I've spent the majority of my professional career in technology sales, where I've worked with some of the best salespeople I have ever met. We sold premium telecommunications products and services in some tough markets. Our newly deregulated markets were characterized by intense competition from new entrants, a steady stream of emerging technologies, a changing distribution model, industry consolidation and continued governmental and investor oversight.
No doubt, we had our ups and downs. While there were some "lean" years (i.e., weak markets), our focus never waivered. We were a quarter-to-quarter business and our objective was to grow market share in a profitable way. And we were successful. When I left Avaya, we were the market leader in inbound contact center solutions and among the top three in IP Telephony.
What powered our success?
Let me offer a few personal insights from my experience:
As a senior account manager, my role was to create value for my client's business. More often than not, I did this by showing how the products and services I was selling could help my clients achieve one or more of their top business objectives. As an example, instead of positioning our contact center management solutions as a commoditized product that could be purchased at a discount, I focused on how I could help my clients improve their customer experience by achieving first-call resolution in a cost-effective way.
Advise and Consult
A key element of the consultative sales experience was to provide customers with new ideas for enabling their personal and professional success. Clients wanted ideas on how to avoid risk, save money, increase productivity and grow market share. Our conferencing and collaboration solutions allowed a client to accomplish all four of these goals, with reliable technology that enabled employees from around the globe to make real-time decisions on new customer acquisition strategies.
We live in a world where information is readily available and clients complete more than half of their buying experiences online before they even meet with a sales representative. Today's clients are more interested in best of breed, multi-vendor solutions than a single vendor platform. Collaborating with trusted partners and bringing them together on behalf of the client to form a seamless, interoperable solution to address a pressing business challenge helped to differentiate me as a problem-solver.
If there is a point to this story, it's that creating value, providing your customer with a consultative sales experience and collaborating with partners to offer solutions will help you grow your market share in a way that is profitable. In fact, some of my largest sales were for "business solutions" that carried higher price points (and margins) than what my competitors perceived as comparable offers.
For more on winning sales strategies and tactics, please see:
• How Social Media Is Changing the Way We Sell
• If You're Selling, Are You Showing or Telling?
• If You're in Sales, Tell Me Something I Don't Know
• What Makes Your Company Different?
• "Refrigerator Rights" and Why Organizations Value Them