The role and image of a software salesperson have changed a lot. It had to! Think of the old paradigm where a software salesperson or team would shuffle into your conference room and deliver a packaged presentation, followed by a packaged demo, in hopes of finding a hot button that appealed to you and somehow satisfied your need.
That won’t work today and a wise software company knows that. If you want to succeed in the market today, you have to get ahead of things. You need to understand what your prospective customers want, and need, and take into consideration the industry in which they work and the way the IT staff and business users need to interact with and leverage a software solution.
Think about the way a realtor or a dress salesperson works. The goal is to help the customer see themselves living in a particular house, putting their own furniture and belongings in the space, or (in the case of the clothing salesperson, the goal is to get the person to try on the garment).
So what does a software salesperson have to do today to be successful?
- Be Proactive: You can’t just sit around and wait for customers to come to you. Remember that you live in a digital world and your prospective clients will use every means to get information. They are already looking and analyzing. Don’t get left behind. Work with your team to find the channels used by prospects to get information and BE THERE! Cold calls and booths at trade shows will only get you so far. You have to FIND your clients where they are…find out where they are looking and solicit them there. Make them want to call you.
- Embrace the Digital World: Use social media, use your websites, use free downloads, use any technology-focused outreach and socially engaging method to get the prospect interested. Talk to your marketing team and create a collaborative approach to span the advertising, marketing and sales environment. Use what your organization knows about buying behaviour, customer satisfaction and the target audience to create a pitch or pitches that will encourage discussion and allow prospects to ask questions, and get to know you and your product.
- Relate the Need to the Benefit: If you know your prospects, their domains and industries…if you know what they need to do their job and what can make their lives easier, you can throw away the canned demo and pitch and get to the heart of the matter. This is what YOU need and this is how OUR PRODUCT can help you achieve your goals. Show your customers that you know them and that you want to help. Don’t just come up with talking points. Listen, learn and USE the information to connect the need to the benefit.
- Know Your Product AND the Market: Know your product inside and out AND your competitor’s product! Know how your customers have used your product or service to solve a problem or capitalize on an opportunity and be ready to ‘tell a story’. People LOVE stories. They want to ‘see their things in the house’, the want to ‘try on the dress’. They need to know how YOU can help them vs. how some other product or service can help them. You don’t have to badmouth a competitive product, you just have to know your product well enough to make your prospective customer WANT it.
- Be YOU, Be Memorable: A customer who is in the market for software is likely to talk to a lot of people, read a lot of brochures and white papers and listen to a lot of pitches. How are you going to be different, real and engaging? What is it that you, as a salesperson know, what personal spin or approach can you use to make your meeting or conversation memorable? Stories, quotes, a surprise ending, a feature or capability in the product that you hold back and use to close the meeting with pizzazz? Think of your customer approach as a performance. You don’t have to be slick, or pushy. You just have to make them interested and intrigued in what you have to say and what you are offering.
So that’s my advice. It isn’t really all that groundbreaking or new. It is just my take on what you have to do to remain relevant and successful as a software salesperson working in a market that is more competitive than ever and trying to capitalize on the new channels, and the digital and social aspects of customer research and engagement.
Oh, there is one more thing I want to remind you of before I finish. Success in software sales is founded on the same philosophy as any business success; namely that you must strive to find a common interest and build a relationship with another person. You have to think of this process as collaborative and avoid the idea that you will sell the customer and move on to the next person. Build a relationship with the idea that you want them to respect you, and to feel that you have their best interests in mind – that you want to help them!