Sales Training for IT?!

How do you approach technology recommendations to the decision makers within your business?  As I meet with the IT decision makers within companies one common theme I hear is that they’d like to do certain things or implement certain projects however have already tapped out their budget.  It is particularly frustrating knowing that proposed projects will make systems and processes in the IT room much more efficient.  Perhaps a change in how new technologies are thought about, discussed and proposed can help take the focus off of budgets and onto the explicit benefits they provide.  There is a book by Neil Rackham titled Spin Selling that helps develop a game plan on how to do this. 

SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, Need Payoff.  Each represents a level of questions that can be asked to gain perspective with regard to each particular item.  For example, Situation questions are asked to gain knowledge of a particular scenario from a 10,000 foot view.  Subsequent questions then narrow down to the details of a particular problem and ultimately help develop the solution (Need Payoff).  The most important questions within these are the Implication questions.  These are designed to not only further understand particular problems but define how they affect the company.  These questions can be asked to employees or asked to yourself as a way to guide you to the answers.  For example, rather than presenting a new storage area network (SAN) solution,  stating it can add redundancy and help prevent downtime, take the time to understand how the new SAN will affect each area of the organization. 

Scenario:  IT Department has implemented its budgeted projects for the year yet still has concerns about aged infrastructure (Situation).  Current system failures have left employees unable to access critical applications (Problem).  This has caused sales to stall and lost a “Jim,” a potential deal worth $50,000 in revenue (Implication).  A SAN upgrade which will cost $40,000 will eliminate this risk moving forward as it will include the proper redundancy needed if another such failure were to occur.  So, instead of presenting a proposal you are you providing a solution that is cost-justified, based on its impact to the success of the entire organization. 

While this is a pretty simplified example, I hope that you are able to envision the main point. Understanding the way in which your recommendations affect the overall business is vital in taking focus off of budgets and onto solutions.

written by: Steve Heller - 7/1/2013