John Lissenden

The authentic salesman is the new Del Boy

About the author: John Lissenden is the Business Development Manager here at Fasthosts. John has a wealth of experience in B2B sales, cloud computing, and integrating IT solutions into businesses. Within this article he shares with us brilliant insight into the process of developing sales leads into customers and asks some intriguing questions of business owners.

Welcome to our Insights article series brought to you by the Fasthosts employees. We’ve experts in a wide range of areas such as team management, web design, networking, and much more. We believe that by tapping into the expertise within our organisation we can bring you informative and helpful advice, tips, news and views.

The economic downturn in the UK and global financial crisis has had a huge impact on the B2B salesman. However, although the sales line is no longer ringing off the hook it appears that the way to survive may just have a positive impact for all.

Business owners are starting to understanding that they can make IT increase productivity and make their day job and what they do for a living a lot easier. In order to do that you have to have a very good understanding of what it is their business does and how they do it.

From my experience the B2B sales role now requires you to take a much more “consultative sale” approach. The need to understand the clients business has increased dramatically. Not only do you need to quickly get a firm understanding of their business but also what their competitors are doing and where their industry is heading.

The first point of contact I have with a potential client is typically via email. Once a phone call is arranged I will go away and do my research. I need to educate myself continually on many different industries, as well as the evolving national economic situation, to ensure that when I speak to the client I’m well informed to provide well balanced and insightful information that will help the client see the benefits of my product.

Authenticity is a bit of a buzz word at the moment but it has never been more important for the B2B salesman to listen to and incorporate into their work. As much as we love the mischievous Del Boy the modern salesman has to be authentic in everything they say and do. With the evolution of social media every company has a see-through exterior. If a customer has had a negative experience with your business, they can and will tell the world. In order to turn leads into sales you need to follow up on the actions you say you will take and make sure what you say is what the customer will get.

The Price is Right

“What’s it going to cost me?” The question every salesman gets asked. In today’s society everyone wants more and more value for their buck. The economic situation is affecting choices, hugely so, everyone is looking where to save costs.

As a Business Development Manager I sell custom cloud computing solutions to suit businesses of any size. One of the key selling points when I’m discussing the technology with potential clients is cost. Not so much “how much you are going to save” but rather “how much you are going to save today”.

I help business owners move their on-premise IT solutions to the cloud. With on-premise you are purchasing the hardware up front with a view of it lasting for 3-5 years. You are banking that your business will require the same technology, scale, and software. With the cloud you don’t take that gamble. No one is thinking they are going to go out of business in 12 months but it does provide that safety net. You can’t guarantee you will need it for 5 years. Business owners are beginning to realise this.

Leave the rose tinted glasses to Elton

Setting expectations during the sales lead cycle is very important. You need to understanding the value your product or service offers to the individual you are talking to. This comes back to the research point made earlier.

If all you talk about is cost then further down the sales line all the customer is focussing on is how much cheaper the solution will be. It can be difficult to shift their focus onto the other benefits your product provides which is important because in the long term this is what will turn the customer into a loyal repeat purchaser.

As a salesman your role is to sell the potential, discover the fears and aspirations they have that your product can help resolve and meet.

Just the two of us

The relationship between a salesman and a consumer, and the salesman and business owner is very different. B2B sales require you to develop deeper relationships with people. The scale is smaller, the number of clients you have is fewer, and the importance of each interaction is bigger.

It is not unusual in the B2B world that the client places more importance on the relationship between you and them than they do with them and your company. You are the person who they know is just a phone call away who can resolve their question. The opportunity for the B2B salesman to forge meaningful relationships is greater than ever before. And of course the better the relationship the more likely the client is to refer you.

You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship.

Patricia Fripp

If you’d like to find out how your business can save money and grow with our IT solutions then check out John’s web page.

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