I have been involved in IT sales since 1986. I have watched the quality of sales people take a marked turn from sales people who bring tremendous value to a customer to today, where they are driven by motivations other than helping their client.
Sales people I have either managed or interacted with only seem to “follow” rather than lead and do not want to champion for the client. Don’t get me wrong, a highly motivated rep wanting to make a lot of money is a good thing. However, the ones who are really making a lot of money, year in and year out, are those who choose to put the client’s needs first and foremost. The money trail just follows.
What’s on the truck, Gus?
CIO’s and senior management quickly tune out, or as I see it, slip into a coma, when they inevitably hear the “pitchman” profess the virtues of what was announced today. It will change your life, Mr. Client, honest! Rather than consult with the client, they stand on their various soap boxes believing someone really cares.
Customers have many more choices today than they ever have. It is common to see multiple technology vendors sharing a space within the clients business. Clients want this, vendors and sales people should want this. Some sales people are driven to want to shame their competitors. Clients find this approach appalling.
Is sales management to blame for this behaviour?
Customers are accustomed to hearing the complaints from sales people, of how they really need to make their quota. Who cares, I say. It is not about you but the customer. The more we sound desperate, the more the client will distance themselves from this behaviour or beat margins to silly levels, and this way nobody wins. The client does not win because his sales person gave up more than he wanted to and may be less inclined to really help when the client needs the help. The seller does not win because his client has seen behaviour that was personally driven rather than client driven.
Management puts undue pressure on sellers to do silly things. Why? Share price? Management bonus? What? It makes no sense. It is time to SLOW DOWN!
People who they can trust. I know you’ve heard this. Hear it again. If a client knows their interests are put first, the sale will happen and all is well. Listen more to what the pains are rather than trying to determine what this person is going to buy THIS QUARTER.
Show them value rather than taking them to lunch or drinks. Customers want advocates for their needs not order takers. Bring them something they can relate to.
Let’s not overuse the term “value” and start to mean it when we sell. Get to know them. They are just like you and I. It is not magic!
Have you seen a change in the way sales people need to approach their customers? Comment below and let me know your thoughts about the ways selling to the I.T. industry have changed.