to talk things over with their manager before buying, then don’t give up, but know what the next steps need to be.
Have a plan in place at all times.