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Tips for Techies on Showing the Value of Their Services

People with strong technical backgrounds may not consider themselves good sellers. They prefer to install, upgrade, migrate and troubleshoot. But selling is a skill everyone must use, even if no money actually changes hands.

Applying for jobs, writing proposals and emails, and participating in meetings are all types of selling because they involve uncovering a genuine need and finding a solution for it.

In recent months, I’ve learned to sell my technical services more effectively, so I wanted to share a few lessons I’ve learned.

The Technician’s Advantage

The good news is that people with a strong technical background can become remarkably good at learning to sell technical services. And they don’t need to become a slick salesperson stereotype. The starting point for selling is not to become a fast talker; it’s about being able to show empathy. Recognize that selling is about finding a solution to meet a need.

The nature of technical work focuses on solving problems. A good technician isn’t satisfied with superficial solutions. This determination to get to the root cause is a great asset in sales. Nobody wants to be sold something that doesn’t solve the real problem.

The Reluctant Salesperson

Another strength of the technical mindset is a little subtler. It’s the reluctance to sell. This reserve about not wanting to be too pushy can be attractive to people who don’t want to be sold to. In addition, people coming into sales from the tech world have learned a lot about the business as a result of their direct contact with end users or business units. This allows you to quickly recognize whether a problem is genuinely urgent or not.

The Gotchas

Just as many benefits exist for a technical person moving into the world of sales, some “gotchas” should also be avoided.

The first one is the tendency to go into too many technical details in the sales conversation, whether spoken or written. The client is often happy enough to know you’ve understood its pain and have diagnosed the underlying problem. From there, the client is usually happy to say, “Wave your magic wand and make it happen.”

Just as going into more technical detail can be off-putting, so can the tendency to talk about yourself. Many technical services websites have statements about themselves, such as: “We believe the client comes first” or “We are very experienced in all kinds of technical things.” This is OK, but it’s better to write in language addressed to the client. Examples include:

  • Are you experiencing slow responses in your reporting?
  • Is your backup system reliable?

This approach also helps the prospective client recognize its own problems, pains and fears. As a rule, the most important starting point is that the client knows the IT team understands its pain.

The Right Approach

The next step is to diagnose the real problem behind the pain. This is central to the sales process. It’s helpful for a technical person making the transition into sales to have a mentor—someone who can give you feedback on how to approach the sales opportunity.

Learning to explain the value of your services is a great asset in getting new clients. Even a little bit of training in the art of selling can quickly pay for the small investment you make.