Technical Paralysis: Why Your Sales Team Might Be Struggling to PerformTechnical Paralysis: Why Your Sales Team Might Be Struggling to Perform
IT salespeople's true value has very little to do with their technical acuity, and much more to do with their ability to uncover (and then address) a prospect’s business needs.
July 18, 2014
In many industries, salespeople believe their value lies in their intimate knowledge of the products they sell. If they’re selling cars, salespeople often feel compelled to know everything about every nut and bolt on the vehicle. If they’re selling medical devices, salespeople believe they need to speak the language of the doctors they engage—forgetting, of course, that those practitioners went to school for nearly a decade to learn that language.
In IT sales, salespeople tend to fall into the same trap, believing their technical knowledge and expertise is what makes them valuable to their prospects.
Here’s why that perspective is misguided: VARs don’t hire salespeople to be tech experts. Instead, they hire salespeople to engage in sales conversations with new prospects, qualify new opportunities and move those opportunities through the sales process. Of course, if a salesperson is capable of speaking the tech language, that’s not a bad thing—but it’s certainly not a precursor to success.
Yet, many IT salespeople fail to see things that way.
In fact, when salespeople lack technical knowledge, they often become paralyzed in their role, refusing to perform any sales activities or go on any sales calls until they understand the solution as if they’d designed it themselves. For VAR business owners, that wasted time translates to lost revenue.
Compounding the issue is that when you push salespeople to “do their job” before they feel confident in their solution expertise, they’ll likely look for a safety net—dragging in a system engineer for every sales call, just in case a technical question comes up.
As you can imagine, that’s not exactly an efficient or effective use of resources. Generally, VARs have more salespeople than technical staff, which means there aren’t enough engineers to spread around. And then there’s the fact that technical staff have their own jobs to do, meaning something has to give—either sales opportunities stall in the pipeline or your technical capacity suffers. And in both circumstances, your cost of sales generally goes up.
So, what can VAR business owners and sales managers do to change their sales team’s mindset?
IT salespeople’s value actually lies in their ability to uncover a prospect’s business situation and determine if that need could be solved by their company’s technology. Confident, skilled salespeople don’t care about understanding every technical aspect of their solutions. Instead, they know that sales relationships are formed at the business level.
As a result, skilled salespeople hone in on uncovering why a prospect wants—and needs—to buy. And once they know the wants and needs, they’ll engage technical sales support to determine exactly the right solution to recommend. Ultimately, that’s when the marriage between sales and technical staff becomes truly harmonious and profitable.
So, if you find your salespeople inexplicably stalling sales activities or unnecessarily dragging system engineers on sales calls, pull them aside and remind them that their true value has very little to do with their technical acuity, and much more to do with their ability to uncover (and then address) a prospect’s business needs.
Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the newly released book “The Sales Magnet” and the award winning book “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.
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