All Posts in “IT Sales”

Social Selling Should be the Only Selling Method

Courtesy of Evan Kirstel

Social selling is the concept that sales teams engage with their customers before they begin to proposition them for the PO. Seems pretty normal right? Sadly no, so many times sales teams push accounts to get to the close, the old school mentality of ABC’s (Always Be Closing) have impacted organizations in a lot of ways.

Today information is too widely available for sales organizations to believe that customer aren’t already making decisions before they get in the door. Engagement needs to happen early and often. I have seen this go down two ways, the uber connected customer and the out of touch customer.

With the uber connected customer, they are on every social network, involved in industry events and shows, and read blogs and white papers. They typically are looking to have questions answered in short sentences, and even shorter turn-arounds. These customers like to be a part of the product cycle, to understand road maps and corporate positions. They also like to hear stories of solution successes at organizations like theirs, and more likely than not will reach out to them if they can.

The out of touch customers are the polar opposite in only their community involvement. They still read the white papers, still want to hear about road maps. But it’s more about what have you done for them lately, and how can you help their organization.

Social selling is the art of looking at customers as though they are partners and people, not targets to be taken down. Jill Rowley is one of the premier advocates and sales training resources for social selling. I encourage you to follow her on twitter and read her blog here.

This is something that I have been saying for awhile now to sales teams I work with. You have to engage across the corporate stack if you want to be successful. The infrastruture teams don’t have the same influence they once did, and the application owners and C suite want to be a part of the conversation. Not just because they are decision makers but because they have a stake if the deal goes badly, so they want to be informed. If you are doing your due diligence you are finding who the right champions in your accounts are across these different teams and levels in the account.

It’s less about convincing and more about showing value. Don’t be the door to door vacuum cleaner salesman when you are in there forcing your way to different parts of the house. Instead focus on what value your solution brings, and focus on it being a solution to a problem. If they don’t have the problem your product solves today than stay engaged but move on to the next account to show them value.

If you partner with your customer you can make a successful partnership and each deal will further strengthen that partnership. Customers will see the value in working with you as you educated them about what’s coming next, honestly present your view of the industry, and help to succeed together.

I don’t claim to be the best sales person out there, but I see it as the way forward. We can’t show up and throw up to customers, we need to make sure we are engaging early and often across whatever channels they are paying attention to and making it a mutually beneficial partnership.
Is this how you would like to see sales teams evolve?

Solutions vs Products

Buy My Widget It’s On Sale This Month Only

For some people it’s really easy to talk about products, Value Added Resellers (VARs) abound with the latest gadget or license for whatever hardware or software they are pushing this quarter. It’s another thing all together to step back and talk solutions. 
Vendors are a different story, they sell the specific products. I have been approached by several large vendors in the past, been asked to join their sales engineering teams, and have politely declined. I just don’t like being restricted to talk about a single product or the latest in blinky lights. Selling solutions is a different gambit all together; I enjoy talking to customers about their road map and strategizing their way forward. This lets me present multiple products and some off the wall solutions that they have never heard of.
I focus on how my customers can make money off of the IT strategy we put into place vs. how I commoditize the solution I put in front of them. The idea isn’t for me to make vast sums of cash to swim around in like Scrooge McDuck in Duck Tales but rather that we both make money and come out ahead. If I put a bad solution in place the customer doesn’t do business with me anymore and I don’t make revenue off them and lose a referral. On their side they lose money on a bad solution and the subsequent costs to replace it. You compile bad with bad and you don’t get good. That’s why I don’t talk single solution. I want the decision making process to be open with the customer and let them choose the path that makes the best sense for them while I guide them by presenting the solutions that meet the problems they face.
Think of EUC as a great example. I have worked on several solutions be it VMware, Citrix, Unidesk, or even Microsoft. At the end of the day the solutions were chosen by the customer because they fit a unique need. For some, View’s single vendor and replica set up is preferred. For others 3D graphics are the requirement which led them to Citrix. Still others require low video latency which led them to Microsoft, or prefer the single pane broker and app management solution of a Unidesk. Each customer’s requirements helped shape the engagement and their decision was reached from presenting the options and allowing for a technology bake off, achieving the end result. Sure this process adds to the sales cycle and may mean that the products your company sells may not win. But the customer will trust that you have their best interest in mind which is the goal, and that means you win.
Ok, this is my last sales based blog for a while I will get back to virtual solutions next time. Duck Tales references will continue however until moral improves.