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Don’t be the Mob: Build IT Sales Through Relationships

Don’t be the Mob: Build IT Sales Through Relationships

Mob.jpgIf you’ve ever seen the 1931 monster movie Frankenstein, you probably remember the famous scene at the end in which the monster is trapped in a tower. Down below is an angry mob of villagers with torches and pitchforks, hoping to drive the monster out so they can get to him.

Now let’s transpose this scene to 2016. The monster is IT decision makers (of which I am one, so I feel a little less cruel calling them monsters) and we are trapped in the tower. Down below is a mob of IT-focused sales people. Their torches and pitchforks are the very best digital marketing tools, and they’re trying to get the monsters to come out… so they can sell us hardware, software, training, or services.

And like the monster in the movie, we snarl wildly and just don’t want to come out. Okay, the image is a little over the top, but in a world of automated, lead-focused marketing, feeling besieged is very common.

Barraging isn’t the way to IT Sales

As the IT decision-maker at my company, I get at least one call and a dozen e-mails from IT sales people every single day, as well as several dozen articles in my LinkedIn feed touting products that claim to be the best of this or the best of that, all of which are undoubtedly good and could potentially save me time and money.

But, with so many messages (so many that I feel like I’ve seen them all before)—is it any wonder I’m tired of being sold to?

Personally, I end up ignoring most of these messages—unless they touch upon a specific need I happen to have at the very moment I see them. In an effort to anticipate and reach me in that moment, IT-focused sales people reach out frequently in hopes that, by being there ALL THE TIME, they’ll be there at my point of need, too. And, if that moment never arrives, they keep sending messaging in hopes of creating one. The whole situation becomes an endless, self-perpetuating cycle of marketing noise.

It’s hard to stand out, and your marketing is likely to be missed or ignored. What you need is a new approach to cut through. And that new approach is not all that new (in fact, it’s practically ancient), believe it or not.

Make friends first

“Make friends first” sounds hokey, especially in a world driven by sales metrics, where X number of leads times Y number of contacts equals Z amount of sales. It might seem as though relationship building—making friends–doesn’t have a place in the formula. Perhaps that’s because the formula is flawed.

Imagine you’re at an industry cocktail party. You won’t sell much if you walk up to a stranger and start talking about your product right off the bat. Instead, you know to find points of commonality first—small talk and discussion that helps you get to know the other person, and eventually, become familiar with their business needs. Building a relationship with an IT decision-maker before you try to sell them something makes it easier to share your product when the time is right, without the natural resistance that occurs when you try to get a stranger to buy something.

You’ve Got a Guy: Even if the relationship doesn’t lead to sales right away, it can pay off through referrals. I call this the “I got a guy” phenomenon. You may not make a sale to IT Exec #1, but when IT Exec #2 tells the first about a need or a problem, Exec #1 might think of you—and your product or service—and say, “I’ve got a guy who can help you with that.” People like to make referrals in this way. It makes them seem well-connected and in the know.

Don’t think like all the others

The modern marketing model says that if you push the right buttons enough times and long enough, sales will follow. But when everybody is working the same model—and so many of them are doing an excellent job with it—you run the risk of becoming just another, pitchfork-wielding, voice in the crowd. (Regardless of how well you articulate your message and how effectively you spread it.)

It’s time to try something new by trying something old. Sell by not selling. Instead, connect, learn, befriend, and engage. Otherwise, you’ll just be part of the angry IT-focused sales mob below, driving your prospect away.