Lessons From The Field: How To Be a Rock Star with Your Sales Team

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

In your experience, how does IT actually help Sales? Is it continuous delivery of operational systems so Sales don’t get it in the neck from their clients? Is it providing technical knowledge to clients during the initial engagement, beauty parade and decision-making process? Is it just listening?

Of course the first two are true. But have you considered the last one?

Something amazing happened yesterday. I went into London to talk with a senior sales manager and pretty much listened most of the meeting. What’s more, technology didn’t crop up in the conversation once. Yet we both walked away with a lot of value. We found golden opportunities to work together to transform the sales process and begin designing a whole new strategy for integrating Sales and Marketing. My role in this is to find a technology base to deliver it from.

What the meeting reminded me was that Sales are people , just like you and I, and like us they want to be listened to. The thing is though, when we have our heads down working in the thick of IT Operations, projects or development, it’s so easy to forget to listen. This isn’t me preaching – this is me being honest with my own situation.

What’s cool about listening to Sales is that they often have the greatest business ideas but struggle to know how to make them happen. When IT comes along with a few solution options and the commitment to listen more and work with Sales to shape the future, the response is overwhelming. This connecting up sparks innovation.

The key to the ‘help’ is to not leave discussions like this as a cosy chat. Walking away and doing nothing helps nobody, and damages relationships. No, the key is to follow-up , which I must now do. The one thing I mustn’t do, though, is to get technical and bombard the Sales guy with a bunch of technical specs! The conversation at this point remains business, so I have to manage the technical possibilities by myself.

In times of naivity, I think I would have done that, and totally lost the opportunity.

So the next steps for me are:

  • Replay what I heard from the Sales manager and confirm my understanding
  • Design a solution on paper that uses business language, not technical
  • Seek technical solutions that can underpin the concept
  • Present the ‘business architecture’ of the solution and listen some more to get feedback

I expect that the next conversation won’t involve technology at all.

The lesson I’ve taken from this is to listen, and use the language of Sales. My commitment to moving the ideas along a stage are grounded in a promise to help the business, not satisfy any of my own needs to plug in technology solutions. My responsibility is to make sure that, ultimately, we don’t have our head in the clouds, but that’s my problem and I have to deal with it with my technology colleagues.

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2 thoughts on “Lessons From The Field: How To Be a Rock Star with Your Sales Team”

  1. “The thing is though, when we have our heads down working in the thick of IT Operations, projects or development, it’s so easy to forget to listen.”

    It’s probably not so much about forgetting to listen, but a techie’s folly of only partially listening.

    A common problem we have found working with technical people is they are very quick to jump straight into “solution mode” without fully understanding the business problem yet.

    Worse, sometimes is IT already has a predetermined solution before they even walked into the meeting to discuss the problem.

  2. @A Friend – ‘Solution Mode’ – ah yes. Anyone who has worked in IT will have certainly observed this tendency, and most likely in themselves at times!

    Why do you think this happens?

    It might be because of a lack of self-confidence which is naively compensated with an eagerness to please.

    I wonder if this happens in other industries?

    Another thought is that technical people invest a lot of themselves in their chosen technologies and then look for opportunities for confirming that ‘I am right’ about their choice. The changing technology landscape puts a lot of pressure on techies to develop new skills, but the comfort-zone is always easier.

    An interesting problem which hasn’t really gone away over the last few years, but I expect in the world of mashups, it will be a behavior that is rooted out.

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