You know who I’m talking about. The techies who live in the cubicles in the departments, even the CEOs of startups, you never visit. The folks you call the “geeks” who speak in unintelligible language that makes you feel on the outside looking in. The nerds who fix the unfixable, solve the unsolvable and basically make everything you promise to your client….workable, implementable, deliverable.
Those guys and gals. “Them.”
“They” are the folks who can make you so relevant and value-added to your customers and prospects that You become known for being allied with Them. What a thought!
I’m quite certain your corporate culture doesn’t encourage or support partnering up on an ongoing basis with your technical colleagues. You usually Apply Them As Needed and then rapidly return them to the comfortable confines of their cubicles. Which reminds me a lot of signing out inmates of an insane asylum during visiting hours. Or rejects from a Wayne’s World ® casting call.
What if you decided to align yourself with your technical colleagues throughout your sales process? If you take care of them, you will be surprised at how well they will take care of you. If you feed them the information – and all of it including strategy – you will be enlightened at the breadth and depth of its implications. Which is a very good idea for building your business and that of your clients.
Keep these easy-to-follow rules handy for The Care and Feeding of Your Techies. You will find that in doing so, you keep them bright-eyed, alert and eager to interact with you. And you, in turn, will start growing the left side of that sales brain of yours.
- Words are important to technical professionals. Be specific and succinct. Business babble and sales spiel sound stereotypic to techies, because it is. You don’t have to learn some complex lingo to talk to techies. You do have to be able to drill down to exactly what is needed – or discover the information to answer these questions. I’ve seen technical deliverables based on loosy-goosy specifications supplied by sales people. It’s ugly, and it’s not worth losing a customer due to your own impatience in your choice of words.
- Technical folks are problem-solvers. They are quick to rush off to solve the issue of the day, sometimes prematurely, based on what they heard during a meeting. Just like you, they need to listen a lot more than they talk (and you sell). So here’s a problem you both have in common. Learn this one phrase and tell your technical colleagues: “Look, when we meet with the client today, remember that root causes can have really large contexts. It’s my job to develop the customer conversation and take it into as broad a context as possible so that we don’t solve what ends up being a smaller issue than the most important one.”
- Keep the conversation in common-denominator terms, the ones that everyone seated around the table can understand. Sure each of you has your own tribal language which identifies your background. The sales conversation isn’t a matter of how smart you are, how many big words you know, or how quickly you can rush the business development process and push the sale. You know what roles you are going to play. You know your technical partner will be drilling down to get to specifics so there is no doubt about the deliverable. Take the time to allow this discussion to happen between everyone seated around the table. You know your technical partner may second guess the decision maker. Rehearse so that the both of you know that when this situation arises, you take notes, you discuss that various directions may be involved, and this situation becomes a complement to your process rather than derailing what you thought would be a straight shot to a close.
C’mon. If you need a techie in the first place, you are not engaged in selling simple solutions. So don’t go after the close like a greyhound chasing that race track rabbit. It doesn’t happen that way.
Now what are you going to do about your situation?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.