Can techies sell?

I have just been offered an exceptional position at a computer reseller, but it involves sales! I am more of a technical person. I’m uneasy with selling because I don’t like the image I think others would see me as. Can you help me?

These concerns are often expressed by those new

to sales, but seasoned people also can have this fear.

While it is true not everyone can become a successful salesperson (just like not everyone can become a successful surgeon), most people who cringe at the thought of “selling anything” could become very successful with the right attitude and training.

Again sales is a profession and needs to be treated as such. As a matter of fact, sales is probably the most important professions in the IT economy of today. It’s salespeople who keep the economy going. Without IT salespeople, product and services would not get moved from the manufacturer or the office to the consumer. Professional salespeople earn among the highest incomes because of this.

The problem is that too many people jump into sales without the proper education and do everything by osmosis. They make mistakes in how they deal with prospects, and those mistakes leave the prospects with a bad impression about the salesperson and the company they represent. If you are willing to invest the time, effort and money in your education to become a first rate professional salesperson, you will learn to avoid the mistakes and to present yourself in a totally professional manner.

As a seasoned salesperson, I seem to be having trouble being a “leader” in my area of expertise, what should I do?

You don’t differentiate yourself from other IT salespeople. You have differentiated yourself from your competition, but when you are face to face with a prospective customer, you also need to be different, act different and sound different. If you don’t, then most likely the company with the lowest price wins the business.

You will undoubtedly find yourself in competitive situations in which you are one of three companies vying for the business. The prospect says, “By the way, I’m meeting with you and two other firms.” Because you are not a salesperson, you think, “Well, I’m going to impress the prospect with my knowledge,” because that’s the only thing you know how to do in relation to selling. But that’s what all the other companies are doing, too.

Company A says, “We’ve been in the business 10 years, we are a quality service, we know what we are doing, we have industry-specific knowledge, we offer personalized service and we have competitive pricing.” Company B says the same thing. So when the prospect looks at them and you, he reasons,

“Well, I have A, B and C. All sound alike and look alike, and all seem to be good. Who am I going to pick?” And that’s when the prospect starts negotiating price, because there are no other perceived differences between A, B and C. That’s where you must look different from your competitors; otherwise, everything boils down to price. And who wants to eke out a living being the low bidder all the time?

Michael Atkinson has more than 20 years of sales experience in the channel. He started his career with a small computer reseller in the early eighties and moved up to executive positions at Computer Brokers of Canada, Tech Data Canada and ViewSonic Corp. Today, he works as a management and sales trainer and runs the Sandler Sales Institute in Toronto. You can reach him at 416-766-2207.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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