A suppliers' checklist for selling solutions

Suppliers selling IT solutions could make things easier for themselves

Suppliers selling IT solutions could make things easier for themselves

Like many IT directors, I am frequently disappointed, at the approach, tactics and lack of success of IT suppliers.

In these days when trust, integrity and relationships are the most important factors in forging long-term partnerships, too many people are still relying on selling what they have, instead of meeting the real needs of their potential customer.

IT leaders, their teams and departments are crying out for answers to long-standing challenges, and the door is open for e-business solutions.

Events such as the IT Directors' Forum and World IT Congress provide the face-to-face opportunities, but it is critical that these opportunities are taken. I know of many exhibitors who complain about these events, because of their lack of sales success.

The fact is that such failures are their own responsibility.

Anyone with a product or service that truly adds real business and competitive advantage should be able to sell it, easily.

Looking at this from the perspective of the IT director, here are my top 10 tips, in order, to increase your sales success, build long term-relationships, and achieve new levels of success:

  • Be prepared. Read up and understand the company you are meeting - take an hour before each meeting to memorise these. Know your potential customer better than they know themselves.

  • Be business. Talk outcomes and results. What technology "is" simply doesn't matter anymore - people are interested in what it does.

  • Be honest. If you cannot meet any of the needs being discussed, say so, and end the meeting there and then. You will be remembered forever - and called again when the time is right.

  • Be personal. People will always buy from people, so take time to get to know the person in front of you - they will make the decision.

  • Be quiet. Listen, and ask questions. It is the most powerful way of showing who is boss (the customer) and of finding out exactly what is happening in their world, which is what you must know.

  • Be brief. Once you know the issues, cut to the crucial ones.

  • Be certain. Prove the faith in your own product or service by offering true risk-sharing, such as staged payments.

  • Be humble. Customer endorsements are gold-dust. Bring them along, put them on page one of your Web site.

  • Be bold. If you really believe in what you have, shout it from the rooftops. Don't apologise for seeking a sale. Also, know the difference between cost and value - and price accordingly. Also, ask for the sale, outright.

  • Be clever. Make it easy to buy, and to evaluate once bought. Time is an IT director's most cherished commodity, so don't take up too much of it.

    It is in everyone's interest for the IT sales process to be improved, and for all sides of the industry to have more faith in each other.

    Follow these tips, and you will see your sales rise. More importantly, you will get closer to your customers, and be more likely to stay there.

    David Taylor's Inside Track. A provocative insight into the world of IT in business, is out now. The book is the latest in the Computer Weekly Professional Series, published by ButterworthHeinemann: 01865-888180

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