Throughout my career I have attended several generic sales trainings- which often could be deemed “high-pressure” sales tactics. Most were a long time ago, and they crossed industry boundaries.
For a short time I also was the sales and telemarketing manager for a small company, with a small team of telemarketers under my supervision. Think “dial for dollars”!
I realize that some sales engineers have not had similar experiences or trainings- especially those who began their career in the technical/ engineering/ software development realms. These folks typically have the technical aspects of their job and company down pat- but the sales portion can be a bit more of a struggle.
Due to that fact, I offer the following main takeaways from the few sales trainings that I have attended. I, as well as NAASE, am not endorsing any of these tactics. Some are not typically done in a B2B environment, but there are some benefits to some points listed. These can also be viewed as to why many people dislike “salespeople”- which on its own can be good to know as a sales engineer. Without further ado, in no particular order:
- Confront, and overcome, each buyer objection (typically, as they come). This is essentially part of “don’t take No for an answer”. Basically, persuade the buyer that their answer or objection/perception is wrong. Whatever they say, turn it around on them and try to prove that there really is no obstacle in buying from you.
- Price: Everyone, almost always, will say that the price is too high. For many people, it doesn’t matter what figure you quote, it will be “too high” according to the prospect. Soon enough a salesperson will not even hear the prospect when/if the prospect claims that the price is too high. Maybe that is part of the point of the sales trainers.
- Rejection is the name of the game; get used to it. Don’t take it personally. In many product or service sales operations, it is a numbers game. In my telemarketing manager role, I would hand out lists of companies and people to contact with phone numbers and titles etc. People would just make tons of cold calls, and usually get ignored, hung up on, yelled at, or in a slightly more polite outcome- pleasantly rejected. And yes, I also had to make many of these telemarketing calls myself. That was a tough job- I respect people that actually do this every day or week.
- Don’t be afraid of silence, during a sales presentation or conversation/ negotiation. Awkward silence can actually be good; it’s a poker game. See what the prospect says- wait to hear them.
- Make sure you are meeting with the decision-makers. Back when I did home improvement sales we would always make a point to set the sales appointment with all relevant decision-makers (typically husband and wife, etc.). If I got there to the home and 1 of them was absent, it essentially was a lost cause. Our “closing rate” would go down about 50%. In almost all cases, the outcome of the sales “pitch” was- “I don’t know yet; I’ll have to talk it over with my wife,”. And there was no way to really overcome that hurdle in the moment.
Most of what is noted herein is not relevant in today’s consultative B2B sales world. However, some good advice can still be gleaned from it. Sales engineers are professionals, and they are technical in nature, but don’t ever forget that the word “sales” is right there in the title.