I.T. Expanding Influence into Related Trades
It really doesn’t matter which technology products/systems you offer today, the end-user approval process will eventually pass through the I.T./I.S. group. While the buying decision is likely to be based on the need and led by the the trade area concerned (lighting, A/V, security, fire, HVAC, etc.), the individuals most likely to bless the system choice are I.T./I.S Directors. I know many of us are more comfortable with the previous sales process that was primarily driven by the Facilities Director, but today all of these decisions are influenced by data infrastructure design and data security.
So, if all paths lead through the LAN/WAN at some point, how do we learn how to engage this new player critical to the decision making in this space? Here are a few suggestions:
– Learn the general certifications and certifying bodies in the data and information space: CISSP (ISC2-network security), RCDD (Bicsi-network design). Become familiar with what they are trained to do. There are many more, but I have found these are the two I run into most frequently. They have continuing education requirements. Try to offer education programs that can support the need.
– Get to know the new C-Suite roles that affect the buying decision for your product:
CISO – Chief Information Security Officer
Didn’t start seeing this position influencing security solutions until a few years ago. Previously, I ran into the CIO (Chief Information Officer) occasionally, but as data networks are hacked more frequently, this role will impact your system design more. Try Googling “DDoS Cyber Attack” some time. It will give you a little chit-chat to fill-in the time. Develop an overview of data encryption technologies and certificate authentication protocols (digital identities) to develop a level of comfort with this role. This role can work hand-in-hand with the CSO (Chief Security Officer) position, or be part of that responsibility. In future posts, I will cover the convergence of physical and logical (data) security…
CTO – Chief Technology Officer
This role has the long-term budget authorization responsibility. Learn to define these terms and identify how to use them related to your products: “return on investment”, “future-proofing”, “open-architecture”, “inter-operability” and “data exchange”. Leveraging technology spend to improve efficiency and effectiveness in systems and the workforce is this role’s key focus. Although, the area of their responsibility that can affect sales in the technology space most – is systems life-cycle planning. Be prepared to engage regarding product / technology obsolescence, protecting investment and developing system road maps.
Let’s move on to the most important element of this discussion. Technology sales has changed dramatically in the last decade. The sizable cost of new technology purchases today demands that sales professionals focus on uncovering the driving need. You simply must be comfortable with the solutions sales approach. A decade ago effective account management alone could develop a significant base of business. Today, we have moved past the idea of simply adding value to the process. The “Grail” is a two-pronged approach: 1) understand the user’s pain-points well enough to match product/system benefits with meeting needs, or 2) work together to identify solutions to provide additional efficiency improvements, or cost savings.
Automation is only effective when the technology produces results. If you can become comfortable with selling solutions, you will be embraced by the I.T./I.S. space. That reputation will grow and it will bring business to your doorstep!