“Technical Executives Succeeding at Sales: Executing a Well-Defined Sales Process”
North Jersey Technology Executives Networking Group (TENG )
SESSION SUMMARY: GETTING ENGINEERS & TECHNOLOGIST TO SELL
Technical businesses success depends on having effectively trained technologists and engineers in the sales function out in the marketplace. For many tech sale situations, there is no substitute for the real-time insights of a live technical expert.
Oftentimes, not always, but often, the subject matter expert, technologist or engineer, are the most difficult people to engage in the sales process. This is due to a combination of factors, some behavior styles and preferences, some business priority structures with limited resources, and at times, just plain oversight by management. But, technologists, engineers and subject matter experts become top selling professionals for their firms when they come to understand the value of their contribution in creating an informed selling process involving collaboration, constructive persuasion and effective control of their firm's ability to define, structure and win quality project deals with top customers. Technical professionals in front line sales roles or engineering support can become some of the highest performing sales assets for a company.
Placing Value on Sales: The attending group of executives discussed that, in general, domain experts, (whether in IT, medicine, law, or other) may tend to devalue sales as a valid career pursuit in their early careers as they focus on their domain knowledge and skills.
Part of gaining the "seat at the table": But, as careers develop, the sales competence becomes one of the key differences between direction "takers" and those who have a "seat at the table" in "making" executive decisions in corporations; or those who achieve partnership in professional services firms.
It won't go to waste: Even if executives do not participate directly in external customer sales, they benefit from sales skills. There are useful parallels among sales and other broad management skills including persuasion, negotiation, and gaining commitment in multi-disciplinary teams.
A Process a Tech Exec Could Love: A formal process model of sales was presented and discussed that is useful to the development of successful sales behaviors. The steps discussed include:
* Prospect Introduction
* Gaining favorable attention - "gaining permission to proceed"
* Discovering customer wants and needs
* Presenting benefits and consequences
* Gaining commitment
* Follow-up and execution
* Achieving repeat business within current clients.
What to watch out for: A principal point made during discussion was that technologists as a group tend be aggressive problem solvers, may be a little impatient with non-tech types in conversation, and often jump to solve the first coherently described problem they encounter, rather than following a 'sales' process that requires a full understanding of wants and needs.
The range of senior skills and habits: There are of course many "non-technical" executive and management skills and behaviors that IT executives must adopt and/or adapt to in order to continue to evolve and compete in a rapidly changing business and technology environment. Some of those include:
* Leadership - effective coaching, mentoring and people development * General management * High performance - goal oriented behaviors * Effective time management