The Disadvantages of Selling Technology to IT
Sales Training Article: Superior Sellers Ask, Don’t Tell
By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
Image courtesy of Taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Frequently when trying to sell technology, sellers start by calling on IT. Some always do.
Extensive product training make talking about products a “comfort zone” for salespeople. IT staff are the group most likely to be interested in learning about offerings.
There are several disadvantages of starting within IT:
- It’s the place where most competitors will call.
- IT plates are filled with projects and the staff is trying to meet delivery deadlines. Taking on new initiatives means reallocating resources from ongoing projects.
- Budgets are already earmarked. Any new initiatives must either be deferred to the next fiscal year or planned expenditures would have to be changed.
- IT is a cost center that exists to support the core business, so potential value of offerings is limited to cost reductions and/or efficiencies.
- The most significant benefits are those that accrue to LOB’s (lines of business). These profit centers may be able to leverage new offerings to increase revenue with new capabilities or applications.
- Cost-benefit analyses solely from IT perspectives are far less compelling.
A client I recently worked with offers a platform that enables IT to develop, release and maintain applications in significantly less time. They were calling on IT with a focus on:
- Increasing developer productivity
- Reducing downtime of the development infrastructure
- Quicker ramp up time for new hires
- Sharing best practices in software development
The “baby step” I took was having them consider how powerful it would be to have an executive in finance recognize the potential benefit to the enterprise if application development times could be accelerated. Virtually every application has intrinsic value to the enterprise. When scheduling applications, organizations prioritize them based upon which provide the most potential benefit. What would it be worth to a CFO if he/she realized applications could be created in half the time it took today? All CFO’s welcome cost reductions. More importantly, what impact could accelerating LOB benefits have on the business?
Calling within IT nearly always means focusing on costs. Companies have been through numerous downturns over the last 50 years. Most are running with lean staffs. An enterprise view of the value of a product development platform can now be:
- Reduced IT costs based upon increases in user productivity
- Accelerated onboarding because all new hires are given a common set of best practice
- development tools
- Happier end users because applications are delivered more quickly (an intangible)
- Increased market share by responding more quickly to market needs
- Reduced churn of customers because their needs are more quickly met
- Increased revenue by bringing new offerings to market quickly
Reduced costs are significant and should be identified, but basing cost vs. benefit analyses entirely on cost reductions causes sellers and vendors to leave money on the table. While more challenging to sellers, getting executives in sales, marketing customer retention, customer service, etc. to identify potential revenue increases can make enterprise-wide buying decisions easier. One caution: Increased revenue must be multiplied by gross margins to convert them to bottom line benefits.
LOB executives have become more demanding of IT. Getting them involved early in buying cycles for technology buying decisions can be a significant differentiator to vendors that empower their sellers to do so. Doing so also allows qualification based upon potential payback to be done much sooner, a positive step both for buyers and sellers.