Selling highly specialized enterprise technology is no easy task. It takes training and a deep understanding of how that technology fits into a prospect’s digital infrastructure or business strategy. For those sales reps presenting new solutions to an organization’s problems, the natural tendency is to boast about what you have to offer. It’s natural to show off what you know. That’s a mistake.
Too often, eager sales reps try to match knowledge with a buyer. After all, you have spent hours training on their product and can recite the features list by heart. The temptation is to “word vomit,” throwing out jargon and acronyms to impress the buyer. However, the prospect may not be as well versed in your technology and may feel overwhelmed. When you consider that more non-technical decision-makers are becoming part of the sales funnel, they aren’t going to respond to a sales pitch founded on tech-speak.
More importantly, a prospective buyer will be more impressed by what you know about their business issues and your willingness to help solve them. They will be less impressed by your need to show off your technical prowess.
Sell the Solution, Not the Technology
It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to sell enterprise products is to focus on the solution, not the technology. Simplicity works best. There is a time and place to unleash your technical expertise and show off your enterprise smarts, but it’s not when you are still early in the sales process.
Technical sales professionals need to be schooled in basic consultative selling skills as well as a product’s technical capabilities. The secret to successful enterprise selling is meeting with the buyer on common ground first, then start digging into the technical specifics.
Here are four tips that our clients have found valuable when selling technology:
- KISS–This is the acronym for “keep it simple, salesperson.” This is the most valuable lesson for anyone selling technology. Any time you make selling more complex or challenging for the buyer, you will lose them. A true sign of your enterprise expertise is your ability to mine your vast technical store of knowledge and talk about your product at a high level, using simple terms to show customers how to connect the dots so they don’t have to.
- Have the experts available – If you can’t answer a technical question or feel you may be in over your head, don’t try to fake it. Be transparent. There is no shame in telling a customer you don’t have the answer. Make a note of the question, then assure the customer you will find the answer and get back to them. If you are further along in the sales process and know that the customer wants more technical details, bring in a technical expert to answer questions and talk to the customer on their level. Being prepared with the right information at the right time reduces frustration and ensures everyone speaks the same language.
- Ask meaningful questions – Any good sales rep needs to be a good listener and pay attention to what the buyer needs. Probe deeper. Discover how your product fits into their infrastructure and how it solves their problem. Is it part of a larger strategy or a standalone solution? Are there third-party offerings that add more value or combine to meet the need? You may actually learn something new about your product that you can take back to the product team.
- Never assume. Ask! – You may have heard the saying, “assume makes an ass of you and me.” Assumptions are dangerous in any selling situation so leave your preconceptions at the door. Even if you have done your homework and think you understand the buyer’s needs, encourage a free-flowing dialogue to gather new information and validate what you think you know. Open discussion often results in new insights and unexpected opportunities.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Learning Curve
You don’t need to be a subject-matter expert to sell technical products. The learning curve for new technologies can be pretty steep, even for those with an engineering degree. It can take years to get comfortable with all the nuances of an enterprise product or service.
Do take the time to become an expert on your particular product, and its benefits to your buyers. Determine the right way to position your solution and yourself in your target market. The best approach is to be honest about the gaps in your knowledge. Do everything you can to learn from both internal and external stakeholders. Others are usually more than willing to share their expertise, and giving buyers an opportunity to show what they know will help cement the relationship.
No matter how complex the technology, the sales professional’s mission is still the same. The best way to represent your product and yourself is to be honest and authentic. Build trust with the buyer. Mutual trust forges lasting relationships that benefit both the buyer and the seller.