We can all speak volumes about what high-tech salespeople do wrong. But in the spirit of vendor relationship building, we asked members of the Best Practice Exchange to tell us what their favorite salespeople do right. Specifically, we asked them to name what they want from IT vendors. Tear out this page and show it to those vendors who could use a little improvement.
1 Don’t rush me. Salespeople who push too hard will lose out in the long run. “A good salesperson needs to respect my time,” says Jim Sloane, VP of IT at flooring company Mannington Mills. “They shouldn’t try to push for a contract prematurely. They need to respect the fact that I have to consider alternative solutions.” Sherry Rubin, CIO of Philadelphia Gas Works, puts it another way: “Don’t assume a relationship with me before we really have one.”
2 Tell it to me straight. “I expect a top salesperson to talk to me about what business problem their technology will help me solve, why their solution is the best alternative and what the downsides to their solution are,” says Randy Krotowski, CIO of ChevronTexaco Latin America Products Co. “I don’t want any surprises later. I want the same kind of dialogue I’ll be having with my CEO when I go to discuss why the investment makes sense.”
3 Be creative. The salesman who breaks the mold will win the business. “Our best salespeople get creative,” says Tama Olver, VP and CIO of life sciences company Applera. “They have the ability to construct ’win-win’ options and to create offerings that we did not think to request.” Remember, one size does not fit all.
4 If you don’t have it, don’t sell it. While the phrase “I don’t think we have what you need” is anathema to most high-tech salespeople, it might be one worth learning, say CIOs. As Bill Haser, CIO of Tenneco Automotive, advises, “Understand my business well enough not to waste my time with new products or features that will not add value in my environments.”
5 Look past your quarterly numbers. A valuable salesman needs to pay more attention to the long-term relationship with an organization, not Wall Street’s quarterly projections. As Steven Steinbrecher, retired CIO of Contra County, puts it, “I hate it when a sales rep comes in on the 20th of December and tells me, ’Hey, if you buy this product by the end of the year, I can shave X dollars off the price.’ That person gets ushered out my door as soon as possible, never to get past my executive assistant again!”
6 Stick around. Selling high-priced IT solutions is not a hit-and-run proposition. The best in the business stay to manage the details after a sale has been made. “Good salespeople follow up after the deal is signed to make sure the administrative details are managed properly,” says the VP of IT at a major industrial manufacturing company who wished to remain anonymous. “Especially with telecom services, getting the contract and pricing terms implemented so that the rates actually show up on the bill is a major undertaking. Too often the salesperson gets the order and disappears.”Our online community of IT executive members meets often to trade tips, tactics and best practices. To learn more, visit exchange.cio.com.