I recently had a flashback…

The first office job I had in the early 80’s was in a telesales sweatshop for Satellite Business Systems (SBS) co-owned by MCI, Comsat, and Aetna. I still have moments when I can hear the mono-toned echoes of my boss’ voice calmly saying: “Bell, make more calls… sales is a numbers game!” And like a hamster on a wheel, I kept running for my “production” numbers, cranking up 60 to 70 calls per day, eating lunch at my desk for my $12,000 base salary and an additional $13,000 in annual commissions… if I made my monthly quota.

As if experiencing déjà vu, I stumbled upon a business owner spouting off similar obsolete half-truths to members of their sales organization because they’re either clueless or in denial.  More than a few of today’s subject matter experts have spoken and written about the latest phenomenon in the buyer-seller dance, which is:  Buyers are self-diagnosing their “pain” and addressing 70% of their own issues before a sales rep can make a sales pitch. Result: by the time a sales professional is engaged in a qualified sales opportunity, the concept of “value” is off the table and price dominates the landscape. New reality: Some of today’s technology sales professionals are being marginalized by savvy buyers who are active before a formal sales engagement and they respect two things: a technology sales subject matter expert AND a fair price.

So, where are the buyers today?

  • They are doing business with your competition in response to a content marketing message that was authored and directed to specifically address their issues in their market segment.
  • They’re on their smart phone watching your competitors YouTube video on a mobile compatible website.
  • They’re buying products and services from people and organizations where they are being educated.

In the technology sales space, today’s sales professionals can longer afford to be generalists as customers are now buying from people that can challenge perceptions and share what they’re unable to discern or discover for themselves thru their own research. Welcome the era of  technology sales subject matter experts.

-Chris Bell 3rd