3 Ways to Make Technical Consultants Part of the Sales Team
In the technical sales world, reps rely heavily on technical consultants (TCs) to assist in developing and closing business. These consultants are instrumental in explaining product functionality, describing the steps and potential concerns associated with integrating the product into the customer’s environment, and relating the product’s value to the customer’s technical community. Since business decisions cannot be made until the technical viability and compatibility of the products have been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the customer’s IT staff, having a compatible sales and TC team is vital to engendering credibility and trust and closing the deal. Below are three suggestions for integrating and showcasing technical resources during the sales cycle:
1. STRIVE FOR CONSISTENT SALES AND TECHNICAL CONSULTANT PAIRS WHEN POSSIBLE.
The importance of chemistry and compatibility between the members of a sales and technical pursuit team cannot be overstated. A unified team agrees on and executes a single sales strategy, with each member playing his respective role and assisting the other when required. Each complements his partner by reading the audience for understanding during presentations and “leading the witness” with questions aimed at providing missing information or clarifications to ensure the customer is tracking with the value proposition. Both know which among them is best suited to handle which questions or objections and know how to redirect questions.
Having consistent pairings is a best practice because it fosters familiarity, deepens understanding of their respective personalities, and gives the team the opportunity to develop strategies to showcase strengths and compensate for vulnerabilities. When one-to-one pairings are not possible because of resource constraints, assign one TC and two sales reps to work together exclusively. Encourage the reps to discuss their different styles and compromise on common processes where appropriate to provide the TC with more consistent methodologies. Though there might be differences in styles, keeping the resources linked will allow the TC to synergize with both reps individually and form two cohesive teams.
2. WHEN PAIRING SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS (SMES) AND LOCAL TCS FOR PRESENTATIONS, MAKE SURE THE LATTER HAVE THEIR MOMENTS TOO.
In many technical presentations, SMEs from outside the local team are required to clarify complex solutions and bring expertise on implementing a new technology. They provide credibility as they can speak about their experiences deploying the technology at accounts with requirements similar to your customer’s. When an SME is used, though, it is important to showcase the local TC and his knowledge as an equal member of the technical team to help build trust and credibility for the local resource. The local TC’s credibility is paramount, because the customer will be working with him after the outside SME is long gone. The customer must believe the local TC can knowledgeably service the account. Make the local TC shine in presentations and build the trust necessary for a successful liaison with the customer.
3. INCLUDE TCS IN SALES RELATIONSHIP ACTIVITIES (A.K.A. SCHMOOZING).
Sales reps are known for schmoozing activities, like wining and dining, hitting the links, or taking clients out to a ball game. They initiate these activities so they can get to know the customer and build a personal relationship, which aids in forging trust. This is more easily accomplished in a non-business setting. Often, TCs are not part of these activities, and this is a mistake. Technical resources benefit as well from spending quality time outside the office and should be included in external activities with decision makers. Additionally, solicit activities with the customer’s technical resources and your own TCs to build rapport. Relationships and trust take time to develop. The more time a team can spend getting to know their customers personally, the easier it will be to expand your business and deal with difficult situations that are inevitable in a technical sale.
Paul Harney (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an independent sales process consultant who uses his Fortune 200 sales experience to help companies close the disconnect between sales infrastructure, the opportunity pursuit process, and customer value creation.