With increased pressure on sales in the IT channel, the role of the salesperson is more important than ever. Customers instantly warm to a salesperson who instinctively knows how best to serve the needs of the individual business. It is often the case that engineers find themselves being brought into the commercial process due to their detailed knowledge of the complexity of the products.
However, some can subsequently face difficulties when selling to partners because they may not have had previous experience or training in how to sell, due to the back-office nature of their role.
Conversely, salespeople can also run into difficulties if they do not do their homework before making a sales call, and can find themselves unable to explain technical details to potential customers.
In order to generate success in the channel, salespeople must evaluate customer behaviour and make an assessment of their needs based on how far they are along the purchasing journey. Traditional sales methods must be supported by the right research and tailored presentation: A call should be viewed as a meeting rather than a speculative series of questions. Whether looking to establish a relationship with a new client, or working to grow the business with an existing customer, there are three simple but damaging mistakes that salespeople must avoid making:
1. Talking instead of listening
One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is talking at great length. It is essential that you make the person at the end of the phone feel comfortable before you begin the hard sell. Firstly, make sure you take time to understand the prospect or client’s needs, challenges and concerns. Offer council and listen to their feedback. When the time is right, you can then make business suggestions that will address their challenges and concerns, while also highlighting the benefits of your products.
2. Working in silos: The marketing team can help you
It’s hard to hit your numbers if you don’t know what your marketing team is doing. Marketing is a valued resource, which can provide you with prospecting lists, qualified leads and customer profiles. Increasingly, technology-driven marketers are digging deeper, with the aim of working out what makes their customers tick. As a result, sales teams can access buying cycles and customer specific product preferences. The best sales people leverage this information, meaning that when they meet a customer they are prepared, come across as insightful and, ultimately, are better able to close business with their customers.
3. Cold calling without any research
There are no two ways about it, selling is hard. You need to be prepared – you can’t just pick up the phone and talk about yourself, your company or your products. You need to be aware of the person at the end of the line. It is far easier to build a rapport when you’ve done your research and know about your prospect and the challenges they face in their business. It sounds so obvious, but before you dial, do your research. Use Google to find out as much as possible about the business and the person that you are reaching out to. Check their LinkedIn profile, scroll through the company’s website and social media pages. If you work out what they are about, you can often find an “in.” position the call as an introduction, not a sales call. Build the trust first, and then look to establish a business relationship.
It is vital that businesses educate their employees on sales best practice and ensure that they are trained and confident before they hit the phones. Chances are, the individuals with the technical knowhow and the great selling skills will turn out to be your best salespeople. Successful salespeople are generated by great managers who take a holistic and innovative approach to developing new techniques to close opportunities. Customer behaviour is constantly shifting, and whilst managers need to be aware that the sales process is not always a linear one, the basic techniques outlined above must be perfected. With the right leaders, salespeople can be well equipped with the tools they need to prosper.