How many sales people do you have that transitioned from technical staff into sales? How many of those people had proper sales training? How many of your sales staff has had any formal sales training for that matter? Does it matter? Of course it matters. Back a while ago in my blog I recalled the following: there is an interesting cartoon recirculating around social media where two business men are conversing and one says, “what if I train my employees and then they leave?” The other responds, “what if you don’t train them, and they stay?” This illustrates one of the toughest dilemmas in personnel management. I think we can agree that employee development is very important and a good management practice. The dilemma is when you do support your employee and their growth and they end up growing beyond the needs of your company? How do you address this? The key is to remember that at the core of the issue these two seemingly conflicting paths are in fact very much aligned. In this blog I outline the complex issues that come with transitioning from tech to sales. The bottom line is that sales people need training and techs transitioning to sales need it even more.
This article is also for the many people who are now being required to make the transition from tech to sales. There are a myriad of reasons for having to make this transition: tech bench work is going away; earning potential is higher in sales; the needs of the business has changed; etc. If you are making that transition, you should read this just to get an idea of what you should and should not focus on.
First we should define what ‘technical’ is. Technical is anything that is not soft skill. Administration, operations, design, engineering, install, service, customer service, IT and so on are all technical. We often limit ‘technical’ to people who are wrench turners and code writes, but remember if you work a process, write checks or other similar jobs you are technical too. This article is for you as you transition to sales.
I am currently in the final stages of writing my book and it will soon be published (October 2014). The book is titled– the Art and Science of Da Vinci Sales. The subtitle is The 7 Keys to Selling Like Leonardo (How to Move from Tech to Sales for People Who Hate Selling). You can find more information at www.davincisales.com. The core theme of this book is making the successful and lucrative transition from a tech focused life to sales and doing so without selling out. What does it take for a technical person to be successful in sales? In this blog I will just talk about 3 steps to begin or refocus your transition. You will have to contact me to schedule a seminar or buy the book when it comes out to get the 7 Keys to Selling Like Leonardo to completely answer this question.
Making the transition requires the three BE’s:
Be True to Yourself:
Don’t try to emulate a salesperson as you understand them or that you see in your organization. People buy from people they like and nobody likes a phony. If you are faking your personality or pretending to be someone you are not just to ‘act’ like a sales person, your customers and partners will see right through it. That boisterous egotistic sales attitude works for some because that is who they really are and their customers are gravitating toward the fact that the sales person is being genuine not that the person is slimy or slick. We may read it that way, but that statistics show that the ‘used car salesman’ is successful not because he is a tricky person, but because he is confident in whom he is and comfortable enough with whom he is to stay true to that person with everyone he meets. Stay the same person you are, all that needs to change is your activity and some of your goals and targets, not your personality.
Believe in Your Products and Solutions:
If you are selling fur-lined sinks (sinks that have a fur lining) or fur-bearing, egg-laying, milk-producing pigs or any number of products or solutions, you have to believe in them to sell them well. Sure, those products don’t make much sense, but if you believe in them you can sell them. Don’t get me wrong you can get away with convincing people to buy stuff without really believing in it, but that is usually short lived. If we look back to what step 1 says, when you are true to yourself your customer can tell. When you believe in what you sell you are being true to yourself. You are emotionally invested in your products and solutions and your customers can tell. If you do not believe in what you sell you have a choice to make. You have to learn to believe in what you sell or sell something else.
Be a Trusted Advisor:
You need to leverage the fact that you were a technical person. Just because you are making the transition to sales doesn’t mean you are no longer a technical resource for your customers. If you were to ask a large group of people who consider themselves strictly sales people and have little technical background what they would like to do to improve their career, most would respond that they would like to get more technical training. You, as a former technician turned sales, have an advantage in sales. Do not let go of that advantage. Most sales training programs teach sales people to work on becoming a trusted advisor to their customers. With your technical background, you are and can remain a trusted advisor. Stay current on emerging technologies and keep your certifications up to date.
My book, Da Vinci Sales, goes into much more detail on how to make this transition. I also have a 3-day boot camp for technical people to make the transition to sales and a 1 day seminar. I am available now for your company to book one of these sessions. Contact me at max@grAVITationTECH.com. A career in sales is a very rewarding and an extremely fun one for technical people. I have had the pleasure of working in sales for a long time and I have enjoyed it immensely – even though I hate ‘sales people’(hopefully you sales people know what I mean when I say that – because you know I love you if you are problem solvers instead of ‘sales people’)
P.S. By the way, Eskimos do need ice cubes, so what is that all about?