The Technology Sales Arena is where the elite of the sales profession compete to deliver solutions that transform and improve businesses and governments and they are commonly rewarded with six-figure annual income opportunities. Most are professionals… not peddlers. So how does one begin or transition their career into technology sales? Here’s an update of some tips I recently discussed with a group last week, that I initially authored and posted a few years ago.
1. Avoid going in thru the front door via human resources. Traditional hiring processes are exclusionary, meaning they’re designed to keep people out. HR personnel can only say “No” they can’t say “Yes” to a potential hire. Leverage HR after you’ve connected with the hiring manager. If you can’t connect with a real decision-maker to personally present your value, then you’re not ready for a technology sales career transition. The best senior sales executives in the competitive and lucrative tech sales business are hunting for candidates with equal measures of competency, professionalism, and tenacity.
2. Talk with people in the niche you wish to work to ascertain what’s hot, relevant, and what’s keeping those in the know up at night. Read their blogs, attend their virtual webinars and follow subject matter experts on social media networks. There is a strong connection that can be developed by discussing the highlights of another person’s interests and having insight into their subject matter expertise.
3. Do your homework. Study a lot. Read trade periodicals to become familiar with the general language and buzz words of a specific technical field of interest; Download white papers and brochures; Go undercover “Geek” and attend free Meetups and conferences to become familiar with local industry influencers, experts, and icons.
4. Leverage LinkedIn and social media platforms. Follow a few companies you’d really want to work with and aggregate compelling info and job postings to understand their business priorities. If they’re publicly listed, dial into their quarterly call, and read their 10-k. These activities will detail the latest news, opportunities, wins, and concerns of the company.
5. When contacting a decision-maker ask them for their help and advice (everyone wants to help someone.) Get to know their executive assistant or secretary and ask them to setup an informal 20-minute introduction at their local coffee shop before business hours, or setup an invitation for a quick sandwich and informal lunch at a local deli.
6. To schedule a meeting you should be prepared to restate some of the quotes in public documents, discuss recent news from their press releases, or paraphrase statements made on the company’s quarterly report. Always leave the person you’re speaking with the impression you know as much or more about their company, than they do!
7. Memorize the salient points of a company’s summary product brochure or website word-for-word so that by the time you get a face-to-face meeting, the person you’re meeting can visualize you as fellow colleague or employee.
8. Success in sales is about your track record. Winners want to be around winners and winning (like losing) is a habit. Always be prepared to be your own best advocate by sharing where have you won before in life and in your career. Be quick to give kudos to those who helped you to achieve #1 status in previous endeavors. Humility and gratitude will empower you to ask: “If you were in my shoes, what would be your next best step?”
9. Present a professional business card. The best tips and insights I’ve ever heard regarding the development and use of business cards were offered by an associate of mine, Steve Fisher in a presentation he did entitled: 10 Rules for Killer Business Cards. http://www.slideshare.net/stevenfisher/10-rules-for-killer-business-cards-slideshare
10. On employee skills testing – “there will never be, and there has never been a test that can prove the heart of winner” – Art Williams. Don’t be intimidated by the technology verbiage, acronyms, and the “geek factor” you will undoubtedly encounter. Most disciplines and specialties are intentionally, superficially, and deceptively presented as being complex to enhance the reputations and certifications of their practitioners. The net: This stuff isn’t that hard. You’ll get training and your focus will be on solving business problems.
Christopher Bell, III