Are Your Salespeople Not As Successful As You Would Like?

I was recently asked by a Vistage member for my thoughts on new client sales activity in the IT consulting space. This member has two sales people dedicated to obtaining new clients (upper small/mid market) and over last year together they have brought in only four new clients. These were new positions in Aug 2008. They wanted to know if others in IT consulting having similar problems attracting “new clients” in this economy, or do both individuals need to be replaced. It is a question I see a lot, so I wanted to share my response with all of you.

It sounds like there are a lot of factors at play here to determine what can be done to help these guys or if you need to replace them. I sold IT consulting in both a good and bad economic situation prior to opening our inside sales and sales management group, Randolph Sterling, Inc., and I noticed that different people bought from us in different economic times for different reasons. Not knowing the specific area of expertise, I will use my own experiences as a guide.

In poor economic times, I found business was good as we helped out IT teams that were overworked by coming in and completing certain projects. They had cut back on staff so it was easier to bring in the specific talent needed for a project without having to worry about a long term commitment. In better economic times we sold a bit differently, but certainly effectively. In those times, IT departments were expanding so we were used to get to those projects that had been put on the back burner during the slow times but now desperately needed to be done. We were also used as a proving ground for good people. They could work with our team and if they liked specific people, we would allow them to buy out their contract. I’m not sure if that is how you work, but it helped us out tremendously.

We built many of the procedures we use as a template for our clients based on my work in IT consulting to develop new clients and to grow with our current customers; from our inside sales teams, whose sole responsibility is to look for new opportunities for the sales reps, to our sales management team that will help to set up policies and procedures within a company to best accentuate the skills and abilities of their sales team. In all instances, one thing ran true. If we focused on what the market was telling us and helped to find a solution to the prospects problem, we were most likely successful. If we tried to sell them on what we thought was best, our numbers definitely went down.

How does your team sell?

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