One sector that often comprises both intangible and complex sales is the high-tech sector. Many of the solutions are literally invisible—they run in the background and the majority of people are oblivious that they even exist.
Saying that someone is in the high-tech sector or industry is somewhat ambiguous in this era, as most organizations harness technology to make their businesses run. Everything from engineering solutions, to cars, cell phones, and legal services use technology as part of their offerings to the marketplace. So even if you do not consider yourself to be “in technology,” you will most likely be selling solutions that involve technology now or in the future.
Communicating the Benefits of Technology to Different Types of Buyers
We have to realize that there are often many types of people that are involved in the procurement of high tech solutions. For instance, if you were selling Customer Relations Management software implementation to a client, the following buyers may be involved in the decision making and evaluation process:
• The CEO
• The sales staff who will use the software
• The VP of Sales
• The training department that will insure use and implementation
• The IT department or team who will have integrate and support it once it is installed
Each of the buyers or contributors will need to have the solution communicated differently:
• The CEO will most likely want to know the big picture, the bottom-line and how the return on investment will be measured. They will not want to get bogged down in details and specifics and should not be asked questions related to those specifics.
• Finance and accounting will be concerned about capital costs, warrantees, process management, risk and on-going fees.
• The sales staff will want to know how to use it, how it will impact their ability to do their job, and the amount of control others will have over them.
• The VP of Sales and the training department will want to know about measurement, implementation, tracking tools, and how it will impact their ability to support the sales team.
• The IT department will want to know specifics on programming, quality assurance issues, debugging, scalability, programming language security, and a myriad of other technical issues.
Most people are comfortable communicating with one or two of these types of stakeholder groups. Great salespeople in this sector have a strategy to address the needs of each of these groups, and they communicate the benefits in a way that is unique and applicable to each buyer type.
In addition to this, there are several other important attributes relating to great high-tech sales professionals as follows:
Knowing the Market
Understanding our target market and niche is critical. We need to understand the unique circumstances, competitive environment, and business processes of our target market. In doing this research and preparation, we are better equipped to address the needs of our target market and identify what core business challenges our technology can address.
Knowing the Client
We need to go beyond the market and spend time getting to understand each individual corporation’s situation and circumstance. Each client will have unique business challenges and processes that need the support of technology in a customized way.
Factors that will affect the type of solution needed will vary depending on their stage of business growth, existing business processes, corporate goals, immediate and long term challenges, as well as management and operations philosophy.
Know All Applications and Limitations of Your Solution
In order to fully service the client and become a true resource and problem solver, we must understand all the applications of our products and services. In addition to this, it is imperative that we also understand our weaknesses and limitations.
At times clients have un-reasonable or un-defined expectations—by understanding our limitations and communicating them effectively we can dispel any misconceptions.
Why this is important is that a small misunderstanding early on could result in a largely off-target project or solution. On the positive side of course, by knowing all of the applications of our solution we make sure that we truly maximize revenues and client satisfaction.
Be a Problem Solver
This is an integral part of selling technology. Most new technologies evolve out of a client problem for which there is no solution.
Have Great Consulting Skills
Elevating ourselves from the status of order taker to trusted advisor can give us a real advantage in the marketplace. To be seen as a consultant, we need to have a thorough needs analysis approach, build our profile as a subject matter expert, have a high level of rapport with the potential clients, and look for ideal solutions—not just “our solution” to client problems.
Great Project Planning and Management Skills
Many large high-tech sales deals will require numerous people on our team to help us close the sale. There most likely will be a need to engage technical and support staff and then coordinate their interaction with key staff in our client company. Once we have the deal, there will be a need to continue to monitor these interactions to ensure that the promises we made to the client are in fact fulfilled.