When you’re selling to enterprise, you’re never selling to one person, but a group. And the knowledge level will vary among that group. Your job is to make everyone feel comfortable in those conversations about your solution and the problem you’re addressing, especially those who are completely green in the subject.
In his “SPIN Selling” book, Neil Rackham states that majority of the conversations about you and your product are happening without you being present. That’s a lot of potential ‘no’s’ you have no control on. To increase your influence and chances for a positive outcome, you need to address people’s concerns and questions before they even arise.
This is because people often are afraid of being seen as ignorant. If they are uncomfortable, they will just avoid the subject and sabotage your project all together out of a pure fear.
It’s like when you’re joining a sport in an existing group. A good teacher doesn’t expect you to know everything from the start. Rather he/she makes you feel comfortable in that group, sense your level and guide you along the process to fully integrate with the rest of the group towards a common goal.
Another hard truth is: people don’t care about you or your project… unless you draw them a vision where, by engaging with you, it help them achieve their own goal. May it be taking credit (and a comfy bonus) for a successful implementation of innovative solutions. May it be less mundane work that they indeed crave to automate.. and so on.
Plus, everybody answers to their superiors so they can’t afford to fail. “Nobody has ever got fired for hiring IBM” – goes an old saying. Such people opting for what’s been done, what’s safe, are never advocates of innovative approaches. These are the guys you especially want to turn into your allies.
Your job is to make everyone feel like they are in good hands, assure them you will do this lion’s work and lead them through a maze of intricate phrases, new concepts, let them feel part of the adventure, create stories with a happy ending (= either increase profits or reduce costs).
One of the biggest mistakes fresh startup founders make (and we at @Untrite fell on it too) is assuming they know the basics. That everybody is equally excited and knows about your technology.
YOU ARE IN THE BUBBLE.
Most people don’t care or are afraid to try. Most need a little bit of guidance on where to start.
And that means taking them by the hand from a very early stage.
PS. The “The New Power Base Selling” book by Jim Holden and Ryan Kubacki helps you understand what drives internal politics and how to gain control over conversations around you happening when you’re not around.