In real estate, the saying is “location, location, location.” In the world of technology manufacturing sales, location is replaced with the word “access.” Access is critical for any sales organization, but in the technology industry, it has become the single most important factor that determines sales success.
Access starts with getting in front of the decision-maker.
You are absolutely correct, but that is becoming more and more difficult. The global market has expanded options for buyers, and unlike other sales roles, selling in the tech manufacturing space requires a higher level of expertise to even get through the door.
That isn’t meant to bring your spirits down, but a dose of reality is needed. The fact of the matter is that tech manufacturing is a global ball field, and the competition is stiff. This adds layers of complexity to the sales process, and traditional aggressive sales tactics aren’t as effective.
The alternative → train your sales team to take an Other-Centered® approach to open doors and close business.
Challenges for Sales Teams in Technology Manufacturing Industry
As we said before, access is critical – but access is hard to come by. The trend of inaccessibility can be seen across every industry. Even if your team is prospecting at a high level, getting to the decision-maker in the technology manufacturing world requires a deep level of industry knowledge, putting expertise at a premium.
Accessibility issues are surface-level issues, as global competition, market volatility, supply chain issues, and more add one layer of complexity after another to the equation.
Combine this with reps that close at all costs, and you have a recipe for a pretty bad-tasting cake. The only way to guarantee success is to develop a training program around the unique challenges that your sales reps face.
Developing a Sales Training Strategy
Building a training strategy around the unique challenges of the technology manufacturing space should be mission number one. Cookie-cutter approaches assume that all buyers are the same, a statement that wasn’t true twenty years ago, and certainly isn’t true today.
Every buyer has a different set of challenges, goals, and needs that must be accounted for, and when reps actively choose to serve their customers, accessibility issues become a thing of the past.
Choosing to serve is a pillar of an Other-Centered sales philosophy, but for sales to be effective, the process is much more involved.
Needs assessments and skill gaps must first be accounted for, a clear understanding of customer pain points needs to be defined, and clear – realistic – objectives must be set. And perhaps most importantly, any shift in sales approach needs to be embraced at every level of the organization.
4 Key Components of Effective Sales Training for Technology Manufacturing
We will be the first to tell you that change is hard. Not all of your reps will take to it like a duck to water, and some of them may fail. The challenge for most lies in putting their own needs aside for the good of the customer. As sales leaders, our job is to give them the best chance for success. Here are four components that will help you stack the deck in your team’s favor.
Product and technology knowledge training
Gaining access to decision-makers doesn’t happen without trust. One of the best ways to establish trust is to arm your reps with as much relevant industry knowledge as possible. Think back to the last time that you made a major purchasing decision. Chances are you relied on someone that you felt had more knowledge than you on the subject.
Selling to technology manufacturer leaders is no different. They want to know emerging trends or changes in the industry, and the better equipped a sales rep is to offer advice and provide information, the deeper the relationship will become with the prospect or client.
This component will require you to get a clear baseline of where each rep stands on their level of industry knowledge. Gaps are inevitable, as some reps will have spent more time in the industry than others.
Working with reps one-on-one is the best way to help them sharpen their industry knowledge and catch up to their peers.
Implementation and Execution
You have assessed your team, you are ready to implement – what comes next?
Executing your sales training strategy requires commitment from every level of your team. Before you can expect your sales reps to buy into the change in mindset and approach, the entire management team has to buy in.
Failure to buy in – from the leadership team – is a leading indicator that the training will not be effective. The fact of the matter is that when leadership doesn’t adopt the same mentality, the pressure to perform quickly creeps back in. Instead of support, reps are met with criticism causing them to revert back to aggressive tactics to make up lost ground.
Before any implementation begins, have an open and honest conversation with the leadership team and explain the benefits of your new training program and how the approach will generate results.
Next, create a detailed training plan for each rep.
Group training isn’t terrible, but reps will get more out of individual training, and it will allow you to address any skill gaps that might exist.
Once the program is launched, ongoing support must be provided. Failing to do so will result in some reps abandoning their training for “comfort zone” sales strategies.
Measuring the Effectiveness
Support isn’t just giving your reps a pat on the back to reinforce a desired behavior. They are trying to sell a product, not take part in a Pavlovian experiment. Once implemented, dive into the data that each rep is producing.
Key performance indicators are essential to help each rep see progress. They will also allow you to tailor ongoing training to each rep’s strengths and weaknesses. The combination of experience and data can help transform your team from sales reps to trusted advisors.
Over time, gather feedback from both your sales team and customers in the technology manufacturing industry to tweak pieces that are unique to your section of the industry.
This isn’t Kentucky Wildcat basketball, sales training isn’t one-and-done. Training should be a continuous process. The technology manufacturing industry has seen major changes over the past five years and the same can be expected for the next five. Working with your team to stay up to date on industry trends and advancements will help solidify their role as advisors.
Over time data may show that you need to focus on specific areas with the entire team, or individual reps. Be proactive, and never assume that just because something works today, it will work next week, next month, or next year.
Technology Manufacturing Sales Training With ASLAN
The technology manufacturing industry is rapidly evolving and gaining access to decision-makers is getting more and more difficult. Sales teams across the country are finding that aggressive sales tactics aren’t as effective as they used to be and that a change is needed.
At ASLAN, we believe in the power of an Other-Centered approach. When reps choose to serve, and the customer is put first, sales will become a byproduct of the relationship. To learn more about sales training with ASLAN, our approach, and our track record of success, visit our website and follow us on social media.