The November 14th Telarus Tuesday call brought CompTIA faculty member, Kathryn Rose to talk about the importance of having every person on your team be part of the sales process. The entire recording can be found here.
Skill Required for Success
Every opportunity that you get to be in front of a client is a sales opportunity regardless of your title or position. As the client moves through the sales process every person who touches that account is going to be selling, the client buys all of you collectively. Buyer and influencers have changed pretty dramatically over the last ten years. Studies show that as many as ten people are involved in every decision, it is everybody from the user of the technology all the way to the implementer. This means that not everyone understands the language of technology. Sales is no longer about making deals, it’s not about a single point in time, and it is not transactional, it is about interactions and a cycle that continues. This cycle begins by acquiring the customer to keeping that customer and then continuing to sell to the customer.
Tech Teams with Soft Skills
As your customer’s budgets and line of business continue to increase the technical teams will require additional skills to be effective. More than 50% of the average budget today involves a business decision selection as well as the purchase and deployment of technology. The soft skills needed for success and technical roles are very vital and are also becoming a required skill set. Companies that help their employees learn and apply these skills are often the ones that are most successful.
Speaking the Customer’s Language
In addition to increasing your technical skills, it is also important to speak the customer’s business language. Customers today don’t want you just to explain the technology, they want you to tell them what it can do for their business. Being able to articulate the value your company and your solutions will bring them is extremely important. This will increase the trust a customer has in you and your company not just as a technology provider but potentially as a business partner long-term. It’s all about how you develop relationships and work with other collaboratively.
The Role of the Seller
Today selling is about working collaboratively with a customer because buyers have options. Customers can now go online and find at least 90% of what they need to know you, your products, your company and your competitors. The differentiator is you; people buy from people. Regardless of your role in the technical team, you as a technical salesperson have an advantage because often the customer places more credibility in what you do or say because you’re not the salesperson. Your input provides major impact; it’s rare for customers to expect technical teams or technical people to upsell. When you do, or technical teams do recommend products or additional services it can be received as more genuine than a standard sales pitch. Here are some key roles of tech teams in sales:
- Sales Engineer (SE): Works side by side with sellers
- Services & Delivery Teams: Help the customer understand how the solution will be deployed.
- Customer Service: First to be called when a post-sales problem occurs.
Earlier we talked about soft skills and about personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. You want to have an attitude of inquiry, so you’re not just showing up to tell people what you know, you’re also showing up to help probe for the problems. By asking customers questions, you will be able to unveil opportunities. Obviously, you are there to answer questions, but if you take that opportunity to take a step back and have the attitude of inquiry the customer will see you as a business partner rather than just a problem solver. You should also have the desire to understand. With multiple roles involved in sales, solid listening skills start with thinking about the objective or point of view of the specific person you’re communicating with. It is important to understand their experiences, interests, and goals. There should also be the genuine wish to help people when. If you approach the situation by concentrating on easing your customer’s pain points, it will help the sales team move the sale along much faster.
In this process, objections can arise, and it’s not uncommon when confronted with an objection for those with the technical background to respond in a way that’s not productive. You want to think about objections as an opportunity to gain insight into what the other person is saying or thinking. CompTIA has devised a process that might be able to help you see all of this more clearly. This process is called APAC. It would be nice if sales were as easy as asking questions and listening, unfortunately even the most successful salespeople run into objections. Here are a few effective strategies when dealing with objections:
- Acknowledge what the objection is.
- Probe, dig deeper into what the customer needs.
- Answer their objection.
- Confirm that you adequately addressed the objection.
Listening is also an essential part of the sales process. Asking questions and listening go hand in hand, but with the number of distractions we all deal with, it’s easier said than done. Here are nine steps that you can employ for active listening:
- Resist distractions
- Take notes
- Let people tell their story
- Offer verbal feedback
- Read between the lines
- Pay attention to body language
- Ask questions
CompTIA has come up with another process which should help you prepare for meetings ahead of time; this process is called RAP. Typically, technical teams like agendas and they like to be able to know exactly what they’re talking about. If you are a traditional salesperson, it is important for you to be cognizant of this when inviting technical teams to meetings. Before meeting with a customer, it’s a good idea for your team to get together and put a plan that sets expectations for everyone in place. RAP will help you set the tone and agenda; it will also help you use your time effectively.
- Reason – State the purpose of the meeting
- Agenda – Document what you want to discuss
- Payoff – Decide next steps
When you are talking to a customer, there are certain things you’ll want to avoid. You want to make sure you’re guarding your company’s intellectual property. You should also always keep a customer’s data confidential. If you need to show a customer something, make sure you have an environment staging server or something like that. If a customer mentions a competitor, use that opportunity to probe what about that competitor’s solution the customer likes better and why instead of bashing the competition. It is very important to be cautious of finger-pointing. The entire team is what the customer is looking at to establish a long-term relationship. The customer wants to do business with the collective company so make sure you avoid throwing people under the bus if something goes wrong. You want to make sure that you always treat every customer with respect, you want the customer to understand that you respect them even though they don’t have the knowledge that you do. Lastly, you should always remain calm in every situation with the customer. Make sure that you are putting your team and your company in the best light.
This webinar was provided by CompTIA. For more information about CompTIA, visit their website.