Business – Learning from retail sales

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This is another installment of my Business posts, geared towards those of us who are business owners or working for ourselves.

I’m sure we all know that relative or friend who bought some piece of technology where we sit back wondering to ourselves “why in the hell did you buy that?!?!”. Forgetting about what was purchased, have you ever wondered about the science behind sales ?

As you know, my company provides 3rd party IT support service to clients. As part of these services, I’m responsible for making recommendations on technology solutions and purchases. Being able to explain and justify these purchases comes along with that. Often, I’m sitting in front of a Manager, Executive Director, CEO or President and have to make the pitch on why they should be replacing that server, or firewall, or whatever. In all honesty, the actual product (server, firewall, NAS, etc.) doesn’t even really matter, because the process for making the pitch is the same.

Sales skills are both an art as well as a science. I’m not talking about the stereo-typical pushy used car salesman techniques, or how banks treat you when you’re buying a mortgage (and they pretend they’re doing you a favour). I’m talking about being able to explain things in non-technical terms, being able to relate to people, and being confident in your products and solutions. Most importantly, you need to be honest.

I have a competitor in my area who, in my opinion, over-engineers a lot of solutions. Along with that over-engineering comes hugely inflated costs. When prospective clients start asking why the costs are so high, the line “well what’s your data worth to you ?” seems to regularly come out. Personally, I’m not a fan of this type of sales technique. Again, in my opinion, this goes down the road of scare tactics. Telling your potential clients that they HAVE to spend all this money and scaring them into it by telling them that their data will be at significant risk otherwise, is simply a bad business practice. Yes, you will get some clients agreeing to do it, but eventually it will catch up to you. Clients aren’t idiots. They are going to figure out sooner or later that they overpaid for a solution they truly didn’t need. Just like the stereotypical car salesman that sells you a vehicle that over-exceeds your needs. When that happens, your client will resent you and feel that you’ve been dishonest with them.

You need to learn how to sell your solutions. If you’re comfortable that you’ve scaled things correctly and are providing the best products and services for your clients, then you shouldn’t ever have an issue successfully closing sales. Remember, sales skills are both an art and a science that you can learn over time and get better at.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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