SELLING CAN BE LIKE EATING VEGETABLES for some IT business owners. They hate it, but they know they should do it to stay healthy and grow. So we asked some sales experts for tips to make the sales process more appetizing for reluctant channel pros.
Here’s the first one: You may be better at it than you think. “Some of the best salespeople I know are technical people,” says Keith Lubner, chief business strategist at Sales Gravy, a sales acceleration company, and managing partner of C3 Channel, a global channel consulting organization. He believes their expertise gives them an advantage. “People gravitate toward experts,” Lubner explains. “When they’re genuine and they give you advice, you take the advice.”
Give that advice in the right language, however, advises Gil Cargill, founder and CEO of Cargill Consulting Group, a B2B sales coaching company. “One of the biggest problems in the IT industry is the people who are making sales calls hate selling because they speak IT and their prospects speak English,” he says. “If we learn how to communicate the potential improvement in business operating conditions, prospecting gets a lot easier.”
Prospecting is one of many uncomfortable parts of the sales process, according to Lubner, because it makes the seller vulnerable to rejection. What makes that easier, he says, is mapping out the process and creating a framework to follow, something technical people are really good at. This should include a phone script that explains the reason you’re calling. Lubner advises keeping it short and sweet.
And don’t forget to smile, he adds, because prospects can pick up on that. “Emotions are contagious, and it’s incredible how it works over the phone. They pick up on your confidence and they naturally are attracted to you.” While this won’t happen with everyone, smiling ups your odds.
Cargill says that prospecting is about selling results. Say how your company “has the ability to improve operating conditions such as wasted money, wasted overtime, poor customer service.”
Stating a tangible value and engaging a potential customer’s curiosity may prevent a hang-up, says Lubner. For instance, he suggests saying something like, “We work with companies particular to your industry (whatever that industry is) and typically, we get 23 percent better return on investment based upon our offering. I can’t promise you anything, but I’d like to get on your calendar at 3:00.”
Of course, making calls isn’t the only way to get appointments. Cargill recommends an “omnichannel” approach of email, newsletters, phone calls, social media, etc., “because you never know which vehicle will get past the barriers that are established between vendors and buyers.”
Lubner suggests developing a cadence to your outreach efforts: a phone call, followed by a voicemail, followed by an email. “And then two days after that, you’re trying to connect on LinkedIn,” he says.