Selling tech products or services is both rewarding and challenging, but technical sales experts need to hone skills to keep clients satisfied.
Most of us are familiar with the stereotype of the pushy tech salesperson. Heavy on the jargon, and ready to jump on the hype bandwagon, they can also be less than effective when it comes to closing a sale. The truth is, despite their enthusiasm about the product they are trying to sell, they often fail to build trust and deliver real value to potential customers.
To be fair, tech salespeople face unique challenges. Often, target audiences aren’t technically savvy themselves, so there is always a risk of a communication failure. Inherently complex and technical products need simple explanations that are seamlessly aligned to the needs of potential customers. It’s just one example of a critical skill set for tech salespeople. So now that you’re here, let’s take a look five of the most important skills and attributes that are especially vital for tech sales people:
#1. Continuous learning
Curiosity is especially important in the dynamic world of technology! That’s because it’s a world that revolves around continuous learning, as well as the need to adapt to rapidly changing environments. Of course, these factors have an impact on many other careers, but in few industries is their importance more pronounced than in tech sales.
Tech salespeople must constantly strive to better understand the tech landscape around the products they are trying to sell. They should regularly update their knowledge about the latest trends and solutions, and develop a clear understanding of the wider competitive landscape.
Even more importantly, tech salespeople have to understand what these various developments and trends mean to their potential customers. They need to know the difference between the hype and the help, and that requires developing a close understanding of the actual value that their products deliver to customers.
So it turns out that having a healthy sense of curiosity helps in all of these areas. Curiosity is one of the most important, yet under appreciated assets for any tech salesperson. It enables them to uncover insights and information crucial to the alignment between the product they are selling and the needs of the buyer. This, in turn, enhances collaboration, which is mandatory in complex B2B tech sales.
#2. Active listening
Perhaps the most common characteristic of a poorly performing salesperson is someone who does all the talking. The result is that they fail to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with the potential client. All too often, salespeople launch straight into a pitch and listen later. And by then, it is already too late to start building trust.
Given the inherent complexities of B2B tech sales, and the high importance of authenticity and trust, tech salespeople should focus on solving instead of selling. Potential customers are not likely to be interested in one-size-fits-all solutions, and they will expect the opportunity to ask questions addressing their unique pain points.
Active listening skills ensure prospects feel respected and valued. If you listen well, you’ll be able to build a sense of confidence that the solution you are offering is the right one. For salespeople, this doesn’t mean just mean closing more deals. It also means bringing in the most suitable customers who are the most likely to become long-term clients and brand advocates.
Active listening is a soft skill that takes time to build, and there is no substitute for experience. Tech salespeople who have mastered active listening are highly aware of body language and have most likely come to consider themselves as problem solvers, rather than as simple salespeople. Are you listening? They avoid the temptation to interrupt, especially when prospects are explaining their needs.
Businesses have more marketing channels available to them than ever, and as I am sure you know, this presents both opportunities and challenges. In the era of social media, online audiences are larger than ever, and businesses rely heavily on automation to scale their marketing initiatives, and expand their reach.
Unfortunately, this also means there can be a deficiency in qualities such as empathy and active listening, which cannot be easily replicated by chatbots. Salespeople have to humanize the sales process, which is extremely important when it comes to high-value B2B tech sales. This is why they must embrace empathy-based marketing.
An empathetic tech salesperson is someone who is motivated to have a conversation. That’s the best way they can better understand the unique needs and pain points of their customer. They put these customers first by demonstrating genuine interest in them, and what they want. When empathetic people ask questions, they focus on trying to uncover the prospect’s real needs, which they may not be able to clearly convey themselves.
Empathetic marketing is always genuinely helpful to potential clients. Tech salespeople should keep this fact close to heart with everything they do, even when it comes to sharing content with their prospects. After all, a prospect who becomes a happy long-term customer can ultimately become a valued brand advocate.
#4. Competitive drive
As every salesperson knows, sales is a zero-sum game, especially in the highly competitive tech industry. Either you win the business of a prospect, or one of your competitors does. Tech salespeople must be competitive, and have what it takes to win over their rivals. It’s about much more than the product being sold. It’s about having a sense of motivation that drives you every day. Maybe some people are born with it, but in reality, it’s something you can build and nurture in yourself.
Having a competitive drive certainly does not mean trash-talking your competitors. Rather, it means having a clear understanding of where your brand, products, and services sit in the competitive landscape. Every business has a unique value proposition (UVP), and a great competitor makes sure it stands out from the competition.
There is more to the competitive drive than just wanting to win. Prospecting is the first step in the sales process, and this is key area where competitiveness comes into play. Too many salespeople concentrate on reaching out to as many prospects as possible, at the expense of quality and relevance. Instead, they should be thinking about qualified leads who represent their ideal customer personas.
Establishing a strong competitive drive is a balancing act as much as anything. Most leads require repeated follow-ups to earn their business, but salespeople should always be wary of being too pushy. Timing is vital, as is the ability to clearly communicate the unique value that their brands and products have to offer.
#5. Research abilities
Every successful salesperson brings valuable research and organizational skills to the table, and they use these skills throughout their daily routines. From finding and qualifying prospects, to scoping out the precise nature of those prospects’ requirements, research plays a central role in preparation and ultimate success.
Salespeople are researchers before they are sales reps. A considerable portion of their daily routines should be dedicated to searching for information across many different sources, such as on social media and in mailing lists. They must constantly update and prune their lists of potential leads to ensure they spend the bulk of their time reaching out to the most suitable prospects.
Tech salespeople not only need to invest significant time and effort in researching their target audience—they also need a thorough understanding of what they are trying to sell and where it fits in the market. This does not necessarily mean they need to understand the product from a highly technical perspective, but rather how it can help target customers. Because here’s the truth: tech sales prospects are not too interested in the inner workings of a product, but instead on how the product can help them achieve their goals.
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