The IT sales market it exploding- and for good reason. IT spending has been trending up since the close of the recession. There’s loads of money to be made from connecting IT departments with the products and services we need to make our systems work.
The problem I have with IT sales is that, when the market is good, it’s easier for the purveyors of tech goods to not be great at selling and yet still be able to make a living. The end result is an army of salespeople banging our doors down, spamming us with emails, and inundating us with phone calls- none of which we want.
Still, we need stuff, and they need to sell. Since I have a sales/sales management background, I thought I’d put together some strategies for you if you actually want to get a hold of our precious dollars and make the most of your prospecting.
Here are 4 tips to help you reach us.
Act like you are trying to get a job. Because you are.
You may have an employer you’re working for selling your wares, but in reality, until you’ve got a customer coming back to you over and over, you’re effectively trying to get us to hire you.
I’m an IT careers guy- so I know how to get a tech job. I know that if an IT worker wants a job at some particular company, they don’t just go spamming their prospective employer with some inane drivel, like this this little “gem” I received in my LinkedIn messages:
“David, I have tried calling through the main line but it seems to be impossible to reach you that way. *Yeah, I don’t know you. I was hoping you could point me in the right direction of who to contact for <SomeITSpecialty> projects. *I’m not giving you names of my team members. I don’t know you. I have reached out to <SomeoneElseOnYourTeam> in the same pursuit. *He also hoped you would take the hint. <VendorCompany> is a wholesale distributor of <AnITThing>, a reseller of <OtherITThings>, and a specialist in third party maintenance. *Not compelling at all. Everyone says that. If it makes sens (spelling?) to talk, what does your calendar look like? If not, who do you recommend I talk to? – *Not. I like my team members.<TheSalesMan>”
Don’t do this. We SysAdmins delete these emails. If you persist, we block you in our spam filters, then we tell reception to tell you to never call again.
Make it not about you.
In that email, I counted 5 sentences, and each one was either “I” or “us”. We frankly don’t care about how amazing your company is, what they sell, how long you’ve been in business, etc. Every business says all of that- what makes you different?
If you really want to turn some heads, do some research. Do you even know what my company does? Do you know if we even need your hardware or services? I can tell that you either didn’t check us out or didn’t care to mention it. Either way, you lose points.
Why is this important? First, researching and talking about us makes us feel good. You’re in sales- I don’t need to start quoting Zig Ziglar, et al.
Second, learning about us and letting us know you know shows us that you’re in tune with what we’re doing, and ultimately, how you could help us. This is so key. How do you know we even need networking parts or servers? What if we’re 100% in the cloud? You would be surprised to find out what you can learn by some web searches and talking to people.
Want to stand out? Think outside the box. You could truly be the best provider of <whatever it is>, but we won’t know if you try the same old tired methods.
Don’t cold email or fax us. It’s easy to delete impersonal emails, and faxing- are you serious right now?
We are busy, and bombarded with sales messages already. Send us a bacon basket, or a greeting card with a meme inside it. Send us a bag of coffee with your face on it. Make it interesting and memorable. Make it wild.
Do you know someone we know? Try talking to them about us. See what we like and are into. See if they will make an introduction.
How about being a little funny? Did you know that IT guys tend to like coffee and bacon and tend to have a slightly dark sense of humor? One of the most engaging interactions I had with a sales person was that she sent me some memes that were relevant to our email conversation.
Maintain the relationship.
People buy from people they know, like and trust. If you take the time to invest in us, come through in a pinch, and be there, great! But your job isn’t ever over.
I can’t stress this one enough. We all realize that we’re not your only customer. We get it. But be on top of your emails and messages when we reach out.
Be around, but not all over me
You are eager to serve. But If you’re calling more often than once every other month just to check on things, it’s too much.
The hack here is to have something to talk about. I want to hear about great deals on things you know I need. It’s fine to call me with that. Don’t call me to read whitepapers. Ever. I’m 50/50 on events- if it’s in an area I care about AND a product we have discussed and I have interest in, fine. But don’t call me about events for products that I clearly don’t need.
If you want to probe about future projects, be clever.
The best approach here is to logically make connections between the technologies I have that you know about. If you know I have VMware, and have whined about my storage, then bring up storage options that seem like they would fit.
Also, don’t call specially to ask. Make sure this comes up in another conversation- and don’t do it when I’m on a deadline or in a pinch.
What NOT to do
Last- here are a couple of pitfalls. Don’t ever do these, or you and your company will end up on our naughty list. That usually looks like reception declining your calls and- in extreme cases- us blocking your domain on the spam filter.
- Spam me on LinkedIn
- Connect with me on LinkedIn, then send me a sales message 14 seconds later
- Call repeatedly
- Stalk various members of my team, then call asking for each one
- Ignore my requests to stop contacting me
Let’s be honest, I’m not trying to increase the number of sales calls IT people get, but if you follow these best practices, you will make more meaningful connections with IT pros, more sales, and more money.