Marketing is Systematic
Marketing is far more systematic and formulaic, than creative!
Most people in hi tech sales have some sort of technical background and are sometimes engineers who’ve transitioned into a sales role. Many of you own consulting practices, integration companies and service firms, and for you, selling is a necessary evil.
Teaching a Technical Person to Sell
The career transition to sales can be a very difficult one, and it often fails. Especially when it is "real" sales, not customer service or tech support — as in prospecting for new business every day, navigating the complexities of the customer’s organization, dealing with difficult decision makers and actually getting hard purchase orders. It simply is not enough to understand the technical merits of your product. You also must understand the psychology of the sales process and the emotional reasons and motivations that cause people to do what they do.
The human side of this equation comes much more naturally to some people than to others. When I went from engineering to sales, I already knew how to dial for dollars, make cold calls and secure appointments – which is ironically what I now teach my clients not to do! But other aspects of the sales process just mystified me.
My Friend, the Uneducated Sales Wonder Boy
I had this job at a manufacturer’s rep firm and there was this guy I worked with who was the top salesman in the company. He was personally handling almost ten million of dollars of business at anywhere from 2 to 10% commission, which meant he was easily making several hundred thousand dollars a year. He was selling to some of the biggest companies in Chicago, a fiercely competitive market, in some very competitive product categories. For example, he sold printed circuit boards. In case you’re not familiar, there are literally hundreds of companies who sell circuit boards, but this guy had exclusive contracts with some of his customers, usually at higher prices than some other vendor just down the street.
What was really amazing about my friend was that not only was he extremely successful, he hadn’t gone to college, only had a high school diploma, his writing skills were absolutely terrible, he could barely spell and he was a very non-technical person. But none of this seemed to matter. His intuition and ability to think on his feet made up for all that. He would say amazing things to customers that I could never get away with saying. His skill set was the exact opposite of mine, and it was pretty obvious that his skills were helping him sell more than my skills were helping me sell. I desperately needed to know what he knew.
I watched him as closely as I possibly could, and what was really frustrating was that he really couldn’t teach me his thinking process. He couldn’t seem to explain what he did or why he did it, he just did it. Meanwhile here I am, furiously searching for a success secret so I can put some money in my checking account and pay for my baby girl’s diapers.
How Does a Technical Guy Get the Hang of This, Anyway?
So how does a systematic, technical guy learn those important nuances of the sales process? Well you usually won’t learn it from a ‘natural born salesman’ like my friend at the rep company, because he doesn’t know how to teach you. People who do things that naturally are usually poor teachers. That’s why it’s almost impossible to learn anything from most college professors. However, you can learn it from someone who ‘learned it the hard way’ – someone like me. I say that because I did learn those things. I struggled to learn every bit of it, but I eventually got my arms around this. I actually learned it from people who write highly effective advertising.
One of the great misconceptions in business today is that sales and marketing are two different disciplines. This is 100% wrong. Marketing and sales are much closer to each other than most people think, and the separation of the two is the cause of many huge problems. Show me a company with sales on the first floor and marketing on the fourth floor, and I’ll show you a company that’s spending millions of dollars on irrelevant marketing campaigns while the sales people are dialing for dollars to make their numbers every month.
You Can Sell With Proven Formulas That Work Again and Again
The good news is that technical people – and anyone else, for that matter – can become very skilled at sales, marketing, and even advertising, once they learn the core principles and formulas. This also means you can take templates and examples that others have used, which are included in my system, and easily adapt them to fit your product or service. You need not, and in fact should not, re-invent the wheel. What worked in 1925 and 1967 still works in the 21st century, because human nature has not changed and never will.
As you fine-tune this process over time, you can achieve a level of effectiveness that frustrates and baffles your competitors, because they are not privy to your formula or system. Most of them will think and operate like the rest of the herd – they’ll continue to use the same inefficient, obsolete image advertising / dial for dollars and shoe leather sales formula that simply doesn’t work – and they really won’t understand what you’re doing at all.