At a recent networking event, I met up with a formerly virtual sales colleague. We had connected on LinkedIn, exchanged emails, and had the opportunity to meet each other eyeball-to-eyeball. In the days prior to our meet-up, I could see that she was studying my LI profile, reading my blog posts, doing her homework on my context. Of course, I was conducting my own due diligence about her, as well.
When we finally did meet, she clearly was not comfortable. I immediately understood her context. She was motivated to have a relevant and valuable conversation with me, to demonstrate her acumen within my area of domain expertise, not hers. Wow. It’s not like I’m a rocket scientist.
Her perception of the context of our networking meet-up was that it was an intellectual business competition, not a social one.
How many of you take the same approach to technical selling?
How much money are you leaving on the table because you are trying to represent yourself as a technical peer to your engineering decision makers? How many of you are intimidated by the thought of selling to technical professionals?
The businesswoman I was meeting had built an extremely successful business for herself and her partners, in a B2C industry. I loved her stuff and was looking forward to telling her so. She was the domain area expert in her field. I love cross-pollinated discussions which make me think about things from a slightly different perspective.
Long story short, I identified some common denominators that got her off her mental ledge. Her body language changed, she dropped her defensive stance, and we had a great evening together.
For those of you who are intimidated working with engineering and technical professionals, and I know there are quite a few of you out there, keep in mind that these folks find the fine art of selling to be equally daunting. I would say you have the basis of a great discussion, if you determine the common denominators running across both of your organizations.
Business development is part of everyone’s job description, stated or not. After the global financial meltdown of 2008, the marketplace became digital, work teams became more virtual, and communication became more of a fine art than tweets or emails.
The technical or engineering professional you are speaking with is a human being, just like you. That, to me, is your primary common denominator. They are seeking ways to contribute to their professional field, to their personal and family revenue stream, to their company’s top and bottom lines, and very possibly to provide intrinsic value to economic development.
These human objectives are not rocket scientist speak. They are pretty basic food, shelter, warmth, and security values.
You know as well as I do that trying to speak with folks who are outside of your professional comfort level is like having an out of body experience. Why put yourself in that type of selling situation?
You are the sales expert. You can provide real-world market, behavioral and economic insights to technical decision makers. Have that discussion within the context of your own comfort level. Open the door for your technical folks to share their own insights about your own context, relative to their perspective.
You may have a lot to say to each other when you find those common denominators providing the pathway across perceived intellectual barriers.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups.