Times are incredibly challenging for technology sales executives. Simultaneously, the pressure is also tremendous for technology decision-makers such as the CIO, CTO, VP of technology, and other leaders during a pandemic. I am empathetic toward all industry professionals, and I understand the challenges that sales professionals face in the current climate.
With travel bans in place, decision makers are not taking any meetings from vendors with whom they do not have an established relationship, which makes it almost impossible for the vendor community to succeed. With that in mind, I’ve included some best practices to enable sales.
- Enterprise-wide solutions
Vendors must focus on cross-departmental solutions. Assist the CxO with enterprise solutions that exhibit a business versus technology solution as the CIO is fighting for budget with their peers solving business problems. Some of the worst things to say are, “Tell me about your strategic initiative,” or “what is your upcoming focus in the next fiscal year?” Asking these types of questions shows that the vendor has not done enough research or lacks the industry knowledge about the challenges that the organization is facing.
- What is the financial reward?
As I wrote in a previous piece, CIOs must evaluate all financial investments like a CFO. Executive decision-makers must prioritize and fund all transformation initiatives to emphasize organization success or patient quality outcomes, while improving productivity and driving a positive ROI. These relationships must identify financial value. The solution must allow the organization to showcase their competitive edge. Great vendors/partners will identify new opportunities to transform business functions across every company they target, emphasizing the financial reward.
- Spam and automated messages
Focus on custom messages versus automated cold emails or Linkedin messages. I have seen many automated messages with the recipient’s incorrect name, which is a bad reflection for the brand and the message sender. Also, emailing the decision-makers’ boss hoping for a discussion will have a negative impact while creating a strain on an existing unestablished relationship.
- Warm reference introductions
Find a creative way to connect through a trusted mutual contact or at a live event (post-pandemic). Today’s internet world allows everyone to find reciprocal relationship contacts that may be willing to make the introduction. Unfortunately, hard-selling does not work.
Sales is a relationship game, and the best sales folks are considered trusted advisors. Focus on providing additional insight and digging in to understand the solutions that you are selling. The usage of superficial buzzwords is a turnoff. Trusted advisors are the ones who will be able to sell to decision makers during and after the pandemic.