All too often sales people selling technical solutions and meeting with business executives fall into the trap of talking technical features and functions – Technical Gobbledegook!
Many companies in the IT and High Tech sectors profess to sell solutions matched to their customers’ business needs. However, a pre-requisite for solution selling is that the sales team (in its widest sense) talk the same language as their potential customer. To achieve this they must build an understanding of the customer’s business, business environment and the issues the customer is facing and then use the customer’s language and terms in the sales conversation.
In my experience (I was recently involved in developing and delivering business role plays as part of sales training for a leading IT supplier), the salespeople rarely have this level of industry knowledge, are unable to develop and ask the right questions and because of a confidence factor drop back into the technical gobbledegook where they are most comfortable.
Today's advanced sales training programmes incorporate business models and tools (like Porter’s industry five forces and the Business Canvas Model), that enable the mapping of a company and industry structure, and show how to identify opportunities and issues and even differentiation and competitive advantage. In addition access to internet resources allows research on current issues that can be used to populate the models.
For those companies with the finances and resources, there are also industry knowledge programmes developed by leading industry consultants, and already in use in some global companies for direct and indirect sales. Programmes can be integrated into existing learning management systems and the content can be e-learning, trainer led or a combination of e-learning and trainer led.
As a solution sales person in the past I would have done anything to get this sort of training, and in the end took a Masters programme in advanced manufacturing systems. Fortunately, this extreme is not necessary for today’s sales teams.
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