Too many times, I see sales people selling technology for technology’s sake. You figured out that a customer or prospect needs technology. You show them your products and services in order for them to compare features and functions. You may close the deal, but the buying decision will most likely be all about price since you didn’t discuss or establish the value of what you’re selling. And, to make matters worse, your entire sales cycle is entirely reactive, so you’re continually providing them with information as they ask more and more of you and your sales team. Honestly, this is so “year 2000.” What are you going to do about it? Wake up and get in control of your deals!
When you’re selling technology and not business value, you’re taking a reactive approach. This means you’re not in control of your sales process. The customer gives you a laundry list of features and functions, and you prove that you can do each one – or not. Then they give you an RFP and you answer all of their questions. Then you do a proof of concept for your solution – more time, work and jumping through hoops – to prove features and functions. Your customer/prospect has a spreadsheet comparing one vendor from another. It’s all give on your part, but you’re not getting anything in return. Why?
Because you don’t know a thing about WHY they want these features or functions. Or, you might think or say you do. I mean, after all, they told you that they need to do a task faster or save money, but there are no specific objectives or measurements around it. As a result, your customer/prospect is in total control of your sales cycle – and not you. Yuck! I have no idea why any sales person would believe this is a good place to be. Do this, do that – and maybe, just maybe – you will get the sale. Sounds like nothing more than a hope and a prayer to me!
If all the buyer is doing is comparing features and functions, then the deal will be all about price. You are clueless as to the business value to the buyer. You have no clear idea of who would benefit. Is it a single department, a line of business, or the entire enterprise? You also have no insight into the customer’s real business problems, how you can solve them, and/or where the project stands in their list of priorities. Their technology team will take up all of your time and effort as you scurry around getting them what they want. But, they’re not going to allow you to talk to the business groups. Why?
Maybe you didn’t ask, or maybe they were told by a higher-up not to bother anyone else. Who knows. But in any case, how can you help your customer/prospect solve a specific priority business problem if they blindfold you and tied your hands behind your back? And, how do you know if this is a qualified deal if you cannot talk to all the key stakeholders? When you’re selling technology without understanding its business value, the only thing you have to negotiate is price. And, typically, you will negotiate against yourself. Not a good use of your time.
So, ask yourself this: Why are you answering RFPs if you were not part of early discussions with the customer/prospect? Why are you doing demos or proposals if you have not been given the time to do the proper discovery and validation by all the right key stakeholders? When are you going to gain control of your sales cycle to ensure it is a good use of your and your team’s time? When are you going to say “no” to wasting your time on deals where the buyer does not want you in any level of control in your sales cycle?
Turn it around and ask the tough questions to ensure you’re not just selling technology, but demonstrating business value. Ensure you truly understand that whatever you are working on with your buyer is an initiative that is meaningful to them now or in the near future. Ensure you are able to talk to all the key stakeholders to ensure you understand the bigger strategic picture and how it will impact key business KPIs that are meaningful to your buyer. It’s never about selling technology for technology’s sake. Money is spent to solve priority business problems. Wherever you are currently spending your time, ask yourself: Am I spending my time helping my customer/prospect to solve their critical business initiatives? Or am I just selling technology?