Let’s chat, shall we? Technical decision makers are skeptical by nature. First, they do not assume anything, including the validity of marketing and sales materials. Also, they dissect all data put in front of them to justify your selling position. Why? Because they doubt that business data sets are as robust, complex and accurate as are technical and scientific data sets.
Now, don’t get too put off. Technical decision makers are just as skeptical with each other as they are with the sales, marketing and non-technical types reading this article. As a result, these decision makers continuously validate the technical and scientific truth underpinning What They Know.
After all, incompletely specified data leads to software codes generating security vulnerabilities and engineered outcomes which miss targets (literally). In addition, when sales and marketing folks are “approximate,” when they should be “exact,” solutions are under-specified and error-prone during implementation.
However, technical decision makers are most skeptical about popular fake data.
Today’s competitive, global business ecosystem is tainted by the plethora of fake news from seemingly boundless sources. How many of you scrutinize the validity of the headlines appearing in your social media feeds before you share with prospective buyers? Some of these headlines are amazingly fantastic. Alternatively, others are so finely tuned to your own belief system that you commit the cardinal sin of assuming the information is factual.
Keep in mind that technical professionals are private citizens as well. They, too, are inundated with the latest social media headlines. Consequently, these professionals – and perhaps you, as well, by this point – become even more skeptical. They do not assume the validity of any news report taken at face value.
As if skeptical technical decision makers are not already hard-wired enough. Now they are super skeptics. Also, their skepticism potentially biases their reactions to sales and marketing information and presentations. As a defense, they layer on another protective editorial filter. Subsequently, these professionals attempt to separate the impact that fake news, from their private lives, has on their ability to validate information, in their professional capacity.
While unfortunate, this scenario infuses itself into all of your best intentions as a business professional of worth.
Are sales and marketing promises too good to be true?
Do your marketing and sales materials read like a compendium of fake news and fantastic outcomes? If so, an organization’s sales and marketing strategy subconsciously contributes to increased buyer skepticism.
Technical professionals are trained to compare and contrast various approaches to solving problems. However, many sales and marketing materials are skewed. As a result, they support the seller’s proposed solution, as perhaps the “only” viable option. How credible is this strategy?
If you do not scrutinize the validity of your organization’s sales and marketing information, prior to presentation, skeptical technical decision makers will, throughout the presentation. Digital transformation of the workplace causes them to ratchet up their own ability to weed out false data from mediocre information. The last thing you want to happen, when working with technical decision makers, is for them to reject the validity of your offering based on inadequate data that doesn’t hold up to hard-core scientific scrutiny.
Technical skepticism extends into the post-sale relationship, too.
If you think technical professionals give you a hard time during pre-sale, wait until you close the deal. The selling honeymoon is over and then the reality of whether your promises marry up to implementation reality sets in. Well, will you or won’t you deliver, as promised?
Unfortunately, the post-sale time period is when sellers do what they do best: sell. They have a short attention span when it comes to sticking close to customers, post-sale. As a result, they lose control of the post-sale lifespan of a newly acquired customer. Instead, an entirely new cast of characters enters into the lives of technical professionals: other skeptical technical professionals, your internal colleagues.
It’s a match made in heaven for those technical professionals! However, the post-sale execution of a sales contract is where fantasy crashes into reality. You see, technical professionals like to compare notes and revalidate pre-sales promises. Consequently, overpromised pre-sale product and system attributes begin to look like fake news when they cannot be delivered, post-sale, according to specifications.
Perhaps it is time for you to become a skeptical seller and stay that way, too!
Yes, you are too busy hunting and chasing your numbers. Seriously (and skeptically), making your numbers is tactical and all about you. Customer success and customer retention are the post-sale result of not only sticking close to customers but also embedding yourself in their business strategy.
After all, a lot can happen between close of the initial contract and renewal. That in-between area is when technical decision makers can become positively or negatively biased in their perception of the validity of what was contracted for. As a result, you can assume they will become more skeptical. However, my advice is, neither take my word for it nor make any assumptions. Instead, scrutinize, validate and strategize with your skeptical customers if you want to retain their business.
This article first appeared in the October 2017 edition of Top Sales World magazine, under the title: “Technical Decision Makers are Skeptical of You, as well They should be” and is republished here with this author’s permission.
Babette Ten Haken is a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker. She serves organizations as a strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer success for customer retention. She is an EOS Implementer (Entrepreneurial Operating System®) and a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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