Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Can I get a What What

Technical Sales, where to start?
                You have a client that has a problem. How do you know how to solve their problem? Do you even know what their problem is? This is the first step in any technical sales process, discover what the issue is. Most likely your client can’t articulate this to you the first time they try. They may not have the language or the technical knowledge to tell you what they need. The one thing they do know is…they have a problem.
                Step one, identify the client’s problem. Sounds simple, but what if your client says they have an issue with their printer. It takes too long for their print jobs to print. Simple answer is a newer faster printer, the right answer might be adding memory to the print server, or adding a postscript driver, or updating the printer drivers, or, you get the picture. So how do we solve our first step? Well now it is time to act like Columbo and start with the W questions.  These are the Who, What, When, Where, and Why. We don’t have to use them all, but we need to use them. What is happening? Who does it happen for? When did it start? See, we already know more than we did.
                Step two, discover the client’s solution. This can be more difficult. If the client doesn’t know their problem, they have no chance of knowing their solution. But, they do, they just don’t know it. Well, they don’t know the solution, but they can tell you how they want it to work. One more question….How would you expect it to work? Notice I said the client’s solution, not what we do to solve the issue, there are different things. The Client’s solution is what they want or expect. So now we know what they want.
                Step three, figure out how to get there from here. This can take some time and technical skill. There isn’t anything the client can really help you with at this stage, except stay out of your way. Once we determine the technical solution that aligns with the client’s solution, we can see if it is a service issue, or a sales opportunity, it may be both.
                Step four, articulate to the client the proposed solution. The key things to be sure you do are, be clear, be simple, be confident. We are geeks, we want to know details, clients do not. They want to feel confident you will solve their problem. They will feel confident if you can simply and clearly explain to solution. Think explaining to your mother, not a 4 year old. Our clients are ignorant of technical things, not stupid. The fastest way to lose a deal is to be condescending. Be confident, not arrogant. If you can’t be confident, maybe it isn’t the best solution.