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Shane Gibson Keynote Speaker | Social Selling | Sales Trainer | Social Media Strategy

Posts Categorized / Selling In Turbulent Times

  • Feb 11 / 2009
  • 2
Leadership, Sales Articles, Sales Blog, Sales Management Blog, Sales Training, Selling In Turbulent Times

Questions to ask before taking that high tech sales job offer

Careers in High-Tech and Web-Based Industries

For every successful technology company there are dozens that fail and leave behind an array of lost promises, disappointed investors, and stressed former employees.  This sector offers a highly engaging, and potentially lucrative career in sales. With that in mind, we must be willing to ask some hard questions about the company we are going to potentially work with.
The following are examples of questions and topics we need to address when seeking out potential employers:

1.    What is the basis for their technology? Do they have something proprietary or innovative that will allow me to build up a client base? Will this technology give us a sustained competitive advantage?  Or are we just another “me too” technology that can eventually be built better and cheaper by some other company?

2.    Is this technology proven, scalable, and have a track record? Many organizations make grand claims about their latest invention but cannot back it up. Remember, when you are out prospecting, presenting, and visiting potential clients, you are going to get some hard questions. Make sure there is something of substance that you can sell.

3.    Does the company have a solid infrastructure, quality control, technical standards, and sufficient resources for customer support? Too many start-ups lack this infrastructure and back-office support. What occurs is as we land larger clients and sell multiple instances of our software or solution, and the production side of the company fails to keep up. This results in delayed projects, poor customer service, and loss of clients, market share, and opportunity.  Make sure the company you work for has those key systems in place.

4.    Does the company have a proven executive team? Leadership and the personal motivation and drive of key executives are very important, especially in the initial stages of business growth. Has the CEO surrounded themselves with intelligent, competent division heads, or have they surrounded themselves with an entourage of “yes” people?

5.    One of the most important questions is: “Is this solution a cure to a pain or a problem?” If it is, creating a business case for people to buy it will be achievable. If it is one of the many technologies with no real market demand (i.e. just another interesting technology tool) it is not going to be a priority purchase for anyone.

6.    Does the company and solution have a defined, accessible market? If the target market is difficult to reach or is ambiguous, much of our initial tenure at the company will not be spent selling, it will be spent trying to define the market and through trial and error, learning how to access it. This is not a formula for large commissions.

7.    Does the company equip the sales staff with the right marketing and collateral materials as well as tools necessary to sell the solution? In addition to this, do they have a well-defined and potentially lucrative compensation plan that will reward me for my efforts?

If you find it hard to answer positively about one or more of these questions the reality is you’re probably not being offered a sales job of real substance in web or high tech based industries.

I know of several sales people who’s resume’s are full of 3 or 6 month stints at half a dozen of these companies. The time frame makes them look like flakey employees who can’t commit or be loyal. The reality is they were great sales people who worked for companies of no substance.

– Shane Gibson

  • Feb 11 / 2009
  • 8
Sales Articles, Sales Blog, Sales Management Blog, Sales Training, Selling In Turbulent Times

Operationalizing Your Sales Strategy

Operationalizing your sales process and approach is vital to your sales success both in the short term and the long-term.  Anyone can dream up a brilliant idea or strategy, in fact this world is full of great ideas that will never happen.  The genius is in the implementation.

Following are the five key elements of Operationalizing sales:

1.    Tools

In order to operationalize our sales process and achieve our goals we will need the right tools to get the job done.  These tools include everything from electronic devices, research tools, business cards, marketing materials, software, and accounting and billing tools to name a few.  It is important to be aware of the core tools needed to effectively execute the plan.

2.    Measurement

What gets measured gets improved.  Without measurement there is no feedback, positive or negative, regarding our progress.  A goal helps us push ourselves in positive ways and fuels improvement, motivation, self-esteem and team spirit.

What gets measured gets improved.  Without measurement there is no feedback, positive or negative, regarding our progress.  A goal helps us push ourselves in positive ways and fuels improvement, motivation, self-esteem and team spirit.

3.    Processes and Knowledge

Once you have a goal, a measurement process, and the right tools needed to identify the process to follow, you can identify any knowledge or skill gaps that may affect progress.  Being a master at sales is a process of constant improvement, self awareness and personal growth.

4.    Maximize Selling Time

Your end goal is to build solid client relationships that result in sizeable amounts of revenue.  Using this as a core goal, we can  maximize the time spent doing the things that move us toward that goal.  Many sales people have failed because they became experts at paperwork, staff meetings, research, and a myriad of other activities that have very little to do with closing the deal or building relationships with the right clients.

Sales professionals need to have a process that supports the core goal and the courage to fight for the time needed to do these things.  This process is about delegating, automating or deleting these activities from our life that are not harmonious with our goals.

5.    Support and Accountability Structure

“One is too few a number to achieve greatness” – John Maxwell.

John Maxwell, leadership expert says it well in this quote.  We need a team to help us reach our goals; many of us will do more for other people than we would do for ourselves.  Having a set of checks and balances and a manager, coach, mentor or peer that holds us accountable is a key ingredient in driving sales results.

– Shane Gibson

  • Feb 09 / 2009
  • 8
* Sales Podcast, iPhone Podcasts, Leadership, Marketing and PR, Sales Blog, Sales Management Blog, Sales Training, Sales Training Video, Selling In Turbulent Times

Peter Legge Video Be Bold

Last week I attended a great seminar by Peter Legge on Doing Business in Tough Times.  It was great to see a business leader like Peter echo what I have been blogging, podcasting and speaking about for the past 6 months. So many people have taken the easy route, stopped following their business plan and started following the news.  It’s all about courage and personal responsibility. This video is Canada focused but I believe it has global applications.  It was produced for the event last week.

Enjoy:

  • Feb 08 / 2009
  • 2
Internet Marketing and SEO, Marketing and PR, Sales Articles, Sales Blog, Sales Management Blog, Sales Training, Selling In Turbulent Times

Selling Web Solutions and Technology

Why Do People Buy Technology?

People and companies do not generally seek out technology; they seek out solutions to their pains or positive emotional states. Technology for the sake of technology is not a great marketing strategy. When our clients purchase from us, they are really buying outcomes, feelings, results, and solutions.

Too often those involved in the high-tech sector bury their prospects in endless streams of jargon, highly technical diagrams, and gratuitous numbers of acronyms. These terms and over-complicated descriptions often confuse the client, clouding the core benefits and failing to answer the basic questions: “What’s in it for me?” and “What’s unique about this solution?”

Some of the most effective sales professionals who sell these types of solutions are good at taking complex solutions and communicating their benefits in very powerful but non-technical terms.
The following example is a technically filled pitch for web development and marketing that contains a lot of unnecessary jargon:

Example #1: Technical Jargon

I would suggest that when we build your site that we use an open source CMS that has a WYSIWYJG editor built in. Drupal would suffice, in fact it is also very SEO friendly and can be formatted to have an RSS feed for each page. This will be important when we’re trying build you back links, as back links are an important part of the Google page rank algorithm.

This description really misses any opportunity to talk about value. It simply rattles off multiple technical terms. In this example, the salesperson most likely thinks they sound like an authority when what they are really doing is potentially excluding the prospect in the process.

The following example is a benefit-oriented pitch for web development and marketing:

Example #2: Benefit-Oriented

You said that you would be frequently updating your website and that you wanted to save as much money on doing the updates as possible by reducing the need for a web developer in the future. My suggestion is that we us a CMS called Drupal with a WYSIWYG editor.  The site will be constructed in a way that search engines like Google will give it a higher ranking on search results than some of your competitor’s sites. This will of course result in more traffic and business for you.

Drupal is free software that requires no on-going fees to be paid. A CMS is a Content Management System which basically allows you to make changes to the look and feel of your website, and even where information appears on your site without having to do a lot of expensive redesign.  A WYSIWG editor stands for “What You See Is What You Get” and what it allows you to do, without any additional software or understanding of programming, is to log into your site and access a page that looks much like a Microsoft Word document. From there you can create new pages and edit existing ones without the assistance of a technical guru.

This example takes and expands the technical terms, educating the client in an inclusive manner, and focusing on the core outcomes, results, and benefits of using the technology.  The bottom-line is when we talk over people’s heads, use jargon and lack empathy we don’t get the deal.  Keep it simple, include the client in the process, and position yourself as a resource and a coach.

  • Feb 07 / 2009
  • Comments Off on Selling Technology – IT Sales Tips
Managing Complex Selling Relationships Blog, Marketing and PR, Sales Articles, Sales Blog, Sales Management Blog, Sales Training, Selling In Turbulent Times

Selling Technology – IT Sales Tips

Selling Technology

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
•    Finance/Accounting
•    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.

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