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Sales Calls for Tech folk

© May 2008 Anthony Lawrence

Some of the readers here are self employed people who have to wear both the tech hat and the sales hat: you are the one who sells and performs the services of your business.

That can be a tough road to walk. You may not be "good" at sales.. or "selling" might make you uncomfortable. If this is really serious, maybe you aren't cut out for self-employment, but if it's just minor discomfort, maybe I can help.

I'm not a "sales guy". I'm not a heavy tech guy either - I'm something in between, and honestly that's accounted for a lot of my success. But I think there are some things I do that can help anyone in this situation.

First, be who you are. Unless you have an incredible talent for acting, that's all you can really do anyway, right? I tell clients flat out that I'm a lousy sales person, that I most definitely won't be pestering them about the order, and that I won't be trying to "close" them. I'm going to give them the best technical arguments I can and am ready to talk honestly about weaknesses and limitations. I tell them that I will always work hard for their best interests and if it becomes necessary for me to recommend they use someone else, I'll make that recommendation too. (Unfortunately sometimes I've made that recommendation and they keep using me anyway - I try to do the best I can in those situations..)

Second, follow through. Do what you said you'd do. Yeah, sometimes the best intentions turn into the damnedest messes, but if you really are putting your heart into it, that won't happen often. If it does happen, do whatever you can to make it right.

Keep your appointments. I have talked before about the importance of being reliable. Be reliable. When selling, let your prospect know that being reliable is something you consider important. Explain that they can count on you.

Part of being reliable comes from not scheduling your time too tightly.

By the way, I recommend face to face whenever possible. Phone is second best, and email is the worst sales pitch of all. If at all possible, sell face to face. You are much more likely to get the business, and if you are alert and paying attention, you may find other opportunities too. Face to face is the best approach, always.

When it comes down to the final line, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of people who can deliver the same product or service you are offering. What makes them want to buy from you? Maybe it's price, propinquity or some other tangible point, but more often it's honesty and compassion. After establishing competence and ability, your customer wants to know that you are honest and that you care about their needs. Sell that, because that's what they really want to buy..

Got something to add? Send me email.

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