The Bottom Line: The Technology Myth13 Nov, 2005 By: Howard Meltzer imageSource
The Bottom Line: The Technology Myth
Ever since the movie “Jaws” was
released in 1975, sharks have become one of our worst nightmares. All you have
to do is shout “SHARK” at any beach to create mass hysteria. Intellectually, we
know that the incidence of shark attacks is miniscule, but the fear is so
hardwired in our minds that we have a knee jerk reaction whenever someone even
mentions the beast.
Ironically, a similar phobia has managed to creep into our imaging systems
industry. I have actually seen seasoned and confident sales professionals break
into a sweat when a prospect innocently asks how their imaging product performs
a certain electronic function.
You might as well have thrown a live shark into their lap. They fumble and
bumble like rookies demonstrating to their boss for the first time. It is both
embarrassing and totally unnecessary.
Does anyone ever ask a kitchen appliances salesperson how a refrigerator cools
food? Not typically. Most people are only interested in the number of shelves,
color and space. Then why do tenured imaging sales professionals assume that
every technical question requires a detailed technical answer?
Does the prospect’s innocent question really mean that he/she wants a chalk talk
on how and where the scanned image is stored? No they don’t. They simply want to
know that it is safely stored in secure memory and is protected from prying
But an urban legend has crept into the industry. It is believed that tenured
sales professionals are unable to properly present and sell today’s
sophisticated electronic imaging systems. If repeated loudly and often enough,
the myth becomes ingrained as fact within the organization and the sales force
begins to believe it.
It’s counterproductive to require today’s sales professionals to spend endless
hours poring through manuals and attending incomprehensible lectures to become
In those cases where IT managers are the actual influencers or decision makers
on a deal, the sales professional should have access to in-house technical
support that can participate in a meeting devoted to answering all of the
technical questions. If your dealership does not have technical support
available, shame on you!
Selling is a well-defined process with its own set of effective tools and
techniques that focus on the intangibles of a prospect’s perceived needs and the
proposed system’s ability to meet those needs. The tone and content of these
meetings depend on the prospects level and position within the company. For
The discussion is structured to match the prospects interests and draw out their
“hot buttons.” The dialogue focuses on the tangible and intangible benefits to
their business—everything from employee morale to bragging rights.
These are the managers of the office, facilities, purchasing, department heads,
and IT managers. This level of discussion focuses on the system’s features,
functions, bells and whistles. Cost/performance will generally find its way into
the dialogue. If there is need for technical input, this is the level where the
sales professional will bring in the company’s systems support team.
These are the administrators, accountants and mail room staff that will actually
be using the proposed system. This discussion will focus on the features and
functions of the proposed system. It is application driven.
From these examples alone, it should be blatantly obvious that the sales process
for today’s highly sophisticated imaging devices should not require any level of
serious technical expertise.
Conversely, sales representatives should be responsible to know the features and
functions of their products. Fortunately, most manufacturers provide excellent
materials and training.
The bottom line is that professional sales representatives are the victims of a
bum rap that is totally unwarranted. A techie sales rep tends to get wrapped up
in the bits and bytes and lose their way to the objective.
Selling is a human factors business. Let the sales reps excel at what they are
trained to do and leave the technical issues to the support team. Once and for
all, kill the shark myth!
Howard Meltzer is the managing partner of Pro/Point Management Services,
Inc., a sales management consultation company. He can be contacted at
904.285.8542 or by email at email@example.com.