IoT is Here to Stay: How to Start Effective Conversations About the New Era of Tech
In this 4-part blog series, I’m excited to provide foundational strategies to help you navigate the new era of technology and bring even more value to your customers. Today, IoT applications can optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of manufacturing, healthcare, retail — virtually any business — to stay ahead of the competition and delight end-users. But where do you even begin the conversation? How can you help your customers identify real opportunities across their organization? What kinds of tools can you give them to visualize success? Sit back, relax and learn answers to these questions and more.
By Chris Whitaker, VP of Advanced Solutions, IoT and Wireless
I work with many technology advisors, consultants, and telecommunication sales pros who are making the pivot from telecom to advanced solutions. I am on a team of five practice leaders that help in that pivot. We cover Cloud, UCaaS, CCaaS, Cyber Security, and Mobility – and the IoT revolution benefits all of these areas. IoT makes machine learning, AI, instant feedback, remote monitoring, and operations possible. They are not merely the future – they’re already here and are here to stay. Analysts predict that in 2023, more than 43 billion devices will be connected to the internet. They will generate, share, collect, and help us to make use of data in a myriad of ways. The businesses who are able to transform themselves through the benefits of IoT could create undeniable competitive advantages – and I’m not just talking about the giants like Meta and Amazon. IoT and its smart sensors
have already paved the way for automation enhancements in different sectors, along with the growing use of the cloud and 5G connectivity. You may already have a smart car that tells you when your tire pressure is too low. Or a smart alarm system that alerts your smartphone of suspicious activity at your front door while you are on vacation. Or a wearable health device that reminds you to take your medications and calculates your optimal bedtime for quality sleep. Friends, the Jetsons have arrived and suddenly, the impossible is within reach for nearly every industry.
If you want to catch a fish, think like a fish.
I love sitting down with my partners to discuss how selling IoT and mobility differs from a traditional connectivity deal. This is a new frontier that can impact so many domains of an organization – from IT and procurement to product design and marketing to distribution and customer experience. Asking for the client’s invoices to do a free assessment to identify where there can be cost savings can be very effective in a traditional sale. This is the “I can save you money and provide better service” approach (or solution selling). But it can fall short when selling advanced solutions and emerging technology. Allow me to explain.
My good friend Bill Stinnett, author of The Digital Selling Handbook (McGraw Hill), offers a fantastic session on building and asking diagnostic questions. Diagnostic selling challenges us to dig in to understand the end-user’s desired state. He shares a story about how his Dad told him, “If you want to catch a fish, think like a fish.” Thinking like a fisherman will not get it done.
Traditional solution selling looks something like this:
- Step A: The salesperson goes into the discussion with the goal to understand the end-user’s current state. OK, fine.
- Step B: Once they understand what the problem is, they move to the “I have just the thing” pitch and make the close.
- Step C: A solution for a specific issue is implemented. Problem solved. (Hopefully)
In contrast, the diagnostic selling approach looks like this:
- Identify the current state in Step A, but with much more intention
- Jump over Step B (solution) and go straight to Step C. Ask: What does the solved problem look like?
- Go back to step B to identify the correct solution/s.
Diagnostic selling example: Amusement park cleans up and cashes in with smart sensors.
One of our partners was having a diagnostic conversation with the owner of a large amusement park and discovered the client was having staffing issues. How many tech/telecom advisors would have explored this issue? We aren’t in the staffing business, right?
The partner dug in a bit more: What is the impact of not having enough staff? What’s not getting done? Which operational group is having the hardest time? What would the benefit be to solve this issue? How much is it costing you to not solve this issue?
Through a course of diagnostic questions, the owner realized he needed 12 employees to ensure trash bins were not overflowing throughout the park. The partner then asked, “How would it impact operations if you could accomplish this with a fraction of the staff needed?” The customer answered that he could repurpose staff to other critical tasks. The partner introduced the idea of installing smart sensors to alert when a trash can was half full or full. The sensors sent the data to a cloud app the team would access on their smartphones. They would receive alerts via text and rank the trash locations in order of priority.
Not only was the park able to cut down the 12-person team to three, but they also collected data on which bins filled the quickest, indicating where more bins were needed and which high-traffic areas required cleaning more often.
The complexity of sales for IoT and other advanced solutions requires a broader business discussion. To properly execute a diagnostic conversation, it takes effort, planning, and prep work. But the pay-off is plentiful: You build a deeper relationship with your client and can provide the trusted guidance and options they might not be getting elsewhere. Instead of asking if you can sell them something, you are getting to know their challenges – any challenges – and therefore positioning yourself as a valued business partner.
Yes, connectivity is a dominating need; all emerging tech requires the internet. Understanding how and where tech can be used in a business to make them more efficient and effective; that is where the next level of opportunities lay. More on that in part 2 of this blog series, coming soon to a computer/tablet/smartphone near you.
To learn how Telarus IoT solutions can help accelerate business growth, email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org