This subject came up because of a comment at my You lose one now and then
post. I had mentioned there losing a customer and had suggested some possible reasons; a commenter noted "Or maybe another sales guy came in and actually kept in contact with them". They are dead right: I do NOT keep in contact with my customers. I really am a bad salesperson. I don't follow through, I don't close, I don't do any of the stuff good salespeople are supposed to do.
I'm a tech guy. I'm available to my customers always - nights, weekends, while on vacation. I'll help them through any problem to the very best of my ability and could give you many testimonials to that. But I'm a lousy "salesman".
Let's say you expressed an interest in Kerio Mailserver. I'd be happy to talk to you about that. If you want to talk about how that might compare to using Google Mail instead, I'll give you honest answers. If you want to know about open source options, we'll have an honest conversation about that, too. I'll tell you everything you want to know about Kerio, and I'll send you pricing.
And that's it. Unless you specifically tell me to get back to you on this, I'm almost always going to leave you alone. I'm not going to bug you unless there's a reason to. If you tell me that so and so needs to play with a demo, I'll follow up with so and so. If you tell me a P.O. should be issued shortly, yes, I'll follow up if it isn't. But generally: I'm going to leave you alone. That's because I'm a tech, not a salesperson. Techs respond when you need them, but don't call looking for work.
Prospecting? Don't make me laugh. I don't do cold calls. I barely
do luke-warm calls. Make an inquiry, I'll respond - once. If you
don't respond to that, I'm not going to chase you.
The same goes for tech support services. Inquire as to what I can do for you and I'll talk as long as you want. That's the end of it - I'm not going to follow up unless there is some unusual reason to do so. Again, techs aren't sales people.
I don't represent myself as an expert, a wizard or as anything but what I am: a smart guy with a lot of experience. If I can help you, I will. If not, I'll help you find someone else. I have no interest in forcing my skills to meet your needs. If they do fit, great. Otherwise, you need someone else - it's that simple.
I know I could make a lot more money if I were more aggressive on sales. I don't care - it's not my personality and forcing myself to be something I am not does not make me happy. I am what I am.
And I'm happy with that.
Sun Aug 12 13:26:09 2012 Other side of the fence Sunnylowe
I am the opposite. I can't remember very many things in my life, of any size or worth, which came about without the use of sales people.
I am highly technical, but now own a tech company, and have begun to see the opposite side of this coin. No company ever becomes highly effective without advanced sales. We think we are a technical company which must do sales, but at its heart, every company is a sales company, and the technical is just one method of fulfillment of a sales agreement.
There are really bad sales people ( I am probably one) and really good sales people. Think back on your last really great buying experience. It could have been a car, or a shirt. Did you feel appreciated? Did you feel empowered? Did you feel like you had the opportunity to make a good choice and then, did the experience leave you feeling good about the product? Those are signs of a great sales experience. These are learned and highly delevoped skills which the sales person and the company have honed to make the sales process easy for you and rewarding. It also happens to be rewarding for the business owner.
The difference is in sales skill and thinking through the client's buying process. All the times above which sound very painful and rightfully negative are signs of either terrible sales processes, or sales people who have not learned the sales system yet.
We as technical people need to understand that information is not how most people buy. They buy on reputation and feelings, and then justify these choices by logic. They know no more about me as a good technician, than they do about whether their doctor is a good doctor. All they know is, they like the guy, and he makes them feel good, and when they got sick, they got better. They don't examine whether they would have gotten better on their own, and that they have no idea whether what he did was either good or effective.
We as technical people need to help our clients traverse this knowledge chasm with sales skills and buying processes which are as sophisticated as our technical skills are. If we do, they will be empowered to make good decisions, based on the information they can understand, and by people who make the buying experience much more pleasant and smooth.
Sun Aug 12 13:30:19 2012 TonyLawrence
I don't disagree, but that's NOT me.
Sun Aug 12 19:04:41 2012 BigDumbDinosaur
I too am not a salesman. However, I did take a Dale Carnegie sales course years ago and found it instructive in an oddly perverse way. The instructor, who himself claimed to not be a salesman, made the point that in business nothing happens until someone sells something. Keeping that dictum in mind is essential to all of us who are self-employed. You may hate the notion of being a salesman but it is essential that you sell your product. Otherwise you'll go broke. It's that simple!