Hiring Managers Want Consultative Sales Pros

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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If you are a technology sales professional looking to strengthen your position with potential employers, focus on consultative sales and targeting top executives.

Technology sales representatives looking to strengthen their position with employers and potential employers during this recession should take heed—"consultative" sales and executive relationship-building are skills that are in demand and will command the attention of hiring managers.

"Hire people on the business side rather than on the technology side," Gartner Vice President Tiffani Bova advises solution providers and technology resellers at distributor Ingram Micro’s recent VTN conference in Orlando, Fla.

"There are lots of layoffs, but people are still complaining that they cannot find talent," says Bova. That’s because employers are looking for specialized skill sets, including this specific type of selling approach, and also sales professionals who are confident enough to target top executives at potential client companies.

Targeting top executives, talking about business benefits instead of just technology speeds and feeds, and creating relationships with clients were among the key themes at Ingram Micro’s VTN conference and the subject of several sessions.

Even as jobless claims have risen and economists are saying that the current recession is the worst in decades, business owners and sales managers crowded into the Ingram Micro VTN session about how to identify and hire salespeople who take this kind of "consultative" approach to sales. It was the only session with a standing-room-only crowd.

Such skills are particularly important in a recession, consultants point out, because sales representatives will win more success if they target the CEO who makes strategic decisions rather than leaders of the IT organizations who are working with a restricted budget. CEOs control the budget, consultants say, so they have the ultimate power to move funds from one expense to another.

"If you really want to make money in this economy, go to the opportunity seekers, the CEOs, the entrepreneurs," says Laura Posey, a vice president at Dancing Elephants Achievement Group, who offered a session "How to Grow Your Sales During a Recession."

Ken Thoreson, president of Acumen Management, says that ideally, sales professionals should have three contacts within each client company. Thoreson also recommends that employers provide account executives with a prescriptive sales process, offered in a 10-page document, to help account executives deliver their best performance.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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