I believe salespeople in the IT field have started to figure it out. Early on, an IT person would sell to an IT person. They’d speak the same language, talk the same terms. Care about the same things, the gigahertz and the MTUs and the whatsits. All smiles. Then came the shift where IT salespeople had to start talking to business leaders: CEOs, accountants, administrators. Not database administrators, either. People who didn’t care about the technical side…but cared very much about steps removed in processes, better access to information, resources freed up. Oh dear. The IT salesperson had to learn a different language. In my opinion, very few got good at it. There’s some talk about ROI (but in some regions I’ve worked, it already wasn’t about ROI any longer…), and “achieving business goals”, but it’s weak. As a business listener, those terms ring hollow when an IT person says them. Sorry, I’m skeptical.
Now IT salespeople at Value-Added Resellers (VARs) work to sell and service accounting/CRM/ERP packages. They’ve got some features-and-benefits-oriented programming sheets from the OEMs. Sure, there’s a sprinkling of ROI and other buzzwords on there. Listening from the buyer perspective, however, I’m just not…uh, buying it.
So here’s where I am certain IT salespeople have started to figure it out: they’re making their calls, and encountering reactions. Resistance. It’s not working out that well. Especially if they’ve been living off prospecting done by the OEMs—which has now been cut out—and have now been forced to jump into the prospecting ‘hot seat’. For many, it’s been a meat grinder. They’ve discovered they need to do their job a very different way from what was working just a couple of years ago, if they want to survive and succeed. Yet they don’t know what that would look like.
What is called for is a sales process that transforms the VAR salesperson from a features-and-benefits product pusher using ROI as one of many sales tools into a trusted advisor welcomed into the prospect’s organization with the relief of “Finally, here is someone who can actually help us.”