If you’ve spent any time at all researching how to sell IT services, you have encountered the following strategy:

“Demonstrate value…convince the prospect why to choose you…convince the prospect that now is the right time to buy.”

It’s in books and blog posts and taught in sales seminars every day.  And it’s all wrong.

Selling IT solutions that fit the customer’s needs is never about your timeline and your needs, but rather about what the customer needs. As hard as it is for commissioned salespeople to realize, this includes the customer’s timeline as well. Sometimes the customer just purchased new hardware. Sometimes they have in-house resources to manage hardware and applications. Sometimes another vendor can offer an idea or roadmap to success that is outside of your capabilities. Sometimes your offering simply isn’t the best choice and it isn’t the right time, anyway. IT solution sales is about much more than getting in front of a prospect and convincing them of how your offering can improve their business. And that’s how it should be.

Get out of the office to sell!

Sales seminars don’t always point you in the right direction.
Image courtesy of the Sales Whisperer

If your true aim is helping a business save time or generate more revenue, then you must have the humility to realize that your want for a purchase order does not ever outweigh the customer’s need for the right solution. Here are some tips for avoiding the IT solution sales cliches of old and finding the right strategy to add new customers and generate new revenue.

“Demonstrate Value” – Replace this line of thinking with the notion that your customer doesn’t care about what you offer at all.  Even if they are facing IT challenges, in most cases they have managed to make do without you coming around and trying to get involved.  As a result, you don’t need to demonstrate value nearly as much as you need to shine a light on inefficiencies that need to be addressed by someone – even if that someone is someone else. Whether it be in-house resources or an outside provider, counseling your clients on improving their systems and processes regardless of your involvement is a great way to generate trust. In other words, you should begin the sales process by selling nothing at all.  Offer your clients a candid view of their needs based on your expertise without feeling the need to tell them how you will solve their problems. They will appreciate your honesty and learn to trust your judgement when they realize you aren’t simply trying to make a buck.

Sales cycle infographic

The sales process isn’t about you.
Image courtesy of Forrester.

“Why Us” – Replace this line of thinking by expanding on the ideas above.  Your solution or offering isn’t always going to be the best solution available.  You are much more likely to remain part of the conversation and build a longterm relationship by embracing competing ideas or proposals and offering feedback about the best solution, even if that solution means you miss out on the sale.  The client is likely already skeptical of speaking with you and your competition. They are assuming your interest only lies with earning their business. To stand out from the competition, declare that you don’t care who earns the sale; your interest is in helping them succeed even if that means you don’t win the deal.

“Why Now” – Replace this line of thinking by realizing your enthusiasm to move forward quickly isn’t in the best interest of a customer trying to make a big financial and tactical decision about their IT assets. The eagerness of salespeople, almost all of whom earn commissions on the deals they close, is the biggest hinderance to building real, long-term relationships with clients. Your clients know that you stand to benefit on sales. Why not go the other way?  Detach yourself from the perception that you are only working with a client because of what is in it for you. Instead, act as wise counsel for their IT decisions. Why is this beneficial?  Because when it comes time to make a large purchase or implement a massive new system, they will call you (not your competition) to shepherd them through the process.

selling to customers

Your timeline for sales isn’t always the same as your client’s timeline.
Image courtesy of Gravity USA

Great salespeople know that sales isn’t about selling solutions, products, or ideas. It’s about building relationships that are mutually beneficial to your interests and the interests of the client.  The most successful salespeople in any industry aren’t out there looking for purchase orders; they are working every day to cultivate relationships with people that are in the market products and services they are selling.  The distinction is important. Building credibility and trust with clients will always be a better strategy then force-feeding products and service down their throats in a misguided effort to sell something. Everyone likes to buy, no one likes to be sold.  Help your clients identify their needs, demonstrate intelligence and authority along the way, and you will be shocked at how many of them contact you asking to buy something because of the trust you have created.

Building strong relationships with these people means becoming a trusted resource as the client makes decisions over time. Sometimes you are the right fit.  Sometimes the right time is right now.  But that isn’t up to you, it’s up to them. Putting yourself in the right position is the best way to grow your business and generate revenue….all without ever having to “sell” anything. If you are tired of being sold but need assistance on your technology planning, click here to contact Mosaic NetworX!