Sales is about developing the relationship in hopes of building trust with the prospect. Seasoned entrepreneurs and investors will tell you that consumer oriented products can be a tough sell because the buyer primarily makes a purchasing decision based on emotions. To some degree B2B software sales is no different. Most of the time the contract isn’t signed because your software has the best features, or because it offers more functionality than the competition. People buy from you if they honestly think that you and your team can provide increased value in the long run – with your technical expertise, knowledge of the market, and of course superior customer service. Simply put, doing business with you needs to give them a competitive advantage.
So – what’s the best way to build trust during a technical sales process while significantly improving your chances of closing the deal? Many of you rely on a sales rep to make first contact, run the product demo for all of the stake holders, and get the customer to commit revenue. While your best sales reps will have some luck with this (largely depends on the type of software you sell), you can greatly increase your customer conversion rate by including someone technical at the appropriate time of the sales process.
When’s the right time to include someone technical in a meeting?
Your technical talent is inevitably very busy with product development. If you’re bringing them into a sales conversation there should already be some awareness around the prospect’s propensity to make the purchase. Your sales team needs to get very good at properly qualifying each lead from the very first point of contact.
Whether this is an inbound lead or a cold call, the first conversation should focus on understanding the client’s problem, previous attempts at finding/implementing a solution, and the underlying purchasing process at the organization. If there’s multiple stake holders you should always try to include all of them on the follow up call (demo). This can help uncover previously hidden pain or surface objections critical to the decision making process.
Who do I bring to my sales meetings?
Larger organizations hire Sales Engineers specifically to fill this type of role. Sales Engineers tend to be former software developers that over time developed an interest in performing more client facing functions. How do you spot this type of talent among your existing engineering staff? Normally, this is someone that is noticeably good at distilling very complicated information into easy to understand concepts.
In a smaller company, your primary goal is to have someone there that understands the product better than anyone else. This could be your CTO, lead product manager, systems engineer, or technical product specialist. If you think that you shouldn’t be wasting your CTO’s time with business development conversations, you’re missing another massive benefit that comes from this sales methodology.
Direct product feedback
Including your technical team in early sales conversations can have a tremendous impact on your product. If said team spends their time blindly working through feature requests, you’re likely to end up with a product that nobody wants to use. It’s imperative to expose them to real customer questions and problems for a few reasons.
First, someone with a deep understanding of the product will be able to drive the conversation to a more sophisticated level that can reveal additional opportunities in the market. Beyond this, hearing direct product feedback from customers and prospects can prove or disprove assumptions that were made when designing your product roadmap. Your engineering efforts can be optimized with this type of knowledge, bringing the most important features to market faster than your competition can.
If you’re running a product company, increasing deal flow and improving client retention are most likely your top priorities. Providing value to your customers beyond the inherent value of your product can go a long way in developing a trusting relationship. Making your technical expertise available to your clients will improve your sales conversion and increase up-sell opportunities from your existing customers.