Thomas Meysel is a Senior Manager of Partner Consulting at EASY SOFTWARE AG. In an interview with ChannelPartner, he explains how IT companies can differentiate themselves from their competition.
The IT industry is characterized by sometimes radical change, which can even directly affect sales and distribution. “We’re currently undergoing a shift from selling products to selling IT solutions” Thomas Meysel, Senior Manager of Partner Consulting at EASY says. Selling solutions isn’t an entirely new topic, although many manufacturers and system vendors have had difficulty fully making the change.
What’s different about selling IT solutions?
Selling IT solutions is one of the most complex jobs in the industry, since distributors have to have not only sound professional knowledge but also the ability to adapt to a wide variety of different situations. “Having to react to highly variable circumstances is one key issue,” Meysel says, “and the other is working in a team.”
Today, most IT companies’ marketing success is actually based on the interaction of many participants. Companies selling IT solutions have a clear need for responsible management. They have to form strong internal sales teams and manage an order centre for customers.
Things can get especially challenging when distributors have eight to ten projects going at the same time in acquisitions and have to orchestrate sales teams composed in very different manners, each in its own IT sales process. Thomas Meysel knows well how important mutual understanding is in leadership and in sales.
No more cookie-cutter solutions
When products and solutions begin to become more predictable, especially in an environment defined by document-intensive processes and enterprise content management, companies have to find decisive new ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. Sales personnel who base their arguments on products in these kinds of market environments often only focus on one distinguishing feature: price. Price, however, is not the primary criteria for most customers in making their decisions.
But well-trained IT salespeople are still able to make big-ticket sales, even in competitive environments. What do they do differently? “We’re simply better at making arguments based on use,” says EASY Partner Manager Meysel.
The argument for use sounds simple, but it does hide a danger. “If the use argument remains too generic, you won’t reach the customer on an emotional level at all,” says Oliver Wegner, Manager at evolutionplan GmbH.
Placing the focus on use
To make sure that doesn’t happen, you have to back up arguments on use with good analysis. Analyses need to be completed in advance as part of a needs assessment. This can be difficult for many IT distributors. They frequently ask questions that don’t delve deeply enough into the customer scenario or don’t approach discussion partners in a personal manner. The quality of the answer you receive is usually a good indicator of the quality of your question. This means that if you’re only getting surface or insufficient answers, the salesman’s questions aren’t powerful enough.
Information is an important variable in IT sales processes. “Sales teams who are successful routinely see the big picture for interested parties and customers. They close gaps in their knowledge and develop contacts in a targeted way to gain a decisive competitive advantage,” Oliver Wegner maintains.
To put it differently: Successful IT vendors use their entire expertise to provide detailed information and explanations, both for their personal success and the success of customers and prospects.
Click >here< to view the video of the complete interview with Thomas Meysel.
Picture: Dr. Ronald Wiltscheck (Chefredakteur ChannelPartner) und Thomas Meysel (re.)