Add to Your Bottom Line: Teach Techies to SellBy Kendra Lee | Posted 2003-12-17 Email Print
You may be missing out on a valuable revenue stream that already exists within your company. Kendra Lee, president of sales consultants KLA Group, tells what you can do about it.
You may be missing out on a valuable revenue stream that already exists within your company. In fact, this source for added revenue not only works for you, it has access to information that even the most seasoned and successful salespeople and management staff work months to get. So, you ask, who is this "source," this person with so much valuable knowledge that it could increase your company's sales exponentially?
It's your technical team. With the right skills, they have the potential to do much more to help your customers and enhance your bottom line.
After your sales team has worked hard to close a deal, your technology team enters the picture. They are in contact with customers on a daily basis and have access to sales leads that they may or may not be aware of. The problem is knowing 1) that your tech team recognizes potential leads when they come their way, and 2) how to handle those leads if and when they do. Your tech team's ability to identify a lead and pass it along to your sales team can create a tremendous opportunity for revenue as well as a way to help your customers with other challenges they may be facing.
If you've overlooked their potential, you're not alone. Many solution providers do. Nobody is really to blame for this oversight, it's just that technology professionals aren't typically trained on how to recognize a business lead, or don't have the incentive to pass the information along. Rightfully so, they are focused on the technical job at hand and identifying ways to generate business for your company is not at the top of their minds.
Fortunately, your sales process can begin with your technical team if you provide proper training and skills. Many companies call this "PR Training" and it is giving them a leg-up on the competition while creating a new source for revenue. Some of the things "techies" are learning about the sales process include:
- Understanding Needs
Your technology team probably has a better understanding of what your customers' needs are than anyone on your staff. They know the technical side of things. If they can apply it to the sales side, it will be a win/win situation for everyone. To do this, it's imperative that they learn to listen to the customer while they're on the job and identify areas where your company can be of further help. They need to understand that although a problem might not be directly related to what they're working on at the time, it could be something that your company can address in the future.
- Knowing the Right Questions
Finesse is a strong point for sales people but not always for technically skilled professionals. However, it's a trait that can be learned even by the most technical individuals who are so focused on the task at hand that they don't normally look or listen for sales leads or opportunities. The key is getting technical persons to break down their walls and find ways to get a customer to share more information about the challenges they're facing. This requires a bit of finesse and also feeling confident in asking information-gathering questions that can turn into sales leads.
- Image is Everything
Skilled salespeople enter a situation with confidence and polish. Helping a tech team to portray this same image is another way to establish credibility and hopefully influence retention while driving more sales opportunities. To do this, a technical person doesn't necessarily have to leave the persona they are comfortable with; they can adjust their approach while they're with a customer to help the customer feel comfortable in sharing information.
- Providing Leads and Generating Sales
During my career, I've found that the single-minded, technical focus of many tech professionals keeps them from realizing the full value they can help bring to their own company. They can be so focused on the success of a project that they fail to realize they also can contribute greatly to improving the company's bottom line by becoming proponents. Once they realize this responsibility and understand that they're only helping themselves and their own job security, the results come quickly. To help achieve this, companies may choose to establish bonuses or even commissions for their tech team when they contribute to a sale. This added incentive may be all it takes to drive sales.
Clues are everywhere for sales. Getting tech teams to identify these clues can be a huge revenue source for your company. Technology professionals interact with your customers on a daily basis. Getting them to recognize the new opportunities that exist and learn how to pursue them can create leads you may have never thought were possible. Now is the time to help them understand how to do it.
Kendra Lee is the president and founder of KLA Group, LLC , a services company that specializes in helping IT clients—from small entrepreneurial companies to large multi-million dollar firms—improve sales by raising the marketing awareness of employees in every department that deals with customers. KLA Group can be reached at 303-741-6636 or firstname.lastname@example.org.