When you have worked in the IT for long especially in the domains related to Software Engineering and you have been accustomed with receiving and interviewing presales and sales managers in other to acquire a software/system/solution or during their door to door campaign when launching a new product, most CIOs would tell you how struck they are with the simplicity with which Sales manager tackle their job. How can one expect to convince an IT department after reciting a thousand reasons why his solution should be acquired without been conscious that in a fierce competition arena like the one of software/hardware/service, the next competitor would list two thousand reasons? This cram work may be excellent when you are selling toothpaste or sardines, never when it comes to IT products. At times one can even stop the tape rewind it and there it goes again - reciting every bit of his poetry and all the new features the product got.
It works if the sales person is from Oracle™, IBM™ or SAP™ and the truth is that most of the time they are. We go in for them because the brand is a guaranty of quality or because they already have such a huge portfolio of customers that we are at least certain that the product has sufficiently been erode and therefore free from bugs and dysfunctional ties. In competitive strategy many of such customers are qualified as « irreducible ». They would simply go in for the provider they are used to because this is a strategic decision or because the cost of switching is extremely high. In the case they are irreducible; they wouldn’t even give an ear to any other stranger.
If they aren’t, then starts the “dialog of the deaf” between CIOs and Sales teams which may never stop until the day IT Sales Teams would understand that in other to grab the attention of the IT Specialist you should at times come up with what doesn’t work. What doesn’t work in the competitor’s product rather than what works in yours. IT guys are problem solver, they are needed only when a problem arises and hardly before. So in other to sound attractive to them, simply give them one reason why chaos is in the product of the competitor and definitely you would have increased the probability of landing a business deal with them.
Give me one reason I shouldn’t go in for your opponent than a thousand reasons for going in for you.
By the way how can one make any objective choice between products from Oracle™, SAP™, Microsoft™ and IBM™ just to name this few without very strong subjective grounds?
Therefore knowing your product is a pre-requisite when it comes to sales, but knowing your opponent’s product becomes the game killer - especially it weak points because that is what IT staffs deals with on daily basis. Pres-sales/Technical sales and even sales should therefore be accomplished techies and Software Companies should recruit and train them as such. Not only on the sales propaganda of their products but on competitor’s products as well. Why?
Because the psychology of an IT specialist (Operational) is somehow biased in the sense that although non IT staff sees them as solution providers, they themselves reason as fire brigade fighters all the time. The one question they always ask themselves is “what can go wrong from now and from here?” From the time you share their philosophy, you can be sure to make an impact in their midst. Be careful, this is not about sabotaging the opponent’s product but knowing it sufficiently in other to spot out problems they have, that they may have or they would have in the future if they choose him over you. Do it well and you are about to land a deal.
Epie Ngene Goddy,OCA,MSc
Sysaid Consultant/Project Manager
University of Madras