From ASCII Austin: Win Customers Without Showing Technology
By Jim Roddy, president, Business Solutions magazine and Innovative Retail Technologies magazine
For a couple reasons, I was intrigued to listen to sales coach Gil Cargill’s presentation titled “Winning Customers Without Showing Technology” at the ASCII Success Summit in Austin, TX, on Sept. 19. First, as the president of Jameson Publishing, I’m on the receiving end of sales calls and the account exec calling me often speaks in their industry lingo and not mine. Second, as VARs transition from break-fix to the “as a Service” business model, they will need to sell outcomes to customers, not technology functions and features, to convince them to pay a monthly fee for IT services.
Cargill, a former top sales executive at IBM and now regular presenter at channel conferences, offered several pointers and memorable quotes that I hope VARs and MSPs will heed:
- “The secret sauce for MSPs is we help customers run their business better,” Cargill said. So don’t talk technobabble. Instead, talk about helping their business reduce errors, downtime, and overtime by improving their business processes.
- “Civilians understand English,” Cargill said. “Too many MSPs say something that basically states, ‘I’m an MSP. Do need an MSP?” You should say, ‘I’m an IT consultant who provides solutions that affect your bottom line.’”
- Another suggested message was, “If you don’t like how your business is running, let’s talk about how I can help you.”
- “I don’t care how many nodes it has,” Cargill stated with passion. “A business owner doesn’t even know what a node is! I just care all my employees are up and running without interruption.”
- Write your “results message.” This could be a script or key points you want to communicate when talking with customers. Cargill suggested phrases such as “we help you get the most out of your IT investments” and “our customers make less errors, have less downtime, and pay less overtime.”
- Cargill recommends talking with your current customers to capture details of their success stories and integrating those stories into your sales calls and marketing materials.
- He also implored solution providers to have their proposals, website, and marketing material read by a friend who doesn’t have a technical background. If they don’t understand 100% of what you’re saying, you have some edits to make.
- Your job isn’t complete once your message is written. “You’ll never get good at selling if you don’t practice,” Cargill said. He advocated role playing with a co-worker or talking into a digital recorder (there’s an app for that) and listening to your pitch.
- Cargill also preached persistence and suggested that VARs and MSPs mail a postcard, letter, or note to every prospect until they buy. The outcome you’re shooting for is they don’t forget about you and will consider you when they’re ready to buy. “Some people might complain that you reach out to them too often, but I’d rather they know me and be angry than not know me,” Cargill said. “I had a choice between being a pushy salesperson and being broke. I chose pushy. If you want a friend, get a cocker spaniel.”
- On cold calling, Cargill said, “Compared to poverty, cold calling is OK.”
The ASCII Success Summit was held Sept. 18-19 at the Hilton Airport Hotel in Austin, TX. For more information on the event, go to www.BSMinfo.com/go/InsideASCII.