The tectonic shift in today’s IT market dynamics has created a complicated situation for service providers with deep-rooted DNA of ‘selling’ services given that the astute customer has stopped getting mesmerized by the erstwhile flashy ‘slideshow’ and eloquent ‘sales pitch’ – so where do we go from here?
A couple of months back, I participated in a Sales Event brimming with known faces from the IT service provider ecosystem spanning across the globe, ranging from the widely spread big brothers to the hyper-specialized boutique consulting firms.
The least common denominator cutting across these tech pioneers was the gusto and innovative sales propositions that were leveraged to cast a spell on attentive prospects.
Almost all of them flashed multiple top-rate ‘demos’ propped up with superlative ‘slidewares’ to extol the virtues of the ‘product’ that they averred to be the best possible solution for their future clientele.
I was mesmerized by the quality of display on offer and in fact started doing back of the envelope calculations to get an idea of the money that these folks would end up minting by selling these invaluable products to the convinced prospects.
Fast forward to the present, I met one of my ex-colleagues yesterday – this person is certainly one of those proverbial ‘sales’ geeks who can sell ice to Eskimos and incidentally happened to be an attendee of the same sales event that I was referring to.
I was prompt enough to extend my heartfelt compliments for the anticipated fat sales incentive that he must have earned very deservedly from the sales event.
His response was surprisingly lukewarm, despite taking a sip of the hot latte - in fact, it was almost bordering on a pulsating mix of annoyance and desperation.
“Do you even have an idea of the changing IT service landscape?
Do you think that today’s matured customers cannot see through the glitz and glitter of the plethora of products that are peddled and vaunted to be the one-stop solution for their multi-faceted problems?”
I was kind of taken aback by the tartness in his voice but mustered enough courage to retort:
“But then, the product that you were displaying at the event is the market leader in terms of feature coverage, depth of functionality, technical maturity isn’t it?
So how come prospects are not excited to use it?
Is this really an issue with the product itself or lack of awareness from an end-user perspective?
And finally, what do you suggest as the remedy once you take off that doomsday prophet hat of yours”.
Contrary to my expectations, he did not react sharply this time.
Instead, he started explaining in a voice that resonated pity (for my ignorance I suppose!)
“I think your perspective needs a version upgrade!
Seems like you are laying way more importance on the influence of ‘sales’ as a discrete activity, than it is worth.
Please understand that today’s consumers of IT services are starkly different from the erstwhile ‘packaged application’ shoppers who used to solely rely on trustworthy ‘sales’ personnel to guide them through a simple linear product purchase lifecycle.
On one hand, today’s customers typically follow an exceptionally tortuous path of purchase and not all such twists and turns can be treated as direct ‘sales’ events as per the traditional definition – however, all these interactions touch-points can open up excellent opportunities for the service provider to understand, challenge and positively influence the purchase decision.
On the other hand, the same customers are plagued with the enormous complexity of their business ecosystems and the lightning speed of change to their business models necessitating the adoption of multiple technology stacks to cater to specific problem areas.So if you look at the perspectives carefully, you’ll notice a couple of compelling upshots that scream at you as a service provider:
Basically, once you start peeling off the business issues at a granular level and uncover the corresponding product(s) features, one should complement the other in perfect harmony obviating the need to cajole the customer into the product(s) adoption – instead, you are able to script a storyline where you ‘handhold’ the customer through the mazes to aid the purchase - and that my friend is the holy grail of service ‘selling’ in today’s world!”
True to type, he also showed me a short video to hammer in the ‘storytelling’ perspective.
I felt as if someone just rammed the ‘red pill’ down my throat - it turned my ‘sales’ outlook upside down, once and for all!