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 it (although when you get there – don’t forget to ask for the Purchase Order!).
For example – if you are prospecting for new customers – offering products the first chance you get may be counter-productive. Spend some time getting to know your customer – mainly about his business and its needs, but also a little about the person. Let him get to know you a little too. 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 with people working in 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.
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 his problems comprising of your products and services. I will cover Consultative Selling in another article – 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. 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.
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.
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