I’ve been in the IT industry for over twenty years and have spent time on every rung of the sales ladder – from Sales Support right through to Sales Director – selling a range of high value solutions. For the last several years I’ve been the CEO of a mobile technology company and have seen how different businesses have used mobile solutions to give them an edge against their competitors. I therefore wanted to share some insights from my perspective as a salesperson, executive and technologist.
Mobile technology has revolutionised selling – when I was starting out in the mid-90s, we’d just seen the widespread adoption of mobile phones, and the change has only accelerated since. Over the last ten years, with the ever-growing computing power of smartphones and tablets, there has been an evolution from salespeople using generic technology such as email and SMS, to more sales-specific tech.
There are several areas of the sales process in which the latest generation of sales-focused mobile technology is of relevance, some of which I’ll come back to in later articles. For this post I want to focus on the subject of building value.
To start with I think it’s worth highlighting some of the key points which characterize premium or high-value solutions from more commoditized offerings. Premium solutions are:
- Differentiated – what you’re selling isn’t the same thing your competitors are selling (or if it is you need to find a way to stop it being!)
- ROI driven – the buying decision will be based on the perceived returns relative to the outlay (although there may still be budgetary constraints)
- Complex – the decision will often be dependent on multiple influencers and decision makers, and subject to a range of different buying criteria
- Resource intensive – sales cycles will often be long with many meetings, proposals and other interactions before a decision is made
Due to the nature of this type of selling, it is critical salespeople can successfully build the value of their offering. In my experience, the key points in this process are: understanding problems and needs; seeing the “so what?”; tailoring your message; and living your values.
Understanding Problems and Needs
A customer’s stated requirements are what they think they want. If your salespeople understand a customer’s requirements, they’ll already be a step ahead of many of their peers, however you may find they come up short against the best of your competitors. If, on the other hand, they also understand the problems and needs that underlie the requirement, in other words, why the customer thinks they want a certain thing, they’ll be in much better shape.
To give a very simple example, if someone says they want a feature your product doesn’t have, how can your salesperson sell to that requirement? However if the salesperson ask why, the customer will talk about the business issues and objectives that have led them to want that feature – the salesperson can now explain how your offering solves their problem in a different (and of course better!) way.
In summary, understanding the reason behind a requirement gives a salesperson scope to adapt the requirement, and makes objection handling much easier.
Seeing the “So What?”
Your solution has a thousand fantastic features and advantages, but so what? The advantages of your offering are only truly benefits if they lead to a return – a great salesperson will be adept at taking a customer from a feature to a positive result that is specific to their needs (usually with a £ sign at the end).
Tailor your Message
It’s essential for salespeople to adapt their message to who they’re selling to. For example the Finance Director will primarily be interested in the costs and returns, while the IT department will be more concerned about points such as security and compatibility with existing systems, and the users will care about the detailed functionality. That’s very broad-brush of course – getting to know each of the individuals involved in the buying process is really valuable in order to effectively target a message.
Living Your Values
OK, slightly corny I know. However the point is that everything about your sales team needs to reflect your values – from responsiveness to clothes, equipment and software. I know salespeople for prestigious technology companies who still give out paper brochures, or take out their 5-year old laptop to give a presentation about their leading-edge software!
One type of software that can support the above is Sales Enablement. Sales Enablement solutions such as iPresent give salespeople access to their organization’s rich marketing collateral – whether that be PDFs, videos, PowerPoints or pretty much any other standard media type – via their tablet, phone or laptop.
The main benefits of iPresent are:
- It facilitates consultative selling – the salesperson starts by understanding the customer’s problems and business requirements, then develops these into needs which relate specifically to solution offerings. iPresent gives the salesperson instant access to every potentially relevant item of collateral and, importantly, these are held locally on their device, so there is no reliance on network connectivity. When used well, it feels almost as if the salesperson knew what the customer was going to say.
- iPresent can be designed to reflect the company’s values and brand guidelines – with Sales Enablement the navigation is no longer an irritating interlude but becomes part of the presentation. The customer is immersed in your brand and the salesperson appears professional and on message.
- It’s built to be managed by the sales and marketing team – this means there is no requirement for expensive development resources
- The above benefits come at a fraction of the cost of building a bespoke app
There is absolutely no substitute for a bright, dedicated, well trained and experienced salesperson. However, given that you invest so much in your sales team, it’s also important to give them the right tools to do the job.
iPresent makes good salespeople even more effective, and reflects the prestige and value you want your customers to associate with your brand. This allows salespeople to successfully build value, and ultimately leads to increased sales.
For more details on iPresent click here.