Despite the turmoil surrounding the Middle East, one has to answer the question: how to sell technology in these tough times? Indeed, wherever we look, things aren’t as they used to be for sales professionals. Budgets are slashed; companies are prioritizing and competition sprung all over the place thus reducing revenue streams significantly.
Implementing a sound sales methodology is not enough anymore. Not only, it is a challenge by itself to have ALL sales people on board with near 100% attention to the processes laid out and deployed in CRM; but also, these times bring about scary prospects of job instability compounded by slow-down in regional economies coupled with future uncertainty.
In order to ride the rough waves, companies nowadays need to figure out how to stimulate their sales team from two angles. The first is to bring out the best in each team member by offering empathy and understanding of their motivational requirements. Companies must also proactively and persistently offer coaching, mentoring, and self-development both personally & professionally to sustain an ambiance of trust and confidence communicated by management that can be felt and touched. This will be a reason for the sales team to ease up on their fears and negative vibes in the market and allow them to focus on business development and grow the pipeline with high quality – high value opportunities. Often, peace of mind brought about by deliberate effort by the company will enable this focus and will significantly reduce team fears leading to sales growth.
The second important angle, is the need to stay closer to the customer who is equally confused and challenged. The customer is smarter and aware of their needs more than ever before; however, they have limited options when it comes down to selecting which company they should contract with; thus, they need PEOPLE who understand their pain and can stay closer and firmly attentive to the issues they face on a daily basis. They want value addition and not just mundane professional services, any one can do. This highlights the need for companies to employ apt individuals who can pin point the pain and offer the solution (i.e., top pre-sales resources).
Today, customers are after SERVICES. Dare I add, Quality Professional Services. Those companies who can produce advanced level of service can sell more time and enhance their brand awareness in the marketplace leading to improved customer acceptance and run-rate. Commodity selling is a marginal activity unless the product is of high value and can be offered by few OEMs. The focus however, is on Professional Services and lots of them. This requires taking on board experts or expert-candidates that can sustain and maintain customer loyalty.
Technology sales people are always surrounded by traditional challenges such as competition; understanding the customer decision process and who makes those decisions (DMU); comprehending the echo system various dynamics (i.e., vendors, channel, customer and integrator) and the ability of the company they represent to deliver and have loyal customers. More is expected from today’s service oriented organizations to cater for advanced and often complex customer needs that few in the industry can meet.
None traditional challenges however, include economic and geopolitical considerations that can tip the direction customers are focusing on towards one technology or industry. Historically, companies wanted their systems and databases up and running; then out grew the locale and built infrastructures that can unify disparate locations and applications; now comes the elusive objective of securing the aforementioned. Thus Cyber Security is currently the hottest industry that everyone is out to capture. State sponsored hacking and industrial espionage along with the current turmoil in our region are examples of how economic & geopolitical challenges can direct customer attention in one narrow ally that is of high importance. Companies who are established in Cyber Security, but, well organized, experienced, structured and are taking care of their sales team can expect sustainability and larger bottom line.