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Adopt & Adapt: Implementing Key Changes in Sales & Technical Staff

6 Jan, 2016 By: Eric Stavola, MSCIS,MCSE,MCSA,N+,CDIA+

For years I have been trying to teach sales professionals to have a business conversation with potential prospects. Most have struggled with this concept, still looking for that next brochure or BLI report to further commoditize the product they are trying to sell. It’s no wonder we are seeing declining hardware sales and companies and manufacturers doing anything they can to re-invent or expand their capabilities.  However, I have noticed a significant trend for a select few that have strived to maintain their relevance. So what is being relevant today?

As effective new technologies become more and more prevalent, we need to clearly realize how to “adopt” and “adapt” to the increasingly wide uses of technology today to advance the office industry. It’s time to learn how to set up not only ourselves, but implement key changes in our sales and technical staff to succeed in this tech-oriented arena overall.

Provide Clarity to your Reps and Clients

·       The first step is clearly defining what you sell to both staff and clients;

·       By clearly defining what you sell it will make it much more realistic to handle and teach your staff to adapt.

Lead with Services to Decrease the Sales Cycle

·       Hardware sales cycle are typically every 3 -5 years , however, when leading with services (especially IT Services) a rep can cut that sales     cycle down to as little as 90 days.

Have a Business Conversation

I recently received an email from a VP of Sales saying he was blown away after finally implementing an in depth business conversation with a long term Hardware Client, where he shared the following statement his client made to him during the meeting:

“I'm glad were sitting down (for this type conversation), and don't take this comment as negative, but before, I only saw you as a printer provider --- and yes, I am sure there are cheaper ways for us to print. That is, if I only wanted a printer to print. So before today's conversation, I would have said that you were insignificant to me.

The Conversation

When working with clients or potential clients, I typically break up their company in 4 key areas, and ask them to tell me about the struggles or challenges they / you are having in each of these areas:

Strategy – Most companies have key goals and initiatives set by the top management on behalf of owners, based on consideration of resources and an assessment of the internal and external environments in which the organization competes.

Structure – In efforts to uncover pain points or needs, it is important to understand how a company communicates. This is key and critical when proposing or implementing It Services or Document Management.

Skills – Any company is only as good as its employees. Understanding people’s Skill-sets and Skill Gap needs will help when proposing managed IT services or document management.

Systems – When focusing in this area it is key to understand that all companies have some sort of IT infrastructure and Database that their company typically revolves around. By understanding more about these systems and strategic initiatives, it will lead to greater opportunities and sales.

Don’t Sell Technology

Make sure when selling Services, to not get lost in the features and benefits of your services. Understand that customers don’t care about the technical workings of the technology; what they do care about and want is to learn how this service or solution will impact their business. Bottom line. By focusing the conversation around the impact this will have on their company's business and profit margins, your recommendations will allow you to be positioned not just as a consultant to the client or prospect, but be seen as a true and trusted advisor.

By teaching our sales staff to expand their minds and develop skills to become a more trusted advisor to thier/our customers' needs, we will be able to capture more wallet share and grow our/thier/your business.


Eric Stavola, MS.CIS, M.Ed, MCSE, MCSA, N+, CDIA+, U.S. Director of Pre-Sales Engineers, mindSHIFT, a Ricoh Company  http://www.mindshift.com/  Email: eric.stavola@mindshift.com


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